This one was all stink from beginning to end, with a couple of trademark John Tavares poached powerplay goals thrown in to temporarily ease the pain. The Islanders didn't show up in the first half, their penalty kill was ineffective (as it always is in front of Martin Biron), and the powerplay didn't come to life until it was too late.
Worst part is, the Islanders chose to lay an egg in a way that gets the Flyers out of their slump, hands them their first bit of affirmation under Peter Laviolette, and lets them leap the Isles in the Atlantic standings. Way to go, guys.
[Update: No, even worse: Two injuries, with Tim Jackman and Sean Bergenheim out for the Toronto game]
Until the last couple of games, Dwayne Roloson and Martin Biron's surface numbers were relatively similar. But as mentioned a few times here, even before tonight -- when the Islanders killed only two of five Flyers powerplays -- Biron's PK save percentage was considerably lower than Roloson's. Something is going on here:
Tonight's short-side goal by Jeff Carter was a Biron mistake -- and one of the "book" weaknesses oft noted about him. But is that the only explanation? Does simple bad luck have something to do with it? Do the Islanders come out flat (outshot 37-24, 15-5 in the 1st) and have to climb up a hill of bad penalties (and zero goal support) in Biron's games, simply by chance? I can accept that Roloson is the better goalie, but not by this margin.
Not much more to say about this disaster, but I do have a little Chris Pronger retrospective rant to get off my chest, along with video highlights after the jump.
Chris Pronger: Still a Tool after All These Years.
This is the devil's bargain you sign with Chris Pronger. Watching a decade of his awkward puppy years in St. Louis, where he grew from awkward, spoiled overpaid deer in the headlights to essential team captain and quarterback, I saw this all the time from Pronger: A dumb penalty behind the play, like his not-very-sneaky hit from behind on John Tavares last night, followed by an indignant expression of feigned innocence, as if there is no conceivable way he could have done ANYTHING wrong (Tavares lost a tooth on the play). That, along with a few more second-period Flyers penalties, nearly let the Islanders back in the game last night, briefly changing the game from 4-0 to 4-2. Apparently this will always be Pronger's Achilles heel, but there's simply no need for it.
For the life of me, I will never understand how a 6'4" tower of reach and strength, who can easily demolish and intimidate opponents with legal hits (which in my book always send a FAR more effective message than the cheap team-killing sutff), nonetheless chooses to try to do it with dirty, easy-to-call penalties. He's grown up so much since the days Mike Keenan (of all people) had to shame some sense into him, and yet you know even in his "mature veteran" 30s there will be multiple times this season where he will confound more discerning Flyers fans with dumb penalties that show he still hasn't figured out the balance between hockey intimidation and human douchebaggery. A pitiable trait for a future Hall of Famer, but there you go. We can't design our hockey players in a laboratory.
Next: The End of the Road
So Wednesday the Islanders' epic stint on the road comes to an end. After that, they have 11 of the next 13 games at home to look forward to -- with the only two "road" games at that cozy place in Manhattan. If they're thinking of looking past that challenging road tilt against the Leafs, who are on a 6-2-2 run, in the name of eagerly anticipating home cooking, I hope they think again. The Isles are in 12th place now, just one point above the Panthers and four points over the Leafs (two points with a regulation loss tomorrow).
Please show up, boys.