There's nothing good about going into the third with a 2-0 lead and ending the night with nothing but a shootout point. But the path to getting there for the Islanders was still filled with some positive signs for the Islanders.
For starters, shootout "loss" or no, this was simply a thrilling game -- an impressive show for a team that could easily be literally as well as figuratively "tanking" it. Estimates of several thousand Flyers fans visiting the Nassau Coliseum actually made for a great atmosphere -- we're talking European soccer here, which is pretty much the standard for spectator sport environments in my book. The warring chants of "Let's go Fly-landers" carried across on the broadcast to great effect.
That atmosphere seemed to bleed over on to the ice, where early in the first Doug Weight responded to a big hit on Tim Jackman by fighting "my other brother" Darroll Powe. Later, the entire Flyers fourth line of Powe, Riley Cote and Aaron Asham were in the box after a series of big fights. Cote's fight with Joel Rechlicz [
haven't found video yet - add to comments if you find it Update: Thanks, TMC!] was an epic one that was simply exhausting to watch. Cote's knuckles ended up bludgeoned from hits to Rechlicz's helmet. As Cote trudged toward the box, he pulled the straps off his shoulder pads as if desperately trying to allow his lungs more space for oxygen.
The Islanders' determination to not be Broad Street bullied was a nice sign for a 30th-place club. And even though they allowed three consecutive third-period goals to cough up the 2-0 lead, they responded beautifully by getting one back from Mark Streit to tie it just 32 seconds later. That was huge. No more ground was conceded for the rest of the game, save for the coin-flip circus act that is the NHL shootout. This was a thorough, non-stop battle for
two er, three, points; just old-time hockey. Bravo to the combatants.
More links, quotes and the epic Rechlicz-Cote fight video after the jump...
The Fight (heh, which one?)
Notes and Rants
... Jeff Tambellini's baseball swing goal was both awesome and hilarious -- Martin Biron's stunned expression was a nice touch -- but not as great as Tambellini simply being physical, driving to the net, and sloooowly taking steps to forge an NHL identity for himself. It seems he'll never be quite the sniper he was at the AHL level, but there is always a job for a guy who plays like he's played lately, with the bonus of some real puck skills.
... Loved Blake Comeau's huge hit at the end of regulation on Braydon Coburn -- who somehow got away with high-sticking poor Tim Jackman's eye 10 feet away from the ref. Comeau finished the play by giving Coburn an extra "and STAY down!" hit.
... The Shootout: Brendan Witt and Mark Streit, huh? Scott Gordon said he owed his D-men a live chance after good showings in practice -- although the attempts by both looked like they hadn't really done this much before. If there was a draft lottery element to this -- or even a, "You know what? This way of 'resolving' games is a joke; I'll treat it like a joke," then that's fine by me. If I had my way, every non-playoff team would have their shootout participants shoot wrong-handed and wearing jester hats, to shout: "Let the playoffs be determined by a completely unrealistic game scenario!"
... Doug Weight played (and fought) like he wants a new contract to stay a part of this:
"Our team has come together. You do every little bit you can do. It doesn't have to be a fight, but the team is coming together as a group. It feels good. The maturation is moving quickly."
... Mark Herrmann notices that "this team might eventually be good." You think? Also, the boys are learning how to be pros. Josh Bailey:
"It's everything. It's the approach you take. You play so many games, you've got to stay in shape and do all the little things to keep your body healthy. You learn a lot on the ice, too. You learn what you can and can't do at this level.
"I need to get stronger. I think my shot definitely needs to improve in order to be a bigger goal scorer in this league. And there are always little things you can tweak in your skating."
...7th Woman loves what Rechlicz does with his war-time ration of ice time. Scott Gordon, for one, agrees. He was beaming about the kid.
... Chris Botta's unscientific poll of scouts shows that there really is a "you can't go wrong" split on Tavares v. Hedman. Maybe if he says it enough, Islanders fans would tolerate the defenseman. The New York Times even notices that there is a fan debate going on about who to choose.
That's enough out of me. What a game. What a night. What a beautiful clash of orange and ROYAL blue.