One night we marvel at Dwayne Roloson's shootout shutout against Columbus, the next we watch him get beat by three Senators in a row while slumping #1 pick John Tavares' miss is the difference in the NHL's "People Demand a Winner" bonus-point breakaway round.
As most of the Islanders sleep-walked through the second period, the line of Jon Sim, Richard Park and Blake Comeau woke them up with a great forechecking shift in the first minute of the third that yielded Sim's fifth goal. That one -- a typical Sim nose-to-the-net goal -- tied the game and set the tone for a much better period from the Isles.
Pretty dull game, actually -- though not bad entertainment while waiting to go out on New Year's Eve. It got a little physical: Chris Neil trying to hit things (sometimes even a player), Tim Jackman hitting ex-Isle Chris Campoli just after the first period buzzer, eliciting an over-the-top three-punch (gloveless) response from Matt Carkner, whose rain of punches was somehow classified as four minutes for "roughing." Jackman went to the hospital to check out his eye thanks to that scrum. He also got two minutes for the late hit.
Carkner's not very good, but he had the quote of the game: "In my mind [Jackman] was looking to cause some ruckus."
The Islanders killed three Senators powerplays in the first (two because of over-the-glass penalties), which accounted for that period's lopsided nature. But the second period was just weak, necessitating a timeout from Scott Gordon to bark at his team. That didn't change much, but perhaps the second intermission talk did -- the third was a different story, in part thanks to Sim. Shots in that frame were 11-6 for the Isles.
Rob Schremp Hockey got his second NHL goal -- a nifty roofed shot from a bad angle. Like a soccer player, Schremp displays more speed in his goal celebrations than he does during game play. It's like another gear you don't realize is there. Naturally, that one came on the powerplay, and ironically it came from the side of the net where John Tavares normally picks up his PP goals.
Yes, Tavares. The most transformative year of his life thus far did not end on a high note. He was shifted to the wing in this game (with Schremp and Trent Hunter), had just one shot on goal and was the only shooter to miss his shootout attempt. After Frans Nielsen and Schremp answered the Senators shooters, Tavares' effort rolled on him so he couldn't get a clean shot off. So it goes sometimes. The kid is slumping now, but 2009 was a banner year -- and I'm sure 2010 will be even better.
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Enjoy the Winter Classic. Cross your fingers for good news for Kyle Okposo. He's not on most projected Team USA lists I've seen, but his trump card may be that he's a Brian Burke player. (In the plays-non-stop way, not in the fights-to-display-testosterone-just-because-it-feeds-the-meme-that-Anaheim-won-a-Cup-by-fighting way).