When I'd heard that Bruce Boudreau told media yesterday, "People underestimate the Islanders ... I think they’re a really good team. They scare me to death," part of me feared he was repeating a message he gave to "people" who included the players on his own squad. The same people who had won six in a row in (mostly) dominant fashion yet had gone to OT with the Islanders in five of their last six meetings.
If so, message received.
Even without customary spy Radek Martinek to watch him, Alex Ovechkin somehow did not register a point on 10 shots. But just about every other Capital did. The Islanders came out flat and in awe. More mistakes were made than can be counted. The Capitals came in on a six-game roll and, for once, pressed the Islanders for 60 full minutes. It was men vs. boys. The 31-33 shot count is a mirage.
I could go on about the blown assignments and loose coverage -- see our seminar "How to Make Brooks Laich Look Like Alexander Semin in Just Five Seconds" -- but just about every Islander brought his F game. A collective cascade of mistakes that made each individual look bad. I think even the refs were kind to offer powerplay opportunities for the Isles to get back in the game.
For the minimal bright side: Rob Schremp had a beauty of a goal. John Tavares had a nice feed on Kyle Okposo's well-placed one-timer. Sean Bergenheim had a nice would-be hit in the high slot that forced Ovechkin to give up the puck or face a heavy (and quite legal, thank-you-very-much) open-ice check. That's it.
In Our Thoughts: The most significant moment was Jack Hillen taking a ramped Ovechkin slapshot to the jaw/mouth. Very scary, the speed of impact and the way Hillen just lay face down on the ice afterward. Freaked me out something fierce. They brought out the stretcher but Hillen eventually skated off with the help of trainers -- and went straight to the hospital. I don't want to speculate on the teeth lost or bones fractured, but I haven't seen one that scary in quite a while. Get well soon, man. Amoretto is an underrated flavor additive for times times like these, when liquid meals are required.
Note: For every game, you can click on the photo at the top of a Lighthouse Hockey post to see more. If you want to see any shots of Hillen being walked off -- Warning: Not for the squeamish -- you can click there. I didn't use them in the main post for obvious reasons.
Katie Strang reported that Dustin Kohn would be called up to replace Hillen. I figured they would just pull Brendan Witt off IR, since he's been skating for nearly a week. So depending on how that's handled, it's a topic to follow.
Highlights Evidence. CAUTION: Crime Scene Ahead
None More Evener
Cheers to Andy Sutton, Andrew MacDonald, Sean Bergenheim, Okposo (5 shots) and Richard Park as the only Islanders to not be "minus" for the game. The two Andy's were aided by being on the ice for Okposo's even-strength goal.
Pity to Dwayne Roloson, singed for four goals in the first, and slightly less pity for Rick DiPietro, who faced unimpeded Capitals for three goals in the final two frames.
A Slip in Form
Rather than a marginal loss that masks mistakes, this one was a total failure, so I expect them to bounce back in Carolina. Here's Doug Weight on that topic (full video here):
"It's gonna happen once in a while. We gotta get back to basics -- we talked about it during the streak -- when it happens, it kind of drifts away from you slowly. You stop finishing every check, maybe make some plays at the bluelines, start forgetting what got you there. For us to beat -- whether it's Washington or anyone else, in the regular season much less a seven-game series -- we have to play more perfect, better, less mistakes than the other team, play harder, finish our checks."
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Seriously, I've got no more for this game. Yes, Bruno Gervais looked awful on multiple goals, but the forwards provided little support against a team that demands it, and everyone had issues tonight (except Bergenheim? At least someone was applying the body. And Okposo? Yeah, probably Okposo. Best keep him off the Olympic team.). It's not that I don't have complaints, it's just I don't have the urge to catalog all of them.
The game thread was frankly more fun when it veered toward football, or commercials, or favorite Lifetime movies. (Oh, don't even act like you weren't switching between the game and "The Woman Whose Daughter Turned Her Son Against Her and Almost Died," starring Meredith Baxter-Birney. Nielsens don't lie.)
Talk any specific griefs you'd like in comments. Between Hillen and Calvin de Haan's injury news and this game, it was a crappy day for the Isles.