It was tongue in cheek, but if Jacques Lemaire can't do it maybe the NHL should save the Devils. With Lemaire rushed back to the future for his third debut, you might expect the Devils to find their truly true soul and return to the form that marked a contender under Lemaire for the first half of 2009-10. You would be wrong. Instead, it was Josh Bailey who regained the spotlight, spotting the Islanders two goals in the first 5:39 of the game. John Tavares slammed home a massive Martin Brodeur rebound at the 11 minute mark, and the Islanders checked out for the holidays and left Dwayne Roloson to mop up for the rest of the night.
The Islanders' lethargy in the second period (shots: 17-3) and early part of the third (shots: 12-3) was truly disappointing. But I guess that's the luxury you earn after building a 3-0 lead to put the fragile home team on its heels. Just when the Devils looked like they might make it a game at 3-1 early in the second, there went Bailey again with a shorthanded breakaway. Bailey was pulled down -- it should have been a penalty shot, though who knows what to expect from today's officials -- but thankfully a PS wasn't needed, as Frans Nielsen pounced on the rebound for his third shorthanded goal of the year.
Collateral Damage: Matt Moulson took a big Anton Volchenkov hit to the head on the first shift. He left the ice, returned for one more shift, and was done after just 1:43 of TOI.
It's Like This and Like That and-uh
- Frans and A-Mac: We keep saying it so it gets old, but Frans Nielsen and Andrew MacDonald are two underrated joys to watch. In their respective ways they both think the game well, don't get rattled, and make smart, efficient decisions. Whether to pinch or to hold back, to angle off or to hold up in the corner, they're just excellent situational thinkers with the physical abilities to deliver what their minds determine should be done.
- John Tavares and P.A. Parenteau handled losing their linemate Moulson pretty well, but Jesse Joensuu, who moved up once Moulson went down, looked out of sync on that line. Tavares is on a nice little roll though after last night's winner and today's "oh yeah, we mean it" goal.
- How this game could have gone differently: If Brodeur makes a few saves early, the Islanders don't get that big lead. If the Devils play like they did in the final two periods without having been behind so much, maybe the outcomes is more in doubt. Maybe.
How this game could be really costly: If Moulson has a head injury, and if Hamonic -- who limped off late -- is out for any time, then the Islanders luck hasn't changed despite this giftwrapped Devils slaughter. Moulson was reaching low when Volchenkov hit him, so the elbow contact may have been unavoidable, but it appeared A-Train followed through. These are tough calls (and there was no call on the play).
- Lineup: Notably, with Radek Martinek out the Islanders went with seven defensemen and sat Trevor Gillies. Bruno Gervais (8:27) and Jack Hillen (16:42) both played -- neither very much, and neither particularly impressively. But games where a team jumps out to a big, sittable lead are always hard to judge. Unless they really hit the throttle, the team with the lead usually looks worse as the game goes on -- and the Islanders certainly embodied that to the extreme.
- Which brings us back to Roloson: Fantastic, phenomenal game. Thirty-four saves in all, and I'd venture he was much luckier last night versus the Lightning than he was tonight versus the sometimes-there Devils.
- The Powerplay: Given one measly chance, it looked good, with Bailey of all people being the man to convert in front of the net. His first goal was a sweet Frans-ian backhand after Devils captain and Lemaire doghouse resident Jamie Langenbrunner sent a little-league pass cross-ice in his own zone.
- Ilya: To watch Ilya Kovalchuk do not much other than cross the blueline, cut laterally in the high slot, and unleash that dangerous wrist shot is to understand that $6.66 million just doesn't go as far as it used to.
- Standings: Heh, the Islanders are now out of last place both by our power rankings (before tonight) and in the points accumulated standings (as of tonight). I guess somebody doesn't want Larsson after all now do they, hmmmm?
Cheers to all the readers, commenters and haters for another really fun year at Lighthouse Hockey. Despite this season hitting the tank in a hurry, you all have made this really, really fun to do, and I can't thank you enough. For me personally, you make hockey more fun to watch, and you teach me a lot with your varied opinions.
Opinions that resume in 3...2...1...