There was Blake Comeau's two posts (there he is again), but other than that I'm not sure how the Islanders managed to outshoot Atlanta 21-10 in the first period. They were reckless and irresponsible with the puck, forcing Dwayne Roloson to make several point-blank saves before he finally caved under multiple Islanders mistakes and odd-man rushes.
The first goal was just over five minutes in after a bad line change by John Tavares and Matt Moulson created a 3-on-2. Before the game was 10 minutes old, the Thrashers scored two more within 25 seconds of each other -- one after a neutral zone turnover and lazy backcheck, the other after Dustin Kohn mishandled a retrieval in the corner to Roloson's right. Ballgame.
A loss like this at this stage, for a team still claiming playoff aspirations, can bring out the poison in fans and players:
Already seen a few frustrated fan rants. And even before tonight's game, there was a curious amount of misplaced angst from anonymous (of course) players blaming the Isles' woes on the three-headed goalie monster [$5 please] instead of, you know, their 27th-ranked offense or their 29th-ranked powerplay or their 29th-ranked penalty kill. Yep. It's definitely the goalie crowd that put this team out of a playoffs pot, uh-huh. But more on that tomorrow.
I'd say tonight's mess was due to the ever-thinning and inexperienced blueline, but really it was a full-team effort of parts not moving together at critical moments. Forwards were watching and absent on the Thrashers' first three goals. They were hardly overmatched the way they were in Tuesday's fortunate win over Chicago; but they did plenty to cost themselves the game.
Visual Evidence of Carnage
This and That
- Tough to get a read on Dylan Reese in his his NHL debut; the game was over and the goalie pulled before he'd even taken his third shift in the league. He played 11 minutes, all even strength. he displayed a nice touch on the puck and mostly safe decisions. I'm sure he'll get the ease-in treatment; I wonder whether he or Kohn will prove the more useful down the stretch.
- Cheers to Mark Streit, Rob Schremp and Tim Jackman for popping in some consolation goals -- though ironically pinning mop-up goalie Martin Biron with the undeserved loss in the process.
- All frustrations and complaints aside, as a hockey fan I have to nod appreciation for some pretty offensive plays by the Thrashers. And every player an Atlanta fan would want to score did so: Nik Antropov with two, Maxim Afinogenov with another, and newcomers Clarke MacArthur, Nicklas Bergfors and Evgeny Artyukhin each potted goals. That's Ilya-replacement by committee right there.
- Schremp also had a secondary assist on Jackman's goal (Kohn had the primary). Think back to October now: Is there any way you expected the first two games in March would feature Schremp and Comeau as the two best performers? This, I believe they say, is why they play the games.
- Young stars John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey still not really looking refreshed by the break.
- What do you suppose moved Scott Gordon to dress Jeff Tambellini, after all this time? Sean Bergenheim was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game.
- Again, I'll probably address this in more depth tomorrow, but really now: It's pathetic to think any players are blaming the team's losing streak and drop from playoff position on the admittedly awkward three-goalie situation. Holy cop-out, Batman. How 'bout you just play the damned game?
These recaps are always meant for post-game reaction as well as a historical record of sorts to look back on when needed. So never hesitate to add your own reactions, or to correct/contradict/fill in anything I missed.