If you missed the Islanders game tonight, you are probably kicking yourself or getting the DVR ready for the replay. The Islanders scored 4 goals in the first and 4 goals in the second. John Tavares, Michael Grabner and Matt Moulson all reached 20 goals on the year, exceeding the amount of 20+ goal scorers the Isles had last year. The Islanders actually chased Brent Johnson, but the Pens were worried that something might happen to their precious flower and Johnson finished the game. Once Michael Haley (yes, Michael Haley) scored the Isles sixth goal off a 1 on 1 the game wasn't in question.
Now for the other side of the game. At the half point of the game there had already been over 120 PIM. By the end of the game both benches looked more like a Rec League bench then a professional NHL game. Look, a lot of people (especially the Pens announcers and fans) seem to have a short memory. Although some of this can be considered retribution for the Maxime Talbot run on Blake Comeau and the Johnson/DiPietro fight, they appear to have forgotten how they kept running DiPietro during the earlier games this year.
If this year you had complained about the Islanders not sticking up for themselves, this game should pretty much be a message to the rest of the league. There were more fights and line brawls then I can count. By the end of the game just about every whistle seemed to come with a scrum. Even after both benches had been nearly emptied, which tends to calm down games like this, they continued to go at it. The refs lost control of the game early and often.
If I had known the game was going to be like this, I probably would have kept a notepad by my side. I'm going to try to recap everything that happened as best I can, but feel free to comment on all the stuff I probably missed.
- I don't think there was one negative comment towards anyone on the Isles tonight in the game thread. It was a great game all around, and one of those games that make you pine for next year. The Isles and Pens are both young, and this will be an excellent playoff match up and rivalry for years to come.
- John Tavares was (unsurprisingly) named first star. He finished the night with 1 goal and 3 assists. Moulson and Grabner were 2nd and 3rd star respectively with their 2 goal games. Both had an assist on the night for 3 point nights.
- Every Islander had a point on the night except for Andrew MacDonald, Zenon Konopka, Trevor Gillies and Kyle Okposo. KO did extend his streak of ringing goalposts though.
- In 17 minutes of Ice Time Bruno Gervais was a +4. Let that sink in.
- Every player on the Islanders had a positive +/- on the night.
- It'll probably be overlooked, but Mikko Kosikinen had another strong night. 35 saves on 38 shots, he also faced 9 PPs and made some huge saves early in the 2nd when the Pens might have gotten back into it.
- When was the last time you heard the crowd at an Islanders game chanting for a Tenth goal?
- Matt Martin's supposed cheap shot on Maxim Talbot (which had Pens announcers screaming about it being Todd Bertuzzi esque) was hardly a cheap shot. Martin was yapping at Talbot the whole time, with Talbot clearly seeing Martin's gloves dropping. Talbot knew better then to fight Martin.
- Raise your hand if you ever thought you would see Josh Bailey getting into a fight, or a game misconduct for that reason.
- Seeing Konopka standing over a downed Talbot was probably one of the best images of the night.
- It's pretty funny how Johnson was playing big tough goalie again, until he realized that it was Haley coming at him. Eric Goddard had to come flying off the bench to save him, so there's an automatic ten game suspension for Goddard.
- BTW: Haley is pure insanity
- There is going to be finger pointing, but I think both teams went tit for tat. For every Isles cheap shot by Gillies (Gillies possibly punching an injured Pen who was down) and Martin there was the Pens sending Grabner and Okposo flying into Johnson.
- The game finished with 346 PIM, 17 game Misconducts given out and 14 Fighting Penalties.
Lets go back and discount the second half of the game for a bit. The Islanders did everything right. Now there are people who are going to say the Islanders beat up on an injured team. I don't buy that for a minute, first off the Islanders have far, far worse injury problems right now. Secondly this is a Pens team that was 7-3 in their last ten games. Maybe someone will make the excuse that the Pens were tired after playing last night. No dice there either, as the Pens are 7-2-1 in the second game of back to backs before this game.
If the Islanders could come out and play like this night in and night out, they would be one of the top teams in the east. We've seen them do it, time and again they come out and play these types of games against the best teams in the league. Only to disappoint a few nights later when they play a team they should beat. Let's hope the energy and excitement from this game carries over. I could do without the fights and game misconducts, but everything else should be a positive going forward.