The significant news is that Kevin Poulin went down in a heap during warmups, an obvious injury to his left knee that requires an MRI tomorrow. Mikko Koskinen, who's had a rough and not exactly healthy year in Bridgeport, stepped in and looked like a guy thrown in cold. Koskinen was beaten point blank twice, short side once and over the shoulder on a long shot. He had zero chance on the Leafs' second goal, a wicked redirection.
Koskinen's stalled progress this year after missing most of last year with Islanders Hip is a concern, but not one that needed this game to make relevant. Of more urgency right now is: What the hell is this team going to do for healthy goalies now? They were already looking at Joel Martin plus Fill In The Blank for Bridgeport's three games this weekend; now Martin is up with the Isles on emergency recall -- the Isles had to issue a press release during the game and rush Martin up from Bridgeport in time for the third period.
And Poulin joins Rick DiPietro and Nathan Lawson on the shelf, to keep company with the three veteran Islanders defensemen who are out for the season, plus Trent Hunter (finally, officially out for the season) and who knows who's next. (Turns out: Jeremy Colliton left the game and will be evaluated tomorrow.)
The Islanders injury situation is to a level of absurdity now that all you can do is laugh. And cry.
I'm not in a good place to go blow-by-blow in this game. Koskinen did not look good, but he had company in the Notable Mistakes Department. Namely:
- Ty Wishart was too passive on the break-in that created the first Leafs goal. He ended up giving Colby Armstrong a point-blank shot without actually serving much of a defensive purpose.
- Just about everyone not named Josh Bailey failed on Tomas Kaberle's goal: Ty Wishart was beaten at the blueline on a pinch, but Bailey almost salvaged it with a good poke-check along the boards in the Isles zone. Alas, his man had backup in Armstrong, who picked up the loose puck, who was followed to the corner by Matt Martin going for the big hit (losing his stick in the process), and Armstrong hit a wiiiide open Tomas Kaberle, who was allowed to waltz in with an even clearer shot than Armstrong had on the opener. Wishart and Milan Jurcina tied themselves up on the other side of the net for reasons unknown.
- Nikolai Kulemin's goal wasn't much better: Rob Schremp started it with an awful pass in the offensive zone that became a turnover and initiator for a rush by Phil Kessel. Travis Hamonic went for the hit on Kessel and wiped out, leaving him free. Andrew MacDonald might have broken up Kessel's pass except...he blew a tire, too. That was the goal where Koskinen was beaten short side, caught leaning.
- In addition to Koskinen's weaker goals, he was saved by his posts a few times. But I'm not going to pile on the man thrown in by surprise, when people are wondering if injuries and recovery have held him back even in Bridgeport this year.
- P.S. Another typical Dion Phaneuf high and blind hit on John Tavares. The Isles tried to request compensation a few times, but you know: Phaneuf is too valuable to answer.
On the bright side:
- Another great game from Michael Grabner, who may have created half the Islanders chances on his own -- and shorthanded. He had another breakaway out of nothing (the puck bobbled on him, but he made a nice move and hit the post). He also scored his 17th of the season, continuing a tear.
- Matt Moulson scored his now-team-leading 19th, as John Tavares extended his goal drought to ten. (Moulson's goal was created by a truly sublime pass from the corner by Tavares though; I'm not going to pretend his goal drought has equaled ineffective play).
- Schremp potted another goal, on a nice deflection of Jurcina's point shot -- but it was in garbage time and not exactly compensatory for his minus-2.
- All told, nice job by the team of getting it tied up after falling behind 2-0 amid the psychological blow of watching Poulin get hurt, coupled with the theological implications of this team's awful fortune this year.
Aw hell, how much bright side is there when the club has suffered another alarming injury, to its best goalie prospect? The one who's acquitted himself quite well so far in the NHL at age 20? I can't even try...
And the options at this time of year are ever dimmer. The Isles will need to fill from below, off the scrap heap, as another quasi-NHL goalie (the rehabbing Ray Emery) just left the market.
I guess, if I'm looking for an irrational, emotional outlet when Fortune's Wheel kicks this team in the junk with the same blunt force as Heckuva Job Colie's Wheel of Justice, it's this: Piss off, Nabokov.