Content with their approach if not the outcome in Games 2 and 3, the New York Islanders made it an optional skate today (so did the Penguins) as they recharge between adrenaline-fueled playoff games. Game 4 is Tuesday, and [insert cliche here] it's a big one lest they fall into a 3-1 series hole.
Some updates from the first half of the day (the Penguins are the second team skating, so reports from their camp aren't out yet):
NEW since original posting: Great convo at Empty Netters with Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald on facing Malkin and Crosby. Hamonic:
There are some guys who want to engage and some guys that don’t want to engage as much. I’m think I’m one of those guys who really likes it. That’s part of my game. That’s part of what makes me click.
Also new, at Grantland, on the scenes outside before Game 3:
From the seats, the Coliseum looked old but it didn’t look bad. What it looked was local. There are ads for Dial-a-Bug and National Arbitration and Mediation (the acronym is “NAM”) and something called SportsYapper.
Look for a lot of Kyle Okposo stories considering the series he's having. Here's a taste from Christian Arnold (with updates later):
"Kyle is one of our leaders and I think we’ve known for years his potential," John Tavares said. "Especially my first year here he was really our go to guy. Obviously the injury hurt him a little bit and trying to get his game back after the shoulder surgery. It’s great to see him hit his stride again and this is what we expected from him. I’m not surprised at all."
Here is a glimpse of the Sunday noon game, which did well:
The Islanders (2.3) drew higher ratings in NY on NBC Sunday than the Rangers (2.1) did on NBC Saturday. Wow.— Steve Lepore (@stevelepore) May 6, 2013
And here is video of a penalty in overtime on Sunday. Except, well, you know...:
(Sorry. Couldn't resist showing that. Sneaky and away from the puck enough to go undetected by the strict officials.)
This was discussed in comments of the a.m. thread, but Arthur Staple of Newsday reported Jack Capuano had a talk with certain players after Game 1 to remind them their place in the lineup is not secure. Among them, one infers:
Capuano wasn't divulging names, but I do know coaches considered benching Grabner and Boyes after G1. Both responded, esp. in G3.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) May 6, 2013
Whew. Bullet dodged. So is Thomas Hickey the fall guy for Game 1, or is something non-disclosed keeping him out?
From Shutdown Line, which now has the full data from their scoring chance tracking:
"Efficient" was the word of choice used by NBC's broadcasters to describe the Pens power play and that's a pretty accurate description. They had only five shots on goal but three of them found the back of the net. I think "efficient' is another word to describe "lucky" because they scored on 60% of the shots they took and that obviously won't continue in the future.
This is where that word "lucky" is a little dangerous too. It's "luck" in the overall sense that life does not always turn up rosy, even when you do the right things, but there was little about those powerplay goals that was anything but great execution and skill. Chris Kunitz's powerplay breakaway was lucky in that the Isles defense let him get behind them, but his shot was pure excellence that, frankly, no goalie is going to stop at that speed. Perfectly placed inside the post and against the direction of his momentum.
There is an element to good fortune in any deflection goal, but Jarome Iginla's was great execution too. And the overtime goal was a masterful triangle that worked exactly as the Penguins intended. Kunitz's shot was perfect, a tough high glove for any goaltender.
More from Shutdown Line:
Capuano seems to be content with having Tavares playing against Crosby and that matchup worked slightly in the Islanders favor today. What it also meant was that Nielsen played against Malkin's line and this trio shredded just about everyone in their path. Bylsma tried to switch things up and get a different defense pairing out against them but it didn't matter since nothing was really working and Nielsen's line just continued to win all of their matchups. Hamonic/ & McDonald also did a great job against Crosby's line while Visnovsky & Strait were able to beat Malkin's line in their matchup.
And the kicker, which many have noted with regret:
Basically, the Isles crushed the Penguins in every area but special teams and unfortunately ended up losing the game because of it. In the regular season, you can usually shrug off these losses and be happy that your team played well without getting the result but in the playoffs, these losses really sting.
Yep. They only have one more mulligan left. And the only way to approach that, after the sting of Sunday's ending:
"We have to have a short memory. We have to worry about ourselves & our game, & just try and go out there & do the best we can." -McDonald— NYIslanders (@NYIslanders) May 6, 2013