The Islanders' 6-4 win over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden Sunday was too delicious to put to bed so soon. Here are some more notes, observations and charts about yet another wild chapter in this storied rivalry.
The Rangers Were Virtually Absent in the Opening 10 Minutes
I know you saw it, heard about it, etc., but it's still truly remarkable how awful the Rangers were in the first half of the first period. It could have been 5-0 (or maybe with Henrik Lundqvist, it could've been 0-0 while they got their bearings). The Isles had the first 10 shots, and the Smurfs spent the rest of the game catching up on scoring chances.
Travis Hamonic Played A Lot
Like 27:34 a lot. That's four minutes more than the second-most Islander, his partner Thomas Hickey (23:26), and six or more beyond Nick Leddy or Johnny Boychuk. And none of it on the power play.
Note that this isn't exactly a deployment thing though. He didn't have more shifts than Leddy (28 each), and Hickey actually had the most shifts, 30.
If you haven't noticed, Hamonic, who gets the most shifts (25.5 average) and ice (23:51 average) per game for the Isles, also tends to take long shifts. (Hmmm...maybe he just cares that much about finishing the job.)
J.T. Miller Played A Little
Like 6:34 a little. Six-thirty-five! It's definitely interesting to watch fan reactions to their coaches -- generally and uniformly "my coach is an idiot!" -- because while Jack Capuano benefited from a "hunch" that many of us thought was foolish (leaving the fourth line out for that critical O-zone draw), Alain Vigneault is getting scorn for his own decision on that draw (more on that below) and for benching Miller, Tortorella-style, after a poor first few shifts.
He definitely was poor, but Rangers fans will say there were others as the entire red-pants roster looked lost to open the game. He ended up with 13 shifts, only one in the third period, and with several of his first-period shifts cut to less than 20 seconds, two ending in Isles goals.
Heroes, Villains: You Know Who You Are
Brian Strait played 12:30, by the way, often against the Rangers fourth line, and got worked. When you are on the ice for much of a "Tanner Glass actually looked effective" night, you've not had a good evening and you should reconsider your vocation.
Strait's counterpart (in so many ways) on the other team, Dan Girardi, played 22:36 and got smoked (although finished even in plus/minus...so!). This is a nice chart for all involved:
#Isles (6) vs #NYR (4) possession.— Sean Tierney (@SeanTierneyTSS) March 7, 2016
Tavares, Leddy, Strome, Staal were great. Girardi was bad (as you already knew). pic.twitter.com/wrPsO7odTk
The Islanders Were Destroyed on Faceoffs...
...except for that one.
Seriously though, they were losing them all night. Frans Nielsen in particular had a very off night (he's 49.9 percent on the season, including lots of PK draws) winning only 13 percent (two) of his 13. John Tavares, the season leader at 55.5 percent, broke even at 8-8. Casey Cizikas (47.5 percent on the season) was only 2-7 on the night.
That final one though...very nice.
Cal Clut(ch)erbuck with late heroics in New York. #NYIvsNYRhttps://t.co/X9NyCrNTYW— NHL (@NHL) March 7, 2016
It was particularly cruel for the Rangers because Eric Staal was 20-2 on faceoffs all night, but he wins one in their end, Dan Girardi Girardi's it out of play, they have to do another, and this time it's Derek Stepan instead of Staal and, well, you know.
Game over. Clutterbuck'd.
#isles pic.twitter.com/q8zmIHI92r— T (@Riz2525) March 7, 2016
Speaking of which...
Winner, Winner, Chicken-Flap Dinner
...one of the fun notes from The Skinny:
Three of Cal Clutterbuck's 12 goals this season (and 8 of 31 as an Islander) have been game-winners.
Is there an Islander the opposition dreads losing to more?
Current mood: pic.twitter.com/f5hYWi8UmY— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 7, 2016
Anyway, for now we can bask in the joy of how that one turned out. Tuesday brings more theater, more opportunity for glory or heartbreak. The Penguins visit, and they are just three points behind.
Who knows? Maybe they even start making the Rangers nervous.