Some thoughts on the Islanders’ home-opening win against the Sabres on Saturday night:
1. The Play Of The Day goes to Brock Nelson. He took a dirty elbow from Benoit Pouliot late in the second period; no penalty was called. Nelson then proceeded to display real human emotion by first menacingly smacking Pouliot on the ass with his hockey stick before plowing through the first Sabre he had an opportunity to hit, Jake McCabe, when he came back down the ice.
I think Brock gets a bad wrap from a lot of fans because of his calm demeanor and understated nature. But hits like this contribute to that undertide of irritation. “If he threw that 6’3 frame around more often, he’d knock guys on their asses more often.” At the end of the day, he is who he is: a perfectly fine complementary scorer with a great shot who always seems to leave you wanting a little bit more.
2. Big Hit, Big Bird. As pointed out by LHH user LaFontaine16, Brock Nelson looks like Big Bird. It’s actually kind of creepy how uncanny the resemblance is. By the way, when they say that “information is power,” this is exactly the kind of information they’re talking about.
3. We Play All the Hits. Nelson wasn’t the only one who threw a big hit in this one. Earlier in the game, we saw Jonny Boychuk throw a nice hip check against Evander Kane:
And Mat Barzal even got in on the action, steamrolling Girgensons on the forecheck:
4. Oh My Josh. It was the stuff of fairy tales. Josh Ho-Sang passes to Josh Bailey, who shoots and scores. Two Joshes, one goal. I assume this was an incredibly special moment for all the Joshes out there. Congrats to you guys.
I could’ve included video of this goal, but in honor of the team’s opening night performance in Columbus, I just didn’t feel like doing all that work.
5. Powerless. The Isles led 4-0 but let Buffalo back into the game by sleep-walking through a few PPs that could’ve put the game out of reach. Here’s Evander Kane’s first shorthanded goal of the game, courtesy of Jaro Halak’s failed backhand pass:
On those rare instances the Islanders were actually able to gain the offensive zone with possession, they’d promptly turn it over with an errant pass. In fact, I set out to make a video of those failed entries but soon realized it would be more revealing to just give you the entire PP leading up to Kane’s second shorty of the night:
6. Ho-Dang. This goal came after a couple of lackadaisical plays from Ho-Sang, the last of which was a defensive zone turnover to Kane moments earlier. But I sincerely hope this didn’t overshadow (in Doug Weight’s mind) the good he did in this game, which far outweighed the bad.
(I’m a bit worried, though. Ryan Pulock seemingly isn’t allowed to develop and play through mistakes like this even though the PP threat his shot poses alone justifies his being in the lineup over half the defensemen on this team. (To say nothing of his superior skating, puck-carrying and passing ability.) I sincerely hope Dougie's not fixin' to double-down on his dumb decision to scratch no. 66 in the season-opener.)
Nor should this one turnover blind the fact that it was Bailey who put Ho-Sang in a very difficult position in the first place, dropping the pass back to him with no defensive support and no time to try anything other than a deke around Kane. This here was a textbook Josh-on-Josh betrayal. I assume this was a particularly disappointing moment for all the Joshes out there. My condolences to you guys.
7. Discomboobulated. This sequence of events is what drove play-by-play announcer Butch Goring to attempt to say the word “discombobulated” while himself feeling discombobulated. You'll need volume for this one:
Thanks, Butchie. I think that just about sums it up right there.
Let’s hope the 1-1 Islanders are a bit more cohesive and a bit less discomboobulated today in their Columbus Day matinee against St. Louis. (Leave your First Islanders Goal picks for that 1 p.m. start over here.)
Until next time, friends.