If I were in charge of federal research grants or MacArthur genius grants or whatever the hell you people with access to discretionary funding to better understand our world want to call it, I would absolutely authorize a deep study into what Matt Martin was thinking last night.
I’m still overcome with curiosity about how the Islanders “fourth-line” forward, arguably the least talented of that trio (although Cal, he’s clearly coming for you), decided to shoot from the corner, behind the goal line, at the back of a hapless Sabres goalie’s head, to pick up his first of two goals last night.
During a between-periods interview he said he “saw an opening,” like he’s some Connor McDavid slithering through two defensemen and finding the one postage stamp-sized spot a goalie left open.
But this wasn’t an opening. You can argue that Jonas Johansson, in just his second start as a 2021 Sabres captive, was “cheating” in the sense that sure, he was on his knees. But Johansson was not cheating off his post, and literally the only opening was if a guy had the nerve and precision to fire a shot off his head to deflect into the net just so.
I love it.
Since Martin has now been around for over a decade, some fans may not recall that he was a productive scorer in juniors with Sarnia, but considered more of a beneficiary of good linemates (some Steven Stamkos guy one year) who then increased his scoring in his post-draft (and post-Stamkos), age 20 year. Signing him before he could re-enter the draft was even somewhat of a deal.
(Trivial note: The Islanders also drafted Mark Katic and Justin DiBenedetto from that Sarnia squad. Ya’ never know.)
Anyway, whatever one thinks of committing to a physical guy in his 30s for four more years, I am here for the subtle touches of the Matt Martin Evolution. And I will never forget that no matter how offensively challenged an NHLer looks, he only looks that way because he’s playing among the top .003 percent of the players in the world. In any other setting, he’d smoke you and fire goals in off the back of your head.
Meanwhile...this is elite-level spousal hazing right here:
- About last night: The Islanders got the job done in business-like fashion. Two more to go against the Sabres. [LHH | Newsday | Isles | NHL | Die By The Blade | Sabres: ‘Then it just kind of unravels’]
- More love for Nick Leddy’s offensive resurrection. [Isles]
- Somehow Anthony Beauvillier, who scored last night, has already played 300 games. [Newsday]
- In the latest episode of their 20-game series with Providence, the Sound Tigers lost, 4-1. [Sound Tigers]
- The NWHL Riveters and Whale will coach “Next Steps” for the Islanders girls youth hockey program. [NWHL]
Thus Spake Trotz
“They don’t cheat the game. That’s what I love about that line.”
“They [the fourth line] just play the right way. They’re on top of people, they’re physical. They don’t cheat the game, that’s what I love about that line.”— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 5, 2021
Trotz ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/29utSG9rUV
- ...SHOCKER! The Flames fired coach Geoff Ward, who was recently an interim given the full-time position, and they replaced him with...Darryl Sutter! On a three-year deal! [NHL | TSN | Sportsnet]
- Lots of tributes pouring in for Walter Gretzky, Wayne’s father, who died at 82. [NHL | Sportsnet]
- Bad Body Language: The radar is up for Edmonton hockey media (who are like Toronto Media West) to eat their young. Things are always tremendous or terrible in Oil Country. [Copper N Blue]
- Speaking of cliches, the Leafs are holding one another more accountable this season. [TSN]
- The Devils placed Nico Hischier on IR, with concussion protocol and a sinus fracture after that puck to the face. Selfishly I don’t want players to wear cages, but it is kind of absurd that they don’t when the Ryan Pulocks of the world are firing cannons. [NHL]
- The Rangers won, but their goalie got injured. [NHL]
- The Ducks will be without Hampus Lindholm for six weeks. [NHL]
- Taylor Hall is open to anything, including staying with the Sabres, just someone please get him out of this purgatory. [NHL]
- In a truly hilarious headline, the Penguins are under fire for Photoshopping masks on to fans or something? [Post]