Since the trade deadline, things around the Islanders have been a little, how shall we put this, stinkypoo. Not totally stinkypoo. But definitely a little too much stinkypoo than they should be.
First, let’s look back at the (mostly very stinkypoo) week that was.
Last week for the New York Islanders:
Game 43: 4-1 loss to the Bruins
One of the bigger letdowns I can remember in the last few years. Three days off, trade deadline over, new acquisitions getting practice time, an opponent riddled with injuries.
And right from the jump, the Islanders were awful, getting pinned in their own zone for the first two minutes of the game until Brad Marchand scored a goal so strange, no one even realized it was in the net. That was a sign of things to come.
The Islanders had maybe three or four good shifts in the game, highlighted by Travis Zajac’s first goal for someone other than New Jersey (and Mat Barzal’s behind-the-net pass to set him up). The rest didn’t matter, and the Bruins walked away with an easy two points. I didn’t expect a cakewalk but the Islanders barely put one foot in front of the other (with or without cake).
The Islanders haven’t played well since acquiring Zajac and Kyle Palmieri a week before the deadline. I don’t think they’re to blame or anything, but man, is it weird. I don’t think anyone expected that when they added two guys who seemed like such good fits. At least they won a few of those games. Now they’re dealing with injuries to Josh Bailey and Cal Clutterbuck on top of the entire lineup going cold.
Losses happen, and the Bruins are a very good team on a roll right now. Maybe the adjustment period for the new guys is longer than we expected. But this game and the effort put forth in it was one that has started to get me worried.
Game 44: 3-0 loss to the Bruins
I turned this one off after Taylor Hall made it 2-0 Bruins early in the second. If the Islanders couldn’t be bothered to give a shit for the second straight game, then neither would I. Apparently, I didn’t miss anything. Now, I’m even more worried.
Hall wasn’t drafted by the Islanders, has never played for them and was never traded to or away from them. And yet, somehow, the two goals he scored against the Islanders in these two games feel like an affront to them, like the spite goal scored against the team that traded you. Except, they didn’t. Because they never had him. He’s only ever been potentially, possibly, theoretically, hypothetically an Islander. Never actually an Islander.
But he scored against the Islanders. Twice. In back-to-back games. Because of course he did.
Game 45: 1-0 OT win over the Flyers
You know who wasn’t stinkypoo in this one? Ilya Sorokin. If not for him, this game would have been 5-0 Flyers at the midway point. The Islanders were so unspeakably awful in the first two periods that I hoped the weird 6:30 start time meant that not a lot of viewers had tuned in for it. The Islanders were better in the third and controlled overtime until Nick Leddy’s pass bounced off of Travis Sanheim’s stick and under Brian Elliott’s pads. Still, it was Sorokin’s game and he deserved every hug, head tap and game puck his teammates could give him. I’m still worried, but his performance was spectacular.
I also need to issue a mea culpa to someone. When I turned on Saturday afternoon’s Penguins-Sabres game on NBC, I was immediately greeted by the sounds of a clearly very excited Pierre McGuire screaming into his microphone about BUFFALO’S DYLAN CUZINS THE WORKHORSE FROM WHITEHORSE. JOHNNY ONLY SEVEN PLAYERS IN THE HISTORY OF THE NHL HAVE EVER COME FROM THE YUKON TERRITORY ONLY A FEW HUNDRED MILES FROM THE NORTH POLE BLAH BLAH BLAH.
After launching a few angry tweets, I turned the game off and went about my day. I wasn’t in the mood to have this man ruin yet another hockey game for me with his signature style of wall-to-wall nonsense, clear favoritism for the Penguins and player hometown trivia that no one but him cares about. McGuire is never a welcome addition to any game, and why NBC keeps trotting him out there remains a mystery.
So when I put on Sunday’s Islanders-Flyers game and realized it was our guy Brendan Burke and Pierre again, I braced myself for the inevitable irritation to follow. Instead, I found his volume level mostly muted and his commentary on point for the most part. He had a lot of criticisms of the Islanders and, frankly, he was right. They stunk! The Flyers were all over them for 40 minutes, and he said as much, praising Sorokin for bailing his teammates out time and again. He pointed out a dangerous pass by Leddy that could have gotten Barzal killed if they played in a different era, as well as the early, painful struggles of the Coburn-Greene pairing that I hope we never see again.
So credit where it’s due: For one game, Pierre McGuire didn’t make me want to stab myself in the ear with an ice pick or, perhaps less painfully, never watch a hockey game on an NBC property ever again. I’m as surprised as anyone that it happened once and I won’t hold my breath that it’ll happen again.
Record for the week: 1-2-0 (damn I hate being right sometimes)
Season Record: 28-13-4
Next week for the New York Islanders:
Tuesday, April 20 vs the Rangers
Just once, I’d love to experience a season in which I’m not hoping that some shit ass team can steal some points from clubs above and below the Islanders just so I can feel a little better.
The Rangers ran roughshod over the Devils last week and have crept closer to the playoff line than I’m sure we’re comfortable with. It was probably too much on my part to expect the Devils to give the Islanders a hand here anyway. Same for when the Sabres are playing one of them. And I fall for it every year, no matter who’s up or down. God knows the Islanders never helped them when they were chasing the playoffs.
The loses to the Bruins sucked for us, but they actually hurt the Rangers, too. In that case, are the Islanders the shit ass team? You see how things get warped under these conditions? I hate this.
Thursday, April 22 and Saturday, April 24 vs the Capitals
Alex Ovechkin continues to climb the NHL’s all time goals ladder. Ovechkin tied Marcel Dionne at 730 career goals, fifth most in NHL history, by scoring twice against the Flyers on Saturday, then was held without a goal in Sunday’s loss to the Bruins. If he hasn’t already passed Dionne by the time Thursday rolls around, he absolutely will in one of these three games against the Islanders.
Next on the list is Brett Hull at 741 and I DEFINITELY believe that Ovechkin can score 11 goals in three games to pass him.
He’d do it against the Islanders just out of spite. Like Taylor Hall.
Canadian Sportswriters Say The Darnedest Things:
I’m gonna take a slightly different tact this week and highlight something from a Canadian sportswriter that we can all agree with. I’m not sure what prompted Sun Media hockey columnist Don Brennan to rank NHL dynasties, but I think you’ll be happy with his No. 1 choice.
Meanwhile, our vote for greatest dynasty of all-time goes to the New York Islanders of four decades ago.
They won four consecutive Cups (1980, 1981, 1982, 1983), but what makes them the greatest of the greats is they also won 19 straight playoff series (Kings, Bruins, Sabres, Flyers, Leafs, Oilers, Rangers, North Stars, Penguins, Rangers, Nordiques, Canucks, Capitals, Rangers, Bruins, Oilers, Rangers, Capitals, Canadiens) before losing to the Oilers in the 1984 finals.
Hey, no argument from this corner. I’ve never actually seen the teams the dynasty Islanders beat in the playoffs all laid out like that, and it’s a pretty wide-ranging list (except for the Rangers and Capitals, of course).
Also stark is what it would take to match the Islanders’ run:
The current champs, the Lightning, have won four series in a row.
They would have to take home the next three Cups and make it to the finals in 2024.
Not a chance.
Gee whiz. Yeah, uh, good luck with that, guys. Maybe they can stash some more All Stars on LTIR for the next four years and keep the train rolling.
Alternate Programming Options:
I had a hankering to play some classic games lately and fired up one of my favorite old NES games. Batman: The Video Game is still one of the most beautiful looking, best sounding and frustratingly difficult games of its era. Even while using modern quick saves, this one still makes me want to pull my hair out. Jumps are unmakeable, enemies are unfairly placed, and some hits are unavoidable. Every boss seems impossible to beat. It’s just a tiny you, your even tinier fists and a few very strange weapons against an army of robots, goons and traps, all set out to kill you a million times over.
HOWEVER, this is one game I revisit from time to time because it plays great, looks better and has one of the most memorable chip tunes soundtracks of all time. I can still hear these songs in my head as clear as I did when I was 13. They’re unusually driving for video game music of that era, with some pretty thumping bass you wouldn’t expect to hear coming out of your old NES. I could listen to these tunes all day.
Fun Facts: This game was developed and published by legendary Japanese studio Sunsoft, who licensed the property and made several Batman games, all vastly different from one another. The Sega Genesis/Mega Drive version (my personal favorite) was almost the exact opposite of its NES cousin; it follows the movie’s basic plot pretty closely and is a comparatively easy time. The original Gameboy Batman was a platformer akin to Super Mario Brothers, but with a gun, for some reason. And the Turbo Grafix-16/PC Engine version, which was never released in the U.S., is a maze-based action puzzle game that’s more Bomberman than Batman. Weird.
Classic Islanders Clip Just For fun:
Three straight games against the Capitals. I remember when the Islanders played more than two straight games against Washington, in the same night! Dazed and Confused Kelly Hrudey and punch drunk Bill Clement definitely remember, too.