Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Wednesday Roundup/Gamenight: Isles @ Caps

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When the New York Islanders take to the ice tonight at Verizon Center, they'll do so with a patchwork blueline and a group of forwards that's just slightly more established. Take a gander at their current injury report:
Shawn Bates (C): Hip surgery, remainder of the regular season - IR
Chris Campoli (D): Shoulder surgery, remainder of the regular season - IR
Blake Comeau (C/W): Head injury, day-to-day
Bruno Gervais (D): Oblique, day-to-day
Mike Sillinger (C): Hip injury, late February - IR
Chris Simon (LW): Suspended
Jon Sim (LW/RW): Right knee injury, remainder of the regular season - IR
Andy Sutton (D): Leg injury, 4-to-6 weeks
Brendan Witt (D): Knee injury, sidelined indefinitely - IR
On that list are four of the Isles' top six defensemen in terms of ice time, their top faceoff man and third-leading goal scorer (Sillinger) and Cap-killer extraordinaire Jon Sim (11 of his 52 career goals have come against Washington). These are big injuries, especially for a team that wins (when they win) on defense - no team has scored fewer goals on the season than the 'Ders.

And yet, just when the Isles look dead in the water, they rattle off a few wins to keep hope alive. Case and point, they come to town riding a four-game win streak which comes right on the heels of an 0-6-1 stretch in which they scored just 11 goals. On the plus side, they haven't won five straight since 2003.

Ted Nolan deserves every ounce of the praise he gets for squeezing a winning record out of these guys because, quite frankly, the Islanders are awful. They don't score, don't have a terribly good team GAA, are bad with the extra man and worse five-on-five, and are led in scoring by a guy with a minus-20 rating (and bad taste in pop tarts) who has fewer points than Alex Ovechkin has goals. In fact, the Isle's top three goal scorers combined have one more goal than Ovie. Their top six scorers - each of whom has a minus rating - are a combined minus-63. Michael Nylander's 37 points would be good enough for second on the Isles in scoring. I could go on, but won't.

But for all that suck - and there's plenty - they have one more point in the standings than the Caps, which is the real kick in the yambag.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - if you're gonna make the playoffs, you've gotta beat the teams you've gotta beat. This certainly is one of those teams, and one with whom the Caps shouldn't have a whole hell of a lot of trouble. For a Caps team that hasn't won a game by more than a single goal in more than a month, it's time to cash in two points in a convincing manner.

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

Mike Green love at Happy 51st Birthday, Glen Hanlon.... Finally, one year ago today we looked at what "fair value" for Dainius Zubrus would be and previewed the Caps and Habs (which included my incredibly prescient take on the state of the franchise in Montreal - "the Habs are destined to be mediocre for the foreseeable future").

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Jarome Iginla (2G, A, +2, 7 SOG, 2 hits)
  • Ross: Jaromir Jagr (4 points)
  • Norris: Dion Phaneuf (2G, including the game-winner, +3, fight, 5 SOG, 2 hits)
  • Vezina: Tim Thomas (43 saves on 45 shots against in shootout win)
  • Richard: Jarome Iginla, Dion Phaneuf, Michael Ryder, Ryan Malone, Alexei Kovalev, Brendan Shanahan (2G each)
  • Calder: Sam Gagner (G, A)
  • Aiken: Carey Price (3 goals allowed on 11 shots against in just 13:56 of work)


The Peerless said...

When a club sucks -- and the Isles do...slow it down. In hockey, that means no up and down the ice stuff. Play it zone to zone, along the boards, scrapping in the corners. The Islanders do that part well. And frankly, the Caps have trouble contesting that style.

On paper, the Caps should beat tis team, say, 5-2. They probably won't. The Islanders, if allowed to play on their terms, won't allow the Caps that many "possessions" to score that many goals. They will crawl up and down the ice, scrumming here, battling for a puck there, eating seconds off the clock and shortening the game. It's as "pre-lockout" a team as there is left in this league, forced to play that style by circumstance (a lack of health and skill) and what seems to be the preference of their coach.


1) The key is shutting down Richard Park! ; )

murph said...

That's why they pay Ted Nolan the big $$!!

My prediction 3-2 Isles on goals from Park, Bergeron and Hunter.


1) That's the Isles secret weapon; there are so many guys who can't score that opposing teams don't know who to play closely. ; )
2) Seriously though, Nolan deserves TONS of credit for keeping a roster, that even before injuries, shouldn't have been even in sniffing range of a playoff spot.
3) Even DP hasn't played great the past month or so yet they are still only a couple of points out of 8th. The way the East has gone/looks ANY team that gets into the post season could win the conference.

~Mark said...

So if I'm doing Laughlin's "Keys to the Game", they would be:
* Motor-Cycle
* Pack the Power

We really need to out-cycle them, which will definitely draw some dumb penalties. Then of course, we need to cash-in on the dumb penalties with a few PPGs.

It's all about puck-possession baby!

Anonymous said...

Boudreau's big thing since he took over has been that he wants the Capitals to control the play; for the game to unfold on their terms. That's going to be the key today - the Capitals are clearly the better team and the they'll win if they play hard and smart


1) Don't understand the way Fehr (sent down today)was handled. He played well when he was allowed to be on one of the top lines.
2) Then for some reason he's removed and players like Pettinger, who has done nothing, gets his ice time?
Unless Petty's being showcased, it doesn't make sense.

NS said...

maybe Petty needs a gf? Ovie should hook it up.

Abhinav said...

Ridiculous. No reason to lose a point in that game.

NS said...

ugh. fuckin shit.

Whiter Mage said...

I didn't get to catch the game - I had a rehearsal, but I was watching the game tracker during a break at I get what probably happened - youth on our part, experience on theirs, and that blows. Any time I see a tying goal on an unassisted strike means someone effed up.
Whatever - I'm more curious really at this point - What did Semin and Bergeron do to get double minors for roughing? That happened about halfway through my break, and I saw "Penalty: NY WAS 47 28" and my first thought was diving. Checked now, double minors? What for?


1) The Semin-Bergeron 'roughing' was nothing. They were slapping at eachother for a few seconds.
2) Is it a coincidence that since the Fleischman promotion to the 1st line AO is pointless and since Flash has left the second line Semin has come alive?

Hooks Orpik said...

"Penalty: NY WAS 47 28" and my first thought was diving. Checked now, double minors? What for?"

After a whistle, per his usual Semin started punching the defenseman in the face (he actually landed a cross-check high first). Bergeron returned the favor and both got heated and scrapped a little bit (with gloves on) until teammates and referees piled in.

Certainly they deserved 2 minutes for roughing apiece, but the double minors seemed superfluous. Perhaps the refs had warned one or both before about this. Either way since it was coincidental penalties the teams played 5 on 5 so the only harm was to having the player sidelined for 4 minutes and a whistle.

Anonymous said...

I'm willing to say it. This team has lost it. It played hard for a long time but I fear the usual season end collapse is coming. You can see it. They just can't get it together. Too many injuries and everyone cooling off while all the other teams are getting hot. Not to mention all the damn 3 point games. I want to be wrong but it looks like it will probably be a frustrating finish where we stay close enough to be in contention but never quite make it.