So, you want to be a playoff team? This has been the Isles wish since back over the summer, when Ryan Smyth evaded their extended grasp, and they were forced to change their free agent direction. It is why the Isles will likely not sell off pieces, making all efforts to achieve a spot and a chance at glory.
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So, you want to be a playoff team? They've made strides with their goalie. Rick DiPietro not only emerging as an All Star, but as their clear MVP. Rick came back from the All Star game, taking Bill Guerin's advice: Soak it all in. He did, and then after taking a day off, found Ottawa all over him with two scores from the Senator dmen.
So, you want to be a playoff team? Then you have to come out the gate wanting it more than the other team. That and play a consistent 60 minutes. Then, let the chips fall where they may. This is the main crux for this team and why they lost last night, losing their first game to a 32 game run.
By the end of the 1st, the Isles found their feet and pressed. But Ottawa is not one of the top teams for nothing. They kept the Isles down, clogged the neutral zone, and capitalized on mistakes with goals. Ottawa was first to the puck. Ottawa seemed to skate circles around them. By the time the Isles woke up from their snooze, they were in an 0-2 hole versus one of the top teams in the conference. This is not the type of hockey that will get anyone anywhere.
The good things that can be taken away from the game is that the Isles showed some moxy and jump thereafter, making it a 3-2 game at one point. But giveaways undid their comeback attempt.
It seemed, overall that the Isles were just not ready mentally after their rest at the start. They were also missing Andy Sutton and Ruslan Fedotenko due to the flu. Aaron Johnson took Ruslan's place with the forwards. But he only got 6:41 minutes of icetime. And though some might disparage Feds play lately, which certainly has not accrued much in points, he still does the things on the ice that help the team, and certainly plays at least double that time. For the forwards, Richard Park saw the most icetime, playing over 18 minutes. On the D, Bergeron, Witt and Gervais all were over 20 minutes. MABS with over 23, Gervais with over 22.
Moreover, the Isles D, which is far thinner without Campoli for the rest of the season, still seems to be the Isles main bane. Even despite the fact this team needs a goal scorer and more offensive output, they are still capable of playing a good close game. To this blogger, the defense seem more important to address, where smarter decisions and savvier play need to be the rule of thumb.
Ted Nolan also cited their inconsistency, saying that the Isles played well . . . in spurts. And spurts are simply not good enough to win games. He also harped on the giveaways, citing once again that they are not a high-powered offense who can score lots of goals to play the style of game that allows the puck to be given away. This is very reminiscent of what he said before the break. Whereas the Isles team need to play aggressive but not loose. They need to make smart and safer plays.
"The kind of mistakes you make are the difference when you play a talented team like that"
- Rick DiPietro
"We need to be a little more desperate . . . We are finding ways to lose instead of finding ways to win"
- Mike Sillinger
Now the Isles have the LA Kings coming to town tomorrow night. They have not played very well at home for a while which they are well aware of, and perhaps that is affecting the crowd. Less than 10,000 showed up last night.
Hopefully there will be a better effort and better crowd on Thursday night. Just DVR or TIVO LOST, and come to the Coliseum.
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