I can't begin to explain how good it felt to see the Isles give up a 2-0 lead and manage a win. Yeah I know...how can anyone be happy that their team gave up a 2-0 lead in the third period? It's pretty simple.
Dating back for say the past four or five years the Isles maintained this identity of "roll over and die" as opposed to the "never say die" Isles that they used to try to sell themselves as. If they were down 2-0, especially early, it meant the game was over. It wasn't the case for every game, but the majority. The same could be said if they were winning 2-0...they would let the tying goal in during the third and lose in the final 2 minutes of the game or in OT.
But not last night.
We saw the Isles lose the 2-0 lead in a different style - they weren't quitting. Usually the lost lead is a result of a lack of hustle and strong play. I noticed quite the opposite. Although they could not score on two previous power play chances, the Isles generated several opportunities and maintained strong pressure on the puck in the offensive zone while maintaining self-awareness in front of Joey Mac. You don't hear this too often, but Mike Comrie's back-checking is what led to Tamby's rush up the right wing boards to lead to Hunter's rebound goal. Tambs showed last night he's got the legs to be a threatening speedster...hopefully it's a sign of confidence and more to come.
But then the Lightning tied it again and that knotted stomach we all know to well re-emerged. We headed to OT with Lecavalier and St. Louis staring down Bill Guerin and Doug Weight. On paper it's one heck of a mismatch. However Gordon's fore checking system has become incredibly noticeable as of late. Not only did Nielsen and Hunter's pressure force Kolzig to make a poor choice leading to Hunter's GWG, but it was noticeable throughout the entire game. The Islanders owned that neutral zone in several cases and played fairly physical.
In addition, not enough could be said about Freddy Meyer. I went from hoping he was waived to disappointed we picked him back up to loving his style of play. He's right up there with Witt and Martinek so far this year in my opinion. On the other end of the ice, the Isles seem to show a relentless pursuit of the puck that was forcing Tampa to make some poor decisions. Hopefully this will continue throughout the year.
And of course, pats on the back for Joey Mac for putting on a solid performance after the 7-1 loss to the Sabres. The organization seems to have a back-up goaltender that is capable of picking up the slack when needed. Heading into the season there was plenty of doubt surrounding that subject, but so far Mac is giving us reasons to believe in him.
One thing I am unhappy about is Bergenheim's limited playing time and Comeau dwelling in the minors. I can't say I see much worth noting in Nate Thompson's play that was better than Comeau's strides that he made last season. Same for Bergenheim. Gordon might be playing Boston favorites which is an area of concern for me. He's implemented a system that has shown that it can work which is great. The ultimate test will come when we play more competitive teams like Ottawa, Montreal, and the Rangers, but in regards to the players I feel he should give the ones that were here first more of a shot than his buddies from Bean town. Thompson was picked up about a day or so before the first game and got a shot before Comeau.
Hopefully this won't be a consistent trend throughout the season.
Saturday night the Isles will face the Florida Panthers with Ricky predicted to start in goal. Let's hope they can carry the momentum and play the same as they did last night.
On a bit of a side note, I would like to inform my readers that yours truly has been accepted into the NYI Blog Box. The Islanders started the blog box in an effort to create further opportunities for bloggers like myself to gain a 'hands-on' type of experience in which I will be able to attend games, write live blogs, and attend the post-game press conferences. Here I will be able to ask the players and/or coaches questions about the game. My blog, as well as the other ten new members and the other already existing members, will also appear on the New York Islanders official web-site, once it is updated. Our blogs will be found at this address: http://islanders.nhl.com/blogbox/blog_box.htm
. As you can imagine I am very excited to get started and hope this makes my blogs more enjoyable.