Watching the Sabres vs. Islanders game last night I made an observation about the Islanders that I wanted to share. I don't get to see them play too often, so I'm making this assessment based only on one game (maybe not a fair thing to do).
Anyway, the Islanders have a lot of talented players, but too few of them are actually good players. Under the heading of Talented Players I would put guys like Yashin and Satan. Under the heading of Good Players I'll put Smyth and Blake.
The combined talents of Yashin and Satan are far superior to the combined talents of Smyth and Blake, yet I'd take the Smyth and Blake over Yashin ans Satan for my team anytime. You can see in the game that the talented players will get their chances, but that the good players will make a difference.
Another comment I'd like to make about the game...The Islanders surprised me with how well they did 5-on-5. I thought the Sabres would have the most distinct advantage at full strength, yet as Lindy Ruff said in his postgame comments, the Sabres really only had 1 even strength goal last night (the second one came just as a player had stepped out of the box).
This poses quite a problem for the Islanders. I think they want to be physical with the Sabres, yet they risk spending time in the box if they take it too far. I'm not talking about bonehead moves like Richard Zednik running over Sabre defensemen long before the puck even gets near them, I'm talking about strong physical play. It's a Ted Nolan team so you know that he would like them to be more physical than they were in Game 1. How far can they take that before it becomes "goon" hockey?
If I'm Ted Nolan, I don't know what strategy to use to beat the Sabres. If the lineup had more Smyths and Blakes it might be an easier call. Unfortunately for him, he's got too many Yashins and Satans.
I will say this, that game was not Dubie's fault and going to DiPietro prematurely is not the thing to do. Can DiPietro steal a game, or even the series? Maybe a game, not likely a whole series. Does the potential risk to him justify taking that risk? Not in my opinion.