Most Isles fans like myself will be quick to point out most Islander Ranger games are do or die, but non more than the game that took place at the world's most famous arena last night. The Rangers came into the game rolling not losing in regulation nine straight games whereas the Islanders despite working hard over the weekend had only one goal to show for. The odds were not in the Isles corner, but this is the Islander Ranger rivalry we are talking about and any hockey fan knows, despite where both teams are in the playoff standings or the streaks coming in, the game will be close and will be hard fought.
The Rangers came out of the gate flying with the line led by Jagr and Dubinsky. The shots and chances were coming from every direction and the Isles d-men seemed somewhat lost or maybe they forgot they were playing in a game with the highest implications of this season so far. While this storm was going on I was contemplating what else might be on TV because it seemed only a matter of time before the Rags buried one and another and another. To my surprise the Isles escaped the surge of Ranger chances with only a hit post and a huge momentum boost, eventually leading to Comeau's goal. Some might say it was lucky, but anyone in the Islanders organization including its fans would take any kind of goal at that point.
At the start of the second period the Rangers were given a power play and they quickly converted with the goal by Dawes, but the Isles showed some signs of fight and came back with two quick answers in under three minutes. Those two goals were good enough to hold the Rangers to an overtime and eventually a shootout. Surprisingly to me, Jagr did not participate even though it went six rounds until Tamby finally put it away for the Isles. This brings up an interesting point.
I have been one of the biggest fans of the Isles "kid line" which we all know consists of Jeff Tambellini, Blake Comeau, and Frans Nielsen who has since be replaced by Jeremy Colliton because of Neilsen's injury. With the Isles playoff hopes as someone said on MSG last night being "slim to miracle" I have felt that the kid line deserves more than five or six minutes of ice time per game. Yes, some say they have gotten this ice time because of all the power plays and kills we have had to deal with. The power play has shown me nothing in the past couple of weeks to convince me why they cant try and be the first unit out every time. If these kids are going to be the future of the team, why not let them learn now and let them be in key situations of the game. I don't see what the top unit has shown lately except for those embarrassing fourteen short handed goals allowed. Last night the kid line was given over ten minutes of ice time and was seen on the power play a little bit and they were very effective. They bring energy into the game and they are the only line on team that can beat with pure speed. They are proving they can wear d pairings down and get quality scoring chances because of it.
Now onto tomorrow and the question about goaltending. I feel that Nolan should stick with Dubie for two reasons. First, he's the hot hand now and has proven he can come up big in the clutch both this year with the Arbour night and last year with the miracle four games to clinch a playoff birth. Also, I just feel it's too soon and to big of a game for Ricky to return to the net after the loss of his grandmother who he was very close with. Most would know it is very hard to move on from such a tragedy and I would question if his head would be fully in the game if he played. We'll see what decision Teddy decides to make, but I can guarantee the Coliseum will be rocking like a game seven tomorrow.