Last night Montreal beat the Isles in OT.
had a good game, obviously been jumpstarted by some comments by Ted Nolan. Nolan recently picked him out saying basically he is expecting more from him consistently. Tambs had a goal and had been all over the ice. Jon Sim
has been plugging away like he has the last few games.
, Blake Comeau
and Sean Bentivoglio
played a line together and were cited for strong constant pressuring play, despite not being able to capitalize on created chances.
just scored the equalizer to tie the game up in the third period, also playing a good game.
Matt D'Agostini roofed the gamewinner one unassisted, really created by Latendresse.
You can watch the game today on Islander's TV
The Division Bell Part 2
Part 2 of an analysis of the Islanders, their division, and the Eastern Conference
I have to admit....when I imagine myself playing hockey...whether it be on a dull train commute home from work or even when I play NHL2K7
((or this year: NHL 2008)) on my Xbox 360
- I don't exactly quake with fear or feel any sense of exhilaration when I picture the Isles defense.
Now don't get me wrong...those Dmen would wipe the floor with my carcass in a streetfight. I am a physical creampuff that is about as dangerous as an apple pie. MMmmmm...pie....
But, let's just leave it that I have never been completely convinced that the Islanders defensive makeup is best for their future. I have understood both Nolan and Snow's high regard for speed. After all, look at how some slower Dmen have fallen in stature with the new rules of the NHL. But, when it gets down to it - too often during the playoffs they were out-physicalled, despite playing their heart out.
But lets go back last summer, were screaming for crease clearers and a PP QB. Well, people were outraged when Tom Poti
was signed. Back then, I was all for it. Here was a guy who was not a physical specimen. Yet was a terrific puck mover, and as we all knew, we had been missing that for a while. Plus, anyone who could still focus while the target of the ire of the Ranger Boo-Birds at MSG had to be made of sterner stuff.
So, Poti not only thrives here last season, he has a banner year. But, alas, during the offseason, Poti knew demand was high, and this was his chance to take advantage of an inflated market. In fact, you can blame Philadelphia's signing of Kimmo Timonen
directly, because after that, Poti realized his value would also be high and he could finally get a longterm contract.
So, as Snow changed his focus to improve the position, aiming for Detroit's Mathieu Schneider
, the Capitals came a knocking on our door, taking Poti off our hands, giving him exactly what he wanted. And then, due to Scott Niedermayer's
rumored impending retirement, Anaheim went hard and snatched Schneider, despite our best efforts.
Where this all leads to is that we still have not replaced that Powerplay quarterback position, and despite that some here are convinced that Marc-Andre Bergeron
, who has thrived here since his ejection from Edmonton, is the PP answer. And I tell you, he is not.
MAB is a fantastic shooter, and his strength on the powerplay is getting free to take that shot
. Not be stuck at the point. If anything, due to Poti being afraid to shoot the puck, opposing PKs were able to swarm MAB and render him unable to take a shot because Poti made the PP predictable.
Despite that there is a PP gap with Poti gone, there is someone to the rescue for shooting the puck besides MAB. And that is Andy Sutton
who finally answers the calls for the last two seasons for a true crease clearer. Sutton has brooms for hands, and a mean streak, to boot. He also has a very hard shot from the point, and that could be exactly what the Isles also use him for to create some havoc and danger from another Dman during the PP.
If you also then add the ever-growing Radek Martinek
, who has good passing and the ability to pinch, you have some options to run him or Sutton depending on situation, along with MAB. Radek also ain't too shabby shooting from the point. So, if the Isles want speed on the PP, Martinek and MAB might be the two mainstays of at least one PP crew. The key for Radek is health. If he goes down early, it may force the Isles hand to make a trade.
As far as shot blocking goes, something that was foreign to this team before Nolan became coach, this team still has some excellent mainstays. Besides Sutton, who also plays that game, is of course, Brendan Witt
. Witt really found his groove again last season, and has thrived in shutting down opposing offenses. The idea of Sutton and Witt on a PK, despite the loss of speed, is still quite exciting. Shotblocking, hitting, disrupting, and just causing a ruckus so that the goalie can focus on the puck shooter, really is what got the Islanders into the playoffs and playing close games with Buffalo last season in round 1. Expect to see more of the same as players grow and expand their repertoire.
Speaking of repertoire...this team will live or die based on two defensemen this upcoming season. Bruno Gervais
, who still looks to me as someone who should have been cast on Dawson's Creek...well, maybe if they made a show called Dawson's Crease
. Bruno really needs to start plunging into his potential and emerge as a steady defenseman. We all talk about potential and growth, and the Islander's have been giving him tons of time with the club to gain more experience. As last season revved up, so did Bruno, putting things together and being one of those who helped keep pace with Buffalo in the playoffs. Well, thats a great start, and Gervais this season MUST build on that, because this team needs him too. Bruno must grow up and become a man in a man's game.
Our other dman is Chris Campoli
. He also has made strides, and needs to begin to up the ante. Campoli, also, could bloom into an excellent Powerplay guy. My only concern with him is that he can be physically handled by opposing offensive stalwarts, and lose battles. And that is his number one mountain to climb this season. Campoli needs to strap on some moxy, eat his Wheaties, and really start battling game after game. He must grow into a large role, and be one of those guys who makes offenses pay.
So, despite my reservations on D, there is much hope and some excellent pieces. But this team still misses the physical, dynamic, and puckmoving cog that would complete it and make it something truly inspiring. This defensive ship still needs an anchor. Bryan Berard is not a solution, even if he makes the team as a PP QB.
I guess that is why Nolan and Snow made an attempt to bring in Ed Jovanovski
who evidently did not want to leave the comfortable toasty warmth of Phoenix, refusing to waive his no trade clause. A real shame because he is exactly what the doctor ordered, despite his large contract. Same with the Bryan McCabe
, who Toronto seemed hot to move his recently overpaid contract, yet also seems uninterested in waiving his as well. And, despite that wish of mine, there is also the understanding that this Defense, and team, is a work in progress - and that gap can be filled from within or via trade down the line.
We have enough piece to make a good start, but we also need this defense to come into their own this season. The table is set. Opportunity is there. Now it's high time for those who haven't hit their potential to get there. Or else, you will see some moves of them for others if all else fails.
Hey BD, one thing I have been noticing from press clipings is the praise of Johnson. Does he have a shot to be on the big club in October? Hopefully I will get to see him on Monday night in person against the Rags
Don't think so. Johnson and Gervais are the only two Dmen with 2 way contracts, thus do not need to go thru waivers. I see Gervais making it, but Johnson at Bridgeport.