The Isles flew out from LI the other day on a high. A 3-1 record, their only loss outplaying, outshooting, but not out scoring Washington and Kolzig. Everyone was happy, everyone was chipper.
But then something happened on the way to Toronto. A transporter malfunction seemed to come into play, and the plane that landed had a completely different group of players than was on LI the night before. Much like Captain James T. Kirk, the team was replaced by evil Kirk . . . doppledangers who accentuated every weakness and flaw.
We had Evil Comrie, who instead of generating offense, generated giveaways with bad passes and sloppy decision-making. Evil Marc-Andre Bergeron, who sometimes skitters between good and bad was all-bad last night. Constantly off his game and leaving his man to chase as if a barking dog chasing the mail delivery truck.
It was a stinker, and it stunk all the way back to Long Island. An 8-1 trouncing. The Isles came in so slow, sloppy and disheveled, it basically handed Toronto on silver-platter everything they needed to get off their own snide. The only player that looked any good was Bruno Gervais, who still had some pep in his step.
Was it a night off? Or was it a catapult back to earth. Did the team come in lax and tired? If so, a rather disturbing attribute so early, and when the Isles have MANY back-to-back games on-tap this season.
Or was it simply a step backward for one fateful evening versus a team they should have been hot to stave off? After all, Toronto might be vying for the very playoff spot that the Isles are shooting for when time gets crucial late in the season.
Yes, there was no Rick DiPietro, given the night off so he could gnash his teeth in frustration as he watched from the bench. But Wade Dubielewicz and the Isles faced Toronto late last year in a huge game and succeeded. So, the Isles and coaching staff need to get back to basics, and to exorcise those evil doppledangers who had about as much energy on the Toronto ice as perhaps Droop-a-long from a Hanna-Barbera's cartoon show.
Some might say that anyone has an off night. And that would be correct. BUT, it was a lopsided 8-1 defeat against a team who did not simply run over the Isles. The Isles simply ran over themselves.
The Isles now head to Philly on Saturday to take on a hot young Flyer club. So this and the game against the Capitals after might serve as the true judgment of the Isles mettle this season.