Garth Snow hemmed and hawed when he had to figure out a solution to his horde of defensemen at the start of this season. Bryan Berard sat for days waiting as the season started, and all he could do is practice on his own dollar as the Isles looked for any takers to Fearless Freddie Meyer who seemed the odd man out to the defensive glut. The former luxury of extra dmen then became a problem as the Isles just had too many, and to make this room, someone would need to be exposed on waivers to be sent down to Bridgeport.
Gathering no takers in a trade scenario, Meyer was put on waiver and then grabbed by the Phoenix Coyotes. Unfortunately, Meyer never stuck there either, and after 5 games, he was unceremoniously sent down. In the meantime, the Isle dmen have been playing well, despite a short stint by MAB in the doghouse. As Berard went down to injury, MAB went back and produced. Aaron Johnson practiced so hard he replaced Darryl Bootland on the 4th line. But now Johnson is out with a sprained knee for at least another month, perhaps more. Berard is about to return to the lineup, and some of the dmen seem to have some dings lately.
So as the Coyotes called Meyer up, Garth Snow sprung as if on a loose puck or some hot vixen at a Long Island nightclub. As a result, yesterday, Freddie Meyer was grabbed on waivers and returned to Long Island. Some might moan and groan, but depth players who know systems do not grow on trees. And Meyer also has some speed, and the ability to crawl under opposing forwards skin, as Brendan Shanahan can attest. If anything, Snow is rectifying a situation at the end of training camp where Berard, Gervais and Meyer were all on the bubble to show the coaches their merits. Berard and Gervais had their shot and succeeded, but Meyer's wife gave birth, and Meyer did not play that last game. So Meyer never quite got his shot to save his job, and Snow seemed reluctant to part with him thereafter, letting Berard sit as they attempted to figure out a solution.
Well, now he's back. Depth move, or more competition for those like MAB, Berard, Gervais, and others. With Martinek and Berard's penchant for getting injured, and already seeing some go down, it might another brilliant move by Garth for longterm success. Even more brilliant is the fact that NOW Phoenix is paying half Meyer's salary.
So, it seems a smart savvy move by management in all facets. Meyer might now accept that he is a depth player, failing to make a Coyotes team. And in that role, he gives the Isles that comfort factor they seem to be looking for these days. Nolan has made many a statement about how depth is so important. And we all know Nolan and Snow have been on the same page on all player personnel. So, it seems pretty clear that Meyer is a commodity in insurance, knowledge, and a quantified tangent of their equation that has been written with 9 wins + 4 losses + depth equals playoffs. And you don't need to be Good Will Hunting to figure out that is some good math.
All Hail Satan
Meanwhile, last night, the Isles, with Meyer already sitting on his keister as a healthy scratch, took care of business with a solid win, and solid play over New Jersey. It might have been a 2-1 score, but the Isles really took it to NJ, while Ricky made 20 saves, once again outplaying one of the better goaltenders in the Easter Conference.
Last night, the Isles reduced Brodeur into whining about being beat twice, not to mentioned peppered, as well. Must be tough in NJ these days with mounting pressure, and no relief. Brent Sutter's own staff is to blame for the additional bench minor that led to the 5-3. But it is Brodeur's inconsistent struggle, yet consistent big mouth that should incur a penalty or at least an inserted skate lately.
"I don't think they beat us," Brodeur said. "Look at the two goals they got."
Yes, and if it wasn't for some lucky bounces and errant shots, it would have been 4-1, Marty.
The Isles now have beaten the Rangers and Devils twice this season. Big games and sharp disciplined play have led to close wins.
Who's Next? Who Wants Some?
Tomorrow night, they have a big test going against the top of the heap right now, Philly, who has been strong with Biron and Briere. This will be an excellent barometer to two teams on the biggest rise from last season in the division. Bryan Berard, who was disappointed not to return last night, might get his chance tomorrow.
Til then . . .