So here we are, upon a Thanksgiving, with many fans talking turkey about the dreaded post-Ranger malaise, which we now might need an inoculation for instead of the usual Flu shot. You know the drill. Where the Isles come off a big win with a hazy dull outing the very next game.
Now, despite the denials, there will always be a letdown after a big game, but this was the third meeting with the Rangers. And, yes, they were particularly awful in Toronto after their first tangle with the men in blue and red. But in the second meeting, after dispatching the Rangers, they then defeated the Devils in a close game. So the panic and over-analysis just doesn't wash.
I said last week that the next three games for the Isles would be very telling for who they were exactly. In that time they lost a close one with Pitt, and then gave two defensively strong victories against NJ and NY. So, in fact, we've learned quite a bit. But perhaps I was errant in leaving out a very important game tonight, against none other than the Montreal Canadians.
Montreal is having an excellent start. That said, they have had 3 losses in the last 5 games, and have a lot of road games on tap for a stretch. The Isles have been hot at home, but this game is a complete toss-up on who arrives on LI. Will Montreal have tightened up defensively after a 4-2 loss versus Ottawa? They also haven't exactly been tearing it up 5 on 5. However, don't discount hometown boys Mike Komisarek and Chris Higgins who seem to have a proclivity to cause the Isles fits. Contain the forwards, keep that Montreal defense from chalking up some points...a defense who has not missed Sheldon Souray one whit, by the way...and you have an Isles win. So the Isles must continue their defensive ways, score on 5 on 5, staying disciplined.
Speaking of Turkeys
Newest to the bottom-falling out bandwagon is none other than ESPN, yes...ESPN again, this time: Scott Burnside, with some 'burning' remarks on the Isles in his latest analysis.
Not so fast, Burnie. The Isles great secret this season is stellar coaching by Nolan and his assistants. New coaches Gerard Gallant, John Chabot, along with Dan Lacroix seem to really have had this team clicking. Sure Garth Snow and Ted Nolan picked excellent players to bring in, but you also need to have the schemes to make it all work. These players and coaches have mostly been on the same page since training camp.
Bottom-falling out? No. Maybe a bit of a drop and skid, as all teams are wont to do. But if anything has been shown, is that the Isles are going to compete and work their tail off. And, playoffs or not, thats a pretty fun thing to watch on the ice. But chances are, with those things all working together, they will be hashing it out along with the other teams by season's end. And ESPN and others of the ever omniscient, yet almost always erring, peanut gallery, will be tolling our doom.