Last week, the Isles went to MSG and brought back a hard fought win. It was probably their biggest win of the season due to the timing, rivalry and issues on their plate. It was a win in which we hoped would be the impetus to changing the gut-wrenching inconsistent mess they turned into mid-season.
Well, on Saturday night, they managed their biggest loss against a team who sat perched onto the playoff cliff-face. Instead of unseating them, the Isles went over the cliff, like Wile E. Coyote. And the Flyers went "Meeeep meeeep!" And raced off into the night.
What bothers me most about that game and the Isles subpar effort, is how, once again the Flyers were able to win. The won it by showing successes where the Isles are severely deficient. They created traffic in front of the net, and scored on the powerplays. A perfect recipe for a team who is successfully vying for the playoffs. And the result was a very grim reminder of why the Islanders are on the outside looking in. Add to this the penalties showed the frustration-level of this team.
The Isles have not had a guy willing to pay the price in front of the net since Mark Parrish. And when he was here, despite some streaky success, he lacked people to shoot it so that he could slap in the rebound. Now we have those who can shoot from the outside and nobody is steam-shoveling their way to create traffic or scoop pucks. In these days, in the new NHL, it is even better for this type of player because they, in the past, took tons of punishment when the rules were less strict. It is why Dino Ciccarelli was so great. Dino played mostly with the Minnesota North Stars, besides Detroit and Tampa. He scored 1,200 points in his NHL career. He played this type of game when it was a meat grinder. Dino excelled in being that scrapper in front of the net, picking up the garbage. The Isles need a Dino is the worst way. Players willing to take a glove, stick or body to the grill all to get a piece of flying rubber, capitalizing on screens, action and rebounds.
Instead, the Isles need to make perfect plays to score sometimes. And with so many imperfect players, is it any wonder our offense is one of the worst in hockey. In fact, let's repeat that so it settles in with more reality: our offense is one of the worst in hockey. Our goals for IS the worst.
So as the Flyer's forwards muck the corners and harangue the goaltender, they redirect pucks and make the Isles pay for penalty infractions. A day at the office. The type of game that shows just who the contenders and pretenders are.
So, we can pretend we have a shot still, and mathematically, we do. But we lost that one game that was the most important. The divisional game against the team we were looking to unseat. And we did not even come close.
Tomorrow night, a team actually worse off than us. Tampa. Another recipe for disaster if the Isles give into the darkside of frustration and don't work as a team.