As you all watch the games and read the same articles, I won't bore you with the usual recap and such. I always assume you all saw what I saw. But I will share some of what I came away with from my last Blog Box Isles game for this season . . .
BD's Game Key Stats
Matt Spiller getting HUGE minutes: 23:47, only exceeded by vet Radek Martinek's 24:52. Nolan, who was very effusive on Spiller's effort in the last game, gave him lots of time in the NJ game. Add to this the Bridgeport shuffle he's doing, and it makes it even more impressive.
Vasicek, who should be a targeted resigning in the offseason, logged 20:25 and has been performing well lately.
Bergenheim was the most active with 5 shots, one assist and +1 in 18:12 minutes. He, Guerin and Vasicek continue to click.
Kip Brennan makes his debut with a whopping 3:32! But we all know what he's there for. Wink..wink...nudge...nudge. Hope he gets some time and a good workout versus NYR.
Matt Keith, the newest call-up, had one shot in 7:14 of icetime.
NOTE: Aaron Johnson was out of last night's game with a rib injury.
Cause For Concern and Cause For Comfort
Though I appreciate the fact this decimated team keeps competing. That a mostly Bridgeport-manned team with the 3rd backstopper, Joey McDonald, making NJ work for it, only clinching the win and their postseason in OT. MickeyD made 45 saves, and had a lot of help from his defense in keeping the Devils proliferation away from the net. Yet all this, I am still disturbed by the constant lackluster second periods. The one that led to NJ's tying goal, in this case.
NJ peppered McD and the Isles with 21 shots, while the Isles only mustered 5 in the pivotal 2nd. The string of games seems to run rampant with the same story. Isles come out hard in the 1st, waver in the 2nd, and that is usually where the game's crux lies. The 3rd has been trying to comeback from deficits or trying to hold on to the tie game.
Now, yes, this team is pockmarked with kids and call-ups. Which make me appreciate that they keep fighting and making it difficult for opposing teams to walk away with points. But there are also vets, and this 2nd period stumble has been prevalent before they were eliminated from the playoffs.
Of course, at the Isles most frustrating point this season, at times, they came in flat in the 1st. Where the 2nd period they'd be fired up to reclaim or at least dig out of the hole they put them in. So, at least now the Isles come to play. And they better, because with the call-ups, the writing is on the wall. As some players seem to have disappeared lately, Vasicek, Park, Guerin, Meyer, Martinek are only solidifying their value. Others seem to be slipping into the ether, which during an evaluation period of where the team is looking to see what they have and where they want to go, seems quite baffling.
With the emergence of Reddy Meyer, and new successful callips like Matt Spiller, and now Jack Hillen who is expected to play in in at least one of the last two games, there is some competition and depth where it seemed paper-thin before. No, all the issues are not answered, but at least we are seeing at least one facet of a solution. Garth Snow is already active to ply some fixes and depth, and bodes well to what might be a very defining summer for the Isles.
NEXT UP: The Rangers, who needs these next two games desperately.