It was Kids Day on Long Island, and fans came out as the Isles tripped, clutched, held sticks, grabbed, fought, slashed, roughed, hooked, cross checked and probably did about 80% of it all over again.
Buffalo worked hard with their 7-1 drubbing of the Islanders, but perhaps not as hard as the refs. The refs called a total (at this time..it might still not be finally tabulated) 34 penalties.
Fans began chanting "DP" which opened plainly the conundrum that the Isles might have put themselves in with the "is Rick really ready-to-go, or even backup" questions. These questions were given before this game even started. Joey MacDonald was far from the only problem, but I saw him leaving fat rebounds off his glove and blocker long before things spun out like Stevie Wonder trying his hand at NASCAR.
The Isles blew out in some internal combustion, losing all sense of any system put in place by Scott Gordon. I wondered if they might they have been served by having someone else start the 3rd period? Maybe DP should have sat in a press box as Yann Danis was placed in to give the Isles a shaking up mid-way?
The Isles might not like the focus on DP and his knee, but they created this scenario by not being forthright over injuries. So as we all guess the ailment for Martinek and others, they might bristle at when Botta, Logan and others zero in on why the goaltender wasn't changed. But, you reap what you sow. Excuse us as we doubt everything, even when we are told DP is ready. You see, there is simply no sincere and truthful give and take with the system the GM's put forth into the NHL policy this year.
Today Joey Mac fell to earth despite two good showing in previous games. The rest of the team fell right along with him. Give MacDonald credit. He came out in the lockerroom and was unfazed by the press who circled him like a pack of wolves trying to vie for the last steak sandwich in town. When he was told Gordon said he doesn't like to pull goalies, Joey Mac responded that he appreciates the confidence that he gave him to let him work through it.
When someone tried to make him admit that Ricky wasn't healthy or ready-to-go as backup.
"Yeah . . . Well I don't know about that," was his response. He wasn't going to be bulled into a corner on the issue.
He cited that they have a few practices now to try and regroup. That they need to put it behind them.
Bill Guerin put it forth more plainly, as he always does.
"We weren't in our positions, we didn't skate, didn't work as hard"
He cited that they also moved away from the defensive plan as well.
"We have to learn from it. We'll be ok."
Though he thought they were bad on penalties and discipline, he had no problem with the fights. Fighting was part of the game and sticking up for your teammates was important, calling it "honest".
"We all have to be on the same page and in the right position to work"
"You can't take shortcuts in this game. You have to put in an honest days work"
There is just no getting away that this game was UGLY. It wasn't until the road trip to Toronto last season when the mask of the Isles fell off and showed some glaring deficiencies. This year it was far sooner. However, is this the true face? Or just steps backwards to not grasping and holding to Gordon's system when they are behind, making mistakes or just plain sloppy?
A lot went wrong this game. Not much went right except that maybe they got their worst out of the way. That sometimes a big stumble is a quick reminder that they have a LOT of work to do.