For the past few games we have watched this Isles squad play an impressive 40 minutes of hockey to conclude to the dismay of many fans with a 2 or 3-goal give-away resulting in a loss.
I was in Connecticut on Saturday and was unable to watch Satan and Fedotenko make their returns to Coliseum ice, but I got a text message from a buddy of mine that said it all in two words: "Not again." Without knowing the score I knew exactly what that meant, and I was right. The Isles gave up another 3-1 lead to lose in the shootout to the Penguins, 4-3.
Today the Isles sat out Mike Comrie, possibly due to his hip appointment - but who knows, the Isles have covered up injuries in the past - and dressed 2008 first round pick Josh Bailey. Finally we got to see this kid in uniform. He played well, nothing special, but it was his first game. He actually looked nervous on his first few shifts but that's to be expected.
What will linger in his mind is the high sticking penalty he took with 2:40 left in the game right after Trent Hunter scored to reduce the deficit to one goal. It was a tough one to swallow, but that's why they're called rookie mistakes. Hopefully over the next eight games we can get a better look at what he's capable of. However, what I do find intriguing is Mike Comrie being benched with trade rumors swirling around that Snow is looking to move him. With Bailey in the line-up and Sillinger eventually returning, we are going to have depth at the center position when you also consider Thompson, Park, Weight, and Nielsen. It will be interesting to see how this unravels over the next few weeks.
Overall the Islanders played a pretty strong game against the Philidelphia Flyers, but they were making one error over and over again: they kept on shooting straight into Biron instead of behind him. In no way am I disrespecting Biron; he played a strong and excellent positional game, and that is why the Isles had a hard time capitalizing on their scoring chances, but they could've tested him a little better than they did.
With this Islanders team we can't always be looking for wins every game, but we do need to look for signs of improvement and I think we saw some today. They played a relatively consistent game. Despite the score, the Islanders were in the driver seat more often than not. They drew several power plays, including a 2-minute 5 on 3. Their inability to bury these opportunities is another issue, but the fact of the matter is that they played better.
My favorite adjustment to the line-up was Sean Bergenheim playing with Doug Weight. I know we're supposed to be looking for chemistry between Weight and Guerin on this line, but Bergs and Weight looked like they could develop into a solid tandem with Guerin on the other wing. They were the most effective line with Guerin recording an abundance of shots, and the passing between Bergs and Weight became something to anticipate on every shift. Hopefully they can produce as our top line in the near future.
Although it was a loss to the Flyers, the Isles gained in the sense of consistency and chances. They played hard. But they need to score goals when the opposition gives them up for grabs.
Hopefully we'll see better results when the Isles head into Ottawa on Thursday to take on Jason Spezza and the Senators, although we can assume it will be a harder task to accomplish against a tougher line up.