In my last blog, I felt the Islanders should give players like Trevor Smith or Jesse Joensuu a chance to play with the big club if they were going to continuously sit guys like Comeau and Tambellini over fourth liners such as Jon Sim. The next day Jesse Joensuu was called up from Bridgeport and played his first NHL game of the season.
"It was awesome. It's part of living the dream," he said when I asked him how it felt to return. He had been off to a bit of a slow start this season in the AHL after finishing the previous year with 20 goals, 19 assists and 39 points in 71 games played. Lately he has been playing with more of an edge, showing more signs that he is capable of being an NHL power-forward.
"I've been trying play more North American again, trying to dump the puck, win the pucks in the corner and try to get the puck to my line-mates. It's been going better and better but there are still a lot of steps to take to play in this league." He didn't want to reveal the personal goals he sets for himself but admits that he has a lot of work to do.
His "overall play" is what he feels he needs to work on the most. "I think I was a little nervous at the beginning of the game. I was trying to play too safe and then you might look slow. My skating still needs to improve and I got to be able to hit more and if I'm a better skater that's the thing I'll need to do."
He did look a little slow for his first game back with the Isles, but I wasn't surprised. It was nice seeing another forward with size besides Trent Hunter playing on Coliseum ice. The Isles do get pushed around easily and could use someone like Jesse on a regular basis. However, he does have to be more physical if he is going to be effective.
That can be said for the team as a whole, and like I said before, this home stand is going to be crucial for them if they want to move up in the standings. Even Roloson laughed that he had to put the rink back in his GPS to remind himself of how to get to work last night.
Although the shots ended up being more than a 2-1 margin, the Islanders did not play as bad as the stats show. The third period in general has been their weakest part of every game all season, but all they needed was an extra 24 seconds to score in OT.
Nielsen has slotted himself as Gordon's second line center and was able to score his first goal on home ice - it was a big one. "I think Tommy was falling backward, I don't know, maybe he hit something in the ice but I could see he was off-balance." Regardless if Thomas was a little awkward on the play, we all knew that Frans was going to go to that backhand. It's the same move he uses in each of his shootout attempts and it worked once again.
Despite the exciting finish, the Islanders need to tighten up defensively in their own zone and find ways to score in only 60 minutes. That is one area that the team needs to improve on collectively.
They can start with a regulation win on Monday when they face the Florida Panthers.