Although I didn't write it in a previous blog, I PROMISE you that I believed that the Islanders were going to split the home-and-home series with the Rangers, and that the visiting team would win each game. Yeah, I know that sounds like complete BS since I am speaking in retrospect, but that WAS my prediction.
The first game at the Garden was a well-played game by the Islanders, but they don't deserve the full credit. Despite a relentless forecheck, the Islanders goals weren't pretty. But hey, those are the types of games we expect the Islanders to play. Sometimes hard work can beat any opponent, and that is exactly what happened. The fact that the Rangers played a game without any heart or character just made it that much easier. I was really stunned how the Rangers simply did not show any life in this game. The rivalry on the ice needs something to bring it back to life.
...I'm sure it will in time with players such as Okposo, Bailey, Tavares, Nielsen, Moulson, Hillen, etc. growing up from within as well as players such as Del Zotto, Sanguinetti, Staal, Dubinsky, and Callahan doing the same. But that's a blog for another day.
Last night the Islanders played with just as much intensity as they did the first game. The Rangers didn't manage a shot on net for a good 10+ minute stretch in the first. But sometimes that can be a nightmare for the goaltender, and Roloson eventually gave the Rangers a 3-goal lead. The plays weren't necessarily his fault, but there were one or two that I'm sure he would've liked to have had back.
At the other end of the rink, Lundqvist was playing one of the best games I have seen him play against the Islanders. Save after save after save, it almost seemed like nothing was going to beat him. Callahan played very well too, and I'm sure many Rangers fans were relieved to see Drury get that rebound goal. He seemed to have some life back after that as well. But I hate to admit, your captain should be providing energy for the rest of his team with his play regardless if he's scoring goals, that's what good leaders do.
And then of course there was the Nate Thompson play. I literally did not have any words at that moment. The first thought that went through my mind was the line from Slapshot when the goalie knew The Chiefs were going to be sold, "Trade me right bleepin now!" In Nate's defense, those type of plays happen to even the best of players and he has been playing great hockey as a fourth-lining penalty killer. He is not the reason why we lost this game and hasn't been a liability on the ice at any significant point of the season. But like Billy Jaffe said just a second before that rush started, "a shorthanded goal would really change the tenor of this game." With that play and MacDonald's goal, we would have had a 3-2 game.
It's hard to ignore how impressive Andrew MacDonald has been on defense. Forget the fact that he scored his first NHL goal (and point) last night. Well I'm sure he won't forget it, but even without that goal he has been so reliable that I think the Islanders should strongly consider keeping him up here with the big club for the rest of the year and letting Gervais ride the press-box - or even find a team willing to trade for him. Gervais has made so many countless mistakes all season long and has been trying to develop his game with the Islanders for years now. So far he has remained at the same spot in which he has started. He is a -12 and only has six assists, and those six haven't changed for some time. I feel like I can remember witnessing MacDonald making more poke-checks and successful defensive plays in his zone in one game than I've seen Bruno do in a week.
Speaking of trading defenseman, it was recently shown on TSN that Chris Campoli had been a healthy scratch for a few games. He only was recently injected back into the Senators line-up because too many forwards had been injured. Yes, I said forwards, he was playing on the fourth line on offense for the first time since he was about five or six years old. Campoli requested the trade, but so far the Islanders were the clear winner in that deal, and we will find out how big the reward is when de Haan makes his way onto the club.
As far as de Haan goes, I will hopefully have a blog up about him within the next few days as I'm working on scheduling an interview with the Oshawa Generals defenseman. He recently made the World Juniors squad for Team Canada with the other young defensive prospect I interviewed, Travis Hamonic.
Keep checking back for the interview, and tomorrow I will be at the Blog Box when the Islanders play Montreal.