At this point of the season, every game needs to be looked at as if it is a playoff game if the Islanders hope to make it passed 82 games for 2010. Last night the Devils came back with a point to prove; they are at the top of the standings in the East for a reason, and after being shutout by the Isles 4-0 last week, it had to be expected that they were going to come out strong looking for a win.
The Islanders were in it until the third period, when a team that had played the night before, out-skated a rested Islanders line-up that should have been able to find a third goal but couldn't. It's a shame for a team that has played so well recently to let up late in a game when points are crucial. Granted, it does not affect the Isles if the Devils continue to get points, but this loss dropped them to 10th in the East with 54 points. One game, combined with the other games played around the league, can easily be make or break for the Islanders, especially as the season winds down. They are only one point behind the 8th placed Canadiens who are tied with the 6th placed Flyers. However, they are also only two points above the 13th placed Tampa Bay Lightning.
See why every game should be considered a playoff game? Each point gained or lost can be the ultimate deciding factor by April.
Of course, this is just one loss in a stretch of seven homes where the other six have all been wins, but when you see a team that needs to fight for their position in the standings fall flat in the final frame, it is a brief cause for concern.
The Islanders will host the Washington Capitals this Tuesday and will have the always threatening Andy Sutton back on the ice as his two-game suspension will be served. It is crucial for this squad to rebound and get one last win on home-ice before they hit the road for a four-game road trip.
On that road trip, the Isles will face the Hurricanes, Flyers, Panthers and Lightning. With the exception of the 'Canes, all of these opponents are competing for the same positioning in the standings. All four games are definitely winnable games and need to have that sense of urgency that was seen in the second period last night. The Isles once again held an enormous shot advantage in the middle frame with a total of 14-1. Unfortunately, that only shot came from Parise, hit Freddy Meyer's foot, and ricocheted behind DiPietro.
Speaking of DP, none of the goals that found their way behind him can be seen as his fault. Meyer's re-direction was just bad luck, Langenbrunner's one-timer over his shoulder was just a beautiful shot and although Salvador's was a simple wrister from the blue-line, there were so many bodies in front that it either had to be re-directed by an Islander or impossible to see. He seems to be coming along, and although this has already been his fourth game played, it's still great to see Ricky back in an Islanders uniform.
With that being said, I expect to see Roly in net this Tuesday.
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