Frustrating. That about sums up how the Isles and head coach Scott Gordon felt after last night's collapse to the Anaheim Ducks. Gordon was so frustrated that when MSG Network's Rob Carlin questioned him about the team's third period let downs throughout the year, he walked away without giving an answer during the live post-game show.
That can be seen as a sign of a coach that was just ticked off and did not want to answer any more questions, or it could have been a coach that simply did not have an answer. The rule that the Isles are 'a young team that will make mistakes' is starting to wear thin. These are the closing games of the second year of a rebuild - that excuse won't cut it anymore. Although it is still likely to happen from time to time, those days should start to fade. Although they have to a degree, third period let downs have been a frustrating theme throughout the course of the season.
Although the game cannot be blamed just on one player, Bruno Gervais' timely give away in overtime is just one of many examples of his inability to handle top defensive minutes at the NHL level. In a crucial game like the one last night versus the Ducks, the Islanders needed to get that second point. There was no reason why Bruno had to force a pass to Streit when there was an attacking forward in the passing lane. Some argued that he elevated the pass and just was unlucky. The way I look at it is that once again another costly turnover by the Islanders defense, particularly Bruno who has done this numerous times, cost them the extra point.
Gordon is a good coach. He has done a lot with this team and has mutual trust and support between him and his players, but sometimes he needs to go with a safe choice instead of a gamble. In Gordon's defense, the Isles blue line has been attacked with injuries, leaving him with limited options of whom to throw out there. Yet Gordon should have had an answer for Carlin when the game was over. Not to blame someone, not to make any excuses, but to defend his team, in which ever way was best. Walking away did not accomplish that at all.
Tonight the Islanders conclude their west coast visits with a stop in L.A. to square off with the Kings. Roloson is expected to be back between the pipes, and the Isles will finish their road trip with a visit to Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
Check out my blog at The Hockey Writers about the current Isles situation: Isles Finding Points At Wrong Or Right Time?
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