Kevin Schultz, Islanders Point Blank:Thus far, the Islanders have been consistently inconsistent. A night after a good performance in Pittsburgh, they follow it up with a clunker at home against a team that had managed only 13 goals through their first nine games (the MSG broadcast noted that’s the worst offensive start to a season since the pre-Orr Bruins).
It started off with a healthy dose of bad luck as the Flyers scored on their first shot of the game, after the Islanders got a bit of pressure early on. Vinny Lecavalier, who would have a hat trick in this one, got his first of three goals on the power play. Kevin Poulin had a clear view of the shot from the circle but Travis Hamonic deflected it, handcuffing Poulin and lifting the puck over his glove.
Philly would score again on their second shot of the game, which was one of a couple goals that were a fire drill in the Islanders zone, with blue jerseys scrambling left and right. Jakub Voracek traffic coned Matt Carkner and it’s hard to say if Poulin had a good chance at it, as he was interefered with by Frans Nielsen, who had been shoved into the crease by Scott Hartnell.
Just like that it was a 0-2 hole and the Islanders never recovered.
The defensive pairing of Matt Carkner and Matt Donovan had a rough go of it. Donovan was on the ice for all three Lecavalier goals, and Carkner was on for two (although NHL.com says otherwise but it’s obvious from the highlights). The Islanders have a rookie paired with the guy who was the team’s #7 out of training camp, and it is now clear that putting together arguably the worst and most inexperience defenders is a disaster. Whether that means breaking up Hamonic/MacDonald or something else, it has clearly got to change before Tuesday night. Donovan has had a rough week but it might be good to give the kid a steady partner that can help hide the miscues of a young player.
After the Flyers went up 2-0, Eric Boulton went out and fought. That was your reminder that he was in the lineup, playing a grand total of 6:23 on the night, which is only a minute more than he spent in the sin bin after tussling with Jay Rosehill. This begs the question as to why the Islanders even have him on the roster. They’re basically playing with 11 forwards with Boulton in the lineup, as Boulton didn’t get regular shifts in the final two periods. I’m not necessarily anti-fighting or anti-Boulton, I’m pro smart lineup decisions. It makes no sense to play Boulton in a lineup that also features Matt Martin and Carkner, two guys that fight when they need to and Cal Clutterbuck, a guy who doesn’t fight a lot but throws the body like it’s his job (oh wait, it is his job). And that’s all forgetting about the fact that Boulton is taking a lineup spot away from Brock Nelson, who apparently needs to play so much that he was shuttled to Bridgeport over the weekend to get in a game.
So anyway, Boulton went and fought and that inspired the Islanders or whatever — because I guess the first line can’t score unless someone fights — so Kyle Okposo fired a slapper from the blueline past Steve Mason four minutes later. For Okposo, it’s his fourth of the season that matches his total from all of last year. But towards the end of the period Lecavalier would score his second of the game, as this time both Carkner and Donovan got traffic coned when Lecavalier and linemate Michael Raffl criss-crossed in the offensive zone.
Poulin looked alright in the second period as he seemed to settle down and stopped all 12 shots that he faced. But the concerning part was that for a team that was down 3-1 on its home ice to the Flyers, who the standings said were awful, managed only five shots on goal in the period. Here’s one better; the Islanders only managed 10 shot attempts in the middle frame.
But credit where it’s due, the Islanders did manage this beautiful shorthanded goal in the second period:
The Islanders came out of the gate with good pressure in the third but they couldn’t manage a goal. Lecavalier completed the hat trick about halfway through on another fire drill for the Isles. Thomas Hickey got the puck stolen by two Flyers trying to hold it in at the blueline and then was shoved away by a streaking Lecavalier. After the puck bounced around and bodies flew everywhere, a diving effort from Lecavalier put the puck in the net.
There was one final chance, a power play with four minutes to go. There were a lot of chances on that man advantage too, including Kyle Okposo ringing one off the post that didn’t get the kind redirect. But the comeback wasn’t to be and the Flyers iced it with an empty netter later on to make it 5-2.
Next up for the Islanders is a home date against the Rangers on Tuesday night.