They didn’t play poorly tonight against Boston for much of the game — although a lot looks good compared to the last time we saw them during Sunday’s third period — but the Islanders went quietly against a clearly superior opponent. The last time this team was on national TV, they took it to the Penguins in their opponent’s building. Tonight was quite the opposite as the Bruins were the better team, were able to capitalize on their chances first, and played shutdown hockey once they had a solid lead.
The Bruins are arguably the best team in the East by far and played like a team with a plan and with the players to execute it. The other side of the ice, not as much. The Islanders took a bit to get going in this one, and the Bruins jumped ahead seven minutes in on a goal that should have been stopped. Boston’s Adam McQuaid took a slapper from above the faceoff circle that Evgeni Nabokov had a clear look at, and let get past him.
Up to that point the Islanders had been out shot quite a bit, but were able to pull things together in the second half of the period and actually out shot the Bruins 11-10 in the frame. They would tie it on a goal from Casey Cizikas, who was the recipient of a great feed from Josh Bailey.
About 30 seconds into the second the Bruins would score to make it 2-1, as Brad Marchand stuffed in a big rebound. David Krejci added another a few minutes later and from there the Bruins would tighten up, playing the kind of defense that a team like the Bruins should. They significantly limited the scoring chances of the Islanders’ first line and got the best of them, as the Islanders top three forwards were all -3 on the night.
When it came time to pull the goalie, the Islanders looked ill prepared yet again. It wasn’t the comedy routine that Sunday was, but it was still bad. It was dump and chase in a situation where you can’t do that, and with the Bruins sitting deep in their own half it wasn’t going to work. The Islanders also seemed too concerned about giving up the empty net goal. The point isn’t to defend your net to the death in those situations, it’s to take the puck up ice and make use of the extra man. Empty net play certainly shouldn’t the main concern here — and I’ve written too much on it already — but that it’s something that hasn’t been corrected since last season is unbelievable.
Next up for the Islanders are the Senators and Maple Leafs, two teams that are banged up and will be coming to the Coliseum for the second of back-to-back games. Hopefully the Islanders will be able to salvage the homestand but we’ll see. There is not much reason to be optimistic given the play on home ice thus far.