MAPLE LEAFS 5 ISLANDERS 2: Who do they bench now?

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Keith Quinn, Islanders Point Blank:

The Islanders finally got all 20 guys on the same page and had a total team effort.  Except, it was just universally ugly.  That’s not entirely true, Casey Cizikas showed up for the most part, Eric Boulton did his job well, and Kevin Poulin pretty much didn’t have a chance on the goals.  That was about the extent of it.  Most of the team looked lethargic, didn’t get to scoring areas, didn’t challenge at the blue line or on the forecheck and produced a pretty frustrating piece of hockey to look at.

This team requires the benching of more than one player right now. Or really, it needs some kind of tweak to personnel or perhaps to a system that the current crop of players doesn’t appear to be able to execute right now.  Don’t look at the shot totals in this one for any kind of hope that they controlled play.  The shot disparity can be blamed on score effects for the most part.  The Islanders were down quickly, and down multiple goals for much of the game.

Former Islander Trevor “He’s no Iggulden” Smith got the Leafs on the board on their first shot, twenty-two seconds into the first.  Not that he was contested much, the entire set of Islanders starters conceded real estate back to the goal line where David Clarkson carried, then, neglected to tie Smith up in front.

After that goal, there were myriad missed penalties and non-threatening shots as the Isles did well to control play a little more, but never had anyone in front of the net for second opportunities or screens.  Two high sticks were missed as well.  One against Kyle Okposo (by old friend Dion Phaneuf) drew significant plasma and could have been a four minute PP.  But it’s not as if the Islanders adjusted to the calls and played likewise, they complained about them.

Oh, in the first, JT was 9th in ice time, Colin McDonald 1st with 5:18.

And the second was much like the first.  The Isles held a good shot advantage (5-1 about seven minutes in), but nothing much threatening until an unlikely Cizikas/Boulton 2 on 1 complete with beautiful dish by Boulton and rung post by Cizikas.  But shortly after that, the Isles started to concede some zone time and Andrew MacDonald took a slashing penalty at 10:19 and the Leafs 3rd ranked power play extended their lead.  Phil Kessel made a spin move to spring himself from Peter Regin and fire a wrist shot from the top of the right circle past Poulin.

Then there was some line juggling to no avail.

Matt Carkner finally obliged Fraser McLaren’s fight request. Carkner landed a couple of heavy shots and closed things out with a pretty strong takedown, landing on top of McLaren.  After that, the Isles did draw their first power play of the game, but as was the theme of the night, there was little skating, and the best chance on the PP ended when Tavares stick exploded when he attempted a one timer off a cross-ice pass from Bouchard.

As the period came to a close, the Isles closed the gap when Casey Cizikas blocked a shot and put himself on a breakaway and he went untouched as he tucked a forehand shot five-hole on Bernier for his third straight game with a goal.

The third saw more line juggling in hopes of a spark, but again, it did little.  The notable switch was Brock Nelson back to the third line with Bouchard up on the Tavares line.  There was a strange fight between Eric Boulton and Colton Orr who appeared to be annoyed after they bumped.  Then Orr laid a hit on Aaron Ness, Boulton snapped and started to pound Orr, but Orr lost his little hat, and the referees broke it up instantly. (More on this in noticings.)

The Leafs extended their lead when all three Islanders (Ness, Carkner, Bouchard) went to Mason Raymond on a break in, then, after he passed to McClement, all three left Raymond, who naturally corraled a loose puck to Poulin’s right and backhanded it home.

David Clarkson had a beautiful snipe goal from inside the circle which was naturally, his first as a Maple Leaf (first of season) after the other Leaf forwards outworked the Isles along the wall and sent it to Clarkson.

Frans Nielsen answered with his team leading 10th goal of the year off of a feed from Bailey, but two minutes later, Phil Kessel got his second of the game when the CMac made a terrible change while Hickey was engaged/turning over the puck in the neutral zone.  Kessel and Van Riemsdyk broke in 2 on 1 and Kessel’s wrist shot is generally automatic.

It’s getting late early.  Again.

Noticings:

  • Colin McDonald had more ice time than John Tavares.
  • For a team with all of their meat in the lineup, the Isles showed remarkably little bite.  The hit totals were high, but I didn’t see many that were memorable.
  • I’ve never seen anything like that Orr/Boulton helmet thing, and I’m kind of annoyed.  I wonder how often now, even when a guy is forced to answer the bell for being a dirtbag, he can shake his helmet off and get the fight broken up.  Does this only apply to enforcers, or goalies too?  I thought I remembered some talk of referees intervening if the helmets were deliberately taken off.  That was just lame…also, Boulton was winning.
  • Here are the fight videos.  Boulton vs Orr and Carkner vs McLaren
  • The PK is still a disaster and it’s pretty uncertain that McDonald and Regin are going to be the answer there.  As a novel idea, maybe it’s time to put Clutterbuck/Cizikas and Nielsen/Grabner, then leave it alone for a little while.
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