The No. 1 Story – There really is just one story in hockey today, and that’s the passing of Rangers prospect Alexei Cherepanov during a game today in Russia. Cherepanov’s coach with Omsk, former Islanders assistant Wayne Fleming, said he collapsed on the bench during the third period. His agent, New York-based Jay Grossman, called him “a great kid and an outstanding hockey player with a great future on and off the ice. Read more of the tragic news from TSN.
Out-skated from the drop of the puck, the Islanders were out-everythinged by Buffalo til the bitter end. Make this about Joey MacDonald not being as sharp as Friday and Saturday all you want, but this game was not only about the goaltending.
Scott Gordon – “For us to be effective, we have to work as a unit of five. We weren’t even close to being on board with our forecheck. We didn’t even change well. We tried to find the easy way. It played into their hands. The only line that generated any offense was the Weight line. We’ve got to throw this one away.”
On staying with Joey MacDonald when it was 5-0 mid-second period: “I told Joey, ‘I’m not a believer in pulling goalies to change momentum.'”
Joey MacDonald: “It seemed like the harder I battled, the worse it got.”
Bill Guerin – “We weren’t in positions, we didn’t skate, we didn’t work as hard. Three (games) in four (days) shouldn’t have anything to do with it. The season just started. We’re all in shape.
On the penalty box parade: “Like Scott (Gordon) says, ‘If it doesn’t save a goal, it’s not a good penalty.'”
On Joey MacDonald: “It’s just didn’t go his way. We didn’t make it easy on him. He didn’t play as poorly as you might think.”
That’s what a captain does, and he happens to be right. If the Islanders chalk this one up to just poor goaltending, they’d be kidding themselves.
The No. 2 Story: Despite his team getting blown out in the second period, Gordon did not substitute Rick DiPietro for a struggling and abandoned MacDonald when it became 5-0 mid-second on three goals in two minutes. DiPietro also wasn’t put in to start the third.
Gordon provided the defense about not utilizing the motivational cop-out of changing the goalie, but the “Ricky-can-play” chorus the last week from the Islanders seemed to be exposed today as a little more fraudulent.
The No. 3 Story: Radek Martinek, the Islanders’ best all-zone defenseman, suffered an injury on Saturday and the Islanders at this point do not want anyone connected with the game – including their fans – to know about it.
3 Standout Islanders:
What We Learned Today:
– At least for now, Overspeed is not going to beat a team that is fresher, sharper and significantly speed-ier.
– The Sabres took some hits the last two years with the FA losses of Campbell, Drury and Briere, but by retaining GM Darcy Regier and coach Lindy Ruff and building from within, they will contend again. They should be a model for many other franchises.
– Scott Gordon will not pull his starting goaltender when his team gets down 3-0, 4-0, 5-0, etc. just to change momentum.
– Nate Thompson has guts and nuts, now they have to be flashed as difference-makers in a win.
Game Rating (out of 5 stars): 2.5 – The stars are all Buffalo’s.
Islanders Performance: 0.5 – The .5 is for Thompson, Jon Sim and Brendan Witt getting dirty. The coaching staff will either 1. burn the tapes or 2. show a lot of them the next two days. Gordon said in the post-game, “We’ve got to throw that one away,” but I’m not so sure he will.
Event Rating: 4.0 – Prior to the on-ice shellacking, the Islanders put on a good show with a teen-rock band on the overhead stage, mascots all over the place, free Guerin jerseys for the kids and loads of good stuff. After the game, kids got to go on the Coliseum ice and shoot pucks.
One of those days that hurt when I was in the old gig. Hey, old friends, this is cyclical – there will be games where you won’t do much and the home team puts on a good show. You know that at the end of the night, all the fans really want is a win.
Attendance: 13,523 at start of game. About 5,523 mid-way through the third period.
Awkward Moment: The lineman dropping the puck at center ice after the Sabres made it 5-0 on the power play, just as Freddy Meyer was making his way from the penalty box back to the bench. That kind of day.
V-8 Moment: Forgive us, but we really didn’t know Derek Roy was this amazing – and he only had one assist in a 7-1 game!
Just Keeping it..Ya Know: Although no one comes out of a game like this looking good, Jeff Tambellini needs to show more, soon.
Just Sayin’: No matter what the deal is with Blake Comeau, you don’t go back with the same lineup after you drop a 7-1 game at home. Young Blake, start stretching.
Save of the Game: Up just 2-0 early second, Buffalo’s Patrick Lalime made a shoulder save on a left-alone Jeff Tambellini to keep it that way.
Scouts in Attendance: Detroit, Nashville, San Jose (JFJ!), Tampa Bay, Toronto, Rangers, Los Angeles, Florida, Calgary, Colorado, Pittsburgh, Phoenix and Atlanta.
NYI Prospect of the Day (maybe the month): 2008 sixth round pick Justin DiBenedetto scored 5 goals and added 2 assists, contributing to all 7 goals in Sarnia’s 7-2 win over The Soo in the Ontario Hockey League last night. He had a natural hat trick in the first 12 minutes of the game. Going into the game, the Soo Greyhounds were 5-2 and visiting Sarnia was 2-6 – so it’s not like this was an expected blowout.
Islanders Press Coverage: from Newsday – Greg Logan, columnist Mark Herrmann and the live-bloggin’ Katie Strang. Peter Botte resurrected from the Daily News, Dan Martin from the Post and nobody from the New York Times. We’re going to assume the NYT ain’t coming much.
The Goal Song, Take 2: Just one goal, in the third, with the Islanders down 6-0 and the barn emptying. Not the day to judge. We still think it will survive for a while, be tweaked and eventually settle in. We also think we’ll be killed for that observation in the Comments area.
Next Up: The first real road trip of the season – leave LI Wednesday for Tampa Bay, vs. Barry Melrose and the Lightning Thursday and in Sunrise on Saturday to face the Panthers. Point Blank will not be there, but we will find a way.
The Lineup (before the game misconducts mid-second)
Park – Comrie – Okposo
Sim – Weight – Guerin
Tambellini – Nielsen – Hunter
Bergenheim – Thompson – Hilbert
Streit – Pock
Meyer – Gervais
Witt – Hillen
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