9:39 pm, NVMC – 3-0 Canadiens in front of 6,000 fans during a Long Island blizzard – more than half from Montreal. Let’s get to it.
Plus: The Islanders played a pretty good hockey game tonight. They could not finish and Jaroslav Halak was extraordinary in goal. With Henrik Lundqvist on Thursday, that’s two sweltering goalies faced in a row.
Even: When you’re counting on most of your offense to come from players with under 150 games of NHL experience, there are going to be patches like this over the long season. This is too much for anyone to expect from John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, Frans Nielsen, Matt Moulson, Rob Schremp and Jesse Joensuu. It’s also too much for anyone to expect of the coaching staff.
Minus: Canadiens are 10-0-2 in their last 12 against the Islanders and are undefeated in their last five at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Plus: After watching a few of his teammates get hit by Andy Sutton, Montreal enforcer Georges Laraque invited the big Islanders defenseman to dance with two minutes left in the first. Sutton declined, as he should have. Sutton, not intimidated, did not stop hitting. The pro scouts in the Coliseum box office continue to notice.
Minus: The Islanders have allowed 16 power play goals in their last 36 times shorthanded.
Minus: The Islanders’ power play is 0-17 over the last four games.
Minus: In recent weeks, the Islanders have lost to teams that were having trouble beating anyone else: the Rangers, Montreal, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia (twice).
Minus: Two forgettable home games in a row: Islanders stoned by amazing goaltending, give up three power play goals, don’t score a PP goal, lose to team in red, white and blue in front of crowds with lots of fans from the visiting team.
Minus: The Islanders’ four-minute power play to get back in the game early in the third? Plenty of shots, not nearly enough traffic.
Minus: Now that the event has occurred for a second season in a row, the sight (and sound) of so many Canadiens at the Coliseum is not startling. What was shocking tonight is that so many of them were in the best seats in the house.
Plus: Figure about 3,500 tickets X an average price of $75, and on the positive side the incredible passion of Montreal Canadiens fans tonight brought more than $250,000 to the Islanders coffers.
Minus: Since his hat trick in Atlanta on Dec. 3, Matt Moulson has one goal in his last eight games. He was robbed in the final minute of the second period by Halak. This wouldn’t even be an issue if Matt hadn’t raised the bar so high, so quickly. Darn expectations. Think about it: without Moulson coming out of nowhere, the Islanders’ second-leading scorers would be Josh Bailey and Jeff Tambellini with 7 each at the 36-game mark of the season.
Minus: Richard Park shanks a breakaway, Nate Thompson fails to convert all alone in front of Halak. Islanders out-play Canadiens and out-shoot them 14-6 in first, but trail 1-0. Sound familiar?
Minus: If any prospective Islanders No. 2 center needs to shoot more, it’s Frans Nielsen.
Minus: The Islanders made some fan announcements tonight. They invited Islanders fans wearing NYI jerseys to move down to the lower bowl with, um, five minutes left in the second period and the team down 2-0. They also offered free popcorn to fans wearing Islanders jerseys. Sucked if you were a die-hard Islander fan and drove through the snow and frost, but went with the wool sweater instead.
The announcement we’ve yet to hear: the Islanders offering all ticketholders for tonight’s game – whether you braved the nasty weather or not – tickets to another game. It’s the right thing to do and, besides, the team could fill a few more seats for games like Monday against Tampa Bay.
Your Plus/Minus and comments on tonight’s game.