6:40pm UPDATE: Yes, in a mindboggling move, Rick DiPietro is taking the bulk of shots in warmups and would appear to be the starter, which has been a hot rumor when I got the Coliseum. No stop at Bridgeport. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. But do start in goal.
3:40pm UPDATE: Per the always excellent Mike Fornabaio, the Isles have returned Ben Walter and Joe Callahan back to Bridgeport. Evidently, Mike Sillinger and Bruno Gervais are ready to return to the lineup tonight.
I hope everyone had a good holiday, whatever you celebrate.
Well, it’s no great secret on what GM Garth Snow might have asked Santa this Xmas. These are difficult days on Long Island and the air is thick with the hope for fans, players, coach and GM that they can snap out of it. Well, unless you are are focused on the next draft picks. It was only a month ago when some were wondering if we can reach .500. Since then, it has been a steady drop with many questions, injuries, and a lot of soul-searching.
LOSING THE MENTAL GAME: The last two games were closer affairs with the Isles keeping within arm’s length of their competition. This is some good news as compared to some of the more disturbing crash and burns like versus the Penguins and the Wild. If this string of losses had all been close games, with the team going all out playing as if it was November, there would be a lot less questions. Instead, we have seen a myriad of injuries, a defense that has looked gaping, an offense unable to score, and some sniping on the system itself. Coach Scott Gordon has seemed to become stiffer and acting as if besieged by press and situation. This tightening and almost wounded visage by the Isles might be indicative of losing the mental game even before they play the physical one.
“Our last two losses were tight games. We have to stay loose and stay ready to work. Our biggest asset is our work ethic. We don’t come in and mope around. We keep it loose, and we keep focused.”
– Bill Guerin
As Bill Guerin alluded to in his post-games comments versus the Thrashers earlier this week, it is supremely important not to come into this game stuck on their December malaise. The mental capitulations will only leave them tight, anguished, and just waiting for another wheel to come off.
The Maple Leafs come to town winning their 5 of their last 7 games. That streak was started with their last win over the Isles, coming off a three-game skid. Their last game, however, was a 8-2 drubbing courtesy of the Dallas Stars. So the Leafs come in looking to make things right against the Isles who have been in freefall. The Toronto press has written that the game against the Isles “might be a Yuletide gift.“
Doug Weight did not play Tuesday, and I will try to find out if he is going to play today. Stay tuned here for updates later on, plus I will be on-hand tonight for the recap.
For your reading enjoyment, here is my news item about the Lighthouse Project which caused a bit of stir.
REMINDER: Please adhere new-look Comments space wishes of Chris’s