WASHINGTON 5, ISLANDERS 2: Another Layoff LossPlus: 5 ups and downs at the 25-game mark

PRACTICE?!

 

9:50 pm - Tonight was the third time this season the Islanders played a game after at least three days without games. They are now 0-3 after long breaks:

 

Oct. 23 vs. Dallas, a 5-3 loss (5-1 after two periods) after four days without games.

 

Nov. 21 at New Jersey, a 5-2 loss after three days without games.

 

Dec. 4 at Washington, a 5-2 loss after four days without games. Out-shot 47-29. On The Plus, Billy Jaffe estimated that the Islanders were effective tonight for 30 minutes.

 

Said Scott Gordon in the post-game: “There’s no excuse for it. We cut corners. We didn’t compete at the same level.”

 

Makes all that talk from coaches about how there’s never enough practice time seem kind of hollow, you know?

 

 

THE 25-GAME MINI-REPORT

 

 

 

Twenty-five games into the season, a snapshot look at the Plus and Minus players in an entertainingly rocky Islanders season.

 

The 5 Most Valuable

 

1. Joey MacDonald - The goalie saved the Islanders’ first quarter of the season. He will more than likely be expected to save the first half, and possibly more.

 

2. Mark Streit - Dollar for dollar, one of the best free agent signings in the NHL. It’s a compliment to Streit that now everyone’s saying, “Yeah, but can he keep this level of play up for the rest of the season”?

 

3. Doug Weight - The wooing of Weight to New York has been credited to Bill Guerin, but to be candid the rest of the league wasn’t exactly knocking on Weight’s door. The veteran center has reason to be very, very proud of himself.

 

4. Trent Hunter - 11 goals and 9 assists for 20 points in 25 games, but his value transcends his statistics. One thing you knew the Islanders didn’t have to worry about – Hunter not being motivated in the first of a 5-year deal. Says one of his teammates, “Hunts is good people.”

 

5. Andy Hilbert - There’s the concern the versatile Hilbert has become so effective, the coaching staff might lean too much on him – a la Shawn Bates four years ago. (Icetime of 18:44 tonight is what we mean). For now, enjoy the rise of a good all-around hockey player who worked his tail off to get to this point.

 

 

5 Disappointments

 

1. Jeff Tambellini - We’ve covered this more than we’d ever want to. Have to believe resolution one way or the other arrives in the next ten days.

 

2. Bruno Gervais - Plenty of icetime when the blueline was decimated, but minus-10 and really struggling before his recent injury.

 

3. Mike Comrie - He made a point last Saturday to say it was the hip and not the Overspeed. Whether he is cured in Minnesota or Montauk, for a lot of reasons the team needs him back at his best.

 

4. Kyle Okposo - Not the player, but the development. The kid would be the first to tell you 2-3-5 in 18 games is not what he had in mind. Whenever he returns from his secret ailment, Okposo’s play is one of the most important stories the rest of the way.

 

5. Blake Comeau - Every season has its mystery, and this year’s is What the Bleep is Up with Comeau and the Islanders? Not to be demanding and all, but we’d like some answers by the trade deadline.

 

Of the five, only Tambellini played tonight – a scoreless and shot-less 12:29, with 5 seconds on the power play.

 

 

NOTABLE

 

Mike Sillinger played his first game of the season, logging 13 minutes with two shots, even plus/minus and winning 11 of 19 faceoffs.

 

Good stuff from Tim Jackman tonight. When you’re getting fourth-line minutes and Ovechkin knows your name and number by the end of the first period, you’re doing your job.

 

Bryan Helmer feathers a wrist shot toward the goal, and at first glance one of two Caps about ten feet in front of the net reach up with their sticks to deflect it in (turns out it was 6-5 Vik Kozlov). And yet no signal from the war room in Toronto to at least make sure it wasn’t knocked in with a high stick.

 

Nice to hear Howie Rose’s late-game anecdote about Ovechkin taking the time before the game to talk hockey with a smile to the media. Then the superstar selflessly set Backstrom up for an empty-netter to seal the victory. When it was over and Ovechkin – playing injured – had a goal and two assists, Jaffe was moved to call No. 8 “one of the best players in all of professional sports. Not just hockey, but all of pro sports.” We refuse to bring up the discussion of the Islanders’ overwhelming need for a John Tavares again, even as Howie went out of his way in the post-game to talk about how an early pick “doesn’t guarantee you anything.”

 

The Islanders don’t know what to do with Mitch Fritz. They recall the 6-8 heavyweight on Tuesday, have him for two practices, play him 1:26 in the first period and then he never sees the ice again. This has been the case all season for Fritz, who has averaged 2 minutes in his 10 games with the Islanders. To magnify the issue, Caps enforcer Donald Brashear scored the winning goal. The Islanders need to decide if they believe Fritz can play with the big-leaguers or not. We refuse to bring up the subject of Blake Comeau again…tonight.

 

Best of The Jaff - Billy Jaffe in the first period, with Alexander Ovechkin off the ice with an injury but Washington still dominating the play while leading 2-0: “The Capitals look like the team playing with their regulars right now, while the Islanders look like the team decimated by injuries.”

 

 

First post-game reaction thread with the new Comments guidelines. Please, please don’t keep me up all night!




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