Monday, January 14, 2008

Tenacious O

And the D was nothing to sneeze at either.

First, let’s get this out of the way. I don’t care so much about Ottawa having played Detroit the night before. Back-to-back games are part of the schedule, and when there’s a game to be played, you come to play. I’ll line up the Isles’ 6,467 miles of travel against the Senators’ two games in two nights and call it somewhere near let’s-just-drop-the-puck-and-stop-worrying-about-this even. I won’t, however, discount the Senators playing without Dany Heatley and mostly without Jason Spezza. With the TV broadcast affirming that the Senators have lacked secondary scoring lately, you can’t lose that kind of firepower and expect to carry on as though nothing has changed. But the injuries to Heatley and Spezza made up only one of several storylines that competed for the headline of last night’s 3-1 win by the Islanders over the Senators.

So before anyone accuses me of raining on the parade, here's the bottom line: another game in Ottawa is off the schedule and two more points are on the board. And it was hard-nosed play from Freddy Meyer that left the Sens with only 2.67 slices in their pizza.

My biggest concern during this game was that the story would be how the Islanders frittered away a generous and potentially game-changing serving of power play opportunities. As the chances piled up and they only capitalized on one of the first seven, I figured it was only a matter of time before the disparate totals for the two teams began to even up in the 1-1 game. Marc-Andre Bergeron then showed that his long game is every bit as good as his short game by blasting home his second power-play marker of the game for the lead on the Isles' eighth opportunity with the man advantage.

They finished 2-for-9, which translates to a healthy 22% rate of success. It was remarkable to see the Islanders get the long end of the stick on power play chances against a team like Ottawa. The Islanders received only 11 chances in the first four games of the trip (one of those lasted only 18 seconds). As pointed out by Billy Jaffe on the first Bergeron goal, the Isles finally started taking advantage of actually outnumbering the penalty killers. And it was the players' tenacity on the puck and on the check that created those opportunities. As Ted Nolan told reporters after the game, "Give them full marks."

Mike Comrie: Creating the quality and quantity of scoring chances that the team needs from its #1 center.
Rick DiPietro: Will get that elusive empty-net goal.
Scheduling oddity: The Islanders play only four more Saturday home games this season, and three of them are against the Flyers. Five games remain with Philly, three of them on Saturdays in March.
Versus: Tomorrow's game against Montreal is on Versus at the usual 7 PM start time.

1 comment:

7th Woman said...

I didn't realize that about the schedule. Hmmmm... that is odd. And you're right, Ricky WILL get that goal. And hopefully, we'll be there to watch!