Friday, February 1, 2008

1/31/08: Kings 3, Islanders 1

It really was as awful as they're saying it was. Instead of piling on one more heaping spoonful of disgust, which last night's performance undoubtedly deserves, I'm going to focus on the positive. What's that you say? I'm letting them off the hook? I'm looking at things through blue-and-orange-and-blue-and-white-and-
orange-colored glasses (that's some sleeve)? Well, the following is a list of things from last night that encouraged me. The list is not many, nor is it much.

Wade Dubielewicz: I now have complete confidence in Dubie when he's out there. He doesn't make me worry at all. He may not appear to swallow the puck up like the Death Star's tractor beam the way an elite goalie does, but he manages to get some body part in front of most pucks and keep them out of the net. Perhaps with more playing time, he'd demonstrate that degree of sharpness. He will not get that playing time, so this version of Dubielewicz is more than satisfactory.

Bryan Berard: The defenseman I called out last game looked different last night. He looked like he wanted to lead. Perhaps the first-period goal infused him with confidence. Whatever it was, Berard, more than anyone else, played with an I-want-to-be-the-one-who-gets-this-done attitude. In the locker room after the game, Berard's demeanor suggested the same. He seemed relaxed, poised, and quietly confident. Again, maybe he was simply happy about scoring. But with Campoli gone, it would be nice to see Berard step forward and stay forward (not literally). Berard also offered what I thought was the most candid comment of the night when he admitted that yes, he's kind of glad to be getting out of town for a few days considering how dismal things have become at home. He did qualify that statement by echoing what the other players said about the importance of being a strong home team. So, no, he's not looking to run away from the problems.

Josef Vasicek: On two occasions last night, Vasicek skated right up the gut of the offensive zone, strong on the puck, and looking like a player you don't want to see coming your way. His combination of size, skill, and mobility creates space, something that the Islanders just don't do with the kind of frequency that gets a defense worried and running around (another topic of conversation from last night's parking-lot postgame). I made an effort to get to the Coliseum last night specifically because I wanted to take advantage of the rare opportunity to watch western talents like Anze Kopitar, Alexander Frolov, and Dustin Brown. No skater for either team really stood out last night (maybe Matt Moulson and Blake Comeau), but Kopitar and Frolov did each have a couple of moments where they showed why they are always a threat. They can singlehandedly create scoring opportunities using only their puckhandling skills. The Islanders don't have anyone who does this. When this season is over, Vasicek will have been exposed again as a player who doesn't produce consistently over the course of a season. But maybe he can have another 20-game stretch like the one that had him leading the team in goals for a time.

See, not much there. And that last one is a bit of a stretch.

By the way, if I were Neil Best, I would point out that Matt Moulson went to Cornell. But I'm not, so I won't.

Please join me Saturday at 4:30 PM EST as I fill in for Alex on Hockey Night on Long Island. Steve and I will host a special edition of the show following the 2:00 PM game between the Islanders and the Montreal Canadiens. Click the button at the top of the sidebar to go to the show page.


7th Woman said...

I was looking for something special from those Kings too. But there was no sparkle from anyone last night. Good luck tomororw Ken.

Tom Liodice said...

Great read Ken.

Can't argue with anything you said and it was a pleasure enjoying a true snoozer with you!

Best of luck co-hosting.

Outsider said...

Yes, no matter the quality of the game, we've always got each other to be entertained! Sorry I didn't get to say goodbye to you guys. I didn't realize you weren't following us to the other room.