I don't know if there are any Bonnie Raitt fans in the Islander locker room, but it sure seems like they've been singing that refrain lately. Just over two weeks ago, I had nothing more to say about this team. (Okay, to be honest, I did have some things to say about breaking up the top line, burying Jeff Tambellini in the press box, and Bruno Gervais not playing with Mark Streit—but work craziness and a childcare crisis have buried me far away from the press box.)
But seemingly out of nowhere, the Islanders have won three in a row against three of the top teams in the conference. They are giving their fans and the rest of the league something to talk about.
At 4-4-5, the Islanders have reached the magical false .500 mark. Those 5 OT losses don't look nearly as bad when coupled with four regulation wins. The 13 points put the Isles on the cusp of the playoff picture.
What does this mean? It means that Scott Gordon and his coaching staff have demonstrated the ability to get something out of this team in its current constitution. It doesn't mean that the Isles will still be knocking on the door come March. But a season that was quickly slipping away into oblivion, for the time being, is interesting and fun again. And, furthermore, there is more reason—at least an impressive three-game winning streak's worth—to believe that with a deeper roster, Gordon and company can be serious players in this league.
And if you want something to talk about, look no further than Tambellini. Released from nosebleed purgatory seven games ago, the lost action hero has re-emerged with his scoring touch at the NHL level. With two multi-goal games, including a hat trick Saturday night against Buffalo, Tambellini is now tied for the team lead in goals. Bold for how unlikely it was that we would ever be able to say that, and how fun it is to say it now.
And to anyone who might minimize the hat trick due to the nature of the third goal, I would offer two suggestions:
- When there is a loose puck in front of a gaping net, you take no chances even if it the puck is most likely on its way in already.
- If it were up to Kyle Okposo, he would have done whatever was necessary to make that Tambellini's goal.
Several Islanders have emphasized how much they're enjoying coming to the rink this year due to the camaraderie that has built among the players. How much more fun are they having now that they're winning? They're certainly not a difficult team to root for.
And that's your fun hat trick for the evening.
As for me, I'm looking forward to talking more.