What's the rule of thumb for how long you should keep leftovers before you throw them out? In my family it was always three days. Let's see...Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. Yup, better use these now or they'll be no good tomorrow.
Saturday night's leftovers...(*New fresh ingredients below!)
The integrity of the game is paramount in competitive sports, particularly at the collegiate and professional levels. So I'm surprised there hasn't been more criticism of Scott Gordon for using Brendan Witt in the shootout against the Flyers.
Sure, it was a topic of conversation. In fact, before Gordon entered the press room, it was pretty much all that was being talked about. And, if you watched the press conference, the very first question from Stan Fischler was about Witt in the shootout. Gordon treated the subject lightly, and went on to back up his choice by saying that his defensemen had performed well in practice shootouts. If I'm the Penguins or the Avalanche, or anyone else jockeying for any kind of position in the NHL standings, that's not good enough for me.
You can do things to reward players in concert with the game's integrity. Putting a big guy in front of the net on the power play is established practice. I can stomach that reward for a player like Witt, though I never believed it would bring about any long term power play success. I can't get on board with this one, though. Islanders fans would be none too happy if the Avs threw Adam Foote out there for a shootout at this stage of the season, and he has 66 career goals.
It's nice to be able to play things a little loose, to have some fun, when wins and losses are secondary to competing and developing. But I think you have to take a closer look when it impacts the rest of the league.
Rob McGowan, who writes his Islanders blog on HockeyBuzz and is also a member of the Blog Box, made an interesting observation during the course of Saturday night's physical mayhem. He said that for all the talk of Ted Nolan's teams being tough and physical, they never hit the way this Islanders team does.
So, does Kyle Okposo think that his team's physical style is providing an advantage against teams that aren't expecting it from a team that is challenged in the size department? I wish I could tell you that he took the bait, but here's what Okposo actually had to say:
"I don't think so. Everybody watches video in the league and they know that we're gonna come hard. I'm sure that they're expecting a hard game when we play them."
Ah, yes, the boring reality of the video age, where everyone knows what's coming all the time. The Islanders opponents can probably play Scott Gordon's system better than the Islanders can. John Stevens probably has clips of Tim Jackman's hitting technique on his iPhone. (I have no idea if John Stevens has an iPhone.)
After Doug Weight had been interviewed, after Yann Danis, and after Okposo had walked in, a very large, bearded man appeared on the carpet inside the Islanders' dressing room. He proceeded to ask blogger Dee Karl how she liked the game in soft, sweet, caring tones. You know the stereotype of the hockey pugilist who's actually a gentle giant off the ice? Meet Joel Rechlicz.
Of course, Wrecker is happy to be in the NHL, and at this stage of an NHL career, most would go out of their way to be accommodating. But watching him hold court with reporters and bloggers alike, there is no mistaking that he is the genuine article—a guy who gets, and embraces, his role with the team, appreciates the opportunity, will do whatever it takes to be a fixture, and understands that the people surrounding him after a game find him very interesting.
Did I mention that he's huge? Put him in a superhero outfit and you've got yourself a movie franchise. Off-ice character and demeanor aside, maybe referring to him as soft, sweet, and caring wasn't such a good idea.
If you missed the interview that HNLI Steve and I did with Greg Logan on Saturday, you can still listen to the archived show on the Hockey Night on Long Island show site. Greg did a really great spot with us, and I may add some quotes if I have time to transcribe them. You may have read the story he told about Mark Streit and Bruno Gervais in Greg's most recent Islanders Insider column in Newsday.
*Logan has more on Gordon's use of Witt in the shootout. He also reports that Streit is day-to-day with a strained groin and did not make the trip to Washington. Let's hope he didn't injure it in the shootout! (Kidding.)