Islanders Puck Talk – Weekly Review – A rant
For all of you who are fans of this weekly review, this one is going to be a little different. I’m not going to give reviews and opinions on each period of each game because quite frankly I’ve had enough of this team. I will forever be a fan and will continue to give you hard-hitting coverage, but for my own sanity I need to change up the format for JUST this one week.
The Islanders looked to turn things around after that terrible overtime loss against Nashville. The Islanders came storming back against Detroit after being down 5-2 to score 4 consecutive PP goals to take a 6-5 lead. It was a masterful display of keeping the puck in the zone, making crisp passes, and actually shooting the puck on the Power Play. However they can never hold a lead and give it right back to take the game to overtime. Brock Nelson scored an overtime winner and all was thought to be good in Isles town.
However, that’s just not the case. Two consecutive bad losses to Calgary and Columbus have the Islanders sitting three points out of a playoff spot with every other team in the division having games in hand. They completely shut down in the third period against Calgary after having a good first two periods and a 2-0 lead.
Columbus is a different story. It’s not fine to lose a game like that to Calgary when you essentially could have banked at least one point, but at least they’re a Western Conference opponent. Losing 4-1 to one of your division rivals after taking a 1-0 lead and giving up two late PP goals in each of the first two periods is unacceptable. Giving up consecutive goals in less than a minute to make the game a blowout is unacceptable. Giving up 50+ shots for the third time in WEEKS is unacceptable. Is this even an NHL team?
I truly don’t understand how a professional hockey team can consistently give up as many shots as the Islanders do. It’s almost impressive that Jaroslav Halak hasn’t just skated off the ice in the middle of the game. Sure he hasn’t been a Vezina trophy finalist but he’s kept the Islanders in a lot of games that they shouldn’t have been in. If the Islanders ever learned to play some semblance of a full 60 minutes they would be just fine.
This is going to be a special High Tide and Low Tide due to my ranting nature this week. I previously wrote about how the Islanders need to shake their losing culture but there are so many small things wrong with this team that could be easy fixes.
Well there’s really not much to be happy about after this week, but the two players that stand out to me are Jaroslav Halak and Brock Nelson. Nelson scored a hat trick in the wild 7-6 overtime victory over the Red Wings. It was a long time coming for the much-maligned forward. Nelson is maddeningly inconsistent but when he’s hot, he’s hot. Nelson is starting to do all the right things (at least for this game) in his new role on the third line. He’s forechecking, battling for pucks and scoring goals that will probably net him another 20 goal season.
Speaking of the wild overtime win, I do want to give a lot of credit to the Islanders for coming back from three goals down to win the game. It was probably the craziest game many people have seen in years, and Cal Clutterbuck deserves special credit for selling a slash to the knees. His drawn penalty was the catalyst for the four straight PP goals. This may have not been the turning point of the season like most had hoped, but it IS proof that the Islanders can come from behind in literally any game and score in bunches.
Jaroslav Halak gets my highest of tides award strictly for not killing his teammates yet. Halak has been under fire for almost the entire season, with the Islanders being last in shots given up. Halak has seen two games with 50+ shots, four games with 45+ shots, and almost half the season with 40+ shots. The Islanders give up way too many shots, to the point that not even Patrick Roy himself be able to steal games for them. More chances equals more opportunities for the other team to catch a break or score a fluky goal, a la Calgary Flames. Halak has continued to stand on his head while the Islanders figure out whether or not they can win games without having to score five goals.
Captain John Tavares, you’re up. You’ve played well. Hell, you’ve played very well. You are a consummate professional and a great leader. However, your team needs you more than ever and the fact that your team didn’t show up in the most important game of the year is a direct reflection on you. For all you haters who think I’m crazy for holding the captain of the team accountable, when was the last time the Islanders won multiple important games in a row. Every time you guys look like you’re about to turn the corner, you lose games like Columbus and Calgary. It’s disheartening and you need to do a better job motivating your team.
Coach Doug Weight, you’re not off the hook either. The fact that Jason Chimera (we’ll get to him) has still yet to be scratched and Mat Barzal was benched for essentially the second half of the third period against Calgary is a joke. Your “accountability” practices are questionable at best. Even if Chimera may be more talented than Tanner Fritz or Ross Johnston, Chimera has literally lost the Islanders games strictly because of his poor decision making. He’s taken multiple penalties late in games that directly lead to a PP goal on the other end. Your constant benching of Sebastian Aho in favor of whats left of Dennis Seidenberg is laughable. I don’t hate Seidenberg, I just don’t understand how you can actually think that an aging, slow 38 year old brings more to the table than a spry 20 year old rookie with great puck-moving skills.
All of this complaining leads me to you, Mr. Garth Snow. You sir are public enemy number one around these parts. Your name is being chanted as part of a “Snow Must Go” by the 10,000 Islanders fans that still have the decency to show up to that basketball arena you call home. You’ve been here for 12 years and have accomplished essentially nothing. You’ve only made your team marginally better after rebuilding for about 8 of those 12 seasons, you refuse to take any more chances because you would rather be mediocre every season and get to keep your job than make a huge splash and try to improve this team for the long haul.
Sorry guys, that’s all from me today. Like I said, I will be more positive going forward and will continue to provide weekly updates on the Islanders. In addition, I’ll continue to give you pieces like the Q & A I had with Art Staple. Make sure to follow me @SupRos22 and follow Double G Sports for all your sports coverage.
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