This one hurt. The New York Islanders fell to the New Jersey Devils 3-0 on Super Bowl Sunday. The game remained scoreless through the first 56:06 of play, and then it all fell apart. Steve Bernier scored twice in a 1:10 span, and David Clarkson added an empty-net tally to cap off the scoring.
Overall, the Islanders played a decent game. There was a limited amount of scoring opportunities for both teams, and unfortunately, it was only the Devils that found a way to convert. Johan Hedberg recorded another shutout against the Islanders, improving his already impressive numbers against a team that cannot solve the netminder. He made several brilliant saves on the Islanders. The Devils stole this one.
I put an emphasis on “stole” because many of us felt the refs had a hand in this one. With just under six minutes to play, Brian Strait was called off for a very lame charging call on a play where he and the NJ player just met along the boards on a rim-around-the-boards play. Of course, that specific power-play is what broke this game open, and of course, there just was not enough time for the Islanders to respond.
Twitter erupted. Islanders fans were unhappy. “Refs suck” chants broke out at the Coliseum. Unfortunately, so did our power-play, which came into the game as the league’s best and was probably a bigger contributor to the Islanders’ loss in this one.
I’m sorry, Isles fans. I just cannot get on board with the “refs screwed us” mantra. Not when the New York Islanders failed to convert on all seven of their power-play chances, all which came in the first forty minutes of play.
The call on Brian Strait was an awful, awful call, but the Islanders had their chance to make the call irrelevant.
The Islanders were with the man-advantage seven times. They only mustered five total shots on their seven opportunities. They only managed five shots on a team that played three games in four nights, and were dominated by the Islanders on the power-play just three nights before. I mean, even the game’s totals favored the Devils, and it should not have.
The Islanders generated very little on the power-play, which seemed to just be a quick “in-and-out” of the zone. For an NHL-best power-play that reached it’s standing on the road, the Islanders showed us fans very little as to why when they returned to home ice. The power-play unit seemed rushed. Players were buzzing around, but looked confused as to where they were going. The tic-tac-toe passes we’ve seen over the past five games were not connecting, and the puck was not staying in Jersey’s defensive zone for more than a few seconds.
All I’m saying is that the Islanders did not generate enough scoring opportunities, although they had plenty of opportunities for scoring opportunities. Simply put, the Islanders didn’t get enough pucks to the net on a back-up goalie.
So, I think the Devils stole this one. I thought the Islanders played a better game, and I thought everything was lined up in their favor. The fact that the Devils played three games in four nights, the Devils playing a back-up goalie, the Islanders receiving seven power-play chances to the Devils three, and all while the Islanders had the top PP and PK in the NHL were all on the Islanders side. The team let this one slip away. On to the Penguins.
A few more observations:
-I don’t want to discredit John Hedberg. He’s been an Islanders killer the past few seasons, and his sprawling save on Michael Grabner’s shorthanded breakaway showed how tough it is to beat him. He also made an incredible save on Grabner in the first period. Hats off to Hedberg, Hope we see Brodeur for our next meeting.
-Grabner is the most dangerous penalty-killer in the NHL. Really poor giveaway by Ilya Kovalchuk.
-Marty Reasoner played only 5:27 yesterday. Um…
-Frans Nielsen gets kicked out of way too many face-offs. He’s not winning the ones he’s taking, either.
-Nabokov played another good game for the Islanders, but again let up a goal he would like to have back. The “Nabby goal” is a reoccurrence, and that second-goal of the game really put a dagger into this one. Killed whatever chance the Islanders had to tie the game in the final four minutes.
-John Tavares is going to be a great player, but looked a little surprised after receiving a very nice feed from Moulson in the second period. Should have smacked that puck home, but froze with it instead.
-Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas, and David Ullstrom each had 5+ hits.
-Not much going on when 5-on-5. Line changes on the way?
-I don’t like having one of this team’s defensive pairings play for less than 10 minutes per game. Lubomir Visnovsky is going to fix that.
-Really, though. It was another boring Devils hockey game. It was a bit more open than it was on Opening Night, but the game was really slowed down by New Jersey. I love a good goalie match-up, but they play for the late game kill.
The Islanders and the Penguins face-off tomorrow night at the Coliseum. Expect a better showing from Pittsburgh tomorrow night. Islanders need to show character and bounce-back with a win over a divisional foe. Let’s go Islanders!
Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment!
Filed Under: New York Islanders
About the Author: Writes at Islanders Op-Timism. Islanders Season Ticket Holder who tends to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hofstra Graduate currently working at Portnoy, Messinger, Pearl & Associates. I definitely want to end up working within the world of hockey. Blog: www.IslandersOptimism.com E-Mail: ChristopherTriantafilis@gmail.com Twitter: @ChrisTriants