You just cannot win them all, Isles fans. I wish we could, but it’s never going to happen. Eventually, your team is going to lose. The loss sits as a thorn in your side, but what are you really going to do about it? Cry? Pout?
The New York Islanders just clinched their first playoff spot in six years, but last night’s loss to the Philadelphia Flyers sent Islanders Country into a frenzy. I get it. The Isles dropped from 6th to 8th place in the Eastern Conference in the matter of one night. Despite the Islanders recent stretch of 11-2-3 over their past sixteen games, New York lost their first regulation game in one month and fell behind the struggling Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers.
No, I’m not going to make excuses for these guys. They didn’t come to play in Philly. I just think we all need to step back and look at the big picture. For one, if the Islanders didn’t go on this stretch, and I mean if they lost even one game they were “supposed to” (i.e. Boston), we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Tonight, we would be miserable. We would be talking about how the Islanders don’t deserve our time, etc, etc, etc.
Also, who cares who the Islanders play in the first round of the postseason. Stop worrying about that. I’m not going to sell you on the “be happy we’re even there” talk. Of course I want the Isles to be in as good of a position as possible when entering into this thing. Come on, though. Suddenly, it’s predetermined that the Islanders would automatically lose to the Pittsburgh Penguins? Just like it was in 1975? Just like when it was in 1993? Just like the Islanders were supposed to finish AT THE BOTTOM OF THE EASTERN CONFERENCE THIS SEASON??!? Give me a break. The same people complaining about a POTENTIAL match-up with the Penguins are the same people who gave the Islanders zero chance to begin with at the start of the season.
Just one month ago, Isles fans were going nuts. We were united [sort of]. All I read, all I heard was Why Not Us (#WhyNotUs). Now, with the playoffs locked up, all I’m hearing is how terrible it is that we’re facing the Penguins? How it’s a foregone conclusion that the season’s over, and that the Isles blew it tonight? Why not us, guys? Why not? Think about it.
Anyways, the Islanders dropped two games in a row for the first time in over a month. The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Islanders by the score of 2-1 in Philly, where it was nice to finally not hear Philadelphia fans because they have nothing less to play for until October.
With 5th-place in reach with a win tonight, this game didn’t start as planned. There was little energy from the Islanders. Their first shot on goal came just under seven minutes into the first period. Kevin Poulin was forced to make a couple of big saves early on, stopping seven shots in the first eight minutes. Basically, a lethargic effort and an ill-timed penalty put the Islanders behind 1-0 while being outshot 13-4 in the first twenty minutes of action.
Onto the second period, the Islanders came out with a some more jump in their game. After failing to clear the puck in a sequence that caused the Flyers’ first goal, Matt Carkner would get involved on the offensive side of the puck. With a little bit over a minute gone in the first, Carkner pinched, threw the puck at the net, and it found (guess who?) John Tavares for his 28th goal of the season. It was seemingly the start that the Islanders needed, but would they be able to capitalize?
The Isles would get their only power-play of the game 7:52 into the game off of a scrum involving Matt Carkner and Scott Hartnell, presumably a carry-over grudge from the teams’ last meeting together. Frustratingly, the Isles only managed one shot, as they continued to watch their power-play fail them in crucial moments of crucial games.
Key Play of the Game
The game would head into the third period tied at one, and that would last until just over thirteen minutes passed in the frame. Poor Kevin Poulin. He made two huge stops, robbing Claude Giroux point-blank, but the puck would remain in the Flyers’ possession. As it made it’s way to the blue-line, the puck shifted to Oliver Lauridsen, who had all the time in the world to skate the puck to the top of the left-circle and fire it past the Poulin Wall.
Tough luck, but the 2-1 loss was deserved. If there was one bright spot to take away from this one, it’s the fact that Kevin Poulin stood on his head, stopping 28-of-30 shots. Poulin looked sharp, made some huge saves, and never had a chance on the first goal. Playing in his first game since April 2nd, Poulin looked good (arguably his best start of the season). That should be calming for Isles fans that see him as the goalie of the future.
-Kevin Poulin played well in Philly tonight. He did everything expected of him to give the Islanders a chance to win in Nabokov’s absence.
-John Tavares scored. He’s heating up, just in time for the playoffs.
-Good on Matt Carkner by making up for his poor defensive play with an assist.
-Keith Aucoin wants to break that goal-less drought.
-Honestly? This was a boring hockey game.
-Toughness is great and all, but Boulton was the one in the box that led to the Flyers’ first goal. Carkner was on the ice for the goal.
-Colin McDonald has been awfully quiet as of late. One assist in his last seven games, and hasn’t scored since April 2nd.
-Frans Nielsen, and the rest of that line, was running around in their own zone a few times in this one.
-Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo took themselves out of the play on the Flyers’ second goal. They were caught deep in their own zone while the puck was at the blue-line.
-Seven giveaways for the Islanders defense tonight (3 for Streit, 2 for Carkner and Hamonic)
-In hindsight, I didn’t like the idea of scratching Thomas Hickey. This is not the time to start messing with chemistry. With all due respect to Brian Strait, the Isles went on this streak without him. If the Isles are going to scratch someone for Carkner, it should be him.
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