Yeah, I haven’t written about the Islanders in like two week. What do you want to do about it? Fight me. (Don’t fight me). It’s finals week and Daddy’s gotta make his paper. Whatever. Let’s jump into it.
The Isles lost three straight games last week. But guess what: I live in Candyland and nothing bad happens in my world so I’m just going to ignore that and talk about last night’s game against the Devils.
Did the Isles win? Stupid question. Of course they won.
In all seriousness it was a real gutsy win against the Devils last night. The team fell behind by two goals early in the game. Jaromir Jagr scored his one trillionth point at Nassau Coliseum. The dude has been playing since the Original Six era and has played all but one part of a season in the Isles division. We just can’t seem to shake the guy. In fifteen years when I take my kids to Isles games, Jagr will still be scoring points against us. Absolutely ridiculous. I wouldn’t be able to hate the guy so much if he brought back his 90s mullet. That’s one of those intangibles that you just can’t teach anymore.
I could talk about great mullets all day, but I’ve got a blog to write here. Back to the topic on hand. The team was able to rally back from a two goal deficit. The Isles goals came from Josh Bailey (assisted by Ryan Strome and Mikhail Grabovski) and Matty Esiason-Martin (assisted by Casey Cizikas and Calvin de Haan). We’ll talk about Bailey later, but right now I want to focus on Mr. Esiason.
(For those of you who don’t understand the joke, Matt Martin is dating Sydney Esiason, the daughter of former NFL MVP and New York sports legend Boomer Esiason)
Matty Esiason-Martin has been playing great lately. The entire fourth line has been engulfed in flames. Martin, Cizikas, and Clutterbuck have all been playing like madmen. I was watching the Devil’s broadcast of last night’s game, and the Devil’s announcers could not get over this fourth line, and it made me realize just how good they’ve been. This team is so deep that I feel absolutely confident that we can score with any line on the ice. That’s a feeling that I have not had in a long time, if ever.
One thing about last night’s game that I did not like one bit came from John Tavares, of all people. With less than two minutes left in the third period and the score tied at 2-2, Tavares was the victim of a hard hit by Marek Zidlickey at center ice. Although the hit was very hard, it was completely clean. Tavares responded by spearing Zidlickey in the midsection/groin area with his stick.
That is not a good look at all from a team’s captain, especially at that time in the game. He put the Isles in a very tough position having to kill a penalty for the final minute and a half of regulation and carry over into overtime. Especially since the Islanders sport the leagues worst penalty kill (71.1%). It’s the first time I’ve seen Tavares loose his cool like that, so I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but that’s not a trend that can continue.
Alright now let’s get back to Josh Bailey. Last night was a good night for the kid that has been mostly underachieving for his young NHL career. He’s been putting together a decent season so far this year. He is still the team’s worst forward, but that’s also because the team is so flush with forward talent. Last night Bailey had the goal that put the Isles on the board. He sparked a crowd that had been silenced by the Devils in the first period. He then closed the game out with the winning goal in the shootout. All in all, it was a good night for the kid.
Other team notes:
- Brian Strait was once again a healthy scratch for the Isles. The guy just cannot play hockey well. I’m hoping there aren’t any more injuries to the defensemen. I don’t want to see Strait on the ice again.
- Cory Conacher has been placed on waivers. The Conacher experiment was a complete failure. Remember when this guy got the start on the first line for the first few games of the year? He put up 3 points in 15 games and was a constant healthy scratch by early November. Early November is when the Islanders really caught fire. Coincidence?
- Johnny Boychuk and Travis Hamonic remain on IR, but both men returned to practice this week. Let’s hope them both a speedy recovery so they can get back out there and bring some much needed stability to the Isles defense. Halak can’t do it all on his own.
- The team remains 2 points behind Pittsburgh for first place in the Metropolitan Division. This is a race that will likely come down to the wire this season. But for now, we’re sitting within striking distance of Sidney Crosby and his stupid fat swollen face