John Vanbiesbrouck - he stopped everything thrown his way. 45 saves; this game could have easily been 6-1 if Beezer hadn't stood on his head
Kevin Haller - he has been taking some extremely careless penalties as of late and made some crucial mistakes in the defensive zone with a lack of crispness on his passes; and where is his feistiness everyone talks about?
After returning from a week of fun and sun in Florida I was eager to return to the Coliseum to see my beloved Islanders. I was fortunate enough to see their last win against Tampa as I was sitting in the ESPN SportsZone restaurant in Disney World. Seeing the highlights of the last game against the Devils had me anticipating another exciting game.
Unfortunately, the Devils dominated the game from the outset. As I hope you know by now, I support this team with my heart and soul but the Isles had no right winning this game. They were outshot by a 2-1 margin, 46-23. If not for the play of Vanbiesbrouck the Isles could have gotten buried in this game. The first period contained no real excitement except for the shooting gallery that the Beezer was thrown into. Despite being outshot 14 - 5 in the second period, the Isles showed some sign of life when Mariusz Czerkawski beat Brodeur with a wrister from the top of the left face off circle. Unfortunately, the third period continued just as the second had ended. The Devils were firing everything at the net and it paid off when at 12:34 of the third Sergei Brylin picked up a loose puck from a Steven's shot and slid it under Vanbiesbrouck tying the game at 1.
During the overtime session it was obvious the Islanders were playing for a tie which absolutely amazed me. Lapointe and Scatchard owned the majority of the ice time and Kvasha and Parrish (two of the guys we obtained for their offense) hardly saw the ice in overtime. Now, if you are looking to win a game why would you have two defensive specialists on the ice during most of the overtime? This team needs some sort of spark so why not be aggressive in overtime and go for the win? I love Butch Goring as a coach but I was honestly angry at the end of this one just because of the way he coached the game in the closing minutes.
After all was said and done, the Isles escaped with a 1 - 1 tie. I do have to give a large amount of credit to the Isles defense that kept the shooting lanes open for Vanbiesbrouck. He was able to clearly see most shots taken at him and the defensive corps did a great job of clearing out the front of the crease.
Is there a "D" in Kvasha?
We kept hearing about Kvasha's offensive potential and how he was brought here to open up the offense but how about this kid's defensive play? On numerous occasions today Kvasha was the most intense back checker on the ice. He won 9 of 11 face offs, used his stick extremely effectively in the defensive zone, and maintained great man on man coverage.
Did you swallow your whistle?
A little note to the NHL referees:
Interference is actually a penalty.
You guys did an excellent job of eliminating interference last season but now when the infraction occurs nothing is called. Players are obstructing the path to the puck and using their sticks more than ever to slow the opponent down. Hockey is a game of speed and the interference really destroys the flow of the game.
Aris from Cleveland?
Browsing through my issue of GameTime it was a pleasant surprise to see an article on Aris Brimanis. Being one of the least recognizable players on the Isles roster I was glad to see GameTime gave us a glimpse on his personality. I had the opportunity to meet him at the season ticket holder party and he was an extremely down to earth guy and very enjoyable to talk to. And who would have thought he was from Cleveland? As mentioned in the GameTime issue, I too thought he was from Russia based on his name, but this guy is as American as you can get. Keep an eye on this guy...he can really throw his body around.
(tid bits you may have missed)
I want to send some cheese to Stevens to go with his whine. Don't get me wrong, he is a great defenseman but he was crying like a baby to the refs about everything. Congratulations go out to Isbister who was named the Islanders player of the month for November with 6 goals and 7 assists in 14 games; he also had a solid game as a penalty killer. The power play continues to fizzle to the point where Goring used the Lapointe/Scatchard/Czerkawski line in what seemed like a desperation move to try and add some spark to the power play. Is Connolly headed towards the dreaded sophomore slump? He is second on the Isles with 11 assists, but can't seem to find the net. With the cold weather upon us, I encourage all fans to take the opportunity to get a cup of hot chocolate at the Coliseum...I gotta say, it was pretty tasty!
Until next time..."Watch for Flying Pucks"