Some quick thoughts about the Islanders' latest stumble before we discuss the holiday weekend's upcoming action.
First off, the Montreal Canadiens are a good team this year. Maybe even very good. I haven't gotten a chance to see very much of them, but I knew coming in they had dynamite numbers on the power play. Up in the 28-29% range so far, and the season's 1/4 over.
In fact, during Wednesday's Isles-Habs game (MTL won 4-1) I mentioned to Tom Liodice of The Tiger Track how crisp Montreal's passing looked and how quickly they cycled the puck which allowed their open man to shoot. It was the kind of effortless passing where the puck 'never touches the ice' and opens up wide shooting lanes against defenses.
It's the kind of power play I wish the Islanders were sporting right now. They've gone from 2nd in the league in PP% down to 12th as of this writing. The 0-for-7 versus Montreal certainly didn't help that standing. Believe me, the Isles still have a very good power play when they are allowed to display it, and they work and cycle the puck very well, but nothing like this.
It's almost as if the Islanders, while on the PP, are looking for the perfect shot. They seem to worry so much about fanciness and setup that they forget what the main objective is. No problems like that for Montreal, who fire shots from the point, the circles, and everywhere else.
The Isles did manage to outshoot Montreal in the game and gave up only one shorthanded goal, but Cristobal Huet was on for most of the night and DP wasn't. "Sometimes," as coach Ted Nolan said after the game, "you look too much to what you did wrong and not at what the other team did right." I think that was a spot-on assessment. Both teams, despite preseason predictions, are better than many pundits expected. Montreal was just better on Wednesday night.
Luckily for the Isles, Friday finds them enjoying (yeah, right) a rare 12 PM start in Boston as part of a home and home series. This means I'm gonna have to get up at the crack of noon to watch this thing. Damn.
Another gripe I have is with the jersey change that took place 4 seasons ago. I'm sorry, it just does not look right for the Canadiens to be wearing the fabled white CH jersey on the road. I understand why they implemented the change and the league did see increased apparel sales, but when will it be time to kill this silliness and restore HOME WHITES? Teams aren't wearing 3rd jerseys anymore, so kindly switch back. For 25 years I was used to it one way, and now this 'away whites' nonsense has stuck for good. This isn't football, people. White at home, please.
Lastly, the mood in the Blog Box seems to be that Andy Hilbert's days with the top club are numbered. With Shawn Bates rehabbing and Hilbert shooting everything into the opposing goalie's chest, it doesn't look good for #11. I like Hilbert (well, I like all Islanders) but I feel that Jeff Tambellini needs to come up to the Island and stay regardless of Bates' timeline for return.
I suppose I should mention that the University of Minnesota's trudge through the 2007-08 season continues this weekend in Michigan. They're at Michigan State on Friday night and in Ann Arbor (Univeristy of Michigan) on Saturday night. Hopefully we'll be able to report on two Minnesota wins and some Kyle Okposo goals.
Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving. Now wake up and watch hockey!