Monday, October 12, 2009

Day Game Doldrums

The Islanders came into Monday's (10/12) holiday afternoon tilt (a.k.a. Kids' Opening Day) looking to rebound after a dispiriting overtime loss in Boston over the weekend. While the Isles seem to historically have trouble performing in day games (according to charts kept by Dee Karl, the 7th Woman), the media guide indicates that the team has trended more towards mediocrity of late, going 5-7-1 last season when the sun was up.

Regardless of the past, Kyle told us that his preparation is the same regardless of the time of day, while Doug Weight chimed in on the subject by saying that sometimes a team doesn't have its legs "for the first 5 or 6 minutes," but after that they soon get going. He was sure to remind us that it's the same for both teams though, and added that for him a day game is sometimes a nice change of pace. It certainly frees up a player's evenings for family time, which is nice for an established veteran like Mr. Weight.

With all that said, it seemed as if the Isles came out on this day with plenty of steam, outshooting the visiting Los Angeles Kings 11-4 in the 1st period and with Finnish forward Sean Bergenheim creating several good scoring opportunities for himself. L.A. goalie Jonathan Quick was up to the task, though, and the teams went into the first break unable to break through with a goal.

The most noticeable thing that happened in the second period was the arena scoreboard malfunctioning for several minutes about 6 minutes into play. The Isles couldn't sustain any kind of momentum and took the game's first penalty at the 7:48 mark. While nothing came of it for the Kings, a second power play late in the frame provided the Kings with a nice looking goal from their young star Anze Kopitar. Islanders goaltender Marty Biron was helplessly screened on the shot, and with only 6 seconds left on the kill, the goal really seemed to take the air out of the Islanders' balloon. It also set the tone for a mostly moribund third period.

The Kings made it 2-0 at 5:31 of the third period, as another one of their young stars, Drew Doughty, blasted a shot past Biron. As improved as the Isles' play has been on the young season, third period comebacks have not been their hallmark. They did pump some life back into the game when Matt Moulson finally beat Quick with 1:55 left to play. Kyle and Mark Streit recorded assists on the goal.

The Islanders scrambled for an equalizer with a last-ditch empty net tactic, but it never came. The final was 2-1 Los Angeles, and we'd have to say it was their least entertaining game of the year so far.

The Isles have taken 3 points over the first 4 games, but you get the sense from the players and coaches that it should be more. While we like the heightened expectations of this team, the coach reminded everyone once again that he is focused on how the team plays and the effort they provide each time out. "There are no shortcuts" on the path to success was and is the message he wants to instill to his corps.

Weight, the captain, thought the team just needed to play "hungrier" at times, and that while moral victories are nice, "this league is all about winning."

Lastly, a quick look at the stat sheet shows that members of the "Moulson Golden" line were the only forwards to record points in the game (Moulson 1 G, Okposo 1 A). As you can see on the right hand side of this page, Kyle is still maintaining his point-per-game pace. Hopefully the Isles can get Tavares and others involved and capture their first win when they travel to Buffalo on Friday (10/16).

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