Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nino Nets His First But Isles Fall

The outcome for the New York Islanders was a familiar one on Wednesday (10/13) night; another close contest decided by one goal against the Washington Capitals. While the final score was disappointing, several areas of the Isles' effort were impressive and/or improving. Rather than dwelling on the negatives (like a late Blake Comeau penalty that led to Washington's game winning goal), let's look at the positives.

Obviously the story of the night for New York was Nino Niederreiter's first NHL goal. It came off of a handsome pass from Doug Weight and gave the Isles an early and unexpected lead just 3:14 into the game. History was made too, as Nino became the youngest Islander to score a goal in franchise history.

Video does a much better job than I can of describing the 18 year-old's goal and the emotions that followed, so I'll just let you have a look below (courtesy of the NY Islanders):

Another pleasant surprise was the quickness of newcomer Michael Grabner. The Islanders have been missing a winger with real breakaway speed that can penetrate opposing defenses. Grabner, who had the secondary assist on Nino's goal, may be that guy. Though he played only 13:17 in this one, I felt that Grabner brought an element of excitement to the Isles' offense that it sorely needed. It will be interesting to see if Grabner is allotted further duties while the Isles are missing some important forwards.

What can be said about goaltender Dwayne Roloson that hasn't been already? Fresh off his 41st birthday, "Rolie" kept the Isles in the game the entire night against a team with tremendous scoring capability. Though Alex Ovechkin eventually solved him on a screened shot and then later a deflected one, kudos to Dwayne for helping an undermanned squad hang in against the Caps for 56 minutes. Roloson saved 24 shots in his first assignment of the season. The Islanders had their chances to make him a winner on this evening, but it didn't happen.

Finally, with James "The Wiz" Wisniewski out for a gesture that surely everyone has seen by now, the defense outperformed my expectations. Milan Jurcina and Mike Mottau stepped up admirably on the blue line, while returnees Jack Hillen and Andy MacDonald were solid as usual. It should also be noted that Jurcina and MacDonald feature cannon-like shots. I'll keep an eye on how the coaches choose to use each man's skill set in the future.

The Isles will move on to play a Pittsburgh team that has struggled out of the gate (1-3-0). Friday (10/15) will provide Islanders fans and players with their first look not only at the Penguins, but also their brand new Consol Energy Center. We'll see if New York can add to Pittsburgh's early season misery.

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