It wasn't the ending I or any other Islander fan expected. We're pretty used to the Islanders walking out of MSG with two points and a few bruises. Not tonight. I thought for sure after last night's hard fought loss, it would be a repeat of intensity with a different outcome. The Rangers won 2 - 0 with one earned goal and one empty netter.
Rob Schremp had talked about intensity and a little luck. The Islanders had neither tonight at MSG while Yahoo's PuckDaddy threw a party across the street. Hopefully that crowd fared better than the Isles.
Jack Hillen returned to the line up and replaced Dylan Reese (BTW, there's an article on him on the main website.) Jack played 21 shifts and blocked four shots. Trevor Gillies, who yesterday set the tone at 3 minutes into the contest, sat on the bench tonight for all but 3:27 and spent no time in his second home -- the box.
Zenon Konopka who is usually dominant on face offs went five of eleven for a FO% of only 45%. Good by many standards, but not good enough for a Ranger game.
The pin-ball that is Matt Martin, who won the fight decision last night over Michael Sauer managed only two hits tonight.
Matt Moulson and John Tavares both had four shots on goal out of the 17 that managed to get anywhere near Henrik Lundqvist.
On the other side of the ice, the 41-year-old goaltender faced only 21 shots. The difference was that so many of them were quality shots. Dwayne Roloson gave up one goal. One single goal. He should not have faced a loss for letting one puck get by him.
But there were a lot of "should not have's" in this game.
Ryan Callahan should NOT have clocked Frans Nielsen into next week and caused everyone to hold their breath. Jesse Joensuu should NOT have been given
19 minutes of penalties for having to stick up for his team mate.
But my biggest problem with the game, besides the loss of course, was the treatment of Jon Sim by the officiating staff. Twice Jon was called for goaltender interference when he was visibly pushed into Lunqvist and once given a diving penalty. It was apparent to me that Jon must have run over someone's puppy because these seemed to be very personal and retalitory calls.
Sean Avery was not as lucky tonight as he was last night. A roughing and Misconduct call in the first and a boarding call in the second. Avery being Avery once again.
Dwayne Roloson would not condem the officiating staff for the job they did tonight. However, I can. It was miserable.
But the bad calls that were just outrageous didn't change the fact that the Islanders could not find a way to get past Henrik. The last nail in the coffin was a puck that clanged off the post so loudly, it reverberated through the MSG cameras.
The Isles are still at the very bottom of the standings while other teams are racking up points. The Metro challenge will not be theirs this year, but a top five draft pick very well will be.
With all this happening, a Twitter buddy asked me how I continue to stay positive in these dark days. Truth is, I can't help it. I know that everything ends eventually, even bad times.
Andy MacDonald has returned and ultimately Milan Jurcina will return along with Kyle Okposo and maybe even Doug Weight. Hey! Think of it! It's December and Radek Martinek is still in the line-up.
But this is emotional ownership because not only do I love the game, I have grown to know these men quite well. It's the same as my daughter's softball team. I don't go to their houses and have dinner, but that doesn't make me any less concerned for them or less willing to cheer them on.
I may not agree with everything this organization does as an organization, but I can't help but feel strongly about the players on the ice. They want to win as much as we want them to. While we are angry at a loss to the Rangers -- again, they are too.
Now we have to worry about Sunday.