Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Highs & Lows of being An Isles Fan

12:08 pm: Ah crap, just when I think I have it all figured out, I get a phone call from someone who has a different opinion. Someone who sees the ice and the game a hell of a lot differently than I do.

Steve Carlson gave me a call to explain a DIFFERENT view of the "incident."

"He had to go, Dee. He had no choice. Did you REALLY see what happened?"

Uh.... I saw what was on TV. Was there something else? Yes, it seems there was. The underlying fact that there is that "code of the game" thing. According to Mr. Carlson, it wasn't Rick's invite at all, it was Brent's. Seems Brent had enough with what was going on at the other end of the ice and he had already left his crease. Steve said Rick had no choice (as dumb of a move as it was) but to defend himself and fight.

Problem was, he didn't realize it would end the way it did. Johnson is a lefty and 6" taller than Rick. He never expected it.

So, while it wasn't the smartest thing to do, it seems it was the ONLY thing he could do.

"Hey Dee, tell Ricky next time -- put on the foil." ;o)

Thanks Steve.

I didn't realize I had been so remiss as to not post on my main site in the last two days. But between the weather, work and a general malaise, the site took precedence. That isn't a problem, but I do use this site to speak my mind a little more freely than I do there. And about now, I have a lot to say.

So, if you're looking for a game recap from last night, here is the post game report at 11:30 pm. But here are additional thoughts.

The win in Atlanta was uplifting. It made us feel good. Riding the high of Matt Moulson being signed for three years and wanting to be here along with Michael Grabner being named the NHL 3rd star of the week prior to the All Star break began to put the Islanders back on the NHL media map on the positive side.

While they may not be able to make the playoffs this season, they were beginning to get respect and some analysts were beginning to worry that they could play the role of spoiler for many teams they yet to face during these final games of the regular season.

Ty Wishart traveled with the team on the two-day road trip to Atlanta and Pittsburgh. Looking up some previous information about the youngster, it was clear that he was thought to have excellent potential and size. This is a good thing. So is the idea that Milan Jurcina also took part in a full team practice during the trip and should return soon.

Poulin faced Atlanta and put up a stellar performance with confidence and poise and a bit of an edge in his post-game.

Highs. We had highs, smiles and feel good moments.

Then we had that game in Pittsburgh. With both Crosby and Malkin out of the line-up, the scoring threats seemed to be removed. But what the Pens have is muscle to protect those star players. Rupp, Godard and Asham make a pretty tough crew. Throw in the nasty attitude that Jordan Staal brought after his game with the Rangers and his gloved punch to Prust's face that he got away with, and I was a little worried.

I wanted Trevor Gillies on the bench. I don't care what anyone says, that man will go through walls for his team mates and he lets the opposing bench know it. You just DON'T mess with Trevor Gillies.

This is not to say I do not believe in the toughness of Zenon Konopka. The man with the most penalty minutes in the NHL has them just as much for his mouth as his fists. But watching Z get shaken like a rag doll last night by Rupp just didn't sit well with me. Nor did seeing Blake Comeau laid out on the ice awaiting help or watching Dylan Reese's head hit the glass after a whistle on an icing call or seeing Matt Martin take another glove to the face where his fresh stitches are.

Now, the debate I received on Twitter after I made my displeasure with Capuano's decision known was that Trevor is an excellent team mate and enforcer, but his judgement on timing is questionable. In all honesty, I think last night any time would have been the right time.

But let's get to the real story of the night. The one that was replayed 1,000 times within a millisecond of when it happened. Rick DiPietro's decision to take matters into his own hands and fight the goalie that had shut out his team.

In all honesty, Rick really only gave up two goals. He had some moments where he looked like the Rick DiPietro of old and a few moments of positional problems and open nets leaving the defense to do the job. There was one play where A-Mac actually had to waive him off the puck as Rick skated out to play it.

Rick, I love ya, but you're not a forward. Your job is to STAY IN THE NET. You see that painted half circle. That's yours. Stay there.

But with a frustration level at fever pitch as the clock ticked down to the final buzzer, Rick sent an invite across ice to Johnson who had no problem accepting it. Granted, RDP is in very good shape and does not back away from a fight. "Hey, it only hurts for a second, right?" Right.

And that's about what it took -- a second as Johnson's punch landed along with his elbow to the side of Rick's head. The head that has already been kicked with a skate into concussion.

It was dumb. It was beyond dumb. It was dangerous and now it is also embarrassing. Not just for Rick, but for us long suffering fans who will have to endure watching it over and over again and hearing about it just about everywhere.

So -- um. Thanks.


Angelica Rodriguez said...

I would agree with you, but there's the teeny problem with Gillies: The guy only plays two or three minutes most nights he's in the lineup. I would rather have the guys who skate more in the lineup than a guy who can fight, to be quite honest.
I think what's happened here is a sheer lack of aggressiveness on behalf of the entire team. Dee, I'm sure you and I have both seen nights when all twenty-plus guys on the team forecheck aggressively, defend with gusto and lay massive hits on everything in sight. Last night was not one of those nights. Gillies or no Gillies, you cannot expect to win a game against Pittsburgh without being feisty. The boys were rag dolls last night.
There's also the controversial idea that Pitt got away with some stuff last night- like the Talbot hit on Comeau. Headshot or no headshot, the guy led with the elbow. Last time I checked, that was a penalty, but I guess the officials saw otherwise- and I guess Comeau had to be injured on the same level as Marc Savard or even Sidney Crosby for anything to be called. It's ridiculous already.

neilmairs said...

I agree completely Dee. Losing is one thing, but does Edmonton or Columbus end up being the butt of jokes like this? Rick may never be the same - having to change styles AND recover from injuries - but to let this happen is childish. Time to move on, and time for Snow/Wang to show they're SERIOUS about winning - now.

JPinVA said...

Looks like we saw last night's game a lot alike. I made a similar point about Gillies. I think the combination of Gillies/Schremp on the fourth line could give Konopka a rest. I know Bridgeport doesn't have much to spare, but seeing Wyshart replace Reese and Rhett replace Colliton down the stretch would also make this fan a little happier.

Unknown said...

i am a die hard islander fan and i am tired of the abuse....We need to get rid of Scott Gordon from our organization he is the worst coach and not just in hockey in all sports. We need a real coach someone mature and experience to teach our young players.. And i don't agree with you guys on gillies we need him in the line up to enforce the young guys to play feisty i believe they are more comfortable when he is in the line up... i do agree with exchanging some players with Bridgeport

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree with you more on Zenon. I love the guy, versatile player and one tough customer, but he's not feared. It's like having your big brother defend you when what you need is the guy your big brother calls.

I would much rather have Gillies getting minutes than Martin, who really hasn't shown he belongs in the NHL, but is too young to give up on. Let him grow up a little in the minors the rest of this season, and give Gillies the minutes.

JP in NJ