Saturday, November 27, 2010
Isles finally have something to celebrate
[Note: While Mike was enjoying Day 2 of his turkey coma, blog ambassador Doug Mittler of ESPN The Magazine forayed out to the Coliseum for some first-hand reporting on the Isles' streak-breaking win. What follows is his report from the Island. Big thanks to Doug for the report.]
When the Islanders’ 14-game slide finally ended on Black Friday with a 2-0 win over the Devils, the sound system at Nassau Coliseum blared Kool and the Gang’s “Celebrate” and Three Dog Night’s “Joy to the World.”
Call it what you want, but the Islanders issued a collective sigh of relief following Rick DiPietro’s 29-save shutout.
“The hard work was there [during the losing streak] but there was a lot of mistakes,” DiPietro said. “It was good to be back on the winning track. I’ve been here for 10 years. Long Island has struggled with a lot of bad teams.”
“It’s obviously tough going through something like that,” John Tavares added. “At times, you feel like you lose your way. We’ve learned how to figure things out as we go. To learn our lessons and win at the same time, that’s the best.”
Finally a first
The win was the first in the NHL for Islanders coach Jack Capuano since taking over for the fired Scott Gordon last week. The Isles were 0-2-2 in their first four games for Capuano, who had been coaching the Islanders' AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.
Capuano has no hesitation giving ample ice time to young players, especially due to injuries to Trent Hunter (knee) and Doug Weight (back spasms).
“I know who they are. I know what they’re capable of doing,” Capuano said. "I’m not hesitant to use those [young] guys at any particular time.”
Defenseman Travis Hamonic, for example, logged 17:53 in his second NHL game. Fellow defenseman Dylan Reese played 16:53. LW Matt Martin played close to 11 minutes.
* After the win, Blake Comeau spoke on one difference in playing style under the new bench boss: “He gives us a little more leeway offensively to read and react."
* Colin White and Bruno Gervais dropped the gloves with eight minutes to go in the first period, and it ended quickly on a once-punch knockdown by White.
* The Islanders scored the first goal for the fourth straight game when Jesse Joensuu tallied 92 seconds into the contest. A second-round draft pick in 2006 from Finland, Joensuu has had periodic call-ups to the big club over the past three seasons and has three goals in 22 NHL games. Joensuu was leading Bridgeport in scoring at the time of his recall on November 18.
* Friday’s game marked the first time the Islanders had a two-goal lead since the end of a 5-2 win over Colorado on October 16.
* The Islanders have ranked at our near the bottom of the NHL attendance in recent years, but the numbers have become even more sparse, as Katie Strang pointed out this week in Newsday. The Isles normally do well for games on Thanksgiving Weekend, but the announced crowd for Friday’s Black Friday game with the Devils was just 10,897. A mere 8,652 watched Wednesday’s home loss to Columbus.