Halloween Comes Early: Isles Dress As Jekyll & Hyde

Gonna keep this short because obviously no one wants to read a novel after a brutal loss like that.

 

First Period-

Islanders had great pace & forecheck going in the first half of the first period.  Colin McDonald should have had at least one goal, with two beautiful chances, one right in front of the net where he shot wide, and one where he whiffed on a rebound by the right dot.  James Van Riemsdyk tied it up about 6 minutes later after a strange bounce off the zamboni corner.  Thomas Hickey overskated the bounce & left JVR wide open for the shot over Halak's right shoulder.  The second half of the period was sloppy, with defensive lapses, overskating of the puck in every zone, and the Isles trying to be too cute again in the neutral zone.  Luckily, they have Cal Clutterbuck on their team, as he was an instigator once again & got a powerplay out of it.  The slash on Joffrey Lupul was a very soft call, but the Islanders took advantage of it after a Frans Nielsen missed slapshot from the point bounced off the boards and right onto John Tavares' stick, who fired a snipe past Bernier's right side.  Honestly the Islanders were lucky to escape with a 2-1 lead, as the second half of the first period was an absolute mess.  It was just a foreshadow of what was to come.

Second Period-

The second period started off with a good PP chance as Cal Clutterbuck drew another penalty.  There were plenty of shots and great opportunities on the PP, but no one hit the net and the swoon began.  Phil Kessel started Toronto's scoring off with a very soft goal on Jaroslav Halak.  Halak did not look sharp at all tonight.  His angles have been off all season, and if he can't make some of those saves there might be a real problem this year.  The barrage of shots hit the Islanders quick, and another wide-open shot came to the front of the net at 11:11, this time Roman Polak getting one into the net.  David Clarkson added to Toronto's fun about 5 minutes later, with a shot from very deep that Halak never saw.  It didn't matter where the shot came from, everyone in every zone looked completely lost and out of position.  No one was skating, the checking was non-existent, & there was no urgency.  Phil Kessel added another goal after a floating pass flew over Calvin de Haan as he sniped it past Halak again to put salt in the wound of what was hopefully the Islanders worst period all year.

Third Period-

This was by far the Islanders best period.  They were buzzing for its entirety, played with urgency, moved their feet & shot pucks at the net while also playing defensively sound.  The goaltending change also helped, as Chad Johnson looked steady.  He should get the start on Thursday.  Casey Cizikas had a golden opportunity to make it a close game coming down the stretch on the PP, but he couldn't get the puck over Bernier's outstretched arm.  Overall they looked good and Jonathan Bernier was just a brick wall tonight.  It's very encouraging to see the Islanders fight back like they did after the game was essentially over halfway through the third period.  They gave a fluke goal at the end of the game that trickled in past Chad Johnson, but we'll let that slide because it didn't actually count.

Final Score: 5-2 Leafs

Quick Hits-

-Nikolay Kulemin is great.  I love his tenacity, grit, and forechecking

-Colin McDonald is not great.  Really need Grabovski back, or to bring up Anders Lee to take Grabo's spot.  McDonald couldn't skate all game, couldn't shoot, couldn't really bring anything to the table

-Ryan Strome has incredible vision.  His set up to Leddy was solid, and he's starting to come into his own as a very solid player.  The fact that he's only 20 is unbelievable

-Brock Nelson has cooled off a lot since his first couple of games.  He looks a little tentative now, and hopefully this is just a short phase & he'll get back to his old ways 

Overall I would not hit the panic button just yet on the Islanders season.  They're still 4-2-0, they still score plenty of goals, and the defense can only get better with the return of Lubo Visnovsky.  They really haven't looked all that terrible in their two losses, minus two periods this game, and the Penalty Kill against the Penguins.  I hope Thomas Hickey has a quick recovery, as he looked to get nicked by a skate to the side of his chin.  Let's pray that he's okay.

 

For more mostly positive analysis of the Islanders please follow me @SupRos22 or @TCLIsles

-Chris Passarelli