Isles Shut Down by Preds Defense
"I didn't know the Predators were this good!" Said many Islander fans who watched Monday afternoon's 3-1 Islanders loss to Nashville. Maybe no one realized that they are so talented because they only play the Islanders once a year. And that is definitely something a realignment can change, but that is a discussion for another time.
If you read my pregame report for this game, you will know that 1 out of the 3 things that I suggested happened. The one being that the Islanders started Kevin Poulin. Poulin had been stellar in Bridgeport, being named AHL Player of the Week stopping 98 of his last 100 shots faced prior to Monday's game.
In my pregame report, I said that the Predators should start backup goaltender Anders Lindback due to the fact that the Predators play the Rangers tomorrow night. Boy, do I wish they started Lindback. Instead, the Predators started the 6'5, Pekka Rinne. The other suggestion was that the Islanders wear their white jerseys today, which is a little selfish of me. I just wanted to see the Nashville gold in person.
Going back to Poulin, you know how he has stopped 98 of his last 100 shots? Well...that was the AHL. Today in the NHL, Predators forward Sergei Kostitsyn took the first shot of the game and beat Poulin to put the Preds up early, 1-0. Ok...one goal on one shot. The Isles will get back in it, right? Nope, the second Predators shot beats Poulin over his right shoulder to give the Predators a 2-0 lead. Can't really blame Poulin for that goal. Matt Halischuk just took a beautiful shot in a situation where most players wouldn't take a shot from.
Poulin finally makes a few saves and then the Predators set up a gorgeous passing play which results in David Legwand, and original Predator, taps in the puck to cap off a 3 goal first period for the Predators. Predators defenseman Ryan Suter left the game after the first period due to injury, so a significant loss for the Preds.
The Islanders had plenty of opportunities to get on the board in this game, whether on even strength or on a 5 on 3 powerplay; But the strong defense of the Nashville Predators, as well as Pekka Rinne, kept the Isles at bay. But the Islanders did find a way to put one behind Rinne and it was none other than John Tavares. That goal extended JT's point streak to 9 games, his career high.
Apart from Tavares, a player who had a strong game today but was not noticed was Nino Niederreiter. He was very noticeable and trying to make plays; But this goes back to Nino playing on the fourth line. If Nino is going to play to his abilities, he needs to play on the second or third line. He cannot develop properly if he is playing fourth line minutes. A scenario that this reminds me of is that of Jeff Tambellini. Although Tambellini wasn't drafted by the Islanders, he was given fourth line minutes and expected to reach his full potential when he was with the Isles. Hopefully this doesn't turn into that exact scenario.
Everyone's telling Jack Capuano to shake up the lines, including me, but one thing he really needs to shake up are his defensive pairings. The pairing of Milan Jurcina and Mark Streit is just, for lack of a better word, brutal. Milan Jurcina is a -19 on the season and Streit is a -17. With under two minutes left in the third, the Islanders won a faceoff in the Preds zone and Jurcina and Streit basically looked at each other and the puck went between them and out of the zone. They look like they have zero chemistry when they are on the ice. Not to mention that they have both done nothing offensively.
Some roster moves as the Isles sent down Poulin after the game to make room for who seems to be, Al Montoya, who returns from a concussion.
The Islanders head to Washington now. The Capitals are struggling this year but they always find a way to get around the Islanders. Not sure what Jack Capuano will do about the goaltenders. I'm thinking he should start Nabokov and let Montoya get back into game shape. The Isles offense needs to come out strong against the Caps knowing that they can explode at anytime. Hopefully the Isles can squeeze out two points.
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