Robin Lehner made 28 saves in his team's 5-2 win over the Islanders today. (Photo: Michael Hiridjee/flickr)
What do you get when you combine a lack of offense, a lack of intensity for two and a half periods, and an empty net with over two minutes to go in the third period?
A 5-2 Ottawa Senators win.
After an uplifting shootout win against the Rangers, this is what the Isles do, apparently. John Tavares score 49 seconds in, and at one point in the first period the Islanders were outshooting the Sens 9-0, but once again that momentum failed to carry into the second period. The Senators tied it, then took a 2-1 lead on goals by Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza. (Interestingly, Spezza had left only one or two shifts before his goal, after taking a Daniel Alfredsson shot off of his leg. Ouch. That is not pleasant, and I speak from experience- not with Alfredsson, of course. Didn’t seem to hamper Spezz any, though.)
Jim O’Brien made it 3-1 at 5:13 of the third, and then PA Parenteau broke loose and got the Islanders back into it (sort of) with his 15th goal of the season (and 58th point). Suddenly, the Islanders looked like they were ready to play again- aaaand then the Sens’ fourth goal happened.
It happened like so: Mark Streit collected a pass at the blueline and attempted a shot. His stick got broken in the process. Suddenly, it was an Ottawa rush going the other way, and Streit hurried back (but got clustered up with Milan Jurcina in the meantime) to try and stop Nick Foligno and Chris Neil. Neil got the pass, Jurcina tried to block the passing lane instead of anticipating a shot, and boom. Goal. Done deal, and I was already reaching for some comfort food. Kyle Turris had an empty netter at the end, but that’s not really worth noting. Meh.
I just don’t get this team. There is zero consistency between games and even PERIODS. One minute, they look completely in control, and the next they’re being lit up for four goals against. You can’t blame Evgeni Nabokov much for this one, because he did make some big saves to try and keep the Islanders in it (and finished with 19 saves on 23 shots). It’s like they score one goal and decide to take the rest of the game off- and indeed, the only reason they have seven goals forced in four games is because four of them came against the Rangers in one night (and one of them was a shootout winner, so not really a ~goal). Take away that win, and we’ve scored three goals in four games and allowed eleven against. What’s going on, how can it be stopped… and more importantly, what is going on behind the bench that this is happening? After all, there’s only so much you can pin on the players themselves before looking at the person meant to be guiding them. This was supposed to be a deciding year for Capuano; Ted Nolan and Scott Gordon before him had much riding on their second seasons as head coach, and we all know what happened there. The line blurs when it comes to coaching responsibility vs. player responsibility, but either way, something has to change.
Anyway… the trade deadline is tomorrow, and with PA Parenteau and Evgeni Nabokov still not signed, who knows what could or will happen. You can check out one perspective, by Erol Bal of The Checking Line, in which he advocates trading Kyle Okposo in exchange for Dustin Brown (his point being that Brown will score goals and provide some physicality, unlike KO). I highly doubt it would happen, in part because it’s a bigger cap hit (at $3.175M) than Okposo’s is ($2.8M, though we barely hit the cap floor each season as it is, so no biggie). Also, looking at the comparative stats for these guys, though KO’s plus-minus is way lower (more a result of his teammates than himself), he has 35 points to Dustin’s 31 and only four fewer goals. So I think this would be a hypothetical trade solely based on the added physical dimension, which is of course needed on the Island, but… let’s face it, Garth Snow is not the type of GM to come out with blockbuster trades, and there are whispers that Brown is staying put anyway. So this sounds like a lot of wishing, as most of these trade ideas are.
Do I think some guys should be moved? Yes. Marty Reasoner, Jay Pandolfo and Milan Jurcina could all find homes elsewhere and I wouldn’t bat an eye. Pandolfo’s penalty killing hasn’t done us any good recently, Jurcina’s game is full of holes, and Reasoner still hasn’t even scored a goal. Of course, while some of these guys could still have appeal to teams in need of highly specific role players in their lineup, I don’t see them going anywhere but the waiver wire (if possible). Same for Mike Mottau, whose God-awful giveaway up the middle led to one of the Senators’ goals tonight. But the best thing for Snow to do should he decide to sell is get capable, ready-to-play bodies, preferably defensive-minded, to patch up our woebegone blueline. We’ve been relying on drafting and prospects for a while, and clearly our farm team is in no dire need of help. Focus on helping the big-brother team stop the bleeding. If that means giving up a guy like Parenteau or Nabokov, well… do what you have to do, Garth, but I think both have a place on our team and should stay a bit longer. Even Nabokov. Can you believe that? (Considering Snow is still in talks with Nabokov’s agent, yes, he can.)
That’s all for now. I try not to talk too-too much about trade stuff, because I still have much to learn and am always afraid of sounding dumb. (True story.) But the trade deadline is a part of NHL life, and as such, just like everyone else, I’ll be glued to Twitter and nhl.com.
Until next time.
P.S. The title? I had Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” stuck in my head after I heard it playing at Scotiabank Place. Whoops.