Welcome to the Great White North, New York Islanders.
For many – it is a mini-homecoming; especially guys named Tavares, Bailey, Cizikas and Clutterbuck.Guess who got the bulk of the tickets for the game tonight?
For some players, it is places in unfamiliar territory. For one Michael Grabner, it is the case, because he is up in the press box tonight as a healthy scratch. Eric Boulton will be taking his spot in the lineup. It has two reasons; and the one the team will probably use will be the fact that Toronto is a heavy physical team, and having Boulton in there to help the front two lines is a good one.
Then there is the other reason. Lack of positive play for number 40 on your scorecard.
People who see me at game know that I have a blue #40 sweater. I love watching Grabby play, and I know many of you do too. What could be the reason for the instant lack of production and finish?
If I knew that, I would not be a blogger…
In any job, whether a blue collar worker, an investment banker, an analyst like me, or a hockey player, sometimes, taking a look at something from another vantage when a part of your function is lacking a little can be good for the overall effort. I know that there is a lot of ‘pride’ involved, but I am sure that Grabner will get his game back.
Thomas Vanek is out again…. Sheesh!
Of course, according to many fans, Garth Snow initiated this to happen…. Right, and I am Bob McKenzie.
But to me – the most important person out of this equation is Lubomir Visnovsky. This defense is only a small portion of what it is because he is not playing. He meant so, so, so much to the early success of the power play. He was so good at waiting for the last possible second to either get the shot off, or make the right pass through his players or opponents.
He also had that uncanny habit of being at the right position at the right time. We all know that he is not a big player like Matt Carkner, but if you are in the right place positionally (which Carkner – with his slower foot speed can not), you can get away with being under 6 feet tall. Lubo has done that and so much more. He is so missed in this lineup.
With Nabby out for at least until the beginning of 2014, the Isles need to count on Kevin Poulin to take the load and run with it. So many people were just wanting to see him get the chance, and he now getting it with bells on.
I think he has taken the bull, and slapped him around a bit; he has not looked like the timid goaltender of last season. He is stepping up to challenge the shooters, instead of playing back in his net. He is making the most of this opportunity to show that he CAN be a number 1 netminder in the NHL. It is now up to him, to drive that point into the ground.
So many people do not see how much of an influence Nabby is in the locker room (except for the excerpts with Stan Fischler). But the netminder from Kazakhstan is loved by all in that room. He can be the ‘professor’ and can also be that quirky goalie that teams love to have. I think Garth made the right move to get him back here this season. Unfortunately the numbers may not show that, but in that room, it does make a significant difference to have him, as opposed to someone coming from outside the organization.
I do not think that Garth needs to get another goalie right now. Stick with what you have, and give KP the full chance to get some time in as the number 1. You drafted him with that thought in mind, stick to it.
Well – the Isles have done quite well in the Rob Ford’s town. They just need to keep that in mind. The Leafs are without three of their top forwards (Bolland, Kadri and Bozak). But Phil Kessel is strong, and so is Lupul. Poulin needs to be strong in net, and the offense needs to get re-charged. Get the road trip off to a strong start.
Rake those LEAFS!