Yes, I have had a family member that I have been in conversations with since the start of camp, but since last season, I have been quite impressed with the development of the Oklahoma kid, Matt Donovan.
Tonight, in the 5-3 victory over the Utica Comets (Former Islander Travis Green is the head coach), Matt scored a goal, got a helper on another, and was a +4 on the night. He logged a good amount of minutes (unsure at the exact number at the time that I am writing this), and was strong at both ends of the ice. This game, to me should be a solid indicator of his return to the strong play that he showed in October, when the NHL season began.
He started the season quite well. Assisted on Opening Night, and scored a few games later. Then, as the injuries racked up to Lubomir Visnovsky and Brian Strait, the young players were needed to log more important minutes.
Are we expecting him to be a Duncan Keith player? I would push him towards an Erik Karlsson type player. He is going to bring the puck up, and look for an offensive play first. Not that Matt can be invisible in his own zone. Watching the game tonight in Utica, he was strong behind his own blue line. He cleared garbage in front of the net, and played the physical game when he has to.
In all honesty, I think he was a little bit on the cautious side, playing in his first full season in the NHL. As soon as he got back to the AHL, you can see that the confidence was back and his game returned to the level that made him an AHL All-Star last season.
With so many young players today, a few game stint back to the lower leagues is a great reminder to where you came from. He returned to a simple game, and you can see that he can be back to the level that he was when he started the season in the NHL.
On a personal level, I know that his parents are coming up for the holidays, and it would be real nice to see #46 back in a blue and orange uniform here in Uniondale.
I have had some conversations with some folks on Facebook about this already. I can understand how some people had dissenting opinions about the defense. With the eight game winless streak looming over their heads, there are sever needs for this Islanders team; with defense being at the forefront. Can they secure a stud man to lead this corps to a higher level? Really not sure.
Goaltending is also another issue. With Nabby due to return soon, the wound may only heal slightly. Goaltending has not been a shining light. Last season, Nabokov was second in the league in victories and was a main reason for the Islander making that special playoff run in May.
Getting back to Donovan, I just got a facebook message from a Booster Club friend of mine, and he said it quite correctly:
You don’t need to show anyone the glass if you keep your positioning. You don’t need to bury a guy in the glass to be a good dman. I think Matt is getting short end of stick. I think the fans are too right now, lol. He played as well as he could when he was up, but he will only benefit from more minutes in Bridgeport. I hope he’s back soon!!
I agree. I think his play has certainly given him the chance to prove himself again. To be honest, the sub-par play of Thomas Hickey and Aaron Ness has shown me that a change needs to re-occur again.
For the Donovan family, I hope Matt returns to the lineup soon. I think he needs to be back. A breath of fresh air would be a nice change for this team, as they hopefully return to better hockey ahead on this road trip.
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