Three years ago, I looked at my friend and said, “If the Islanders can keep this Tavares kid and build around him, they will be a real good team in three years.”
Fast forward to last night’s game and it is clear that I am a psychic of Professor X type capabilities. It doesn’t take an Omega level mutant to see talent, and that kid has it, and so does the team around him. In recent years the Islanders have become somewhat of a joke in the Atlantic Division, mainly because of the constant injuries that deplete the team’s roster. This year the team is healthy and has a legitimate shot at making the playoffs.
Last night, the Isles team scored five goals, to hand the Devils their third consecutive overtime loss. The Devils looked sharp last night, for about 50 minutes. The team is still having struggles for about ten minutes in each game and it has cost them dearly, but I do not want to simply fault bad play by the Devils for the loss. The Isles looked like a team on a mission. The same team that walloped the Penguins 4-1 on Tuesday. These guys are on a mission and hopefully the Devils can acclaim victory over the Isles Sunday afternoon
All that being said, I don’t want to diminish the good work the Devils did last night.
The Gummo line (Ryan Carter-Stephen Gionta- Steve Bernier) was on fire. The same line that was a huge threat in the playoffs last season, finally fired on all cylinders. They were cycling, winning puck battles in the corners, out-skating the Isles, and just generally being amazing last night. The line has had a slow start this year, but last night it was undeniable. Carter and Bernier both found the back of the net and Gionta had two assists in the game.
The Devils fourth line, Matt Anderson-Jacob Josefson-Krys Barch, while seeing minimal ice time, were also effective on the forecheck and had the Islanders scrambling in their own zone. Josefson had what I thought to be his best game of the season. He was skating faster than most players on the ice and made some amazing passes throughout the game.
David Clarkson is continuing to have a stellar season as he got an assist, earning his eighth point of the season. He has been on the score sheet in all six games of this young season. I am hoping he doesn’t ease up on the gas, and I don’t think he will, he’s just not built that way.
Adam Henrique returned to the Devils line-up after having thumb surgery, and he didn’t waste much time getting reacquainted with the team, as he scored the game tying goal in the third period. Welcome back Adam!
That goal was not enough and the Devils lost in overtime on a goal by Brad Boyes. The Devils had their troubles last night. Marek Zidlicky, while he did have some outstanding moments, seemed a little flustered last night. He was all over the place and made some questionable decisions on passes (easy for me to say from the couch). Everyone is entitled to an iffy game or two.
Adam Larsson also played in his first game of the season (Mark Fayne was scratched with an “upper body” injury), but had a decent game. He was strong with the puck and was key to some great break-out plays. That being said, when he skated directly in front of Martin Brodeur in the third period, I clenched my chest. At times he was trying to do too much. My vice to Larsson would be – you’re talented kid, keep it simple and you’ll succeed in this league.
The loss is the third in the row for the Devils, however all three were overtime losses, so the Devils have earned three of a possible six points in the last three games. They have to stop this slide. It is dangerous. They need another notch in the win column, and hopefully they come out strong this weekend against the Penguins (Saturday at 1 p.m.) and Islanders (Sunday at 3 p.m.).
Let’s go Devils!