Aftermath No. 2: New York Islanders
Boy, didn't this one feel familiar?
I know what you were thinking after Matt Moulson gave the Islanders a 2-0 lead late in the second period. Things did not look good for the Blue Jackets at the time and a two-goal rally was going to be quite the task in the final 20 minutes. But as they did many times last season, they kept the deficit manageable and gave themselves an opportunity to chip away.
The power play stepped up and delivered a huge goal - exactly what Todd Richards and his staff want to see from that unit - and began to reverse the flow a bit. Letestu's snap wrister not only brought the Blue Jackets within a goal but it gave them a real sense of belief that a comeback was in the cards, and Letestu said as much after the game. Despite some cases of lopsided play, the Blue Jackets were never "out of control" in this game. They just needed something to get them going and the power play did just that.
We can't not talk about the goaltender(s), either. Nabokov was excellent for the Islanders, especially in overtime, and was the sole reason this game extended beyond 65 minutes. Bobrovsky was as good if not a tad better, highlighted by a left pad rejection of Frans Nielsen in the final 30 seconds of regulation while the Jackets were shorthanded.
So, what went right and what went wrong? Let's talk it out...
- Plenty of talk pre-game about how fast the Islanders like to play, and while they did play with pace, it's not like the Blue Jackets are a slow team. They matched New York after the first few minutes and hung with them throughout. In fact, it was the Blue Jackets who cranked it up another level in the third period and the Islanders didn't have an answer.
- Marian Gaborik was outstanding and history shows he loves playing the Islanders. He's over a point-per-game player against them in his career and did some serious damage when he was a member of the New York Rangers. His line with Dubinsky and Atkinson was very strong and showed some really encouraging signs.
- As we mentioned in our post-game report, Bobrovsky was tremendous. He made 28 saves and some really big ones in the final 30 minutes, giving the Blue Jackets a chance.
- The Umberger-Johansen-Foligno line was mostly a matchup line last year, but they scored the biggest goal of the game tonight. Umberger took the puck right to the net and everyone crashed the party, and it was own goal off Peter Regin's glove that tied the game.
- Really nice game from David Savard tonight, and the young man continues to make a strong impression on his latest NHL opportunity. The Jackets sure miss Fedor Tyutin on the back end, but Savard has stepped in and done a fine job alongside Nikitin on the third pair.