New York Islanders (19-9-0) at St. Louis Blues (18-8-2)
|Date & Time||Thursday December 11, 2014, 8:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: St. Louis Blues / New York Islanders --- Over/Under:
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
It has been a thrilling start to the season this year for the New York Islanders, but for many fans and the organization their last two games bring up painful memories of the past. It isn’t that the Islanders haven’t had their stretches of extremely good play over the last few seasons, it’s just that they always seem to collapse at some point with their defense usually at the heart of it. New York general manager Garth Snow did a great job in going out and acquiring Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy before the start of the season and that has helped tremendously. But with Boychuk and young star Travis Hamonic both out with injuries the Islanders look like the Islanders of old. Saturday afternoon the club got off to a great start, jumping out in front of the St. Louis Blues on home ice 3-0 after 20 minutes of play. They were outscored 6-1 over the final 40 minutes and the message heading into Tuesday night’s contest in Minnesota was to forget it and rebound quickly. Things started out well enough with the Islanders opening the scoring on a goal by Michael Grabner midway through the period. With under three minutes remaining in the opening frame it was Brock Nelson and Matt Martin scoring 32 seconds apart to make it a 3-0 lead heading into the intermission for New York. It was a familiar place for the Islanders and unfortunately things ended similarly. The Wild came out and dominated the second period, out shooting New York 12-1 in the period but it didn’t look like it would be enough. Minnesota got within 3-1 on a power play goal from Jason Pominville but Josh Bailey scored on New York’s only shot of the period helping the Islanders take a 4-1 lead into the third. Then it was defensive breakdown after defensive breakdown and the Islanders watched two former teammates put them dagger in them as they collapsed in the end. Minnesota scored four times, including goals from Thomas Vanek and Nino Niederreiter as they rallied for a 5-4 regulation win. New York clearly needs to get their defenseman healthy because right now they look nothing like the team we’ve been watching the first two months of the season.
The St. Louis Blues were desperate for a goaltender that could come in and help ease the workload for young talent Jake Allen. Choosing a legend like Martin Brodeur for the position looks like it might be a great one by general manager Doug Armstrong. Brodeur was excellent in relief when these two teams played each other on Saturday afternoon, allowing his club to come from behind and steal a victory on the road. Monday night Brodeur got his first start in front of the home crowd at the Scottrade Center and did not disappoint. St. Louis jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead on goals from Maxim Lapierre and Ian Cole, and Brodeur did everything he needed to in order for the Blues to maintain their lead in the second period. The Florida Panthers dominated the middle frame, out shooting St. Louis 18-7. Brodeur stopped 17 of those shots and even though the Blues made things interesting when they allowed the Panthers to tie things in the third, they quickly responded with late goals from Chris Porter and an empty net goal from Paul Stastny to secure the 4-2 win. This is one of those transactions where at the time seems like it might not be a big deal, but it appears it could be a perfect fit for both parties involved. Brodeur is exactly what the Blues need and he can be a huge asset for Allen as he continues to learn what it takes to be a pro. It will be interesting to see if the Ken Hitchcock rides Brodeur when he’s hot or if he commits to Allen as his No. 1 goaltender moving forward.
These two teams just met the other day but it was one of those games that took on a life of its own. New York dominated at the start but the Blues regrouped and really controlled things the rest of the way. It’s going to take a big time offensive effort from the Islanders to win these games if their defense keeps playing this way.