The easiest recaps to write are blowout games. Nights where one team clearly outplayed and outperformed the other are simple; the result often speaks for itself. One team was great, the other was ghastly. One team was stupendous, the other was stupefying. One team was awesome, the other was awful. Tonight was one of those nights. The New York Islanders smacked down the New Jersey Devils 4-0. Anyone who saw it would know which team was which. The score strongly suggests it and in this case the suggestion is correct.
Pick an aspect of a hockey game and the Islanders were the superior team in this game against the Devils. Passing? Isles were making them, the Devils had their struggles throughout. Puck control? The Islanders smoothly moved the puck around their end and hit the Devils' goaltenders from all areas. The Devils lost pucks in all three zones. Possession? The Devils started catching up in attempts and shots but of course they would as they were down several goals. Neutral zone play? The Isles had some, the Devils rarely made any. Special teams? The Isles scored shortly after their first power play and threatened early and prevented the Devils from having too many looks at goal. Goaltending? Thomas Griess stopped them all and didn't have too many dangerous chances that got through to him, partially thanks to some key blocks by Johnny Boychuk. Cory Schneider was beaten off a screen, a re-direction just by his right skate, and a deflection off a stickshaft before he was pulled. Keith Kinkaid didn't have as much work to do and he was beaten by the first goal scorer. Offense? Well, yeah, the Isles had four goals and the Devils had none. I think you get the point by now.
Quite frankly, this was one of those nights where very little went right for the Devils and a whole lot went right for the opposition. It's not as if the Devils lacked energy, they just lacked in their decision making, their execution, and their gameplan. The Islanders picked on them, pinned the Devils back multiple times while up four goals, and never looked like they would fall apart at any point. This was a deserved 0-4 loss for the Devils as much as it was a deserved 4-0 win for the Islanders. There are no real positives to takeaway from this one other than that the sun will come up tomorrow and the next game is less than 48 hours away.
The Opposition Opinion: Over at Lighthouse Hockey, Dominik called it a cakewalk. I second that descriptor.
The Game Highlights: From NHL.com, here's the highlights that probably only Islanders fans would want to check out:
Your Goalscorers, Featuring an Old Name: Marek Zidlicky took three shots on net tonight. He scored on two of them. The first was just after the first penalty ended. Josh Bailey passed it to Mikael Grabovski from behind the net, who passed it to Zidlicky. The defenseman was above the high slot due in part of all four penalty killers sitting deep in their zone. Zidlicky unloaded a slapshot past Anders Lee and David Schlemko, who both screened Schneider, for the goal. Zidlicky followed the play on an extended attacking shift. It should've ended earlier with a high-sticking penalty on Steve Bernier as he clearly hit Schlemko high and drew blood. It was a bad non-call, but the play by the Devils was even worse. Thomas Hickey managed to get down low, the play went around and Zidlicky blasted a shot from the right circle for his brace. It was clearly a standout performance that didn't include a dumb minor penalty, a dumb giveaway, or even poor defending. The Islanders got the best possible version of Zidlicky tonight and it hurt his previous team tonight.
The other scorers are notable for other reasons. First, John Tavares re-directed a shot by Kyle Okposo. The goal is his first at even strength in quite sometime. He's been slumping but it was the sort of goal that will bust it. He got right next, slightly behind, Schneider for the deflection. No chance for the goalie and nothing but glory for a guy who could use some in recent games. Tavares took five other shots on net to lead his team in shooting. As expected, Tavares, Okposo, and Brock Nelson gave the Devils fits all game long. Second, the shaft of Matt Martin's stick re-directed the shot that led to Schneider getting yanked. It was a double-deflection in that Casey Cizikas tipped a shot by Calvin de Haan. It's another goal from the Islanders' fourth line, which continues to find ways to be effective when Eric Boulton isn't involved. They provided the cream for the two cookies of Zidlicky's goals, yielded a Oreo of Victory for the Brooklyn boys.
I Missed Zajac, Henrique, and Offense: This was a rough, rough, rough game for the Devils' offense. Not only were they missing Travis Zajac and Adam Henrique again, but the Devils' remaining top forwards were missing for large parts of the game. Granted, the Islanders made it difficult for them to generate chances. Mike Cammalleri had only one good chance on net that Griess stopped early in the third. Cammalleri had no shots before the third. Lee Stempniak ended up playing and didn't do much good short of getting stopped by a flashy glove from Griess on a third period shorthanded effort. The unit of Patrik Elias, Tyler Kennedy, and Sergey Kalinin showed some good energy on shifts. But it speaks loudly - and not well - of the forwards that Schlemko and Eric Gelinas took most of their shots - and quite a few at that. Seven of the Devils' twenty-one came from 44-8. As nice as that may look, there had to be more for the Devils to even get on the board. There wasn't and so they didn't.
Note: Gelinas got to play 16:44 tonight and even took a penalty killing shift. I'm sure the fact it was a four-goal deficit helped that increase in minutes. No power play time for reasons I'm not sure. At least this may mean he'll get more games later. Sorry, Jon Merrill.
One Last Thought: If I'm John Hynes, I talk about the game, identify the lessons to learn, and then burn the tape.
Your Take: The Devils got wrecked and there's not a whole lot more to say than that. What did you make of this performance? What can the Devils learn, if anything, from this loss to better prepare and perform in Buffalo? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about this loss in the comments.
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