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January 17, 2019
The Islanders? Really?
by Michael Menser Dell, Editor-in-Chief
The Pittsburgh Penguins dropped a matinee to the mighty Islanders yesterday, losing 3-2 in a shootout and spoiling Dan Bylsmaís NHL coaching debut. But really, when you go into a shootout with such a highly skilled team as the Isles, youíre taking your chances. Oh boy.
Thatís right; Petr Sykora, Geno Malkin, Kid Crosby, and Marc-Andre Fleury were no match for Frans Somebody, Jeff Tambe-Whatís His Name, and Joey fín MacDonald. Itís always nice when the supposed two best players in hockey lose to ham-and-eggers in a skills competition.
Can Crosby curve his damn stick already?!? But Iím going to address my bitterness towards Crosby in an upcoming article. For now, letís focus on the positives.
Well, the Penguins did fire a season-high 37 shots on net. Thatís something. Of course, it would be more impressive if the Isles didnít allow an average of 33.4 shots per game, the second-most in the league. Take away the three shots the Pens had in overtime and, hey, they did what every team does against the Isles. Congratulations.
Thereís no sense critiquing Bylsmaís performance. The guy was coaching in Wilkes-Barre Sunday night and had to make it to Long Island for a two oíclock start. Welcome to the NHL.
Itís not like Bylsma could install a new system or change the culture of the dressing room. Thursday night against Montreal will be a better sample. By then he would have two days of practice to whip the troops intoÖ Iím sorry. This just in: Bylsma canceled practice today.
Hmm ha. Well, itís not like they didnít earn the day off. The Islanders are very good.
Anyway, Bylsma did mix up the lines a bit. He had Crosby between Pascal Dupuis and Ruslan Fedotenko. Malkin skated with Petr Sykora and Miroslav Satan. The only big change there was putting Satan with Malkin. Michel Therrien had all but given up on Satan, refusing to use him on the top two lines. Bylsma also reunited the Jordan Staal-Matt Cooke-Tyler Kennedy line that starred early in the season before injuries busted it up. Max Talbot was the odd man out, seeing only eight minutes of ice time.
Itíll take a few weeks before the coaching change can be evaluated. By then, the playoffs could be solid gone. But, on the bright side, the Pens did pick up a point on the Rangers. Yippee.
What in the blue hell is going on with the Atlanta Thrashers?
The pesky little birds went west and started scoring like chimps, hanging eight goals on Anaheim before dropping seven on the Royalty last night. Fifteen goals in two games? What gives? The Thrash had 16 goals in their previous nine outings.
Ilya Kovalchuk has been leading the offensive barrage. Kovalchuk, perhaps auditioning for the Penguins, has a six-game goal streak, piling up eight goals and three assists.
Hey, Phoenix. Youíre next.
The Coyotes have lost nine of their last 10 and have surrendered seven goals three times during that stretch. It could get ugly.
Fear the Thrashers!
Dallas also played without Steve Ott, who missed the game due to the dreaded undisclosed injury. Before the latest ailment, Ott hit a three-game scoring skid, snapping his surprising eight-game point streak.
But even if you include the three-game slide, Ott still has six goals and 12 points in his last 10 contests. Kid Crosby? Four goals and 13 points. Did I mention how bitter I am with Crosby?