So the 2008-09 NHL season is apparently not Doug Weight's Last Waltz. Per Chris Botta at IslandersPointBlank.com, the Islanders extended the grizzly center for another year at a reported cost of $2 million for the season with a 200K incentive if the Islanders make the playoffs. This is a solid move on the Islanders part. Fans should not read this to mean that the Islanders prefer Victor Hedman in the upcoming amateur draft. There may be a potential glut at the Center position, but don't forget injuries and the fact that any center on the roster could be asked to play a wing position. I'd rather have that problem than asking a winger to start taking faceoffs (or even worse...asking Brendan Witt to take them).
On to tonight's game versus the red hot Carolina Hurricanes. Jesse Joensuu, Joel Rechlicz and NYI Five Hole favorite Mitch Fritz have been recalled from Bridgeport. Mark Streit returns after a few games off and Sean Bergenheim returns from an eleven game absence. We'll also be keeping an eye on the game across the East River. The Montreal Canadiens visit the New York Rangers in a game with major playoff implications. I think all Islanders fans welcome Jiggs McDonald into the booth in place of Howie Rose for the remainder of the season.
7:47 PM Jack Hillen rushes a clearing attempt which leads to a quick goal by Dwight Helminan at 2:54 of the first period. At 9:07, Eric Staal floats one towards the net, which Yann Danis unbelievably does not grab, to make the score 2-0. At 19:21, Scott Walker glides in on Danis' right and sinks one in the upper right corner of the net. The score is 3-0 Carolina to end the period. Across the river, the score is 1-1 after one period on pretty goals by both Chris Drury and Matthew Dandenault.
8:33 PM As I hoped for but did not expect, Coach Gordon pulled Danis out of the net and Joey MacDonald is in goal to start the second period. At 0:06, Richard Park gets his stick up and takes a double minor for high sticking. The Islanders kill the double minor with a few nice saves by JMac. At 5:12, Eric Staal scores his second goal of the game off a long lob pass by Erik Cole, to take Carolina's lead to 4-0. The Islanders defense looks like swiss cheese tonight and their offense is anemic. Park takes the Islanders first shot on goal of the period just after the 10 minute mark of the period. At 11:06, Mitch Fritz gets called for hooking. At 12:29, Rod Brind'Amour scores a powerplay goal to make the score 5-0. At 16:51, Eric Staal scores to make the score 6-0 and create a mess of hats on the ice. It is his fourth hat trick of the season as compared to the Islanders team count of one hat trick (by Sean Bergenheim which included an emptynetter). Mercifully the score is still 6-0 after two periods and 33 shots by Carolina. Across the river it is 3-1 Rangers with four minutes left in the second period of that game.
8:40 PM 3-1 Rangers to end the second period of that game.
9:27 PM At the 4:00 mark of the third period, after cross checking penalties by Mark Streit and Brendan Witt, Tuomo Ruutu scores a powerplay goal to make the score 7-0 Carolina. At 9:25, off multiple Islander sticks, Jussi Jokinen gets lucky and a shot goes through JMac's legs to add to the misery. 8-0 Carolina. At 14:20, Fritzie takes a roughing penalty which leads to a powerplay goal by Ruutu at 15:50. The final score is 9-0 Carolina. Islanders goaltending faced 57 shots on goal. The Rangers appear to be on their way to a 3-1 win over Montreal with 3:50 left in the third period.
9:32 PM The Rangers win 3-1 and are still in the hunt for a playoff spot.