The New York Islanders returned home after a disappointing road trip, losing back-to-back games to the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators. But their losing ways would follow them back home as they fell 4-3 to the Buffalo Sabres after being defeated in the shootout.
The first period opened with the Isles controlling the play for the entire period. Although both teams had plenty of shots, the Isles led the way with a 16-11 advantage. Evgeni Nabokov had to make some key saves, but the fore-check that the Isles put on in the offensive zone eventually led to a goal from Frans Nielsen.
The Danish center-man toe dragged the puck in the high slot and let go of a wicked wrister that beat Ryan Miller just over his glove and inside the far post. The assists went to Pierre-Marc Bouchard, his first as an Islanders forward, and Josh Bailey.
It almost seems like it's been the same story heading into the off-season year after year now; the Isles lack a top-six forward and top-four defenseman that could help make them a competitive team that could be fighting for a playoff spot.
They've tried free agency and have been shot down by guys like Paul Martin. They tried the trade market with James Wisniewski, who ended up being a major disappointment while wearing orange and blue. They even tried that route once more, gaining the negotating rights to Christian Ehrhoff. He didn't want to sign, and I think after seeing how he played under his very luxurious contract, most Isles fans probably don't care.
Although both trades were under different circumstances, they shared one glaring similarity. Not one of them involved any actual players leaving the Island. Ehrhoff's rights were acquired for a fourth round draft pick, and Wisniewski came on board in exchange for a 2011 second round pick and conditional 2012 fifth round pick. Despite the early signs of GM Garth Snow developing a pattern, there is reason to believe that could change heading into this summer's off-season.
The Montreal Canadiens step down from the podium and the camera turns to the General Manager of the New York Islanders, Garth Snow. Accompanied by his top scouts and assistants, and most likely Kevin Connolly who formerly was on Entourage, Snow remains seated. With Pierre McGuire ready to analyze Snow's draft choice at fourth overall, the Isles GM leaves the podium vacant for the Commissioner of the NHL, Gary Bettman.
"We have a trade to announce, " are the words that would echo throughout a startled building.
"The Islanders have chosen to trade the fourth overall pick in this year's draft..."
For the first time since 2006-07, the New York islanders season will have endless possibilities and playoff expectations. Islanders fans have suffered long enough, this HAS to be the year we see the fruits of our labor. I’m going to start my first blog on The Checking Line with the following statement..............
I guarantee that the New York islanders will make the Stanley Cup playoffs this year. The average person may have stopped reading after my previous statement. How can you say a team without a sniff of playoff hockey in five years has any shot of being relevant this year? If you watched the first half of the 2010-11 season and only the first half then I'd ...
When the season starts, the Sabres will boast one of the best defensive corps in the NHL. Newcomers Robyn Regehr and Christian Ehrhoff will bolster the top two defensive pairings. Defense is at a premium in the "new NHL" and adding players of the caliber of a Regehr or an Ehrhoff will provide immediate dividends. With talents like Tyler Myers, Andrej Sekera, Jordan Leopold and Marc Andre Gragnani already in place, Ryan Miller will feel very secure in net.
With the talent in place on the back end, it creates many options when it comes to defensive pairings. Let's take a look at some likely pairings.