If the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins are the measuring stick NHL teams look to, then Saturday night’s 6-0 loss to the Bruins at the Nassau Coliseum showed just how far the New York Islanders have to go before they can be consider themselves to be near the Bruins’ level of play. Chris Kelly scored twice and added an assist to pace the Boston attack while Tim Thomas was barely tested while making 23 saves to earn the shutout.
Until now, Islanders Coach Jack Capuano had tried to be positive and encouraging when discussing his team’s effort and play this season despite their slow start. But on this night, the usually affable Cappy plainly did not like what he saw. He started his post game press conference by saying, “I’m going to make this quick” and then proceeded to blast his club’s performance.
“When you play this game, you need to play with fire, you need to play with passion, you need to play with determination, you need to play with desperation,” Capuano said. “You need to have ice bags after a game, maybe a little blood dripping right now. When you lace your skates us, the guy across from you and the guy on the left and the right of you, they need to know that you’ve got their back and are going to play for one another and that just didn’t happen tonight and I don’t have the answers why.”
“We couldn’t make a pass. Our first shot was on the penalty kill. Enough about staying positive and we’re going to get through this. You have to work! If you saw this team play the second half of last year, you saw passion, you saw physicality…that’s what you need to win in the National Hockey League every night and right now, collectively, we’re not doing that and you’re not going to have success.”
“If you’re a pro athlete and you’ve got the desire and the attitude to be a champion, you’ve got to find that within. You’ve got to have the desire and willingness to compete at the highest level every night when you go into battle. I saw it last year. I saw the energy and the desperation in our game last year during the second half…We were physical, we were tough to play against and right now, we didn’t win a battle tonight. We didn’t win a 50-50 puck battle. They got the puck every time it was on their stick. Granted they are a great team, they’re big, their physical, but you know what? You’ve got to match that if you want to have success.”
“This is our fans…this is our building with a good crowd. We want to play hard every night, but you know what? This is our but this is your building. If you want to make the National Hockey League playoffs, you’ve got to win the majority of your home games. There are some guys who care, there’s no question about that, but the emotion was down…fragile….You know what? You’ve got to battle through it.”
How bad was it out there for the Islanders? It took the team more than 11 minutes to tally their first shot on net in the game and that came while the Islanders were shorthanded and already trailing 1-0 on a goal by Patrice Bergeron. Less than 90 seconds after the Isles first shot, Nathan Horton scored a power play goal when Isles goalie Rick DiPietro tried to clear the puck out of his own zone but sent it right to Horton who beat DP with a hard wrist shot.
“There’s no excuse for that,” DiPeitro admitted. “It’s not a play I want to repeat too often.”
Chris Kelly also scored an unassisted goal with 1:15 left in the period off another defensive breakdown in the Islanders zone. After 20 minutes, the Isles trailed 3-0 and were outshot 13-2. They never made it close after that.
The second period was the Isles best 20 minutes of the game, but it still couldn’t be considered great hockey. Capuano pulled DiPietro after 20 minutes and inserted rookie Anders Nilsson who was made his NHL debut. Nilsson stopped all six shots he faced in the second period before allowing three goals in the third to give the Bruins their final margin of victory. He finished the game with 14 saves.
The mood inside the Isles dressing room was somber. Captain Mark Streit was at a loss for words. “I don’t know where to start,” he said. “Pretty much everything went the wrong way. We had a terrible start…We didn’t skate, we didn’t play our game. We pretty much didn’t do anything we wanted to do tonight…They played a good game but we let them. We gave them all the time and the room out there. If you give them time and space, they’re going to hurt you. It’s disappointing and inexcusable. It’s a terrible effort….They just worked harder, they skated harder and we didn’t do the things we were supposed to.”
Unless the Islanders do make it more difficult to play against them and find some secondary scoring, the team will continue to struggle.
The Islanders look to bounce back from this horrific performance Monday when they travel to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins. The Bruins also return to action Monday when they travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens.
Prior to the game, the Islanders honored Ed Westfall who was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame. Westfall was the Islanders first captain and played for the team from 1972-1979. He later spent more than 15 years as the Isles TV color man. He and ex-partner Jiggs McDonald called the second period of the game for the Isles broadcast.
Kyle Okposo was scratched for the third consecutive game. Mike Mottau was also a healthy scratch while goalie Al Montoya joined Evgeni Nabokov on the injured list. Nilsson was recalled from Bridgeport as a result of the two goalie injuries.
A total of 10 Bruins scored at least a point in the game while 13 Boston players were at least a plus-one. Defenseman Joe Corvo was a team-leading plus-four for the game.
Boston also dominated in the faceoff circle, winning 62 percent of the draws. Gregory Campbell won 12-of-14 for the Bruins.