Great Win Tonight

So tonight was interesting. Two New York teams playing at home against Canadian opponents, two 2-1 shootout wins for the locals. Zach will be by to tell you more about the Rangers game. As for the Islanders...
 - Zach talked me into buying back into online gambling. So I did. I considered betting the under for this game, which was five goals. I ultimately decided against it and bet the under in tonight's Bills-Browns game, which was said to be played in snowy conditions. The under in that game is 41. It's already 13-7 Cleveland with not a drop of snow on the ground. Uh-oh.
 - Caught the pre-game show tonight... it wasn't bad. Filler-laden, sure, but enjoyable. Two segments stood out to me. The first, obviously, was the Stan Fischler-C.J. Papa segment in which the two spent maybe five seconds talking about the Islanders. They'd go on to repeat this during the intermissions. The other was a segment called "Billy's Breakdown" where Billy Jaffe broke down some film for the viewing audience. What I liked was that he didn't pick the scoring plays. Instead, he picked the plays people don't really notice, but can be disastrous if done incorrectly. Tonight's theme was breakouts from the defensive zone, which is harder than it seems. Jaffe also scores points with me for doing NHL Live during the afternoon and still doing the game at night. That's hardcore.
 - The Isles came out jittery, but started to get it together by the end of the first. The second and third periods showed how good defensive hockey can be. Like Zach said the other night, defensive battles are great, and hockey has better defensive-minded games than any other sport. Joey MacDonald is the obvious first star of this game, but Andy Sutton played an excellent game as well. It's no coincidence the Islanders have gotten their act together since Sutton's return. Here's a stat you might not be aware of - since Sutton came back on October 30, the Islanders have only played two games (out of nine) in which they haven't either won or held a third-period lead.
 - The stat I just mentioned doesn't just reflect well on Sutton, but on the whole team. Everyone loves to dump on the Islanders - more on this later - but the truth is the Isles have been extremely competitive so far in November. This team is starting to figure out what it is. It's certainly not the best team, but it plays hard. It gets ahead early, often loses its way, but is starting to learn how to come back and play a good third period. Three wins in a row is a big deal for a team most people picked for last in the entire league.
 - As well as the Islanders are playing, I still have to question some of Scott Gordon's decisions. Namely, how on earth Jeff Tambellini gets a regular shift in overtime. You really want to throw out a minus-six player out there in overtime? I don't get that one. Nor do I see the logic in giving Josh Bailey a try in the shootout. Had he scored his first NHL goal already, that'd be one thing. But to take an 18-year-old who's trying to figure out the NHL game, trying to get his firsts out of the way, and throw him in there against a top-three goaltender? That's asking a lot. I guess Gordon is still trying to figure out who his go-to shootout guys are. The only player to participate in both Islanders shootouts this year is Trent Hunter - and he missed both of his attempts.
 - Throughout the game, the announcers mentioned the boasts of the Vancouver media that this would be an easy two points for the Canucks. As the game progressed, the announcers became more and more fed up with these remarks. Finally, Howie Rose sardonically remarked after Joey MacDonald's final save, "The all-knowing Vancouver media has some explaining to do!" Look, homerism is a turn-off for a lot of people. For Islanders fans? I think we kind of need that. It's not as though there are a ton of people proudly boasting Islanders merchandise. I wore an Islanders shirt to Saturday overtime last week, and a Rangers fan asked me, "You wear that (bleep) in public?" So yeah. I'll take a broadcast crew that gets behind my team as opposed to one that calls it right down the middle, at least as far as the Islanders are concerned.
As for the articles in question, here's one I found, entitled "Islanders Look Like Team in Oldtimers League".  But I did find this blog, which did your typical "Hockey's in trouble on Long Island" post earlier today and ended tonight's coverage with this nugget: "Canucks lose after scoring in the first minute of regulation, beaten by a career minor-league goalie named Joey MacDonald. Not very good..."
If you've ever wondered why Islanders fans have such a complex about their team, it's because we have to read crap like this pretty much all the time. It kind of gets old after a while. When the Rangers were awful, people made fun of them for spending a lot of money. Nobody said New York City didn't deserve a hockey franchise. Even if it's hard to dispute the facts about the state of the Islanders, it hurts to hear about it so often. Especially from the uninformed Canadian media, who are never wrong about anything. Just ask them.
One last thing about the Canucks, who have been to the playoffs just as many times as the Islanders since the lockout: They stole the Islanders' promotional slogan from last season.
I was happy the Islanders got their two points tonight. But I think I'm even happier that the Isles got to stick it to the media. Something tells me they're going to be in this sort of position a lot this year. But if the first two weeks of November are any indication, the Islanders won't be nearly as bad as many of us feared. I can think of a lot of teams who wouldn't mind taking 11 out of 18 points in November.
Next game is Friday in New Jersey. I'll be making the trip out to The Rock for the game. It probably won't be a very sober one. In any event, it'll be a fun trip to the most wonderful arena that nobody goes to.