THERE AIN'T NO ISLAND LEFT FOR ISLANDERS: Islanders 3, Blackhawks 2 (OT)
Did the Chicago Blackhawks party too hard while watching "New Year's Rockin' Eve"?
They showed as much life as Dick Clark has lately, stumbling around Nassau Coliseum for the last time in front of a dozen fans tonight who braved a blizzard to sing 25 year old songs about the Rangers not winning the Stanley Cup in 50 years, despite this being the 30th anniversary of their last championship. And that fucking PC Richard whistle.
The Hawks spotted the New York Islanders a 2-0 lead in the first half of the game before Brent Seabrook blasted a rocket past the suddenly inpenetrable Evgeni Nabokov and Ben Smith banged in a rebound early in the third period before falling to the Islanders 3-2 in overtime in the last NHL game the Hawks will ever play in Nassau County.
Let's get to this:
The return of Corey Crawford. Sure, he got faked out pretty badly by Casey Cizikas on the Isles' first goal, and the Islanders won it in overtime, but he looked a lot better as the game went on, particlarly in the third period, when the Isles were throwing the kitchen sink at him. The tandem of Crawford and Antti Raanta is one that anybody should be happy taking the rest of the way.
The fourth line. Marcus Kruger, Ben Smith and Brandon Bollig. They gave Donald Tavares and his linemates fits all night, then Smith's aggressive penalty killing early in the third period led to him scoring the game tying goal after Patrick Sharp's penalty expired. Nice having an energy line that is energetic.
Seabrook. After being consistently enigmatic, the last ten games or so, we've seen the Seabrook that we know and love. He's been a lot more mobile on the ice and is jumping into the offense again. If Dunc Norris is the engine that gets the offense going, Seabrook is...hell, I don't know. Some other cool part of a car that makes it go. And Michal Handzus is the Trucknuts.
The Hawks' lackluster play for the first half of the game. Cizikas' goal in the first was the result of Johnny Oduya heading over to the bench before making sure the puck was moving in the right direction, and the Hawks kept shooting from 40 feet out without getting bodies in front of the net. Just because you can spot a team two goals and still steal a point in their building doesn't mean it should happen on a regular basis.
Nassau Mausoleum. When I lived New York, there were years when the Islanders were the best hockey in town. Hell, I was out there for their four Cups, when Bill Gallo nicknamed that barn "Fort Neverlose". But I went there for a bunch of games, including a game of the 1984 Final. And the most awesome thing that place was ever involved with that I was there for was Pink Floyd doing "The Wall" in 1980. Oh, and my parents made me take my (college freshman) sister there to see Styx. Styx fucking blows. But not as much as the Mausoleum, from having to slug it out on the crappy parkways on the Island to the miserable building itself. This place makes Allstate Arena look like the Taj Mahal. This place needs to feel the tender kiss of the wrecking ball.
Tomorrow night the Hawks go to the other side of New York City to visit the Devils .Martin Brodeur will pregame at Dinosaur Barbeque.