Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Blizzard a cold reminder of what really matters



"I'll be home for Christmas," never seemed more appropriate for most of the Northeast than the day after Santa delivered goodies for everyone. Well, unless you were Jewish. While many of us were celebrating this special time of year at home with family and friends, it was business as usual for our hockey teams.

For the Islanders and Devils, that meant braving the naughty weather to play a game in Newark before many empties on just a brutal Sunday you won't soon forget. Whether it was watching the two New York (New Jersey) football teams drive you nuts though at least for Hasan there was better news on the way, or dealing with the more than predicted snow that dumped over two feet in our area, it wasn't the best of times. Especially for the New York Sanitation department who were blindsided, making it a miserable few days for most. Here in Staten Island, we got 30 inches or roughly an identical amount to the great '96 storm that saw school canceled for a week. What I remember most is having to wake up early the next day with Dad and somehow put together Sunday papers in my old stomping grounds. We managed.

Tell that to the Islanders who had to play consecutive days following the monstrosity- traveling on bus to Madison Square Garden for a Monday game against their archrival Rangers. A night removed from dealing the Devils another forgettable loss, they managed alright playing to a 2-2 tie in a seesaw first which saw Henrik Lundqvist turn into Mister Softee. Never a term any goalie wants to be associated with. Never the less, the franchise Blueshirt netminder recovered, stoning John Tavares with the game still knotted despite a flurry of activity for counterpart Dwayne Roloson. Perhaps the seasoned vet finally succumbed to a 34-8 barrage the final 40 minutes as his weary teammates had, finally losing their legs and wits from a sleepless journey. It probably explained Matt Gilroy's knuckler sinking under Rollie followed by Selke candidate Brian Boyle's harmless backhand that we've seen Lundqvist allow more than he should.

Despite John Tortorella's legit point about his team being sloppy in the middle stanza, the third may as well have been Roloson hit by heavy snow flakes. Rangers drifted everywhere as the poor affable goalie was left to fend for himself. There was little he could do as Derek Stepan improved his Calder candidacy followed by Brandon Dubinsky and Ruslan Fedotenko. It all added up to a 7-2 blowout with the Rangers registering 52 shots to the Isles' 20.

Pretty predictable considering the trying circumstances for a franchise that continues to have bad luck. Even top prospects like Calvin de Haan and Brock Nelson are leaving World Junior games hurt, adding to a list that's seen Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo out all year with franchise goalie Rick DiPietro once again playing Bill Murray's recurring role as Phil in Groundhog Day. Or in this extreme case, Scrooged. Another Murray classic. 'Tis the season.

With the club off, yesterday Garth Snow made a move sending defenseman James Wisniewski to Montreal for an '11 second round pick and conditional sixth. So, the well traveled blueliner moves again with the Islanders getting good value back. At least they got a day off before hosting Sidney Crosby and the Pens tonight at The Coliseum. Not much of a reward with Sid The Kid continuing his assault on the league, extending his point streak to 25 in a row with a two-goal, two assist performance in a 6-3 win over the Thrashers. During the amazing run that's the longest since Mats Sundin hit 30 with Quebec, the league's leading scorer has tallied 26 goals and 22 assists- sparking Pittsburgh to a 19-5-1 record atop the standings with an NHL best 52 points. Mission impossible it would seem for the Islanders.

Considering what they've been through already, at least it will be a return to normalcy. Something we all can relate to with streets finally being cleared. A chance to get back to our busy lives in time for the New Year. It could always be a lot worse. Something Long Island native Matt Gilroy noted in the MSG postgame when asked about how he's handled being out of the Ranger lineup, pointedly remarking how he visited a sick child at a hospital for Christmas. Keeping proper perspective, the former Hobey winner knows he has it good, getting to play the coolest game on Earth.

We aren't sick or cold, have roofs over our heads, food on our plate and also get to watch our favorite teams play hockey, cheering them. Next time, warm the spirit of someone who doesn't have it so good.

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