A few thoughts before the Wings come to town on Saturday and I take off for the weekend -- you’ll be in Jim Baumbach’s capable hands for Saturday night game coverage:
-- Thursday night was a real stinger, and it was evident after the game. Jack Capuano usually tries to zig when everyone else zags, so his mild postgame comments are not a sign of denial. He’s not one to pile on when he sees his team feeling the effects of a game it choked away.
And it wasn’t really easy to identify, other than in the way the Kings went in for the kill after Slava Voynov’s goal. Even with a few unfamiliar faces in place of Jeff Carter and Jarrett Stoll, the Kings just mass produce big, strong forwards who can skate. They were all buzzing once L.A. got on the board, and the Islanders were caught in-between for the rest of the third.
-- Kevin Poulin will likely go again on Saturday. There was no indication from Capuano on that, but Poulin was good on Thursday. The one he’d surely like back was Voynov’s blast, which was from close range but still stoppable. The other two were deflections, one off his own man, the other a long-range tip that either gets through or it doesn’t. Also, the idea that Poulin might somehow be in denial for giving up a bad one or two is laughable. Show me an NHL goaltender who beats himself up or loudly and proudly says, “I blew it.” You can’t, because there isn’t one.
-- The power play was definitely off, despite great puck movement. John Tavares told me after the game his sore hip was no problem at all, but he was a few millimeters off his shot all game, especially the one off the rush that ended up going the other way for the Kings' winner late in the third.
-- Regardless of the fact that it’s hard to pinpoint blame, the Isles cannot lose games like Thursday’s. Even salvaging a point would have been fine. It’s a difficult team from the West and these are not four-point games in the standings. You have to get to OT at the very least, and now the Isles, with two more games played than most of the Metro Division, could be in last once everyone’s caught up. That’s psychologically damaging to a team that has spent too much time in the basement the last few years.
-- What’s going on with Josh Bailey and Michael Grabner? The Isles have scored enough goals to win games during this 3-7-0 slide, but nothing from either of two guys who they need to play well at both ends of the ice. Grabner has no goals in 19 straight and no points in 10. Bailey has no points in 10, and astonishingly, recorded his first shot on goal in six games on Thursday. The Isles need both of these top-nine forwards to reappear, and soon.