"We're not satisfied, but it's a step in the right direction." Matt Moulson sat quietly hardly looking up at the reporters around him with thier iPhones up close trying to catch every word the soft spoken Moulson was saying.
The Islanders had the lead. They could have had two points. Somehow, the tide turned and the Columbus Blue Jackets pushed the game to overtime by scoring two goals in the third period.
The top line of Tavares-Moulson-Okposo didn't fare well the night before against New Jersey, and were trying to improve. "Sometimes you start the season and obviously all three of us are competitive guys and we want to do well. Maybe we tried to force (something something - pick your head up Matty)a little too much yesterday instead of keeping it simple. Which we were a lot simplier tonight.
When asked what happened in the third period, the only explanation Moulson had was "We just took our foot off the pedal it seems. We didn't step on their throats. You have to put teams away and have that 'attack, attack, attack,' mentality."
I asked Matt if perhaps the back-to-back games for the same line-up had anything to do with the third period slow-down. "No, I don't think so because they had to play back-to-back and they had to travel further than us, so I think we gave them too many odd-man rushes and they were obviously jumping. When teams are coming at you like that, they have some good offensive players, you have to make sure you have guys in good defensive positions."
While John Tavares wins accolades from every outlet, Matt Moulson mostly flies under the radar. He hasn't had to be as 'front-and-center' as in the past seasons with the highly touted prospects making the team and 23-year-old Tavares earning the C. But Adam Proteau of The Hockey News
called Moulson "one of the most under rated players in the NHL." While Proteau doesn't usually have too many good things to say about the NY Islanders, he is always fair and reasonable.
I asked Matt if he liked flying under the radar and told him what Proteau had said on SiriusXM NHL Radio. He gave me a very brief smile with out looking up.
"It doesn't really matter to me, I don't pay attention to that too much. I don't think what anyone says could change the way I play. It's very nice of him to say, but it doesn't change anything." Moulson has always been the type that just wants to do his job. The past two games, his job seems to be shoot-out specialist, a position once held by Frans Nielsen. Seems goalies have watched video of Frans' backhander and are now ready for him.
Matt Martin stood with this skates and socks off, trying to get a bloody toe to stop throbbing. News12 asked him how the momementum changed in the third period and an equally soft-spoken and thoughtful Martin explained "After they get the goal on the PK, obviously they get a little bit of life and a little bit of momentum. It becomes a one-goal game for them. If you let teams hang on like that, they're going to burn you."
Nabokov stood on his head through a good portion of the game as well as the shoot-out, Martin said they really wanted to win that game for him. "We have to play better in front of him.... We didn't respond well enough."
I am hoping that deciding games in the shoot-out won't become a common thread this season. Martin said that the shooters haven't found their touch yet. But they did pick up points in both. "We should have won that game tonight. There really is no excuse for us not to. But it's early. There are 80 games ahead of us. We have to learn our lesson from this. Come Monday practice and get ready for our game on Tuesday."
That toe of Martin's was a minor injury, but something that may happen far too often this season now that they have the mindset that the forwards should be blocking shots regulary. Brad Kurtzberg of Inside Hockey
asked Martin about how important blocking shots is for this team. "They've harped on it," Martin smiled, "They expect a lot of us. They expect us to get into the shooting lanes, sacrifice our bodies. They embedded that in us that we expect it of each other. When guys aren't in the lane, and you notice it, they come to the bench and you hear it. It's not just from the coaching staff, it's from the guys out there sacrificing their bodies making big blocks, putting it all on the line. You need all 12 forwards and six defensemen doing the same thing."
Mark Hermmann talked today about "Continuity" and "Chemistry" in his Newsday article
. As these players have been together now for a substantial amount of time, those two 'C' words are quite evident.