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ON THE 11th HOUR: when the war went quiet
New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz, whose club won 10 straight before losing 4-3 Thursday to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Charlottetown Islanders head coach Jim Hulton, who watched his club surrender a third-period lead in a home loss the same night to Drummondville, continue to over-achieve in their respective roles.
Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello knew what he was doing in signing Trotz, who departed Washington after leading them to the Stanley Cup two years ago. Hulton, like Trotz, does not have an abundance of scoring but his “Q” team, like the Islanders, always end up near the top of the standings at season’s end.
Josh Bailey and Matt Barzal of the NHL’s Islanders each have six goals while Brock Nelson, Anders Lee and Derick Brassard have a combined 14 goals. The goaltending duo of Thomas Greiss and Semyon Varlamov have a combined goals-against average of 2.14 and a .933 save percentage – the best in the NHL.
The Islanders don’t have a Denis Potvin on the blue-line, but they have a solid veteran in Johnny Boychuk, who was paired last game with P.E.I.’s Noah Dobson.
Trotz and Lamoriello have been slowly, and wisely, easing Dobson into the line-up and he has two points in five games. It’s the same strategy for P.E.I.’s Ross Johnston, who has a goal in seven games and is a great fit for the Islanders, who have been without grinders like Leo Komarov and Matt Martin.
Hulton uses a similar approach defensively as his team had given up just 50 goals in 18 games prior to Thursday’s game. That is amongst the best in the league while playing without standout defenceman Lukas Cormier for the past month.
Without Cormier and minus 16-year-old Oscar Plandowski, who has been away with the under-17 national team, the local Islanders are within five points of the Eastern Conference lead.
In other hockey news, the world under-17 championships are underway in Saskatchewan and Plandowski is with Canada White, which dumped Team Canada Red 3-2 in overtime Thursday night to advance to semifinal play.
Alan Andrews Hockey grad Evan Nauss is captain of the Canada Red team while Islanders goaltender Jacob Goobie is also with the Canada Red team.
Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant would likely be in foul humour today after the Golden Knights lost Thursday 2-1 in overtime to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Vegas outplayed the Maple Leafs but goaltender Frederik Andersen was outstanding. As was the case in last week’s 5-4 Toronto loss to Montreal, hot goaltending proved the difference. No doubt, Gallant will be giving Summerside’s C.J. Gallant and cousin Garth Arsenault, who are “his eyes in Canada,” a call to see what they have for advice.
Not much on the local baseball scene, but Tignish youngster Josh Myers, (Spencer’s boy), is playing with the Adirondack College Timberwolves of New York state. The team travels to Florida in the spring and each player is trying to secure funds for the trip and a heavy spring schedule to nearby states. You can help at Josh Myers firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Football League went haywire last week as Green Bay and New England got clobbered on the road and more upsets are possible in tomorrow’s Week 10.
New Orleans, Baltimore and Indianapolis are all sure winners Sunday, so let’s look at some others:
Carolina (5-3) at Green Bay (6-3): Green Bay was awful in a loss to the Chargers. The Panthers have a sensational back in Christian McCaffrey and he could make it close, but the Packers at home should prevail by a field goal.
L.A. Rams (5-3) at Pittsburgh (4-4): L.A.’s Jared Goff has got to play better and I believe he will. The Steelers should have lost at home versus Indy except for place-kicker Adam Vinatieri, who has been terrible.
Buffalo (6-2) at Cleveland (2-6): Cleveland has a top running game with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt and the Bills’ run D is allowing 125 yards per game. The Browns can’t seem to do anything right and QB Baker Mayfield has been sub-par. Cleveland is a three-point home favourite but not with me. Take the points and the Bills.
Detroit Lions (3-4-1) at Chicago Bears (3-5): Detroit can score, averaging 27 points plus over the last four games, and have a top QB in Matt Stafford. The Bears can’t muster more than 14 points per game. Do the math, Lions by a TD.
Seattle (7-2) at San Francisco (8-0): Seattle is very fortunate to be 7-2 and probably should be 5-4 but for the outstanding play of QB Russell Wilson. They visit San Francisco, which should be able to handle a vastly over-achieving Seattle club.
Live harness racing continues today and Sunday at Red Shores Charlottetown with two top cards at 12:30 p.m. Today, the $2,400 mares event has attracted a field of nine with the likes of Arc Light, Collective Wisdom, Imagine Speed, Dancers Pass and five others. . . Sunday afternoon, the $2,900 preferred goes in Race 13 with horses like Woodmere Ideal Art, No Great Mischief, Veradero Hanover, Rockin Indy, Burn Out Hanover and three others. . . At Mohawk last week, Lisburn stayed in the $16,000 class and won in 1:52, returning $13 on the nose, a hot tip from the Prophet. Tonight, he steps up to a six-horse field at $20,000 and has an outside shot for owner Kevin Harvey. . . Easy Lover Hanover has the outside post in the Mohawk $34,000 feature with Ellis Park, Yourmycandygirl, Classic Pro, Physicallyinclined, Nirvana Hanover and The Stable.Ca’s Brave World. . . A large number of horsemen from the Maritimes attended the Harrisburg Yearling and Mixed Sale, which concluded yesterday. Monday, the yearling average jumped from $94,000 in 2018 to $114,000, a terrific sale for owners and breeders. The Stable was active with eight yearlings heading back to their Tomiko Training Centre outside Campbellville, Ont. The main group were trot breeds like New York eligible Chapter Seven, New Jersey eligible Trixton, (2), Pa bred Southwind Frank and an Ontario-bred Muscle Mass colt. The Stable also landed an American Ideal New York colt out of a sister to Sportswriter. Hampshire’s Blaine MacPherson collared a Muscle Mass trot colt for the Ontario circuit at $34,000 while Don MacRae added a Betting Line colt to his stable while Natascha Campbell collared a trot colt by Control the Moment.
Fred MacDonald's column appears every Saturday in The Guardian. He can be reached at email@example.com.