Any time the New York Islanders can score seven goals in a game, it's a special day.
Any time they can do so against Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils, it's a downright miraculous one.
Sean Bergenheim notched his first career hat trick as he and the rest of the Islanders chased Brodeur after the second period en route to a 7-3 win Saturday afternoon at the Nassau Coliseum.Â New York also received goals from Radek Martinek, Kyle Okposo and Jeff Tambellini.Â Brian Gionta, Jamie Langenbrunner and Patrik Elias tallied for New Jersey.
The Islanders seem like a new team in recent days.Â Perhaps that is because almost half of today's lineup was comprised of either call-ups from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (The Islanders' minor league affiliate) or arrived here recently in a trade (Dean McAmmond.)Â This influx of youth has had a startling effect on the dynamic of the squad.Â They are much closer to playing the tempo that Scott Gordon's “Overspeed” system requires than the veterans that made up the team earlier in the year ever were.
Certainly, many of them possess younger legs, but there seems to be more to the story.Â Perhaps it's the fact that they are bolstered by youthful enthusiasm.Â Or maybe it's simply that, for many of them, this is the only way they know how to play.Â Whatever the reasons may be, the results are all that count.Â The Islanders have been very competitive since this influx of youth, something you weren't able to say about this group earlier in the year.
It's a good thing the young guys are picking up the slack because New York received more bad news today.Â Trent Hunter, now one of the team leaders and most frequent hitter, will be lost for the remaining games due to a fractured ankle.Â The silver lining to this cloud is that it frees up yet another slot for a youngster from Bridgeport to audition in a professional environment for a place on next year's squad.
Much has been made about the Islanders requiring more veteran leadership.Â While it is true that they may have trouble reaching the salary floor, the Islanders already have young players who are developing into leaders.Â There seems to be little doubt that Kyle Okposo could one day be the captain.Â Guys like Hunter, Richard Park, Brendan Witt and Andy Hilbert all have the requisite experience to provide all the mentoring necessary.Â While the Doug Weight signing has worked out well for the club, why do some feel it absolutely necessary to clog the lineup with retreads when you could have developing youngsters playing their hearts out every night?
The Islanders take on another club that is playing with a serious infusion of youth on it's roster, the Phoenix Coyotes, tomorrow afternoon at the Coliseum in another rare day game.Â They ought to be extremely confident as they take on a club very much in the same position as they are.
Hey, you have every reason to be confident when you've chased Brodeur from a game, right?
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Written by Frank Mazzola