Four wins in a row on the road. Four consecutive losses at home. Blake Comeau has the option of feathering a pass to Mike Comrie or Billy Guerin for a key insurance goal but decides the better option is to throw a back-pass to the gunslinging Brendan Witt. Of course Witt's shot goes in and the Islanders win. When I say I know no more about this game than when I started, this is what I'm talking about.
Haven't written in a week because it was non-stop around Islanders Country with all the games, the visit from General Powell and the Lighthouse Tournament. I have scribbled some notes over the last few days on this free stationery I got from the USGA, so here goes...
The System: Once in a while I'll see something about the Islanders' farm system being a bit dry, but that seems exaggerated. In Bridgeport right now is one bonafide stud (Okposo), a scoring machine who WILL get his chance (Tambellini) and two very steady two-way centers who could play on my team any time (Frans Nielsen and Ben Walter). Comeau, the 2004 second round pick who won't turn 22 for another month, is playing big minutes. One of the stories of tonight's game was not that Comeau had a goal and an assist in the final three minutes - it was that Ted Nolan had the faith to put him out there in the first place.
On defense, there is a very good future Islander (Dustin Kohn), who will join recent youngins Bruno, Campoli and Meyer. Scouts visiting the Coli press box tell me the 2006 and 2007 drafts were both very strong for the NYI. Of course, time will tell, but the Hockey News' next Future Watch issue will not be lacking.
The Dog: Disappointing when good guy Chris Russo loses his way. He was in Green Bay this weekend, enjoying the free ride to the NFC Championship, and the Dog couldn't resist bringing everything else down. "What do we got on the update, Rangers scores? Does anyone really care?" Of course they do, Chris. I love the NFL too, but there's room for other sports. Try not to forget where you came from.
The General: We've had our share of diginitaries and celebrities come through the Country over the years, but no one has left the indelible impression that General Colin Powell did with his visit on Martin Luther King Day. Leave it to Peter Botte of the Daily News to joke that, since the former Secretary of State was at the hockey rink, it might be okay to call him Colie.
The Giants: The remarkable renaissance of Tom Coughlin is, yes, as much a media story as a football story. He's always been a good football coach. When he took the time last summer to mend fences with reporters and his players - Neil Best of Newsday was invited to lunch before the NFL season by the Coach and wrote about it last week - he was on the road to one of the best comeback stories in recent New York sports. Did the repair of his relationship with the media directly lead to the Super Bowl? Of course not. But it didn't hurt. Bravo to my Giants PR colleague Pat Hanlon for his role, too.
And how about Eli Manning's turn-around? Or really, the reversal of everyone's perception of him? A month ago he was too laid-back. Now it's his nerves of steel that got the Giants to the Super Bowl.
I've always seen some parallels between the careers of Eli Manning and Rick DiPietro. First picks at the most important positions at their sport. Teams that moved a few mountains to bring them here. Downs and ups. Funny how Rick's perceived cockiness has turned to confidence, how the Excitable Boy is now lauded for his energy, passion and leadership.