Today we continue with another member of the Islanders defense in Radek Martinek.
The other day I looked at shots against down almost two hundred, the penalty kill better from a year ago. One thing I did not bring up was all the one goal games the Isles did win. Of course some of that was about not being able to score to open a lead but some of it was also about good defense.
Radek Martink to me had a very strong year and did an excellent job coming back from a serious injury. He reminds me very much of Kenny Jonsson at his best when he is able to move the puck out of dangerous areas and start a rush.
His year did not start great, he had some early turnovers playing with Brendan Witt and a few forced mistakes but overall just did an excellent job moving up to what was in effect a top-two role. His late season battles where he went head to head with Ovechkin and Malkin were some of the more memorable on ice moments of the season when he put both of them down and stayed with them using his speed and skill to hold his position.
Again Martinek had to put up with an injury that did not look good and again he came back and did a very solid job. Down the stretch he gave all he had and looked good with Matt Spiller and anyone Ted Nolan put with him.
Looking ahead : It's fair to write at this point Martinek is not going to win games with his offense, he stepped into some plays and took a few good shots but does not seem confident often in that situation on a team desperate for a steady powerplay presence.
On defense and in transition he's one of the top defenders in the league at getting the puck out of his own zone and that is an asset not easy to find in this league.
Between his cap friendly contract and what has been constant praise from the organization it's clear Martinek only makes your team better on defense. What he did against Ovechkin and Malkin I have no doubt he will continue to do.
Radek Martinek receives an A for his overall play in 2007-08, even with the injury and lack of scoring. He gave all he had and more and the Isles made an excellent signing to lock him up for a few more years.