An independent blog on the New York Islanders and the NHL by a guy from New York.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Islanders Swept Away By Leafs

Tonight, your New York Islanders welcome the Toronto Maple Leafs to the NVMC.  The Isles can either handle a struggle Leafs team and get a win at home tonight or fall into a pattern of playing down to the level of their opponent.  We shall see which Isles team emerges tonight.  Per Kevin McGran, "The Isles are 5-1-2 in their last eight games against Toronto; each of the last three Coliseum games have been decided by an overtime goal."

Forwards:  Conacher-Tavares-Okposo Kulemin-Nelson-Clutterbuck Bailey-Nielsen-Strome Martin-Cizikas-McDonald.

Defensive Pairings:  Leddy-Boychuk Hickey-Hamonic de Haan-Strait.

Jaroslav Halak is in net with Chad Johnson on the bench.


In the first period, Nick Leddy (Strome & Bailey) puts the Isles on the board to give the Isles a 1-0 lead.  Isles lose a little of their pizzazz after the Leddy goal, and Toronto ties the game  near the half way mark.  Nielsen puts it off the boards behind the Toronto net on the PP, John Tavares puts a nice one timer behind Bernier for a 2-1 Isles lead.  And that's how the period will end, Isles on top.

Leafs take it to the Islanders early in the period, Isles defense looking a little unsettled.  Isles PP continues to misfire.  Leafs taking control of the game and beating the Isles on both ends of the ice.  Toronto ties the game at 2-2, Isles too passive in the game.  Defense continues to struggle as leafs make it 3-2.  Isles look like they are getting into trouble in the period, they need to take back control of this game soon.  Leafs make it a 4-2 game at the 3/4 mark.  You wonder what it will take for Capuano to call a time out?  Halak looks rattled and the Isles look baffled in front of him, no skating, no checking pressure at all. 5-2 Leafs late in the second.  This collapse is not all Halak's fault.  Kessel has been literally unguarded out there.  Isles getting pushed around and look unable to regroup as leafs score 4 unanswered goals.  Changes need to be made in the 3rd.  Islanders are booed off the ice.

Some changes are made.  Chad Johnson comes out to start the period with Kulemin on the first line replacing a struggling Conacher who has been added to a line with  Nelson & Clutterbuck.  Isles play with some urgency, Leafs call a time out early in the period.  Hickey took a skate to chin, looks cut and goes in for stitches.  Isles continue to play better and create chances, but need a goal to start this thing over again.  Calvin de Haan shows his frustration with a hit to Clarkston's head and gets a penalty.  We will see if the NHL looks at that tomorrow.  Kulemin looks good on the first line.  Toronto gets another one, but the late goal doesn't count, as it was kicked in.  Time expires and the Isles lose 5-2 to the Leafs at home.

Isles out shot Toronto 36-28 in the game.  Halak went 18/23 with a .783Sv%.  Johnson was perfect in the third with 5 saves.  So the Isles won the first period, but lost the game.  It was another incomplete effort and a lackluster result.  The Isles stopped skating in the second period and sat back to watch Kessel dismantle them.  Halak looked shaky, but wasn't helped by the forwards weak checking effort in front of him.  They need to be better 5 on 5, especially against this kind of team.  The defense got worse as the game went on as well.  The PP was horrible at 1/6, but the PK stood tough going 4/4.  Toronto controlled face offs (36/24) and out muscled the Isles for much of the final 2 periods.  The Isles lost two in a row after winning the first four, but that's no reason to panic.  The Isles need to play hard from start to finish if they want to win night after night.  They need to play their own game instead of trying to keep up with their opponents.  They should get motivated to play Boston on Thursday.  I know Boychuk & Johnson will be. 

Consistency breeds success.  The lines will probably be shuffled and some things will be addressed in practice tomorrow.  I know its only two loses, I know they are 4-2 at the start, but Coach Capuano didn't impress me while he watched the game spiral out of control in the second period and didn't call another time out when his team needed it.  I'm not a fan of his roster moves either.  It's an all too familiar pattern for me.  The players need to be accountable when they don't play well enough to win.  Capuano thinks the Isles had some mismanagement on the ice that contributed to the loss.  I'd agree, but I might be jaded.


Isles Notes:

Isles to officially introduce new owners at 3 p.m. press conference this Wednesday at @Nassau_Coliseum.

Per Kevin Maher, "Report: New #Isles owners could also buy majority share of Barclays Center.

PROSPECT REPORT: @MDalColle71 has five-point week; @GriffinReinhart scores first professional goal.

Per Tony Stabile, "Josh Ho-Sang gets some Hockey Canada love, invited to OHL Super Series Camp along with 5th overall selection Michael Dal Colle."

Toronto's, Nazem Kadri feels that he an John Tavares are close in skill level.  Um, OK.

Per Ray Ferrero. "excited to be heading to Long Island for my last gm @ Coliseum / some of best memories there, '93playoffs, Al Arbour, fun teams #NYI #leafs.

NHL Notes:

Per Pierre LeBrun,"For those asking, NHL trade deadline is March 2 at 3 pm ET; NHL and NHLPA finalized the date earlier this month."

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Weekend Lookback: Pittsburgh

Your New York Islanders had a wake up call of sorts against the Penguins yesterday in Pittsburgh.
Thomas Hickey (Strome & Nelson) scored the lone goal for the Islanders who fell to the Penguins by the score of 3-1.  Hickeys goal was scored less than 6 minutes into the first period, but what followed was an Islanders team that changed its game and went 0 for 7 on the PP.  The PK was 2/4 and although they brought a physical game to bear against Penguins, Pittsburgh was able to capitalize on some of their chances while the Islanders once again failed to do the same.  The defense was pretty good in a close game against a quality opponent, and should get better as Lubomir Visnovsky is closer to returning.  Special teams are a work in progress, so the there's that. Terrible PP when it had worked well in prior games was a major reason for the loss. Their PK is a big weakness, despite all the teams improvements.  It is certainly a concerning issue so early in the campaign, but we aren't only ones to see it.  While the players need to execute, the staff needs to rework the scheme and change what isn't working.  What is working thus far is a strong net presence.  Jaroslv Halak was good again for the Islanders.  His performance (35/37 and a .945 Sv%) was good enough for the third star of the game honors.
There were bad calls against them, but the Isles made too many mistakes & and the ghosts of past seasons incomplete efforts haunted them in the game.  The great teams overcome the bad calls and learn form their mistakes.  It is yet to be seen how good this team will be, but we must focus on the positives. The Islanders are a very good team and have done a lot of good things in the first five games.  Even against the Pens, they played hard, did well 5 on 5, were strong defensively & in net while limiting Crosby's effectiveness in the game.  The team can learn from their shortcomings while they are still in control of their future so early in the season. 

Its prime time for the coaching staff & captains to hold accountability lectures, and then look to themselves to address their own shortcomings & failures.  The leadership needs to be there, helping the team to continue succeeding and enforce their belief that this season can be different.  After an empty net goal to make the score 3-1 Penguins, the loss should leave bad taste with the team.
They must learn from the experience, correct their issues and focus on Tuesday's game with Toronto.
Isles Notes:

It has been reported that Mikhail Grabovski awoke with concussion symptoms the day after the hit and his status has been changed to "out indefinitely."  He will be evaluated again sometime next week.  Colin McDonald took his roster spot and the lines were reshuffled for the game against Pittsburgh.
Eric Hornick, said the loss against Pittsburgh was the 1400th L in Isles history (includes OT loss in the pre-loser point era) & the Isles fell to 1-7-1 in last nine reg ssn games against the Pens.
Anders Lee scored twice, gets the game-winner just :41 secs into the OT frame of today's game against Springfield.

Per Neil Sheehy, "Anders Lee has 3G-2A-5P in 5 games for Bridgeport this season after scoring 9G in 22 gms with NYI last season and 10G in 24 NYI career gms."  Bring him up.  Seriously, do it now.
Griffin Reinhart scored his first goal as a pro in the AHL with Bridgeport.
Per Arthur Staple, "Report: Isles sales price is $485 million."  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Islanders Harpoon Sharks

Tonight, the San Jose Sharks are on the Island.  Its another real test for the surging Islanders to see how they can compete with one of the NHL's elite teams.  Per Eric Hornick, Isles look for 7th straight W (3 in Apr, 4 in Oct) tonight -- last won 7 straight (you won't beLIeve it) 12/31/89-1/19/90 (9 gms).  Are they for real?

Forwards:  Conacher-Tavares-Okposo Grabovski-Nelson-Strome Bailey-Nielsen-Kulemin Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck.

Defensive Pairings:  Leddy-Boychuk Hickey-Hamonic de Haan-Strait.

Jaro Halak is in net with Chad Johnson backing up.


In the first period, the Isles play with a lot of energy but are being bested by San Jose.  A few missed opportunities in front of the net.  Mikhail Grabovski laid out by a clean hit, gets to his feet slowly and skates to the locker room for evaluation.  Isles leading in takeaways 7-1 & out shooting Sharks 13 to 3 at this point with 9 blocked shots against.  Halak looking poised for the Isles.  Sharks rookie, Stalock keeping the game scoreless.  Grabovski did not return.  Game remains scoreless.  The Isles can't keep failing to score on those chances

Grabovski is not on the bench to start the second period.  I hope Grabovski is OK, but who gets the call up if he is hurt. It would have to be Anders Lee.  Per Arthur Staple, "Grabovski (upper body) out for tonight, Isles say."  That probably means concussion to anyone who doesn't speak the lingo.  Tavares takes a hard shot off his foot, Sharks take a 1-0 lead while Tavares lays on the ice.  Nice.  Tavares back on the ice & doesn't miss a shift.  Nick Leddy (Tavares & Okposo) roofs it to even the score at 1-1 for the Isles.  Islanders renewing their focus here with a lot of pressure against San Jose, but Sharks score on a PP off a deflection and a partial screen, 2-1 Sharks.  Brian Strait having another poor performance early.  Halak still looking strong in net for the Islanders with a 3 on 1 save resulting from a bad change. Isles continue to apply pressure, but go wide and hit posts.  1st line is working hard & Casey Cizikas is having another strong game, making things happen.  Islanders finish period with a flourish, but still down 2-1.  Need to raise the level 5 on 5 and on the PK.  Isles still out shooting Sharks 28-11.

Isles come close to scoring early in the third period.  Josh Bailey's wide open shot goes high after it was deflected by a Sharks player.  So close to the equalizer.  Kyle Okposo ties the game at 2-2 on the PP.  Isles continue trend of strong third periods so far this season.  Isles & Sharks with an entertaining, hard fought game tonight.  Josh Bailey (Cizikas) corrals the puck, plays it, spins in front of the net and gives the Isles a 3-2 lead half way through the period.  Isles lead in shots 35-12.  Sharks ties the game a few minutes later, 3-3.  Isles respond with some nice defensive plays in their own end, Matt Martin with some strong efforts.  Travis Hamonic leading by example on the Isles defense.  This much can be said, As much as the Isles dominating in shots, the sharks have made theirs count.  Time expires and the Isles get a hard fought point in the standings.  The game is going to overtime.  Isles with shots advantage at 40-16 (73-50 in shot attempts) with a sight edge in physical play.  Halak finishes regulation going 13/16 with an .812Sv%.  Stalock with a strong game, .925Sv%.

The O.T. period opens with Nielsen sets up Hickey with a good scoring chance, but Stalock comes up with the save.  Both teams trade strong salvos throughout the period, but its going to a shoot out.

Frans Nielsen misses on the backhander.

Sharks score.

Brock Nelson goes wide.

Halak makes the save.

Kyle Okposo scores.

Halak makes the save.

Ryan Strome hits the post, no goal.

Halak gets a piece, puck goes wide.

John Tavares dekes and dangles for the score.

Halak stops Thorton, Isles win 4-3 in the shoot out, improve to 4-0 on the season.

 Thanks to Megan Reiff for the screenshot.

If you can find a big thing to be critical about, it was mistakes made in the defensive game.  Those mistakes led to goals for San Jose.  The fact that the Sharks were able to score goals on such a low shot total should be another troubling statistic to the coaching staff.  Despite strong play, Isles goalies still have so-so Sv% numbers.  These will have to improve to sustain momentum when Isles have trouble scoring in a game.  Arthur Staple says he was told Grabovski's injury was not a concussion, so that's good.  We will have to wait and see.  Keep Mikhail Grabovski in your thoughts tonight. 

Isles with a pretty complete effort from goal on out.  Their fore check was solid again and their tenaciousness in both zones was evident as well.  They never quit on the play and worked hard throughout the night.  de Haan had a decent debut and made a difference on the blue line.  Casey Cizikas was good.  John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Travis Hamonic all had big games for the Islanders tonight.  Give credit again to Josh Bailey.  His hard work continues to pay off.  The Power Play has been solid for the Isles so far this season as has their efforts in the third period.  Lets put this November thing to bed and were in business.  Its so satisfying to emerge bloodied, beaten & wounded, but still victorious.  Your team doesn't quit & that leads to consistency. 

Your New York Islanders just put the NHL on notice. They are the only undefeated team in the league tonight & they are for real.


Isles Notes:

Kyle Okposo & John Tavares are named stars of the game.

Islanders loan defenseman Griffin Reinhart to Sound Tigers.

John Tavares is the 2nd  player in New York Islanders history to open a season w/ 3 straight multi-pt games (Bossy started 1984-85 campaign w/ 7.)

Per Tom Liodice, "Johnny Boychuk has 2G, 3A, 5PTS on the PP this year in 3GP. His PP numbers in previous 321GP? 1G, 4A, 5PTS."

Per Rich DeKorte, "Hickey on now vs. last year: 'There is a different feeling about it sort of a confidence not a swagger but there is just a belief."

Strome: "You try to perform everyday at a high level because there are guys knocking at the door to take your spot."

Per @NHLhistorygirl, "On this date in 1972, defenseman Darius Kasparaitis was born in Elektrenai, USSR."


NHL Notes:

Per Neil Humble, "All 30 NHL goal horns to annoy your friends and please yourself," via @BarDown.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Islanders Shock Rangers

Tonight, Your New York Islanders met the New York Rangers for the first of 5 meetings this season.  Halak vs. Lundqvist.  Per Rich DeCorte, "Capuano on heading into a hostile environment: 'This is where you learn a little bit about your team."  School is now in session.


Forwards:  Conacher-Tavares-Okposo Grabovski-Nelson-Strome Bailey-Nielsen-Kulemin Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck.

Defensive Pairings:  Leddy-Boychuk Hickey-Hamonic Strait-Reinhart.

Jaro Halak is in net with Chad Johnson on the bench.


In the first period, although Halak is sharp early on, he lets in a weak goal off his own skate away from the post, 1-0 Rangers.  Isles have been sloppy in the neutral zone, giving the puck away against a shaky defense.  Isles score on a PP opportunity on a Johnny Boychuk (Okposo & Nielsen) shot and a Nelson screen, game tied at 1-1.  Islanders turn on pressure late in the period, end on a PP chance.   Lead 12-11 in shots.

Early in the second, Rangers ice puck, but no icing is called.  Islanders called for icing and Rangers score off subsequent face-off in Isles zone, 2-1 Rangers.  Weak calls so far tonight by officials.  The Islanders scrambling to find their game, looking lost & getting beat all over the place.  The PK has been terrible & the Defense (not named Leddy) still having a lot of trouble with positioning.  Reinhart & Strome having bad games.  Thankfully, Halak looking good & keeping Isles in the game throughout the period.  Kulemin takes puck away, dishes to John Tavares who rips it past Lundqvist, 2-2 late in the period.  Kulemin has been impressive in the game, doing just about everything.  Grabovski also making a difference.  Shots are 21-8 Rangers in the period, but Isles with a good PK to finish the period.
The third period starts with a give away in front of Lundqvist and Kyle Okposo buries it, 3-2 Islanders.  Its Okposo's 100th career goal.  Islanders gain some momentum off the goal and start applying pressure in Rangers zone.  Brock Nelson (Strome & Grabovski) scores with the wrister, 4-2 Islanders.  Its Nelson's 8th point of the season.  Seconds after, Mikhail Grabovski (Strome) makes it 5-2 Isles.  Islanders have scored 4 unanswered goals against Lundqvist.  MSG is silent and the Rangers look to be unraveling before our eyes.  Nick Leddy (Tavares) makes it 6-2 Islanders.  Larry Brooks Tweets, "First time in NYR Lundqvist's career that he has allowed 5 or more goals in consecutive starts."  Fans are leaving in droves at MSG.  Rangers score to make it 6-3 with 2:10 remaining, but its not enough. 

Isles win 6-3 & start the season 3-0 for first time since 2001-2002.  With no disrespect to the Hurricanes or the Isles in the first two games, tonight was their first real test and they passed.  With all the mistakes and being out played for a good stretch, their depth gave them enough to win.  The Coach and players all had plenty of negative things to say about the game tonight.  Good.  That's what winners do.  Always strive to be better.

Cory Conacher had a really strong game and is making it hard for his would-be replacement, but can we talk about Brock Nelson?  Nelson is a star on a deep Isles team and is doing everything right. He is scoring goals, setting up his team mates & finds a way to do everything they ask of him.  He is really turning into a serious threat for opposing teams.  But the Isles survived this game on the back of Halak who had 40 saves with a .930 Sv%.  Even though the Isles had 20 blocked shots as a team, their goaltender was a huge factor in the winning effort. Tavares, Nelson, Okposo, Grabovski, Boychuk and Leddy all scored for the Isles while the PP went 1/4 the PK improved as the game went on finished 3/3.  Halak, Tavares & Okposo were named the 3 stars of the game.  I wonder if Nelson will be considered for an NHL star of the week this time?

John Tavares was quoted as saying, "Sometimes they apologize for being Ranger fans.  And I say, 'You don't have to apologize to me.  I just like beating you guys."

So do we J.T.  So do we.


Isles Notes:

Per Jamie Stuart, "Isles postpone new ownership press conference due to "unavoidable business scheduling.' A new date has not been announced."

Calvin de Haan practiced yesterday for the first time since being put on IR.

Per Brett Cyrgalis, "Neither de Haan or Capuano would say, but Garth Snow told me the dman isn't medically cleared. "No timetable. Could be ready by Thursday."

Per Dan Savarino, "Capuano is "not settled" on having Conacher stay on the top line."

Spoke to Halak, told me "I need to be a little better." Feels he's still adjusting to the Isles, & his teammates are getting used to him.

Per Daniel Friedman, Former Islander, Richard Park has joined the Minnesota Wild as a player development coach.

Former Islander, Trevor Gillies had his suspension increased to 12 games for his "attack on players head."  I am a supporter of Gillies, but he needs to be aware of his record and realize that he will have additional time added to his warranted suspensions.  While I don't believe he slammed the players head to the ice, the AHL will seek to make an example of him and show they are serious when dealing with possible head injuries.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Final Homecoming & The 7th Player

Your New York Islanders returned home to face the Carolina Hurricanes for the second game of a home at home series to start the season.  Saturday's game would be the final NYI home opener at the NVMC after the team declared they would be moving to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  The move was necessary after several attempts were blocked by the county to update the coliseum or build a new arena on its current site.  But you know all that.  You also know what happened last night, but humor me and let's talk about the memory that was made.


Forwards:  Conacher-Tavares-Okposo Grabovski-Nelson-Strome Bailey-Nielsen-Kulemin Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck.

Defensive Pairings:  Leddy-Boychuk Hickey-Hamonic Strait-Reinhart.

Chad Johnson in goal with Halak backing up.

Several players told the media that they noticed tailgaters in the parking lot when they arrived at the Coliseum in the morning.  It obviously impacted them and it showed. The team came out to start the game without individual introductions and skated to encircle the logo at center ice and saluted the crowd.  A great gesture by the team and a great way to start off the night.  The Islanders came out flying and were clearly feeding off a sold out Nassau Coliseum crowd.  Per Anthony Stabile, "Players were extremely impressed & grateful for the energetic crowd. Bailey said it's the loudest a crowd has been since the playoffs."


In the first period, John Tavares (Nelson & Boychuk) and Cory Conacher (Tavares & Okposo) scored for the Isles.  They would enter the second tied 2-2.  Brock Nelson (Boychuk & Okposo) and Josh Bailey (Nielsen & Kulemin) would then score to make it a 4-2 game.  The Islanders would surrender a goal late in the third, but won the game 4-3  with a strong effort.  Chad Johnson had 21 saves on the night with a .875 Sv%.


PK needed to improve.  At times, the unit seemed scattered and disorganized in their assignments.  That sloppiness kept Carolina in the game. Brian Strait looked especially horrible.  You may indeed see Matt Donovan get his shot against the Rangers on Tuesday.


Hurricanes got away with taking too many liberties against the Isles.  The physicality was matched by the Islanders whether or not a penalty was called against them.  John Tavares has instilled the attitude that disrespect would not be tolerated in game 1, and his team has clearly bought into that concept moving forward.


Brock Nelson is made a statement in the first two games.  He has 6 pts (3 & 3 for 6 pts.) while John Tavares & Johnny Boychuk have 5 pts, Kyle Okposo has 3, Ryan Strome & Frans Nielsen have 2 pts so far.  Six other players have a point.  Credit Josh Bailey for turning some hard work into results.  Aside from the goal, Bailey had several good defensive plays including some important clears late in the game as time expired in the third to help preserve the win.  Josh Bailey was the third star & John Tavares was first star in the game.

Chad Johnson gave the quote of the night to  “As an opposing player you make that walk from the Marriott [to the Coliseum] and you call it the gauntlet,” he said. “You can tell the people here are really knowledgeable about hockey, they are cheering at the right moments, they aren’t just cheering to cheer.”

I had a great time tailgating with Craig Richardson and my friends in the New York Islanders Hardcore group, big supporters of KoC for quite some time.  As luck would have it, I was seated next to Paul Eggs & Chris Egbert of Real Islander Fans.  Two huge supporters of mine that I was able to talk with all game long and get to know better.  I also had the pleasure of finally meeting Kevin Judge of Bleed Orange and Blue in person, another big, long-time supporter on KoC.  The list of important people is too large to note here and please don't be offended if I didn't mention all of you by name.  I was so glad to connect with each of you and match the people with the avatars I interact with each and every day.  I was glad to get to know you a little more as people & even though we may not live close enough for many social calls, it doesn't mean we haven't shared a sacred space talking Islanders hockey for all this time.  The support I get on Facebook, Google & New York Islanders Reddit enable me to spread my message and for that I am grateful to everyone who takes time out of their day to actually read what I have posted.  I guess what I am trying to say is that it was an extra special event for me.  I know a lot of us realized that the Isles time at the NVMC started coming to a close as soon as we got to the tailgate celebrations.  We knew that all of these familiar rituals would have to change soon.  But please understand that while I am bitter about the events that created the need for the team to have to move, I'm not bitter about the team moving to the Barclays Center.  I am quite psyched they will be at a state of the art arena in Brooklyn instead of Kansas City or Quebec.   

The years and years I spent going to the old barn in Uniondale are times that will remain close to my heart.  Watching the legendary teams win 4 cups and 19 consecutive playoff series were unreal.  Coming to the Coliseum has always been special to me, but the fans I have met over that time are the real prize.  We can celebrate the final season for what it is.  The last hurrah for a storied franchise in our special place.  We look past the cracked concourse and crumbling fa├žade and see the great moments in Islanders history.  That can never be taken away from us.  But what we can do is create new memories at a new arena in Brooklyn.  We can create new rituals with the current players on the team.  A group of guys that we have watched grow up before our eyes and hope to see progress into something special.  They are certainly off to a good start this season.

Greatest impression made on me last night about this Isles team was their character. They have it throughout the roster. From John Tavares to Kyle Okposo to Casey Cizikas. The other impression made last night, which is no less important is the amazing, passionate & deserving fan base I am a part of.  Truly, the 7th player on the ice.

I'm honored to cheer along side of all of you.


Isles Notes:

The Islanders meet the Rangers in MSG @ 7pm on Tuesday, 10/14, face the Sharks at home on Thursday, 10/16 and meet the Penguins on Saturday, 10/18, 7pm starts.

Former Islander, Trevor Gillies has been suspended one game by the AHL, and is investigating the incident further.  Reports of Gillies, "slamming a players to the ice," were over stated to say the least.  While Gillies has crossed the line in the past, the event in question has been exaggerated by media reports.

Trevor Gillies posted the following apology on his FaceBook page, "I would like to apologize to my family back home for embarrassing the family name. To my teammates and the organization and the fans in the hockey community. I crossed the line. Thankfully the kid is okay. I'm not taking this lightly or easily and promise it won't happen again. If you want to bash me I get it. I will just take my medicine with no response. Again I'm truly sorry Gillies."

Friday, October 10, 2014

Islanders Brave Storm In Carolina

Tonight, your New York Islanders kick off the 2014-15 season in Carolina against the Hurricanes.  Cam Ward will be in net for the canes and has dominated the Islanders in the past.  But these are not those Islanders.  The new look Isles will be bringing even more firepower, a stronger defense and better goaltending to the season opener.  Some new free agent additions like Jaro Halak, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolay Kulemin, Cory Conacher are making the trip along with former prospect, Griffin Reinhart who is making his first NHL start.  Arthur Staple notes a very loud "Let's Go Islanders!" chant can be heard form the Isles fans in attendance. 

Forwards:  Conacher-Tavares-Okposo; Grabovski-Nelson-Strome; Bailey-Nielsen-Kulemin; Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck.

Defensive Pairings:  Leddy-Boychuk; Hickey-Hamonic; Strait-Reinhart.

Jaroslav Halak is in net with Chad Johnson on the bench.

In the first period, the Isles came out with purpose.  Johnny Boychuk (Okposo & Tavares) put the Isles on the board with a one-timer PPG, 1-0 just a few minutes in.  Johnny Boychuk & John Tavares set up Brock Nelson, top shelf for a 2-0 lead with two minutes remaining.


In the second period, Johnny Boychuk puts it on net and it goes in from Brock Nelson (& Tavares), 3-0 Isles.  This marks Nelson's first two goal game and gives Boychuk a goal & two assists to this point.  Per Erik Hornick, Isles are 21-0-0 in last 4 ssns when leading by at least 3 goals after 2 pds.


The third period has been the Achilles heel for the Isles in recent years.  What would happen tonight?  Hurricanes score early in the third before Travis Hamonic can pull the puck out before crossing the goal line.  Play is reviewed & its a good goal, 3-1 Islanders.  Shortly after, Mikhail Grabovski  converts off a feed from Ryan Strome & Brock Nelson about 6 minutes in, 4-1 Islanders.  Its Grabo's first as an Islander.  Travis Hamonic extends the lead to 5-1 off a feed from Nelson & Strome, 5-1 Isles.  Nelson up t 4 pts. on the night.  Hurricanes catch Isles on a long shift for top line and convert on a take away, 5-2 with just over five minutes remaining.  With 1:36 remaining, Canes make it 5-3 on the PP.  Isles win 5-3.


The Isles PP & PK looked good tonight.

Several Islanders had a good game.  Halak looked calm & poised in the nets.  Whether it was a screened, deflected or a straight ahead shot, Halak was in position.  He finished 21/24 with an .875 Sv%.  John Tavares and his line mates were flying tonight and led by example.  Johnny Boychuk certainly looks like he is comfortable with the Isles now.  5 on 5 or on the PP, Boychuk was solid and showed why Snow brought him here.  Mikhail Grabovski looked solid with line mates, Nelson & Strome.  They created a lot of offensive chances all game long.  Ryan Strome  & Griffin Reinhart worked hard the entire night and held their own for the game.  Strome had some nice chances and Reinhart had some nice plays in the defensive end.  The fourth line of Martin, Cizikas & Clutterbuck did all the again small things tonight.  They were physical, strong on the back check and drew penalties to keep Carolina focused on them.  The Islanders depth showed and although it was only one game, you have to like how the Isles looked in the game, even with all the injuries.  Nelson finished with 4 pts. while JT & Boychuk had 3.  It was about Nelson & Halak tonight.  They were the difference in the game.  Carolina started to do some damage late, but the Isles dominated much of the game.  It was a third period deficit of sorts, but it seemed almost meaningless. Is it?

These are not last years Islanders. 

See you tomorrow at the NVMC!  Come up and say Yo! 
I'll be with @NYIslesHardcore Sec 225, Row J, Seat 14.

Isles Notes:

Per Arthur Staple, Michael Grabner had surgery for a sports hernia & is out indefinitely.  Probably 4-6 weeks.

Islanders legend, Bobby Nystrom is 62 today.

Per John Kreiser, "51 percent of Coyotes sold to Andrew Barroway, pending NHL approval. If it happens, Barroway becomes Coyotes chairman and governor."

Thursday, October 9, 2014

2014-15 KoC New York Islanders Season Preview

The New York Islanders announced today their 23-man roster as they enter the 2014-15 season. The lineup includes 14 forwards, seven defensemen and two goalies. 

Projected Forward lines for Friday:  Conacher-Tavares-Okposo, Grabovski-Nelson-Strome, Bailey-Nielsen-Kulemin, Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck.

Extra forwards are McDonald and Boulton.

Projected defensive pairings: Leddy-Boychuk, Hickey-Hamonic, Strait-Reinhart, w/Donovan extra.

Halak will be in goal with Johnson backing up.


This season should be a throwback to the days when the Isles were a threat to win every night.  I'm not saying a new dynasty, but I am saying a 90-95 pt. team that has the potential to make the playoffs and in the running for much more.  As long as they stay healthy, continue to score goals and improve on defense and in goal as we expect, who knows how far they can go.  Strome and Reinhart have made the opening night roster and that’s a good thing.  Both are talent players who the Islanders need to take the next step in their pro careers.  Strome had a strong showing while filling in for an injured Tavares last season and he needs to continue that progress.  Reinhart had good efforts in camp, but saw what playing at the NHL level will take.

Garth Snow made some nice signings on day 1 of free agency, and then scored again later on day 2.  The team has been upgraded in several areas and the competition that comes with more available talent should push everyone to give their strongest effort to play up to expectations, especially the coaching staff.  The blown third period leads and November losing streaks need to stop.  And when the team plays well enough to gain a comfortable lead, they need to be disciplined enough to keep it.  With Visnovsky, Pulock, Grabner and de Haan injured, the roster wont stay the way it is, but should still do well.

Conacher had a great camp.  He showed strong skating and a good hockey sense.  Because of that, he will start on the 1st line with Tavares and Okposo.  JT wants to return with a vengeance after his season ending injury with Team Canada.  I think he will do just that.  He had 66 pts. in 59 games last season while Okposo had a break out year with 69 pts. in 71 games.  Per, “It’s pretty special,” Conacher said. “I just have to try to take advantage of this opportunity. I don’t want to get away from playing my game, but at the same time I want to make sure those guys are comfortable playing with me on a line.”

The 2nd line should be very interesting to watch.  Grabovski was a huge signing by Snow this summer.  His offensive potential could see him reach the 50 pt. mark like he tallied while playing in Toronto.  Nelson had a great first year as an NHL player with 26 pts. in 72 games.  He was big in big moments and showed he has the talent to stay on the top two lines.

The 3rd line could be a big line for the Isles this year.  Bailey needs to have a year like K.O. did last season and needs to gain confidence.  Bailey had 38 pts in 77 games.  I don't know if will ever be as good as the Isles had hoped, but with the depth at forward, playing with Nielsen and Kulemin should help.  What else can you say about Nielsen that hasn't been said?  With a career best 58 pts. in 80 games, Nielsen is clutch on both sides of the puck and has really made a difference in shootouts for New York.  Kulemin is talented beyond his numbers.  He is a strong line mate that helps the skilled players he plays with succeed.

We have all seen what Martin, Cizikas and Clutterbuck can do to change momentum in a game.  Whether its playing with an edge, fighting or scoring a big goal, the 4th line have been a high energy line for the Islanders and should do more of the same this season.

McDonald and Boulton are the extra forwards out of camp.  Both are heart and soul guys who are well liked in the locker room.  They should be used in specific situations and against specific opponents early in the season, but will have to perform to remain with the Islanders.  Especially with the talent in Bridgeport.  They impressed Capuano enough to edge Anders Lee out of a roster spot.

Defense was a huge weakness for the Islanders along with goaltending.  Snow addressed those concerns in a big way. 

While anchors like Hamonic & Hickey played well for the Islanders all year, de Haan was recalled by from Bridgeport & seemed to help stabilize a waffling Isles defense.  The additions of Boychuk & Leddy will be huge for guys like Pulock & Reinhart.  Strait can be effective, but will start to feel the pressure from the improved Islanders depth a defense.  Donovan is an extra defensemen on the roster and has impressed the coaches enough to earn a spot on the team again this year.  He has a lot of skill and has looked strong at times, but needs to raise his game and minimize his mistakes to stay on the team.  I think he is capable of doing just that.

Nabokov & Nilsson are gone.  They goalie carousel is gone.  Snow added Halak and Johnson in the off season to give the Islanders a strong goaltending tandem that is as strong as any in the league.  As a starter in his prime, Halak will benefit from a new training regiment that should reduce the chance of injury and benefit from a stronger defense in front of him.  Halak is a top ten goaltender and has the potential to reach even higher levels wit this team.  Johnson has gotten better with each season he has been in the league.  Last year with Boston, Johnson was a big reason for their success.  As a back up to Halak, Johnson should still get a chance to come up big for his new team as well.  He also offers a strong contingency for the Isles should Halak go down to injury.

Per, Capuano spoke about the "Battle Level," required to stay on this team:  “You're here for a reason, but you have to sustain it,” Capuano said. “We'll see what he can do Friday night. He's going to get an opportunity and we've practiced that line all week, and to me, I think that's what we'll go with to start. If we have to make tweaks, we'll make tweaks."

The Isles have sent Anders Lee and Ryan Pulock to Bridgeport.  While I don’t agree with this move, it will give Lee a chance to play top minutes with Bridgeport.  He will no doubt be a first call up when necessary and may never go back down.  Per Arthur Staple, "Capuano on Lee: 'That's a tough one. He's had a pretty good camp. Anders is going to be an Islander for a long time... It's a numbers game."  Lighthousehockey had a great quote from Anders Lee: "I know I can play at this level; I feel like I did the best I could with the opportunity I had last year," he said. "Everything I do is to try and help this team win. That won't change, whether I'm here or [in Bridgeport]."  My hunch is that Anders Lee will be an Islander by Thanksgiving as long as he keeps that kind of positive outlook  and continues to work hard.

Your New York Islanders are the talk of the NHL and have been picked anywhere from 5th to last in their conference, and are currently ranked 13th in the power ranking.  What can not be argued is how much better they are this season than last, at least on paper.  They could very well finish 3 or 4th in the east.  I know I said it last year as well, but who knew!  Anyway, I think this team has the potential to shock a lot of people, especially those on teams around the NHL who don't respect that potential.  Because pretty soon, that potential could turn into results.  Then what will all the detractors say?

An amazing story of an amazing human being. You are an inspiration Travis. I'm a big fan.


Isles Notes:

Matt Carkner (upper body) & Lubomir Visnovsky (upper body) have been placed on IR.

Michael Grabner's had surgery for sports hernia, Out indefinitely.

Islanders' sale from Charles Wang to Ledecky, Malkin finalized.

Rick DiPietro interviewed Garth Snow on ESPN Radio. 

Per Christian Arnold, "Bettman on Barclays Isles: "There aren’t a whole lot of changes they can make… I’m OK with that.”

Per Stan Fischler, "More on what's a dynasty: no team ever will match the Islanders feat of 19 straight playoff series wins. Not even these Kings; not close."

Former Islanders Matt Moulson (Buff) & Mark Streit (Phi) have been named as alternate captains of the perspective teams.

Sound Tigers Notes:

Aaron Ness named captain of the Sound Tigers.


Stockton Thunder Notes:

6'7" defenseman, Loic Leduc was loaned to the Thunder from the Islanders.


NHL Notes:

Per Hockey Rumors & Trades, "Commissionaire Gary Bettman is expected the renewal of the World Cup of Hockey tomorrow at his state of the league address. The International tournament, that would be played under NHL rules, will played during the offseason to ensure that every country can put the best team possible on the ice."  Ha Ha.  Commissionaire.

Per Steve LePlore, "NBC will produce their own draft coverage for the first time ever. Will combine NBC and TSN hockey talent."