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

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Islanders Ignore Hurricane Warning

Your New York Islanders went for a sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes yesterday at the NVMC, but struggled to find the broom all afternoon.  New York lost a sloppy, unsettled game by the score of 5-3 in front of another sellout crowd.  Lineup changes included, Chad Johnson who got the start in goal & Brian Strait in for Lubo Visnovsky on defense.  Former Islander D-Man, Jack Hillen was traded to the Hurricanes yesterday and was inserted on the Carolina blue line.

Lee-Tavares-Bailey, Grabner-Nielsen-Strome, Kulemin-Nelson-Clutterbuck, Martin-Mouillierat-McDonald.

Leddy-Boychuk, Hickey-Hamonic, de Haan-Strait.

Chad Johnson got the start with Jaro Halak backing up.

The Isles worked hard once again, but had trouble clearing their own zone and looked lost right from the start.  Chad Johnson kept New York in the game until Michael Grabner (Strome & Boychuk) scored a highlight goal close to the 12:00 mark of the first.  Grabner skated in through the hurricanes defense and ripped a shot over Ward to open a 1-0 lead for the Islanders.  They were able to get a boost from the goal, but still struggled to find their stride throughout the period and were terrible defensively.  Carolina got on the board when McClement directed a puck in with his skate late in the period, but the goal was under review.  Somehow, turning heel to clearly direct puck into net is not distinctive. Score tied 1-1.  This blown call happened less than 24 hours after Cal Clutterbuck’s legit goal was waived off by NHL officials. 

Things didn’t improve in the second period either.  Thomas Hickey took a terrible interference penalty and Faulk scored on the ensuing PP to give the Canes a 2-1 lead off a terrible effort by Johnson.  Carolina would add two more goals early in the period off suspect defensive play by the Islanders.  The lone bright spot of the period was another highlight reel goal.  This time by Nikolay Kulemin (Clutterbuck & Hamonic).  He simply outworked opposing players and roofed it stick side behind Ward to close the score within 1 at 3-2.  The Hurricanes would answer back and repel a re-energized Isles team with two more goals late in the period for a 5-2 score.

The third period was a better defensive effort and John Tavares (Lee & Leddy) scored his 30th of the season to make it a 5-3 game at the 10:00 mark.  The Islanders would push hard, but couldn’t outwork the Hurricanes on defense.  After a time out, Capuano pulled Johnson with a few minutes left, but New York was unable to mount the comeback this time.  5-3 would be the final.  The Islanders were outshot by an inexcusable 41-24 margin.  The Isles were 0/1 on the PP and 3/5 on the PK.

The fact that Isles have played a lot of games in a short time needs to be a nonfactor going forward. They can't use it as crutch, because it will get worse going into the playoffs. They need to wake up.  You cannot play a team well below you in the standings and not get up for them or exploit their weaknesses.  And as they struggle to improve their PK, they cannot keep taking penalties like this.  Defensively, the Islanders were off and they continued to have meltdowns throughout the game, even after blocking 23 shots in the game.  They were also guilty of giving up late goals in each of the first two periods, yet again, and gave up momentum going into the intermission.  Johnson (36 of 41 with an .878Sv%) had a few soft goals, but he wasn’t the reason for the loss.  We know that it’s also possible that Nielsen isn’t at 100% and it seems like the losses of guys like Okposo, Cizikas, Grabovski are starting to make an impact.  While the team depth is good, the Isles may have lost a little too much up front to play at the level in which they need to play.  With inconsistent pressure up front, the defense has struggled to maintain the blue line despite some pretty good efforts as individuals.

There were a couple of good things.  Michael Grabner continues to gain speed and dictate a lot of the play when he is on the ice.  If he keeps playing this hard, good things will happen.  John Tavares got #30 of the season and put himself in 1st place (65pts) for the scoring title by virtue of having the most goals amongst top point getters in the league.  It marks the 2nd 30 goal season of his career and puts him 1 goal away from a career best set in 11-12 (31).  Tavares, when asked about hitting 30 goal mark. “I don't want to talk about that. Ask me at the end of the season.”

Johnny Boychuk was named 3rd star of the game.

So the Isles made some of the same mistakes and got beaten by a more motivated Carolina team.  They need to bounce back in Dallas on Tuesday at 8:30pm.

Isles Notes:

Ryan Strome was a +22 coming into yesterday’s game.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Islanders Snuff Out Flames

R.I.P. Mr. LoFaso
On Friday night, your New York Islanders hosted the Calgary Flames.  The Isles were going for the season sweep of the Flames and needed the two points to get back into first place in front of the New York Rangers.

Lee-Tavares-Bailey, Grabner-Nielsen-Strome, Kulemin-Nelson-Clutterbuck, Martin-Mouillierat-McDonald.

Leddy-Boychuk, Hickey-Hamonic, de Haan-Visnovsky.

Jaroslav Halak got the start with Chad Johnson backing up.

The Islanders meant business in this game and came out hard once again.  The down side was that even though they had tons of offensive pressure and were resilient on defense, they had a sloppy game.  The good news was that they would get the 2-1 win after Ryan Strome (Tavares & Hamonic) and Cal Clutterbuck (Kulemin & Hickey) scored for New York. In addition, John Tavares tied for the NHL lead in scoring in the race for the Art Ross Trophy. 

The officiating could have been the story again in the game.  The Isles saw Johnny Boychuk’s defensive recovery in the Islanders zone resulted in a penalty shot chance for Calgary and Michael Grabner’s breakaway was clearly interfered with but no penalty shot was awarded.  Jaro Halak made the save and is 2/3 in his career by the way.  Cal Clutterbuck clearly scored a legal goal that the officials waved off.  But he would score the ENG to seal the eventual 2-1 win late in the third, so thankfully, everything worked out this time.  Another unfortunate occurrence was that Jaro Halak (26 of 27 with a .963Sv%) was 20 seconds away from a shutout when Jooris scored.  Halak also went for the empty net with just over a minute left in the game, but the Flames, Russel blocked the on target attempt.  The Isles were 1/3 on the PP and 2/2 on the PK and outshot Calgary 39-27 in the game.  Kari Ramo (37/38) was awesome for Calgary and deserves a mention.

Some standouts for New York were the play of the first line as a whole, but John Tavares’ assist put him in the lead for points in the NHL at 64.  Michael Grabner looked good again on both sides of his game and Travis Hamonic continues to improve with less ice time per game and is +11 for the month.  Ryan Strome does all the little thigns right and once again scored a huge goal for the Isles because of his greatly improving hockey sense and on-ice presence.  Jaroslav Halak has been a major story for the Islanders this year and notched his franchise leading 33rd win (Smith, DiPietro, Osgood with 32) of the season already.  The Islanders are 2nd in the east (41-20-2 in 63 gp) at 84 points (MON 85) and back to 1st in the metro division. Eric Hornick mentions, “Isles re-tied Nashville for NHL lead in wins -- 41. Isles first in East to 23 home wins as well. (Preds have 26).”  Halak & Strome were named 1st and 2nd stars of the game.


Isles Notes:

NHL investigated alleged Clutterbuck spit on Sedin.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Islanders Skin Coyotes

Your New York Islanders will still be looking for win #40 as the Arizona Coyotes visit the NVMC tonight for the final time.  The Isles will be playing their 6th game in 9 nights and even though the Coyotes have lost 6 in a row, it should be a good test for the Islanders.  If the Isles can get back to staying out of the box, it will help their chances of success immensely in the game, as Arizona quietly has the 5th ranked PP.  Another huge hurdle is their struggles on the PP recently.  They simply must improve soon.  Chad Johnson will be in net for the second time in the last three games and thankfully, Frans Nielsen has been OK’ed to play.  Per reports, Kyle Okposo is close to skating & Casey Cizikas is still wearing a medical boot on his foot.  He has yet to get back on the ice.  Former Islander, Dylan Reese will be in the lineup for Arizona.

Forwards:  Lee-Tavares-Bailey, Grabner-Nielsen-Strome, Kulemin-Nelson-Clutterbuck, Martin-Mouillierat-McDonald.

Defensive Pairings:  Leddy-Boychuk, de Haan-Hamonic, Hickey-Visnovsky.

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

In the first period, The Islanders were able to generate some good pressure in the o-zone, but Mike Smith was equal to their efforts.  Capauano responds with mixing up lines to try and generate something.  Grabner with Nelson & Clutterbuck, Bailey with Tavares and McDonald then Nelson with Lee & Strome to name a few.  I’d love to see the kid line get some more shifts moving forward.   The period ends with a 12-6 advantage in shots for New York, but nothing to show for it.  The Islanders forced turnovers, but couldn’t convert. 

Anders Lee (Hamonic & Nelson) scores his 20th of the season with the reunited kid line to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead in the opening minute of the second period.  New York continues to enforce their physical brand of hockey in the game and the defense continues to “activate” offensively.  Chad Johnson has quietly done his job well up to the half way point of the game.  Ekman-Larsson gets called for boarding on Nelson.  Should have been more.  Isles generate some pressure on their first PP of the night, but fail to score.  Coyotes find their legs late in the period and Arcobello converts on a 3 on 2 fast break chance, game is tied at 1-1.  Arizona took the edge in shots for the second period 14-13, but Isles hold the advantage after two, 25-20.

Capuano continues to mix with Lee, Nelson & McDonald start the third, then Bailey, Tavares & Strome.  However, the Isles having some trouble clearing their own zone.  Matt Martin (Kulemin & Mouillierat) puts it top shelf after seizing a loose puck to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead.  Its Martins 8th of the season, good enough to tie his career high in goals set last season.  Isles break out with a 4 on 2 opportunity less than a minute later, Tavares dishes to Boychuk (Tavares & Strome) and its 3-1 Islanders.  Clutterbuck & Crombeen go off for unsportsmanlike conduct, 4 on 4 for two minutes.  Kael Mouillierat (McDonald & Kulemin) takes a Dylan Reese giveaway and makes it a 4-1 Isles lead.  That’s Mouillierat’s first NHL point.  Things have changed in a hurry.  Brock Nelson (Bailey & McDonald) follows up a huge Bailey rebound to make it a 5-1 Islanders lead.  That’s four Islanders’ goals in less than 7 minutes of play.  Tavares is called for hooking on Vermette.  Isles kill the penalty.  Shortly after, Anders Lee is called for a hooking call (Martinook) late in the game, then Cal Clutterbuck gets a weak cross checking call, but it doesn’t matter.  The Isles PK holds & the Islanders win by the score of 5-1 with a 14-8 third period.  Shots were 39-28 for the game.

So, the game started as a slow and boring, turn over rich environment.  After teams exchanged goals in the second period, the Isles exploded in the third period to suddenly ventilate Mike Smith and the Coyotes defense.  Credit Capuano for changing things up to generate some energy and it worked.  I loved seeing the Nelson, Lee & Strome line reunited and it was cool to see Mouillierat score his first NHL goal.  Colin McDonald now has 8 points in 10 games since being recalled from Bridgeport.  Seeing Brock Nelson continue to get rewarded for his hard work is an awesome thing as well.  Credit the defense and especially Chad Johnson (26 of 27 with a .963 Sv%) for holding the fort.  The Isles out hit Arizona 52-32 for the game.

The Isles overcame some sloppy moments and were able to refocus, especially after giving up the 1 goal lead to score 4 unanswered goals.  Clearly, it was a huge 3rd period and turned out to be a great effort by the Islanders to secure their 40th win of the season, 20th at fort never lose, 82 points and are tops in the eastern conference.

Brock Nelson, Kael Mouillierat, Chad Johnson were named the 3 stars of the game.

The Islanders welcome the Calgary Flames to the Coliseum on Friday at 7pm.

Isles Notes:

Apparently, the Islanders owe Nassau County $3.6M.

Per @NHLhistorygirl, “On this date in 1982, Isles Bryan Trottier reached 100 points in a season for the fifth consecutive season.”

Sound Tigers Notes:

Scott Mayfield has been suspended six games for his actions on Saturday night

Islanders Extend Leddy For 7 Years

Earlier today, the Islanders announced that they had come to terms on a 7 year, $38.5M contract extension ($5.5 AAV) with 23 yr old defensemen, Nick Leddy.  He has helped the Isles in several areas of their game, especially as a reliable defender on the blue line.  Leddy has scored 8 & 7 for 25 pts and a +12 rating after 61 games with New York this season.  It’s another huge success by Garth Snow and the Islanders organization to improve their team and move closer to being serious Stanley Cup contenders.  Oh, and it does NOT contain a no trade clause.

Per Garth Snow, “Nick has proven to be an elite defenseman in this league at a young age.  Snow continued, “He’s the type of player on the ice, in the locker room and community that we’re thrilled to add as a cornerstone of our defensive core."

Leddy was quoted as saying, “We have something special in this locker room and I’m excited to be a part of it for seven more years … From the start of my time here, the Islanders have been a first-class organization.”  Leddy added, “I’m honored by their commitment to me and look forward to challenging for the Stanley Cup for years to come.”

The Islanders acquired Leddy, along with goaltender Kent Simpson, from the Chicago Blackhawks on October 4, 2014 in exchange for defensemen TJ Brennan, Ville Pokka and the NHL rights to goaltender Anders Nilsson.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Islanders Flat Against Vancouver

Tonight, your New York Islanders welcome the Vancouver Canucks for their final regular season visit to the NVMC before another sellout crowd.  New York wants to get back to their winning ways after a close shoot out loss to Washington yesterday.  Lubo Visnovsky will be back in the lineup for Brian Strait.  The Isles will also be looking to get some payback after losing to the Canucks by the score of 3-2 in January.  Vancouver is currently 2nd in the Pacific division with 69 points. 

Forwards:  Lee-Tavares-Bailey, Grabner-Nielsen-Strome, Kulemin-Nelson-Clutterbuck, Martin-Mouillierat-McDonald.

Defensive Pairings:  de Haan-Hamonic, Leddy-Boychuk, Hickey-Visnovsky.

Jaroslav Halak is in goal with Chad Johnson backing up.

The Islanders come out buzzing again in the first period, giving Miller all he can handle, outshooting Vancouver 4-1 in the first 5 minutes.  On the other side of things, Jaro Halak with a few big saves on Isles turn overs.  The sheer will of John Tavares draws a hooking penalty from Horvat.  New York able to generate some good o-zone pressure & shots, but unable to score on the PP.   Vancouver has returned some of the push in the second half of the period.  Kael Mouillierat trips Sbisa, Isles finish the period on the PK.  Shots were 9-8 in favor of N.Y. who started strong, but faded fast.  No doubt are feeling the effects of their 5th game in 7 nights. 

Kassian puts a rebound off Halak and it dribble over the goal line for a PPG, 1-0 Vancouver.  Ryan Miller is run into by Hansen and looks hurt.  Possibly his knee.  Miller goes off for evaluation.  Lack in the net for Vancouver & is tested immediately by Tavares & Bailey. Clendening called for delay of game, Isles back to the PP.  With 10 seconds remaining, H.Sedin is called for tripping.  Isles with a brief 5 on 3 then another PP chance, but can’t get things going.  Their PP continues to be awful.  Mouillierat called for cross checking, Isles to the PK.  New York is being frustrated and it's starting to show.  Another PP goal for Vancouver from Vrbata, 2-0 Canucks.  Horvat makes it 3-0 against Halak who has struggled along with his team in the period.  Vancouver is the one that calls the time out.  Go figure.  Tavares will serve for a too many men call against the Islanders, but their PK kills it off.  Frans Nielsen hit by Dorsett and goes down hard holding his leg.  Skates to locker room in obvious pain.  The Canucks are called for too many men with 19 seconds remaining in the period.  Isles outshot 10-9 in a horribly played period for them.  Losing Nielsen may be too much for a banged up Isles team.  Cross your fingers.  Bad things happening, but they can do this.

Frans Nielsen returns to start the third period.  Isles finish off their PP chance without a goal, but start to generate some offensive pressure again.  Capuano shuffles lines to try and jumpstart his team.  Thankfully, Nielsen looks to be back to normal.  Matt Martin is stopped, crashing the Vancouver crease and Cal Clutterbuck takes a finger to the eye from Kassian.  Isles back to the PP.  Halak goes to the bench with just under 4 minutes to go, but they can't convert with the extra skaters.  Bailey is stopped cold by Lack.  Weber makes it a 4-0 win for the Canucks with the ENG.  It’s a 2 game sweep for Vancouver.  Shots were 19-6 for the Islanders in the third period and had a 37-24 advantage in the game.   They were only 1 of 3 on the PK and a dismal 0 for 5 on the PP.

Tonight, the Islanders started well, but got tired fast.  Their sloppy play turned into penalties, and those turned into goals against.  The Isles PP look horrible again & even Jaro Halak (20 of 23 with an .870Sv%)  had an off night.  He will have to wait for win #33.  Special teams really need to be addressed.  Again, as good as this team is, it will really start to cost them wins and be a major weakness looking towards the payoffs.  It was just a bad game overall, but not for lack of trying.  The Isles efforts were evident and that just amplified their frustrations.  Two empty nets and nothing to show for it didn't help.  It seemed to be one of those games where every bounce went the other way.  Give credit to Eddie Lack.  He was solid since coming into the game in relief for Miller after his sudden injury.  Start the Nielsen watch and hope he is OK.

Let’s just take tonight’s game for what it is.  One loss.  Hopefully the Islanders can now look ahead to Tuesday’s game & try to bounce back after some well-deserved rest. 

The Isles face the Arizona Coyotes for their only visit to the NVMC on Tuesday, 2/24 @ 7pm.  It will be the 6th game in 9 nights for New York.

Hockey Notes:

Today is the 35th anniversary of the "Miracle On Ice."  The surviving members of the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team has gathered in Lake Placid, N.Y. to remember the historic game in which they defeated the heavily favored Russians by the score of 4-3.  Al Michaels’s also made sports history when he called out “Do you believe in miracles?”

Isles Notes:

Ryan Strome’s stellar play this season has earned him a team leading +20 rating with 4 goals in his last 5 games prior to tonight. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Knight of Cups Yes! T-Shirt

Islanders Edged By Capitals

Members of the Islanders Booster Club & Section 329 made the trip to Washington to cheer on their team and see Islander killer, Alexander Ovechkin & the Capitals host your New York Islanders.  Washington sits at the 3rd spot in the metro, just 5 points behind the Islanders and 2 points behind the second place Rangers.  Arthur Staple told me that Mikhail Grabovski could be out several weeks after his placement on injured reserve with what has been called an “upper body injury.”  The injury occurred from a hit delivered by Eric Nystrom on Thursday’s game against the Predators. Kael Mouillierat is the leading scorer for Bridgeport with 8 goals & 40 pts in 51 AHL games has been recalled on an emergency basis.  He will make his NHL debut today wearing #48, centering a line with Martin & McDonald.  Calvin de Haan is in for Lubo Visnovsky.  Arthur Staple mentions Lubo is expected to return to the lineup for tomorrow’s game against Vancouver.

Forwards:  Lee-Tavares-Bailey, Grabner-Nielsen-Strome, Kulemin-Nelson-Clutterbuck, Martin-Mouillierat-McDonald.

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

Chad Johnson gets the start with Jaro Halak backing up.

After a slow start to the game and a few key saves by Chad Johnson, Travis Hamonic (Tavares & Bailey) puts the Islanders up 1-0 off a nice feed by Josh Bailey.  That is the 100th NHL point for Hamonic.  Just another example of how well Islanders defensemen have contributed offensively this season.  That marks the sixth time that the Isles have scored first in consecutive games.  Shortly afterwards though, Travis Hamonic is crushed between Latta & Chimera behind the Islanders net and skates off slowly to the bench.  Hamonic returns for the next shift and appears to be OK.  The physical edge to this game has definitely been elevated by both teams.  Isles are caught on a bad change and will go to the PK.  Outstanding play by Johnny Boychuk to negate a high percentage shot against for the Caps.  Another strong PK for the Isles.  Hickey was hi-sticked by Kuznetsov, Isles to the PP as the Washington advantage expires.  New York unable to convert on the man advantage.  Niskanen ties the score at 1-1 with 40 seconds remaining in the first.  Another mistake late in the period resulting in another goal against.  Eric Hornick points out that the Islanders have been outscored 8-0 in the final minute of a period.  Shots are 6-4 Isles in the first.

Josh Bailey makes a great play to keep the puck in the offensive zone early in the second period.  Both Bailey & Lee have really risen to the occasion of playing on the first line.  Chad Johnson stops Ovechkin & bails out Thomas Hickey, who was trying to force a pass to Calvin de Haan.  The Capitals pressed hard and took control of the play in the second half of the period with a 10-7 edge in shots for the period and 14-13 mark after two. 

John Tavares goes sliding hard into the boards after a gutless “Dale Hunter-esk” check by Wilson. Tavares is slow to get up.  JT follows up being involved with a nice scoring chance on Holtby. Matt Martin tangles with Wilson shortly after to answer the liberty taken on Tavares.  The Islanders coming up with a strong effort in the final period with the score still tied at 1-1, but Caps have been resilient.  Fehr puts a shot behind Johnson after Isles were beaten 3 on 2 to take the lead with 5:34 remaining.  Isles take their time out with 1:27 remaining in regulation and Johnson stays on the bench.  John Tavares is unable to stuff it in with a stray puck floating in the pile up in front of the Caps goal.  Ryan Strome (Lee & Tavares) snipes it from a minimal angle with 47 seconds left in the period to tie it at 2-2 and force Over Time for the third time this season against the Capitals.  Shots were 18-7 Isles to end regulation with a 31-21 advantage for New York.  Isles were 0/1 on the PP and 1/1 on the PK.  Chad Johnson was 19 of 21 with a .905 Sv% after 3 periods of play.

In the O.T. period,   Chad Johnson made some big saves for the Isles, including a one on a partial break away on Ovechkin.  The Isles were outshot by a 6-1 margin in the extra period.

Kuznetsov scores on Johnson.

Frans Nielsen is stopped by Holtby.

Backstrom is stopped by CJ!

JohnTavares is stopped by Holtby.

Ovechkin is stopped by CJ!

Ryan Strome is stopped by Holtby and Washington wins it 3-2 in the S.O.

Credit Washington for a strong and very well-played game today.  The Islanders had a pretty good effort today as well.  They managed to salvage a point in a game they trailed in the final few minutes.  Their biggest boon was a pretty well played defensive effort.  In addition, they were able to stay out of the box for much of the game and closed out their opposition when they were man down.  John Tavares was awesome with key face-off wins and solid offensive contributions, including 2 assists in the game.  At 62 points on the season, he is just two points behind Backstrom for the league lead.  Josh Bailey had another strong game today.  His all-around play has been really strong this season, especially on the check as well as his hustle to start the Isles on the rush.  Anders Lee & Ryan Strome made an impact as well.  Both players had a point for the game and were instrumental in getting the Islanders back in the game to force overtime.  These are two young guys who continue to get better with each game and are becoming legitimate NHL threats for a good New York team.  Kael Mouillierat played well for the Islanders in his NHL debut.  A showing that included  some offensive chances, some nice defensive plays & the fact that he wasn’t shy about playing the kind of physical game that the Islanders have made their trademark this season.  It must also be noted that Travis Hamonic & Nick Leddy were solid two way players for the Islanders on defense. 
Credit Chad Johnson on another strong effort today. He is obviously working hard with goaltending coach, Mike Dunham to improve his game.  Johnson has stopped 91 of 96 shots with a .947Sv% over his last 3 games.  Quietly, it may have been the biggest bright spot that the Isles can take from the loss.
The Isles welcome a rested Vancouver squad to the Coliseum tomorrow night at 6pm for another big game against another quality team. 

Sound Tigers Notes:

Bridgeport Sound Tigers signed (F) Cam Reid to a PTO.