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

Monday, December 15, 2014

Islanders Banish Devils From NVMC


Tonight, your New York Islanders will face the New Jersey Devils at the NVMC.  It is slated to be NJ's final regular season game at the Coliseum.  Casey Cizikas has been activated off IR and will return to the line up top replace Michael Grabner.  Grabs has been diagnosed with another lower body injury.  Cizikas, a much underrated force for the Isles, will be a welcome addition to the Isles defensive and short handed game.  New call up & Backup, Keith Kincaid will be in net for New Jersey.  Kincaid has 1 loss on the season with a 1.64 gaa & a .943Sv%.  "My whole life I was going to Islander games," said Kinkaid, whose father is a former season-ticket holder. "It's fun to actually be able to play [at Nassau Coliseum]." Kincaid spoke about the mystique of the old barn, "It's always been my dream to play on that ice and play on any NHL ice. It's a dream come true to play on the ice I grew up watching all the time. It's going to be a fun atmosphere. This place can get loud. I'm very excited."  Well, that's a great story, but the Islanders will do their best to spoil Kincaid's first game at the Coliseum.

 

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


Defensive Pairings:  Leddy-de Haan, Visnovsky-Hickey, Donovan-Reinhart.


Jaroslav Halak will get the start in net with Chad Johnson backing up.

 

In the first period, the play was methodical and slow.  Just like N.J. likes it.  The Isles go to the PK (Lee) at the 11:24 mark.  The Devils capitalize and get a Zidlicky goal behind a Havlat screen in front of Halak to take a 1-0 lead in the game.  Halak takes a Gelinas shot to the head that causes his mask to become dislodged.  I've never seen a goalie take so many shots to the head as I have watching Halak.  A shot that goes off Visnovsky ends up in the net, 2-0 Devils.  Gomez is credited with the goal.  Somehow, the Devils are ahead in shots 11-4 by this point.  Isles to the PP after the 16:00 mark.  Isles with some decent pressure, but only get two shots against on the PP. Kincaid has been pretty good, but hasn't been made uncomfortable by the Islanders.  Isles back to the PP with :15 seconds left in the first.  The period ends with the road team up 2-0.  The Isles were sluggish and uninspired in the first period and really need to do something to shake this thing up.  Maybe play their own game instead of the one N.J. is giving them.  Devils lead 12-7 in shots.


The second period starts with the Isles on a 1:45 PP.  Brock Nelson is hit in the hand on a Tavares one-timer and goes to the bench to have it looked at as PP expires.  Josh Bailey (Strome & Grabovski) scores to gets the Isles on the board. 2-1 New Jersey.  Thats 2 goals in 5 games for Bailey.  Capuano changing up the lines, 12-91-21 & 84-51-86.  Isles have more energy and press the attack after the goal.  Halak with a big save on Bernier.   Isles getting outshot 15-10 at the midpoint of the game.  Nelson still showing the effects of being hit in the hand.  Leddy with a turnover, Halak makes the save to bail him out.  Isles weak on the check in the game and allowing the Devils to get too many pucks on net.  Lee redirects a de Haan shot but hits the left post behind Kincaid.  Nelson goes to the locker room with about a minute to play.  Casey Cizikas is making noise and showing why the Isles miss him when he is out of the line up.  The second period winds down with a better effort by the Islanders, but no where near where they need to be to take control of this game.  New Jersey still holds the advantage in shots, 19-18. 
 



Brock Nelson is not on the bench to start the third period, but returns a few minutes later.  Halak comes up big on a 3 on 1 chance for the Devils.  Kinkaid with the smitty-esk poke check on Cizikas to retain the lead.  Both squads go to a 4 on 4 situation from Helgeson & Tavares get matching minors.  Isles with some good pressure, especially on the stick of Matt Donovan, but they fail to score. Teams back to full strength.  Grabovski breaks in to a 2 on 1 with Nielsen and forces the pass that is broken up by the Devils.  A missed opportunity for Grabo just a few feet from the net.  Matt Martin (Cizikas & de Haan) gets the equalizer for the Isles, game is tied at 2-2.  The 4th line generates some solid pressure late in the contest.  Halak bails out Martin after a bad turnover.  He continues to stabilize the Islanders in their worst periods of play.  Score remains tied with 5:00 remaining.  Capuano had Tavares out with Cizikas & Clutterbuck for a shift.  The Islanders are doing a good job pressing the Devils in both zones.  Time out is called New Jersey due to the increased pressure by the Isles.  Tavares takes a frustration penalty on a slash on Zidlicky.  He might be lucky that the call wasn't worse for the Islanders.  Isles go to the PK with 1:49 remaining.  Clutterbuck with a big clear in the final minute of regulation.  The game is heading to overtime.
 



In the O.T. period, the Isles got a huge 4 on 3 PP chance off a Gomez trip on Bailey.  Kincaid stopped a nice Okposo shot in the final minute of the period that will force the shootout.  The Isles pulled ahead in shots 31-26 and have done well in the face-off circle 30-24.  The PK was 1/2 and the PP finished 0/2.  Halak finished the game  with a 26/28 with a .929Sv%.  Credit the Devils’ Keith Kincaid for a well fought game.

 

Frans Nielsen is stopped.


Halak makes the save on Ruutu.


Kyle Okposo head fakes and scores!

 
Halak is beaten by Gomez.


John Tavares is stopped.

 
Halak makes a reverse pretzel save.


Strome is stopped.

 
Halak makes the save on Zidlicky.

 
Josh Bailey slides in an off speed five-hole shot.


Josefson goes wide. 



Islanders win 3-2 and improve to 6-0 in the shootout and set franchise record for 8 straight shoot out wins dating back to 4/11.

 

When the Isles play Isles hockey, few teams can match em'.  The trick is getting them to play it consistently.  While the Isles were off their game earlier tonight and really faltered for much off the game, they were still able to adjust and pull the nose up in the game.  That is what great teams do.  Casey Cizikas had a solid game after returning from injury. He is such an under-rated asset for this team.  Oh, and if you didn’t realize that Matt Donovan can be a legitimate NHL defensemen before tonight, I think you do now.  If he gets the minutes he needs, his confidence will continue to grow and he will keep getting better.  Let’s hope he gets his chance.  Anders Lee also had some nice looks in the game.  Josh Bailey & Matt Martin were named 1st & 2nd stars tonight & scored big goals for the Islanders in an energy starved game.  Matt Martin continues to silence his detractors & had as nice a goal as any goal scorer would wish for.  Credit Jaro Halak with rebounding nicely after giving up two earlier in the contest.  He continues to stabilize the Islanders in their worst periods of play.  With 4 days off until they play in Detroit on Friday, Boychuk, Hamonic and Grabner will have more time to heal and get ready for the next step in this memorable season. 
 
Your New York Islanders improve to a 21-10-0 record.
 
 
 


 

Isles Notes:


Chris Osgood will visit the #Isles broadcast on Friday when they visit the Redwings per @Shannon_Hogan.

 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Islanders Handle Hawks


Tonight your New York Islanders welcome Jonathan Toews & the Chicago Blackhawks into the sold out NVMC on Long Island.  Chicago is riding an 8 game unbeaten streak and are another big test for the Isles.  Islanders great, Clark Gillies will be honored during the pre game ceremony.  "I get back to Moose Jaw when I can but Long Island is where we will always call home."  Gillies said he expects to grow a playoff beard this year for his alma matter when the make it to the post season.  Josh Bailey returns to the roster tonight for Eric Boulton and Brian Strait has been scratched for Griffin Reinhart, officially noted as personal reasons.  Strait is far from the only reason the Islanders have lost a season-high 3 straight games, but he has been on-ice for 13 of the last 15 goals against (5.67 gaa over last 3) & a total of 20 even strength goals surrendered.  That total is the most of any Isles player & good (or bad) enough for his -8 rating.  In some very good news, Johnny Boychuk, Travis Hamonic & Casey Cizikas are all back to regularly practicing with the team, which is good news.  Lets hope the Isles have made adjustments and come out with something to prove against another elite opponent tonight.  We know Nick Leddy will be ready to face the team that traded him as a salary cap casualty.
 
 

Forwards:  Kulemin-Tavares-Okposo, Grabovski-Nielsen-Bailey, Grabner-Nelson-Lee, Martin-Strome-Clutterbuck.

Defensive Pairings:  Leddy-de Haan, Visnovsky-Hickey, Donovan-Reinhart.

Jaroslav Halk gets the start with Chad Johnson backing up.

 

In the first period,  the Isles go right to the PK (Grabovski) at the 19:14 mark and are successful with the kill.  The Islanders continue to play well, but have been outshoot 6-1 by the 13:00 mark.  Bickell rings one off the post behind Halak.  Halak makes a huge save on Saad who blew by Leddy.  Kyle Okposo comes close on the scoring chance and then gets hauled down without a call on the ice.  Okposo has worked hard all period long, like he is on a mission.  I like it.  Frustration seems to be mounting for the Isles who are working hard at the end of the period.  Reinhart draws the penalty. Isles to the PP, but fail to generate much.  The period ends scoreless with the Hawks leading in shots 10-8 & face offs 10-4.  Halak has been the difference so far.
 

In the second, the Isles come out strong & put shots on Blackhawks net.  Isles to the PP (Toews) and get much better pressure, but game is still scoreless.  Matt Martin is upping the physicality.  Love the pressure by the Isles this period, but sooner or later it has to translate into a net gain.  Grabovski has a few strong chances, but as I said, has to bury one.  A crowded crease and an initial Halak save isn't enough to stop the odd rebound that goes in after it soars over his head, 1-0 Chicago.  Just 6 seconds later, Cal Clutterbuck creates a goal off of an uncharacteristic turnover by Keith's.  I am not sure there is a bigger momentum shifting player for the Islanders than Cal Clutterbuck.  Between his timely goals and his tenacious grit, he makes things happen.  We need to call him "Cluttcherbuck" from now on.  Score tied at 1-1.  Isles finish a well played period ahead on shots 25-17 and really kept pace with a very good Chicago team.  It must again be noted that the Isles are behind 22 of 34 face offs so far in the game.  I cant understand why Garth Snow doesn't bring in a face-off specialist to the coaching staff. The team's need justifies the position.  It is such a glaring weak point in their game. The third period will tell the tale.
 

 

In the third period, Kane puts the puck the only place that Halak gave him to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead.  Kyle Okposo (Tavares & Leddy) is rewarded for his hard work & buries the rebound for the tying PPG, 2-2.  Lubo Visnovsky (Strome & Martin) scores a patient goal & gives the Isles a 3-2 lead less than a minute later.  The Isles fore check has been solid.  With around 9 minutes remaining, the Isles will have to repel a motivated Blackhawks team.  The Isles defensive play has returned to high level tonight, especially in third period against great team. Nice adjustment by coaching staff.  Halak making big saves late to preserve the lead.  Hawks pull Darling with 1:21 remaining for the extra attacker.  Strome hits the post on the empty net.  Clutterbuck ices puck with 11.2 remaining.  Timeout is called.  Isles hold on to snap the Hawks 8 game winning streak and their own 3 game losing streak to win 3-2.  They out shot the Blackhawks by an impressive 41-25 margin.  For the first time in franchise history, the Isles have won 20 times in their first 30 games and join only two other teams (Chicago & Anaheim) at the 20 win mark.
 
 

Jaro Halak was a very solid 23/25 with a .920 Sv% behind a defense that played a much better game in front of him tonight.  Ryan Strome (and his line mates for that matter) had some great defensive work tonight and he did a great job by staying out of the penalty box.  Kyle Okposo and Lubo Visnovsky were stars of the game and don't forget the play of Matt Donovan & Griffin Reinhart tonight.  They were big when they had to be.  The Isles were physical, out hitting the Hawks 42-29, but were very poised tonight and it showed in the result. Clark Gillies is probably very proud.  Most importantly, the Isles had a great third period which has been a weak period for them lately and added another big win to the season total.  Although they lost to the Blues, they started playing much better than in recent games and that carried through into tonight.  They could have put their heads down on a sick go ahead goal by Kane, but dug in and came back in a statement type of win against Chicago.
 



Up next, a home game vs. the Devils.

 

Isles Notes:


Cory Conacher has been placed on and cleared waivers in order to report to the Islanders AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.



Sound Tigers Notes:

 
The BST have signed forward Colton Gillies.  

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Black & Blued


Tonight, your New York Islanders get another shot at the Blues in St. Louis.  They will need to play their style of game, get traffic in front of Allen in the Blues net and keep tight defensively in front of Halak.  After surrendering two 3 goal leads to the Wild & the same Blues team, the Isles The news of the day included that the Isles have activated Eric Boulton off IR to replace Josh Bailey, Matt Donovan will be in for Griffin Reinhart & Jaroslav Halak will get the start in goal.  Arthur Staple reports, "Bailey injury is a "nagging" lower body problem, according to Capuano." Also says Reinhart has played well, wants experienced guys in tonight."  So all that means that Brian Strait will remain in the line up for tonight's game.  The main thing is that the Islanders have still played well enough to be within 1pt of first place in the Metro division.


Forwards:  Kulemin-Tavares-Okposo, Grabovski-Nielsen-Clutterbuck, Grabner-Nelson-Lee, Martin-Strome-Boulton.

Defensive Pairings:  Leddy-Strait, Visnovsky-Hickey, de Haan-Donovan.

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



A few minutes in to the first period, the Isles take a penalty (Strait) and Steen puts the blues up 1-0.  New York is soft of their positioning and St. Louis makes them pay for it.  Blues are 4 for 6 on the PP so far vs the Isles.  Jaro  Halak goes down hard after taking a Bakes shot off his mask, but looks to be ok.  Boulton drops the gloves to go after Reaves, but the officials jump in to break it up and send both to the box.  Donovan draws a penalty and the Isles will go to the 4 on 3 PP.  Isles are able to generate some pressure, but can score.  Blues make it 2-0 off a blown play by Strait.  I hate to beat this horse, but Brian Strait has been in the box for the first goal and was a contributing factor to the second.  Isles go back to the PP and generate some pressure, but fail to convert.  Even John Tavares continues to struggle with turnovers tonight.  The Islanders look flat as the period expires. Capuano juggles lines going with 29-91-21 & 40-84-86 to end the period.  Blues out shooting Isles 9-8.
 

84-51-15 start the second period for the Islanders. Halak keeping the score at 2-0 for the Isles and had made some big saves early in the period.  Eric Boulton with a nice shot on goal and some more rough stuff after the stoppage.  The Isles are having a tough time moving the puck and playing as a team over this rough patch.  Nelson draws a penalty, so the Isles back to the PP mid-way through the period, but fall short again.  0/3 so far tonight & completely disorganized.  Halak with a nice poke check to do his own house cleaning on a Schwartz breakaway opportunity.  Grabner is now out with Tavares & Okposo.  Nice sequence by the Grabovski-Nielsen-Clutterbuck line there late in the period.  Isles generating some pressure and putting shots on Allen.  John Tavares (Okposo) gathers in a muffed puck and puts it in to get the Isles on the board, 2-1 Blues.  40-29-86 combination is on the ice after the goal.  Mikhail Grabovski (Nielsen) ties the game a 2-2 with seconds remaining.  It started with Halak making some big saves early in the second, Capuano making some adjustments, the forwards generating pressure and the captain & Grabo getting the goals.  Lets hope this is a turning point.  Isles lead 22-17 in shots & tied 23 all in the circle.  Eric Hornick points out that the Isles won 43% of face-offs in 1st pd, 58% in 2nd pd.


In the third, the Islanders come out with purpose and looked to have tightened up defensively until Steen gets his second of the game off an Oshie rebound, 3-2 Blues.  Three Isles forwards to one side left Steen wide open there.  Halak makes the stop off a de Haan giveaway.  Donovan continues to work hard on defense for the Islanders & has made some nice plays tonight.  Halak bails out his team mates with a huge save off a Visnovsky giveaway to Oshie at the blue line. Ken Hitchcock calls their time out with 5:22 remaining.  36-91-21 & Oshie goes high and makes it 4-2 Blues late.  Those are kind of decisions that make me think that Cappy feels he's got it more figured out than anyone else. 36-91-21 final the minutes & down by 1?  Isles to the PK (Clutterbuck).  Stastny makes it 5-2 Blues with a PPG.  Blues are 2/2.  Kyle Okposo (Donovan) gets a goal to make it 5-3.  Halak (26/31 with an .839Sv%) goes to the bench for the extra skater.  Tavares goes head first into the empty net trying to stop the puck he inadvertently knocked in and gets up slowly skating to the bench. That sums it up.  6-3 is the final.  Blues outshoot Isles 16-6 in the third and 33-28 in the game.  Isles ell behind 37-30 again in face-offs and were 0/3 on the man advantage.


Isles drop this one after the last two games, but are still in good position as far as the standings are concerned.  They came out with a much better effort in the second half of the game despite the players missing from the roster, but fall short again in final five minutes.  John Kreiser sums it up well.  "The Isles have scored 11 goals in past three games - and won none of the three. Hurry back, Johnny Boychuk and Travis Hamonic."  I really think steps were taken towards getting back in this thing, but there needs to be a much better effort on Saturday to get after another elite team like Chicago.  Lets hope they can make all the right moves on and off the bench this time.


The Islanders return home against the Blackhawks on Saturday & Devils on Monday.  Both are 7PM starts.

 
 



Isles Notes:

 

Wild Coach, Mike Yeo on Matt Martin's hit on Ballard: "he's seeking him out. He's on a mission there."  I am not sure what play he watched.  It appears, and justly so, that Matt Martin will not have a hearing for the check that injured Keith Ballard.  "Matt Martin and Keith Ballard exchanged texts yesterday. No issues between them," per Arthur Staple.  Thankfully though, Keith Ballard is out of hospital.  Unfortunately he suffered multiple facial fractures & a concussion on his collision with the bench rail and ice surface.


Wild's Marco Scandella was suspended two games for his hit on Isles Brock Nelson.  "Brock Nelson said he's been feeling fine after Scandella head hit. Nelson and other Isles more angered by Scandella slash to Tavares' leg." per Staple.
 

The Islanders announce that Clark Gillies will be on ice with team at the Saturday morning skate prior to Hawks game and will be available to the media after that.

 

Sound Tigers Notes:


Jason Bast has been released from his Professional Try Out.   


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Isles Mauled By Wild


Jiggs McDonald will be in the booth as your New York Islanders are in Minnesota to face the Wild tonight.  Brock Nelson will be playing his 100th NHL game while it will be a home coming for Islanders named Okposo, Nelson, Lee & Leddy.  Jaroslav Halak is on the bench (upper body during morning skate), so Chad Johnson is back in goal tonight.  Lubomir Visnovsky comes off the IR and replaces Matt Donovan on defense. Why Brian Strait wasn't scratched instead of Matt Donovan is a mystery to me.  Josh Bailey replaces the injured Casey Cizikas, but Ryan Strome will start as the 4th line center to replace Cizikas. Per the team, Travis Hamonic (upper), Johnny Boychuk (upper) and Casey Cizikas (upper) all stayed behind on LI.  Team depth will surely be tested throughout the season.  Will it factor into tonight's game?

 

Forwards:  Kulemin-Tavares-Okposo, Grabovski-Nielsen-Bailey, Grabner-Nelson-Lee, Martin-Strome-Clutterbuck.

Defensive Pairings:  Leddy-Strait, de Haan-Reinhart, Hickey-Visnovsky.

Chad Johnson is in net with Jaro Halak backing up from the bench.

 

In the first period, the Isles come out with a few good chances but are stopped by Backstrom.  Griffin Reinhart turns the puck over, but  Isles remain good on the defense.  Ryan Strome with a good look to Matt Martin.  Michael Grabner (Lee & Reinhart) with some strong play early gets the Isles on the board for a 1-0 lead at the 8:31 mark.  That is a Reinhart's first career NHL point.  Isles successful on their first PK of the game.  Backstrom with another big stop on Anders Lee.  Isles to the PP on a Pominville penalty and Brock Nelson (Leddy & Tavares) converts a PPG & and grabs a 2-0 lead in the game.  Have the Isles solved Backstrom?  Yes.  Not long after, Thomas Hickey puts a shot on net & it deflects off Matt Martin.  It’s a dreaded 3-0 Islanders lead.  The Islanders are leading in shots by an 11-3 margin after 1.


The Islanders' Brock Nelson draws another PP chance just 2:26 into the game, but they fail to convert.  Weak pressure that time by the Isles.  Matt Martin hits Ballard hard into the bench, but Ballard hits his head and goes down hard on the ice.  Thankfully, Ballard left the ice under his own power, but Minnesota is angered by the event and should come out hard for the rest of the game.  That is a clean hit with a bad result for Ballard. The same way the Lee hit wasn't “dirty” in the St. Louis game.  Kyle Okposo is waylayed by Granlund, retaliates and gets noticed for the penalty.  Wild go to the PP & Pominville puts it over Johnson. The score is 3-1 Isles.  Matt Martin is challenged by Brodziak and a brutal fight ensues.  Ex-Isle, Vanek jumps in after Johnson stops Parise in close.  Bad blood is officially here.  Vanek called for the penalty, Isles to the PP.  Strome with another penalty, Isles kill off the penalty.  Minnesota outshooting Isles 9-0 in the period & have pulled ahead in shots by a 15-11 margin with under 4 minutes remaining.  Isles are struggling in their own zone with Johnson holding the fort so far.  Josh Bailey scores on a backhander just after the 17:00 mark to give the Isles a 4-1 lead on their first shot of the period.  Yes, their first shot of the period.  The Isles were outshot 12-1 in the period and now 15-12 in the game, but still add the goal.  That was a huge gut check by your depleted Islanders team in the second period.  That doesn’t happen last year.  They need to improve in the face-off circle & be dialed in defensively for the third.  And they need to maintain aggressiveness in the offensive zone without taking stupid penalties to control play for the rest of the game.  Thankfully, Keith Ballard is conscious and was taken to the hospital for further evaluation & observation per Wild PR.


In less than 3 minutes into the third period, Koivu beats the defense & Johnson to make the score 4-2.  Reinhart is called for hooking and the Isles are back on the PK.  Momentum seems to be shifting in a big way since the Ballard injury.  Having Michael Grabner back on the Isles PK is a very good thing & the Isles thankfully kill off another one. Haula scores off a skate deflection for the Wild.  It’s 4-3 Isles with 8:57 remaining.  Erick Hornick points out that the Islanders have just 3 shots in the last 32+ minutes.  Vanek gets his 3rd goal in 26 games to tie the score at 4-4.  Its his first 5 on 5 goal of the season.  Islanders getting outshot 26-14 at this point.  John Tavares draws a penalty off a blatantly ridiculous two handed slash across the back of his legs.  No major called.  Isles to the PP, then Nelson called to negate the advantage.  It is by no way an excuse, but the Officiating has been weak in the game tonight.  Niederreiter makes it 5-4 wild after Vanek tied the game.  You can’t make this stuff up.  Strait is a -3 so far and has been awful again tonight.  Isles to the PP with 2:28 remaining.  Isles pull Johnson late in the period but generate nothing.  The Wild recover from 3-0 lead to defeat the Islanders 5-4.  It’s the second consecutive game they have done that.

 
Tonight’s loss was a bad one.  I know the Wild rallied behind the Ballard injury, but the Islanders were outshot 12-1 & 15-7 in the second and third periods for a lopsided 30-91 shot total for the game.  And this was after a commanding 11-3 1st period effort.  The Islanders were a dismal 1/5 on the PP & went 4/5 on the PK.  They have struggled in the face-off circle all season long and it let them down again tonight by a staggering 44-20 margin.  Strait (on for last 9 of 11 Isles goals against) was played instead of Donovan tonight and he was brutal on defense for New York.  John Tavares continues to put up positive numbers, but isn’t dominating games like he should.  Chad Johnson had a rough game, especially on rebounds but got very little help defensively.  Watching Vanek and first star, Niederreiter score big goals was tough to watch.  Thomas Hickey said it all.  "We got what we deserved tonight. Things don’t go your way when you don’t work for it. Out-played, out-competed, out-executed. We were on our heels for 40 minutes &left the G out to dry. It’s unacceptable.”  Gut check time.

 
The positive things for the Islanders are that they still stand at 19-9 and a point out of first place.  While the injuries have hurt, they still have had guys fill in and do a decent job.  Hopefully, Coach Capuano will rethink his defensive pairings and do a better job at remembering how to keep these 3-0 leads from spiraling out of control.  Kevin Poulin has been hot in Bridgeport and Matt Donovan or Ryan Pulock deserves a serious look to crack the lineup.  While there is plenty of fight in these guys, they can’t win every night.  It’s another opportunity for everyone in that room and on that staff to evaluate their game. As long as the correct adjustments are made, they can build on these kinds of terrible efforts and improve on the next one.


 
The Isles-Blues rematch is next.  That’s a great game in which to recover some snarl.


 

Isles Notes:


Islanders forward Anders Lee was not suspended, but has been fined $2,286.29 which is the maximum under the CBA, for elbowing St. Louis defenseman Carl Gunnarsson.  The fine for Anders Lee  will classify him as a repeat offender if he's ever summoned by @NHLPlayerSafety again per Arthur Staple.


Isles prospect Linus Soderstrom (2014, 4th round, 95th overall) was named to Sweden's World Junior Championship roster.
 

Per Larry Brooks, " ... three sources told me Barroway was backing out of deal. None has recanted."


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Isles Falter Against Blues


This afternoon, your New York Islanders will face the St. Louis Blues.  The organization will honor Mr. Islander, Bob Nystrom.  Nystrom said of the day's event, "It's moving and it will bring back some great memories".  Jaroslav Halak will not need any motivation to play his former team & show them that they made a mistake in trading him last season.  Another win today would increase the franchise winning record that Halak now holds at 11 straight games.  Ryan Pulock (13pts in 20 AHL games) may join Griffin Reinhart on an Isles blue line that has had a rough few days after Johnny Boychuk & Lubo Visnovsky were placed on IR.  Travis Hamonic (upper body) was also placed on the team's IR list retroactive to 12/2. 

Ken Hitchcock on playing the Islanders, "They took their lumps and allowed guys to grow. Now the rest of us are taking our lumps from them."
 

Forwards:  Kulemin-Tavares-Okposo, Grabner-Nielsen-Grabovski, Lee-Nelson-Strome, Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck.

Defensive Pairings:  Leddy-Donovan, de Haan-Reinhart, Hickey-Strait. 

Pulock skated in warm-ups as the 7th D & has been scratched.  He has been back to Bridgeport. Staple says that means Visnovsky will most likely be ready for Tuesday.

Jaroslav Halak is in net with Chad Johnson in the back up role.

 

In the first period, the Lee, Nelson, Strome line opens play with some solid pressure in the Blues' zone & Halak with a few good saves early in the game.  The Islanders seem to be dialed in so far.  Isles go to the PP, but fail to generate much until their next one a few seconds later.  Frans Nielsen (Okposo & Nelson) scores his 6th of the season to give the Isles a 1-0 lead.  Isles are back to the man advantage for third time in the last five minutes.  Nothing doing that time.  Jaroslav Halak takes a stinger off a Tarasenko shot, but looks ok.  Isles go to the PK.  Halak has been good, especially on that PK. Isles are doing some aggressive things on defense & it's working so far.  Great save by Allen on Grabner's rebound shot.  Isles capitalize on a Blues turnover & Ryan Strome comes off the bench to make it 2-0 Islanders.  Michael Grabner gets another big rebound, but buries this one.  3-0 Islanders.  Isles ahead, 12-10 in shots and were 1/3 on the PP, 1/1 on the PK.  New York did a great job jumping all over the usually mistake free Blues in that period.  Lets see what happens in the second.


The second period begins with Martin Brodeur in the net for St. Louis to a chant of," Marty, Marty, Marty," before he even faces a shot.  Isles back to the PK off an Ott dive & Stastny gets St. Louis on the board. 3-1 Isles.  Berglund makes it 3-2 off a nice deflection in front.  Jack Capuano calls a timeout to rally the troops.  Blues are out working & out shooting the Isles 6-0 to this point.  Anders Lee lays out Gunnarsson trying to set the tone for the second half.  I don't think he went for the head as much as Gunnarsson was low as he skated to the puck.  Need to keep your head up there.  Isles back to the PP, but fail to generate much.  deHaan called for holding & Isles to the PK again.  Shattenkirk gets the equalizer on the PP.  3-3 half way through the second.  The Islanders need to get back to passing the puck and play a more disciplined, physical game.  Isles somehow return to the PP as Donovan loses his edge.  John Tavares scores on the PP to give the Isles back the lead at 4-3 going into the second intermission.  Isles get lead back on iffy PP call. They need to regroup & refocus for the third, playing a physical, but controlled game.  They got away from what they did right in the first. 


The Isles go to the PK again after just a few minutes into the third period.  Thomas Hickey stands up Tarasenko, but Tarasenko follow through hits Cizikas.  Zeeker looks fine.  Isles do a better job on the kill, but get tested against another kill soon afterwards.  Oshie ties the game on the Blues PP, 4-4.  First time Isles have allowed 3 PP goals in a game.  Isles need to do better job of clearing the puck man down.  Casey Cizikas heads to dressing room.  A scrum ensues to the left of Brodeur's net, JT thinks the puck is in but the Official waves it off. After a review, no goal.  There was no conclusive video evidence to refute the call on the ice.  After, Halak is slow on the lateral move and Stastny left alone in front of the net combine to a 5-4 St. Louis lead with under 6 minutes remaining.  Brian Strait has had a bad game today on defense.  Tarasenko burns the Isles again on a bad change to grab a 6-4 lead with less than 3 minutes remaining.  Islanders look lost in the third period.  Halak (34/40 with a .850 Sv%) goes to the bench in the final minute to no avail.  The Isles were 2/5 on the PP and 2/5 on the PK. 


Eric Hornick, "As Howie just mentioned, Isles looking to do something they've never done - be 1st in NHL to 20 wins."  When the Isles had a 3-0 lead after the first, that was a probable outcome.  But after seeing them outshot 30-15 in the second & third periods, it was obvious that would not happen.  They needed to put more shots on the oppositions net and create traffic in front to mount a real comeback.  Brodeur ended up being good enough in relief behind a resurgent Blues team that eventually woke up and turned the tables on the Islanders.  It was definitely one of the worst loses of the season, especially because they surrendered a 3-0 lead, came back to force the tie, then gave up the lead again.  It was a tough one to take, but perhaps another footnote in the teams level of maturity.  It was their poor defensive play, lack of discipline and a scattered attack in the offensive zone spelled doom for the Isles today. 

There were a few scapegoats in the game, but this was clearly a team loss.  The Blues are a good team that simply took it to the Islanders after being embarrassed in the first period.  The season is hardly in jeopardy.
 
 
Rematch is on Thursday.


 

Isles Notes:

 
Josh Bailey & Cory Conacher were scratches for today's game.


The Isles face the Wild @8pm on Tuesday, 12/9 in Minnesota.







Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sole Possession


Tonight, your New York Islanders are in Ottawa to face the Senators for game 2 of their home-at-home series.  Former Sens Captain, Daniel Alfredsson will take the pre-game skate with the team after announcing his retirement from the NHL.  The Sens should be able to garner some inspiration from the ceremonies, especially after losing to the Isles in O.T. a couple of days ago at the NVMC.  The Islanders shouldn't need any inspiration to continue their quest to pile up the points in their divisional & conference standings.  Michael Grabner has been activated from IR & Griffin Reinhart has been recalled on an emergency basis from the BST.  Travis Hamonic (upper body) & Cal Clutterbuck (lower body) have been listed as day-to-day, Boychuk and Visnovsky placed on IR.  Josh Bailey was reported to be on a maintenance day today, but Staple believes, "Bailey took a shot off his foot/ankle on Tuesday, tested it this AM and couldn't go."  Tonight will be a big test for the patchwork Isles defense tonight.  And an even bigger one for Halak.  Ready?


Forwards:  Kulemin-Tavares-Okposo, Grabner-Nielsen-Grabovski, Lee-Nelson-Strome, Martin-Cizikas-Conacher.

Defensive pairings:  Leddy-Donovan, de Haan-Reinhart, Hickey-Strait.

Jaroslav Halak is in net with Chad Johnson backing up.

 

In the first period, the Isles came out generating some good chances early.  Michael Grabner is involved in an odd man rush and inadvertently runs into Anderson.  Isles to the PK.  When an Isles goaltender is run over in a similar scenario, the "offending" player is always said to be playing hard. Weak call on Grabner.  Isles to the PP as de Hann draws the advantage.  Isles with good movement on the PP, but misfire or fan on their shots.  Both teams with some ugly plays in the period and the Isles with a 5-4 shot advantage.  Something to build on in the second.


The second period is more of the same.  A little slow with some good chances on both sides.  Kulemin draws a penalty to put the Isles on their second PP of the game.  Isles get good movement on the man advantage & Brock Nelson (Nielsen & Leddy) is left alone in front and puts it over Anderson for his team leading 12th goal of the year, 1-0 Isles.  Cory Conancher comes close seconds after.  Isles to the PK off a cross-check by Nelson.  Strait called for a questionable high stick to give the Sens a 5 on 3 for 1:10.  Zibanejad scores to tie the score at 1-1.  Remaining PK time expires as Cizikas plays without his stick while al over Karlsson.  Sens come close again & hit the post behind Halak.  Neil levels Brock Nelson with a clean hit near the end of the period.  The second ends with the Isles generating more in the offensive zone, out shooting Ottawa 13-5.


The third is even slower paced than the previous two.  Just after midway through the period, Casey Cizikas and Thomas Hickey combine for a nice goal at the 13:33 mark, 2-1 New York.  Isles go to the PP late at the 18:28 mark and Ottawa pulls Anderson to keep their man power even on the ice.  Capuano calls a time out with 16.9 seconds remaining to settle things down.  Karlsson hits the post as time expires and throws his stick in frustration.  Islanders win 2-1 and improve to an NHL leading 19-7-0 with 38 pts. on the season.

 

New York completes their sweep of the Ottawa Senators with the win tonight.  The Isles were 1/2 on the PP and 2/3 on the PK.  They have won 8 of their last 9 & 13 of their last 15 and take sole possession of first place with a Pens loss tonight.  Jaroslav Halak (19/20 with a .950Sv%) breaks Billy Smith's (10) franchise record with 11 straight wins (and counting) with a victory tonight.  His patchwork defense limited the Sens in shots & blocked 22 that Halak didn't need to turn aside.


So defense wins championships, right?  Well, Nick Leddy & Thomas Hickey were very good for the Isles tonight.  Griffin Reinhart played an efficiently quiet game tonight in his first call up of the year & Matt Donovan gave another quality effort.  The defensive depth came up big in the win, especially when you consider the absence of 3 of their top 6 D, like Boychuk, Visnovsky & Hamonic.  Michael Grabner worked hard & looked to be getting back into his groove as the game went on.  John Tavares was solid on both sides of the puck tonight.  Brock Nelson has been consistent as one of the best players for the Isles this year & Casey Cizikas continues to make noise.  I have stated many times that I feel Ciziaks can be a Nystrom-esk player for this team and be a much bigger piece of this rebuild than many think.
 
 
Credit the Isles for staying with it and checking hard to get themselves back into a very slow moving game when they had to.  Jack Capuano is far from done, but he continues to prove to all of his detractors (including me) that he may have figured this NHL coaching thing out.  He has to be in consideration for one of the most improved coaches in the league and as far as Garth Snow is concerned, his consideration for GM of the year should be a lock with what he has already done coming into the season. 


The Isles have been not only been resilient, but competent so far this season.  Their experience has finally rounded out their game and as long as they keep playing their style, 1st in the division wont be the only achievement they can unlock.
 

 

Isles face the Blues @ 1pm on Saturday.


 

Isles Notes:


Per Eric Hornick, "Visnovsky skated on his own yesterday and today. Boychuk has not resumed skating yet. No update on Hamonic."


"Only 1 Isles defenseman has had more OT goals than @thomas_hickey14 -- Roman Hamrlik had 3. (Aucoin/Berard/Streit also had 2)."


Come out to the NVMC & donate blood to the Red Cross on 12/20 & receive a voucher for two Isles tickets. More details can be found here.  
 

Per Brett Cyrgalis, "Dan Boyle: "I think the hockey gods are not happy I signed here...I don't know if they're Islander fans or Detroit fans..."

BTW, it's too early to quit on Chad Johnson. I know his winning pedigree is shallow, but several fans wanted Halak out when he struggled & wanted CJ as starter early in season.

 

Sound Tigers Notes:


The Isles have loaned Sebastian Collberg to Stockton for some conditioning and more minutes.


The #ADevils have signed former BST D, Mike Keenan to a PTO. Keenan, who was playing with @OrlandoHockey, has been assigned #37

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Isles Best Sens In Our Time


Tonight, your New York Islanders opened a home at home series with the Ottawa Senators in front of 13,888 Isles fans on a cold Tuesday night in Uniondale.  Jaro Halak was named first star of the week by NHL.  Halak "posted a 3-0-0 record with a 0.95 goals-against average, .964 save percentage and one shutout to help the Islanders (17-7-0, 34 points) win three of four starts and complete (Isles) best November in 34 years. "  The great Billy Smith has a 10 game streak that Halak can tie with a win tonight.  Halak said, "It feels good. It's a reflection on everyone."  The struggling Sens, losers in their last 4 of 5, are a dangerous test for the Isles.  They play their best hockey when taking advantage of their opponents turn overs.  They should however, allow a lot of scoring chances for New York.  Game on.


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


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

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

 

Early in the first period, the Isles out joust the Sens in scoring chances, but fail to convert.  Anderson is looking strong for the Sens against some decent pressure by the Isles.  An uncovered Hoffman puts Ottawa up 1-0 around the 10 minute mark by cleanly beating Halak.  Islanders need to limit mistakes and play a better defensive game tonight.  Ryan Strome in close with a great chance, by Anderson robs him of a goal.  Period ends with a 9-5 edge in shots for New York, but a 1-0 lead for Ottawa.  A few mistakes, but not a terrible period, but the Isles need to be better.  Matt Donovan looks good in relief for the Islanders.


In the second period, The Isles came out with more energy.  Come close again off a de Haan rebound.  John Tavares trickles it wide and off the post.  The Lee, Nelson & Strome line has been the best for the Isles so far tonight and will probably be the ones to score first.  Senators using a defensive-first mentality tonight coupled with a solid effort by Anderson. It has been problematic for the Isles thus far.  Cal Clutterbuck goes into the dressing room.  Brock Nelson (Okposo) scores a nifty goal, up high while coming off the change, game tied at 1-1 with less than 2:00 remaining in the period.  Isles to the PP with 52.4 remaining, but neutralize it :31 seconds later.  Casey Cizikas scores the go-ahead goal at the buzzer, but the play is under review. It wont count as it crosses the goal line with 1/10 of a second after the counter reaches zero.  No goal, tough break for New York.  Both teams get 6 shots on net in a period that saw the Isles raise their "battle level" and almost took the lead because of it.  The third should be interesting.


 

Ryan Strome (Hickey & Strait) scores at 1:07 of the third period to give the Isles a 2-1 lead off a Thomas Hickey wrap-around shot from the left post.  I Hope Clutterbuck is ok. If not, he will be the casualty for Grabner's return.  Travis Hamonic takes a "questionable" hit from Niel & grabs his shoulder at the bench after drawing PP for the Isles.  Cal Clutterbuck returns to the ice, but goes back in the locker room after Hamonic.  Harrowing scene.  Sens kill the penalty.  Hamonic returns to the bench.  You can all breathe.  Macarthur converts a de Haan turnover & ties the game at 2-2 with 8:46 left in the period.  Halak had no chance on that one.  Travis Hamonic leaves the bench again.  Not good.  Losing Boychuk, Visnovsky, Clutterbuck & Hamonic would be very, very bad for the Isles.  Turris hits the post in the final minutes.  Ottawa has been much better in second half of the period.  The game will go to O.T., our time.  See what I did there?  Isles lead 24-18 in shots and were 0/2 on the PP and 1/1 on the PK.  Halak was 12/13 with a .923Sv% through regulation.

 

In overtime, the Isles had 4 shots on goal.  The fourth one went in.  Thomas Hickey (Matt Donovan & Nelson) wins it for the Islanders, 3-2!  Jaro Halak ties Billy Smiths 33 year old franchise winning streak record at 10 and the Isles improve to 18-7-0.  They are the only NHL team still undefeated in O.T.'s & the shootout and still have room for improvement.  "It's business-like in here...It's wasn't rah-rah. We know we need to be better," - Hickey.


It would appear that the injury bug has caught up with them.  If Boychuk, Visnovsky, Clutterbuck & Hamonic are all injured, the team will struggle defensively and be limited on the rush.  Clutterbuck & Hamonic are day-to-day at this point.  We should know more tomorrow.  Pulock would be interesting to see if a call up is mandated, but he is untested in the kind of pressure cooker the Isles have been playing in.  It would be a deep deficit to overcome, even for them.

 

Zeeker was big and Butch's "Kid" line looked great again, Thomas Hickey had a great game prior to O.T. and Calvin de Haan was good as well.  I want to give another mention to Matt Donovan.  He was solid on the Isles blue line in relief and even got an assist on the game winner.  The Islanders dug down deep, corrected some suspect play and won another big game with flair.  How much better can this get?

Wanna see?

 
 

Isles Notes:

 

Johnny Boychuk and Lubomir Visnovsky are both still day-to-day.

 
Michael Grabner should return to the line up soon.  Josh Bailey (5 games w/o a pt. coming into tonight's game) is the most likely roster casualty in my opinion.


Senators now confirm that Daniel Alfredsson will join the Sens team on the ice for the pre-game warm-up at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
 

Yesterday, news broke of a 5 yr clause built into the Islanders/Barclays Center contract.  It states that if both sides agree, the clause would allow them to negate the rest of contract.  But what it doesn't say is that it means the Isles would option to move back to the NVMC.  The new ownership would be firmly in place and despite what you might think about Charles Wang, they MAY not go through all the pains Wang did to keep the team in the area.  Nor do I mean to say they would actively work at moving them.  Right now its speculation on a few vague details.  Arthur Staple says, "And for the wishful-thinking crowd, you really think LI will have the foresight to prepare to bring em back? That ship has sailed, folks."
 

Ryan Pulock gets the nod, but Josh Ho-Sang is not invited to Canada's World Junior Camp.  I Wouldn't be surprised if Ho-Sang went Hull route & put things in place to become citizen & play for the US. The chip on his shoulder is likely growing. This is only my opinion.


Sound Tigers Notes:

 
The Isles reassign goaltender Kent Simpson to the Stockton Thunder from the BST.

 

NHL Notes:


St. Louis Blues sign (G) Martin Brodeur to a one-year $1 million, incentive ladened contract.