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

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Islanders Best Bruins

Your first place, Metro division leading New York Islanders are in Boston tonight to face the Bruins at a sold out TD Garden arena.  Johnny Boychuk and Chad Johnson will be returning for the first time since joining the Islanders in the off season.  Isles are 4-2-0 with 8 pts., Bruins are 4-4-0 with 8 points in the Atlantic.

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

Defense:  Leddy-Boychuk, Hickey-Visnovsky, de Haan-Strait.

Chad Johnson gets the start with Jaroslav Halak on the bench.


The Islanders come out strong to start the game finishing chess, skating well and relentless on the attack.  John Tavares looks serious out there.  The second line of Kulemin, Nielsen & Bailey making a big impression early in the period.  Bailey puts a shot in that deflects in front, Frans Nielsen reaches back as he skates behind the nets and taps in the puck with the back hand, 1-0 Isles.  Isles put the 7th best PP (1 of 13 over the last 2 games) in the NHL to the test in the final five minutes.  Isles generate a few chances, but fail to score.  Chara hits Tavares as he is taking a shot.  Tavares is OK.  Boston evens the score a t 1-1 with just under two minutes remaining.  Isles applied some good pressure in the period and lead in shots, 15-10, but leave the ice tied at 1.

John Tavares puts a long shot on net, Kyle Okposo (Tavares & Strait) takes out the garbage, 2-1 Isles.  Okposo with some great hands there while getting checked.  Chara will not return to the game due to injury.  Arthur Staple reports Bailey is not on the Isles bench.  Cal Clutterbuck (Martin & Leddy) gives the Isles a 3-1 lead.  Per Eric Hornick, "Isles have 24 goals from 12 different players."  Islanders are working hard in the second period.  Isn't that nice to hear.  John Kreiser tweets, "Isles have attempted 32 shots.  Bruins have blocked ... 1."  Isles end a strong second period with a 27-17 edge in shots and a 3-1 lead in the game.  Brian Compton reports Josh Bailey (Hand Injury) will not return to the game.

Islanders start the third period with good energy.  Strong plays by Brock Nelson & Lubo Visnovsky and a recommitment to the team checking game.  Chad Johnson adds a huge sprawling save around the five minute mark.  Boston working hard, hemming Isles in their own end.  Capuano calls a time out to slow things down.  Bruins make it a 1 goal game, 3-2 Isles.  Isles want a couple of penalties called, but don't get them.  Boston changing the momentum in the game, but the Isles fighting back.  Chad Johnson with some nice saves late in the game.  Bruins net is empty in final minute.  Bruins call a time out with 20.9 left in regulation. 

Isles hold on to win 3-2.  They end the two game losing streak and improve to 5-2 on the season, remain 1st in the Metro division with 10 pts.

The Islanders must improve on face offs.  Boston led in face off wins, 35-24.  Josh Bailey is finally doing well, and suffers a hand injury tonight and does not return.  Arthur Staple is reporting a broken hand, out indefinitely.  Look to see Grabovski return to the line up for the game against Dallas to take Bailey's roster spot.  Coach Capunao will live and die with the fourth line.  They are usually good, but the amount of ice time they get is amazing.  The fact that the Isles falter is not as big as when they can keep it together and get the win.  The Isles could have let it been all about the return of Boychuk & Johnson, but they had a job to do tonight against the Bruins and they did just that. 

The team experience, skill & depth is helping them win these kind of games.  Nine different Islanders picked up a point tonight and the defense played pretty well.  The Isles had 19 blocked shots while Bruins had only 4.  That is definitely a detail that can not be ignored.  Special teams play had the PP go 0/1 and PK go 1/1.

Kyle Okposo, John Tavares, Nikolay Kulemin, Frans Nielsen, Cal Clutterbuck, Lubomir Visnovsky and Chad Johnson were standouts for me tonight.  When the big time players play a big time game, the odds of success are pretty high.  When they can inspire the whole team to did down and get that much more out of their game, even better.  Kyle Okposo gets the 1st star and Chad Johnson gets the 3rd star of the game.


Isles Notes:

The Islanders have the Dallas Stars at NVMC on Saturday, 7PM.

Islanders Update: Changes & New Ownership


So Colin McDonald was placed (and now cleared) waivers yesterday after just two games in the line up.  McDonald will join the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL.  McDonald was another recent victim of a deeper team roster this season as well as the teams poor performance over the last two games.  Anders Lee has been called up to add a spark to the teams scoring touch and hopefully add a positive influence to the teams struggling 5 on 5 play.

Travis Hamonic remains touch and go after looking as if he was in pain during practice the other day.  Losing Hamonic is a tough loss for the Isles blue line, but Lubo Visnovsky is expected to make his return tonight after being taken off the IR list.  That, coupled with de Haan's return and apparent avoidance of a much speculated disciplinary event (suspect hit on Clarkson) will play well for the Islanders.  Thomas Hickey seems fine after taking a skate to the face in Tuesday's loss to Toronto. It can certainly be counted as another positive outcome for the team, not to mention a lucky break for Hickey, who could have just as easily been seriously hurt on the play.

It has been obvious that Mikhail Grabovski's recent absence from the line up (and addition to IR retro to 10/16) has clearly made a difference in team chemistry. You can plainly see it over the last two games.

What all this will mean in Boston tonight remains to be seen, but it does show that Snow isn't willing to sit back and wait for things play out after his team had 2 weak outings in subsequent loses following their exciting 4 game winning streak to start the season.  Boychuk and Johnson (most likely starter in net) will probably be motivated to get by their first game back in Boston.


Charles in Charge:

Yesterday, the Islanders held a press conference, officially introducing their new future ownership.  Ownership partners Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky join Charles Wang as owners of the New York Islanders.  Wang will run things in a majority capacity for the next two years, and then hand over the majority interest to Malkin & Ledecky, who are "thrilled to be here," and feel, "it's a great honor to participate in the tradition of the Islanders."

Charles Wang called the Islanders, "his baby," in yesterdays press conference.  He also said that because he has such a strong attachment to his team, it took a while to find an ownership group who would be as committed to the fan base and the best interest of the team as he tried to be.  I am sure the $485M deal for turning over the teams majority ownership helped his decision as well.  Wang was quoted as saying that the trials & tribulations of the Lighthouse Project push was "hell" and says he's still "angry" he didn't get a new arena here in Nassau.

Malkin was quoted in the Daily News about he and Ledecky's partnership with Charles Wang, “It was Charles’ vision. It was Charles’ team. What I’ve noticed in a few short weeks as an owner is how much we still need to learn,” Malkin said. “The move to Barclays (Center), the new arena, the expanded fan base; that’s fundamental to the opportunity for the team. It took a lot of vision for Barclays Center to exist and we’re watching and learning what the current ownership has in mind. At this point we’re observing and reading the same press stories that you are.”  Jon Ledecky said, "Charles remains in charge of the team." He adds, "We're gonna be on a listening tour for two years; listening to the fans, making sure they have a smooth transition to Brooklyn."  Malkin said, "that's a good question for a few years from now. Right now it's Charles' team," when asked how involved they'll be as owners of the Islanders. 

When asked if Ledecky had a message for Isles fans, he said, "Fifth ring."  So I guess you can say its a "5th ring to rule them all and in the Barclays, bind them." 

Sorry, I'm a geek.  I know it.  I'll stop now.


Isles Notes:

Per Arthur Staple, "Lee-Nelson-Strome, Kulemin-Nielsen-Bailey. Other lines same at AM skate. D pairs in flux with Hamonic not on ice."

"Capuano: Hamonic (upper body) out tonight, didn't make trip up. Day to day. Johnson in goal. Viz with hickey."

Johnny Boychuk admits signing in-season extension with Islanders is 'not out of the question.'  Boychuk said, “Our team is going to be unbelievable for quite some time - probably the next five years is going to be an awesome time for this team. It’s not out of the question.” 

Sound Tigers Notes:

The Sound Tigers have assigned Mark Nemec to Colorado of the ECHL


My thoughts are with those affected by the situation in Ottawa yesterday.

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."