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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Isles Comeback In Boston


On the last night of 2013, Your New York Islanders will travel to TD Gardens in Boston and face the Bruins.  We shall see if the Isles can ride the wave of momentum after their thrilling come from behind win against Minnesota.  Zedeno Chara is back in the line up for Boston while Michael Grabner & Matt Carkner are back in for Boulton & Ness.  Josh Bailey is still day to day with an upper body injury.


Forwards:  Vanek-Tavares-Okposo, Grabner-Nielsen-Clutterbuck, Nelson-Strome-McDonald, Regin-Cizikas-Martin.

D-Pairings:  MacDonald-Hickey, de Haan-Hamonic, Strait-Carkner.

Evgeni Nabokov is net with Kevin Poulin on the bench.

 

The Islanders come out slow once again and immediately find them selves trying to catch up and protect the net in their own end.  Boston has dictated the pace in the first period, But credit Nabokov for his work thus far.  Isles continue to struggle and Boston makes it 1-0 as Cizikas makes a bad clear and Carkner is seemingly unable to move bodies from in front of the net.  To make it worse, the Isles get a bad penalty call, but are successful on the PK.  As the Islanders pressure Boston in their own zone, the puck ends up behind Rask from a Clutterbuck shot.  After the review, the call is no goal.  It looks like the puck crossed the goal line to me, but the call says otherwise.  Its hard to complain about calls, but it seems to me that each game is an uphill battle.  You tell me. (@BruinsDaily)
 
 

 

 

Thomas Hickey, Cal Clutterbuck and Colin McDonald are really working hard tonight and their play is infectious.  PP for the Isles.  Kyle Okposo takes the puck off the boards to John Tavares and Frans Nielsen puts a quick wrist shot by Rask tying the score at 1-1, PPG.  de Haan gets called for a cross check and Boston makes them pay, 2-1 Boston.  Just :25 seconds later, Boston scores again and makes it 3-1 off a Hickey turn over to Chara.  The Islanders get refocused after a Boston Bruins time out is called.  They seem more active and aggressive in the offensive zone with strong fore checking, creates a PP opportunity.  Isles cash in as Frans Nielsen scores (Vanek & Taveres) to get closer to evening the score, 3-2 Boston.  Lucic crosschecks McDonald immediately from the face off.  The Isles went right back to a PP chance, but failed to score this time.  Rask takes a delay of game penalty with close to a minute remaining and Kyle Okposo scores a PPG with 2.6 seconds left on the clock, game tied at 3-3 at the end of two.

 

John Tavares scores 5 seconds into the third period to give the Islanders a 4-3 lead to start the third period.  Both teams have found another gear and are testing each other regularly.  Isles really starting to get under Bostons skin, especially Colin McDonald.  Marchand goes after Strome, Isles to the PP.  John Tavares scores PPG! 5-3 Islanders.  Isles to the PK, Grabner gets a short handed break away and goes wide.  Lucic "boards" Hamonic and gets 4:00 (boarding & unsportsmanlike conduct) and a 10 minute game misconduct.  Jiggs McDonald asks Butch Goring, "What in the world has happened to respect for your opponent in this sport?"  Isles will get almost 3:30 that could technically allow them to finish the game on the PP after some 4 on 4.  The Isles win the game 5-3, but get outshot 38-31, but going 4/8 on the PP against a team like Boston.  Not too shabby.  Evgeni Nabokov was strong, especially late going 35/38 with a .932Sv%.  I loved the aggressive fore and back checking and the gritty play by McDonald and Clutterbuck who just keeps getting better and better.

 

John Kreiser said it well, "Happy new year for Isles, who rally from 3-1 down for 5-3 win at Boston. 6-0-1 in last 7 games on Dec. 31 - last loss was in '98, 1-0 at CHI."  A nice display of resiliance lately, especially over the last two games, coming back from behind and really turning the game back at their opponent.  John Tavares with 44 pts after a (2 & 2) 4 pt night.  Kyle Okposo with 40 points, 3 pts tonight.  Frans Nielsen with 32 points had 2 goals, Andrew MacDonald & Thomas Vanek with 22 points had 2 assists and Thomas Hickey had an assist on the night.  Both the PP and PK have been a big reason for the Isles success in recent games, winning the last 4 on the road and 5-3-2 in their last 10 games.  The Isles improve to 13-21-7 with 33 pts.
 






Isles Notes:


I will be AFK for the games against Chicago on Thursday, 1/2 @ 7 pm & Carolina on Saturday, 1/4 @ 7 pm.  I will try and rejoin the hockey universe on Monday against Dallas @ 7 pm or Tuesday vs. Toronto @ 7 pm with a recap and current game coverage. 


 

Happy New Year Everyone.

 
Thanks for checking out Knight of Cups for your New York Islanders News.
 
 
 
 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Isles Storm Back To Tame Wild


 
Cal Clutterbuck and your New York Islanders will travel to Minnesota face Nino Niederreiter and the Wild.  John Tavares is back in the line up while Josh Bailey (Upper Body) , Michael Grabner (illness) and Matt Carkner (scratch) are out.  The need for points is as pressing is always as is the need for secondary scoring team defense and strong goaltending.  What else is new?
 

Forwards:  Vanek-Tavares-Okposo, Regin-Nielsen-Clutterbuck, Nelson-Strome-McDonald, Martin-Cizikas-Boulton.

Defensive Pairings:  de Haan-Hamonic, MacDonald-Hickey, Strait-Ness.

Kevin Poulin will be in net tonight with Evgeni Nabokov on the bench.

 

What's worse than an MSG produced piece on how much Thomas Vanek loves Minnesota? How about running that very same feature in the same season the Islanders are trying to re-sign Vanek before he becomes a free agent?  How about when Garth Snow appears in the pre-game saying his coaching staff is doing, "an incredible job." 

 

Your New York Islanders came out flat and uninspired to start the game.  Kevin Poulin did well in the first to keep the Isles in it.  The Wild scored once in the first and twice in the second for a 3-0 lead, including a goal and assist from Nino Niederreiter just to make it sting a little more.  John Tavares scores at the midway point of the second period to get New York on the board and get something started for his team.  The Isles turned up their intensity a bit and worked harder in both zones.  Thomas Hickey's hard work got things started and Cal Clutterbuck scored (Hickey & Nelson) to get the Isles within one, 3-2 Minnesota as the period ended. 




Isles look tired in the third period and Capuano makes good use of a time out and it pays off.  Thomas Hickey continues to have a strong effort tonight and finds the back of the net (McDonald & Strome) to tie the game at 3-3 in the third period.  What a great play by Strome to see that unfolding. With just under 8:00 remaining in the third period, Kyle Okposo (Hickey & McDonald) puts it by Josh Harding to give the Isles a 4-3 lead in the game.  Shortly after, Poulin makes a pair initial saves, but Minnesota ties it at 4-4.  Seconds after that, Kyle Okposo scores again (27 seconds apart from Hickey & Strait) before the last Minnesota goal could even be announced.  Wow, what an exchange.  de Haan gives the Wild a PP chance on a weak call late in the period but Kevin Poulin (33/37 with an .892Sv%) and the Isles PK (perfect 4/4 in the game) with an awesome effort to keep the puck out of the net.  Isles win 5-4 despite being out shot 37-31. An alarming stat that can not continue was seeing the Isles lose in face offs by a 41-21 margin.
 



The Isles storm back in Minnesota and score 5 goals to win 5-4.  Per Eric Hornick, "Last time Isles rallied from 3+goal deficit to win I didn't have kids (and my older son is a HS Senior) 3/22/94 vs Tampa (trailed 4-0)."  In a game with that would see Cal Clutterbuck and Nino Niederreiter go head to head, the Islanders came back from a terrible start and followed John Tavares, the unrelenting Kyle Okposo and fought back until they did enough to win the game.  The top guys played like top guys and the defense woke up and played well as a unit, while contributing to the offensive output.  The younger guys like Strome, Nelson, de Haan and Aaron Ness had a mostly strong effort.  Most of the pieces are in place, the rest will take some more time.  For what its worth, you have to love what you saw tonight.
 

Kyle Okposo, ""Third periods have been our Achilles heel all year. We've really wanted to change that and tonight we got the job done."
 
 
 
 

 

Isles Notes:

 
Per Eric Hornick, "Hickey is 1st Isles D-men with at least 3 pts and +4 since Barry Richter (Yes that Barry Richter) 1-26-99 vs Boston."



It is always a privilege to hear Mr. Jiggs McDonald call an Islanders game.  Thank you Sir.



 
 
 
 


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Isles Face Devils Defeat


Your New York Islanders will face the rival New Jersey Devils at the NVMC for some valuable points in the standings.  The Isles won the first meeting on opening night in Newark featuring the hot hands of Michael Grabner.  If the Islanders are going to climb out of the divisional basement, they had better start tonight.  And if they plan on doing so, they will have to do it without the services of Captain, John Tavares and his team leading 39 points.  Tavares is out (ending a 245 game streak) with what is being called a previously existing lower body injury that existed prior to the win against Detroit.  Brock Nelson will take JT's place and really has an opportunity to make an impact as a center and special teams player.  Corey Schneider will get his first start vs. the Isles in net as a Devil.
 

Forwards:  Vanek-Nelson-Okposo; Grabner-Nielsen-Bailey; Regin-Strome-Clutterbuck; Martin-Cizikas-McDonald.


Defense:  de Haan-Hamonic; MacDonald-Hickey; Strait-Carkner.


Evgeni Nabokov will be in net again with Kevin Poulin on the bench.
 


Tonight, your New York Islanders came out flat.  I am not sure what the reason was, but they look lost in the offensive zone and lack serious urgency in their game.  The Devils love a slow, boring game, especially after going up by 1-0 and did there best to keep it that way for as long as possible.  Several penalties went uncalled and several opportunities wasted for the Islanders, including an 0/3 mark on the PP.  Frans Nielsen played hard the whole game.  He scored (Vanek & Okposo) in the middle of the third period to tie the game at 1-1.  The Islanders seemed to get a charge from the goal, and found some legs, really making the devils work at playing defense.  Unfortunately, despite a lot of effort, the Isles fell short, watching the Devils go ahead 2-1 at the 13:00 minute mark off of the third period.  The goal deflected off Zajac's face or shoulder, redirected and went into the net.  With Nabokov (23/25 with a .920Sv%) pulled, the Isles came up empty a lost to New Jersey 2-1.  The Isles outs hot the Devils 31-25 for the game.  Credit Cory Schneider for a good game in net for New Jersey.



Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome and Calvin de Haan worked hard to contribute tonight.  It seems that Nelson may have been benched for the final 10 minutes or so and Ryan Strome never played as much as he should have in my opinion, even on special teams.  If the prospects cant fill those roles, better options have to be utilized to fill in until they are ready.  Not fair otherwise.  B.D. Gallof puts it best when he says, "No clearer reason as Isles UFAs couldn't cut mustard, need for higher lvl stopgaps, & despite prospect pool: timing not working with core."
 


Not having an elite player like John Tavares hurts a lot.  Lets be realistic, this team has shown that it is not as deep as it seemed to be from last season, so having him out of the line up was a big loss.  As good as Hamonic played tonight, Calvin de Haan really made his presence felt.  He is a solid player.  A work horse who makes smart decisions and should only get better if he stays healthy.  Definitely a bright spot in light of all the blue line injuries.  Josh Bailey wasn't on the bench late in the third period, Capuano didn't know of his status, "assuming" it's an upper body injury.  He has no update on John Tavares either.
 
 
 
While Capuano deserved credit for using his time out when the team needed it, he had the 4th line out in the closing minute of the third period with the game on the line.  Matt Saidman asked the head coach about this very scenario, "If he (Capuano) was able to get the guys he wanted out there in the final minute. He told me he thought it was more important to double shift the top guys for the rest of the PP after timeout. Then he couldn't get them back out as quickly as he would have liked to."


 
This makes 10 games for the Isles w/o a home win in regulation play.  The Players are here, the coach wont be fired, so its up to Garth Snow and Charles Wang to answer for why this thing has festered as long as it has.  Not saying anything and seeming to  "ignore" or sit back when you promised not to, the situation has only managed to infuriate a fiercely loyal, but small fan base.  And when these long suffering fans completely turn on you, you owe them a reason as to why.


 
Per @StephenCLorenzo, Per Nabokov: “That type of thing, ‘we played well,’ doesn’t cut it anymore. We have to find a way to get points."

 


 
###
 


 
On a side, but very important note, Kyle Okposo deserves a roster spot for the United States when they head to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics.  His leadership and refusal to surrender is inspiring and his play matches his spirit  Whenever he is on the ice, he gives you a good chance to win battles and never surrenders.

 

 

 

Isles Notes:


 
Per Brian Compton, "Peter Regin back in Isles lineup tonight. Hasn't scored since Oct. 8, no points since Oct. 26 (20 games played)."




Friday, December 27, 2013

Weekend Lookback: Rangers, Ducks & Redwings



Looking back before the Christmas break, your New York Islanders took some steps forward, but left just enough doubt to keep the fans from getting optimistic.  The Rangers, Ducks and Redwings faced off against the Isles during that stretch.  Lets take a brief look back to the weekend in question.



The Isles met the Rangers at MSG and picked a great time to make some noise.  They would open the game with two short handed goals before the 17:00 mark by Cal Clutterbuck and Michael Grabner, good enough for a 2-0 Isles lead.  Both Clutterbuck and Grabner were due for a big nights.  Clutterbuck would score on his "controversial" penalty shot and show how agitating he could be to the opposition by getting under the Rangers skin for the majority of the game.  It was Grabner's first goal since opening night against Brodeur and the Devils.  It had to be a confidence builder for Grabner who called the prior scoreless streak, "the longest of his career."  The Rangers would score to bring the score within 1 shortly after and then two more times in the second to take the lead, 3-2.  Brian Strait (Bailey & Strome) would tie the score at 3-3, mid-way through the second with a nice slap shot that beat a struggling Henrik Lundqvist in the Ranger net.
 

At the start of the third period, the hard working Islanders scored the 4-3 go ahead goal off Thomas Vanek's  stick (Okposo & Mac Donald) in the opening minutes.  Throughout the game, the Isles PK came up big behind Evgeni Nabokov (24 saves with a .875Sv%) stopping an impressive 5/7 on the road against the rival Rangers.  Michael Grabner would add an empty netter in the final minute to put the game out of reach at 5-3 for the Islanders.  The biggest concern was another blown two goal lead, but the team did rally, turn up the checking game and buckle down in front of Nabokov to hold on for the win, despite being out shot by a 24-20 margin.





In the next game at home against the Ducks, the Islanders would continue to keep fans guessing.  The Islanders would open the game scoring 3 of the first four goals from Thomas Vankek (Okposo & Mac Donald), Vanek again and then Frans Nielsen (Bailey & Hickey) for a 3-1 lead over the first two periods.  The Isles PK was 2/2, but despite blocking 23 shots against in the game, the New York would lose focus and surrender 4 unanswered goals in the third period for a 5-3 Anaheim win.  This was a compounded blown lead and complete team break down in front of a home crowd sick of hearing about the post Rangers hangover.  Doubt would again be front and center with the same old Islanders.  Many fans have discounted last years run as a fluke or at least an over estimation of the teams depth going into this year from watching games like this one.





At least your Islanders would get to play the Detroit Red Wings at the Joe Louis Arena going into the Christmas break.  The Isles strong play against Detroit would continue with three first period Islanders goals in a 6:00 span for Kyle Okposo (Tavares & Vanek), Michael Grabner (Bailey & Nielsen) and Casey Cizikas (Martin & McDonald) for a 3-0 Isles lead that would become the final score of the game.  The Isles would play what is now, their newest "best game of the season" while helping Evgeni Nabokov make 23 saves for his 56th career shutout and 7th win (7-6-5) of the season.  Thomas Vanek and Josh Bailey have a 3 game scoring streak going while Okposo and Nielsen pushed their scoring streaks to 4 games.  The Redwings would come out hitting and moving the puck, but the Isles were solid to a man and followed the example set by John Tavares in the game, stayed focused and stood up to the pressure (out shot 23-19) from Detroit.

 

The Islanders remain in last place, but just 9 points out of 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division despite the losing streak.  The Islanders sit with 29 points in 38 games played, going 11-20-7.  Although coaching has been a major stumbling block in my opinion, a weak defense and unbalanced scoring has kept the Islanders down in a big way.  More efforts like the one in Detroit will do wonders for this team.  I think they can still pull the nose up and rally for another strong finish.  Consistently playing a solid 60 minutes in each game and showing resilience in the face of adversity is the key.

 


 

 

Isles Notes:

 
The Islanders will face the Devils at home on Saturday, 12/28 @ 7 pm, the Wild (with Nino Niederreiter) on Sunday, 12/29 @ 8 pm and The Bruins on Tuesday, 12/31 @ 7 pm.


Isles lines at today's practice: Vanek-Nelson-Okposo; Grabner-Nielsen-Bailey; Martin-Strome-Clutterbuck; Boulton-Regin-McDonald.

 
Capuano: Casey Cizikas missed today's practice due to personal reasons and John Tavares is day-to-day (lower body).









Thursday, December 26, 2013

Internet Access



I have been having trouble with my internet connection since last weekend and it doesn't look like it will be back up until after New Years.  I will still try and be active on Twitter and post articles here if it is possible.

I will resume regular coverage of your New York Islanders when the problem is fixed.


Thanks, as always, for your continued support.


Happy Holidays,

Joe


:: Update:  Looks like I am back on line 12/27 ::


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Fragile Team



Your New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning met at the NVMC tonight.  The Islanders would showcase what was for the most part, their best defensive game in quite a while including a solid PK.  Kyle Okposo (Tavares & Nelson) scored a PPG in the opening seconds of the second period for a 1-0 lead.  The Islanders would continue to play well and get offensive opportunities including several solid changes initiated by Michael Grabner who has really developed the rest of his game while he works on his goal scoring.  Frans Nielsen (Grabner & Bailey) would make it 2-0 in the game.
 
 

 

Gudas decided to hit Tavares in what was a cheap shot and as I have stated before too many times, wasn't made to answer for it either.  Per Arthur Staple, Tavares not happy w/ Gudas. "It's friggin' dirty. I'm 12 ft from the boards and he hits me like that. He was running around all night." 
 

In the final 3 minutes of the third period, the Islanders would make defensive errors with Nielsen and not covering a loose puck in the closing seconds and surrender two goals to knot the score at 2-2 via Filppula.  Nabokov looked solid for much of the game and ended up 34/36 with a .944Sv%.  Although the Isles get a point, they let the Tampa Bay back into the game.  The Lightning out shot the Isles by a 36-24 margin.
 
 
 


An overtime would see some back and forth with each team getting a shot on net, but would not reveal a winner.

 

In the shoot out:


Thomas Vanek is stopped.


Filppula scores.


Frans Nielsen scores!


Kutcherov scores.


John Tavares is stopped, Isles lose the game 3-2.


 

Tavares: "It's unbelievable. It's frustrating. It seems like we have to play a perfect game."


"Have to find a way, for as well as we played, to get it done," Capuano. "It sucks."
 

Nabby: "It’s pretty simple right now: We don’t know how to win hockey games. All our efforts goes to the shitter"

 

Well, there is plenty of blame to go around.  Another incomplete game and suspect puck management.  Its the same fragile mentality shown by a team with the talent to win who fail to execute and close out their opponent, blow a lead in the game they are controlling and make no adjustments to counteract the negative or do anything at different. 

 
Take a bow everyone.

Thanks to @Dom21594 for the screen capture


Isles Notes:



Per Arthur Staple, "Isles lose in shootout. 3-15-4 last 22, 1-9-4 last 14."


Per Chris Botta," Saddest thing about Isles winning just 3 of last 22: I don't think Tavares can possibly play better, fight harder or care more."
 

Casey Cizikas was out for the second strait game due to a jaw injury.


### I will be away working deep within the woods of Sparta, N.J. this weekend, so I'll look to catch up with the Rangers & Ducks games on Monday, 12/23 before covering the Detroit Redwings @ 7 p.m. ###

 

Sound Tigers Notes:

 
Bridgeport Sound Tigers released (F) Jon Sim from PTO.



Monday, December 16, 2013

Corey Trivino: Reborn Of Thunder


On Wednesday, July 31st, your new York Islanders announced a affiliate agreement in the ECHL with the Stockton Thunder.  A partnership with the Thunder gave the isles another level of professional hockey in which to gauge up and coming prospects.  The opportunity to see prospects in the ECHL could act as a feeder system for players before moving them up to the AHL level.
 

On June 6 2013, the contract rights of Corey Trivino were acquired from Florida (where he was 18 & 33 for 51 pts, 2 PIM in 63 games) as “future considerations” from earlier trade. Trivino then signed a contract with the Thunder on October 4, 2013, well after the affiliation with the New York Islanders was in place.  Was this the Islanders Organization giving Trivino another shot at showing what he could do with an opportunity in the system?


For those of you who aren't familiar with the Corey Trivino story, you could read a couple of reports I did in 2011 and 2012.  Trivino was selected by the Isles in the second round of the 2008 NHL entry Draft, 36th overall.  Corey Trivino is a skilled forward who was called a first round pick by many based on his skill set and hockey sense.  He also had a reputation of poor decision making and an aura of immaturity that sometimes got him into trouble.  That is what probably allowed the Islanders to get what they saw as first round talent later in the second round.  Garth Snow had taken chances with players that have dealt with adversity in his drafting strategy.  CaseyCizikas and Kirill Kabanov are two recent examples.  Casey Cizikas has made himself a regular on the current roster while Kabanov had showed major strides in his development but has slowed a bit due to injury and opportunity for the Isles AHL affiliate in Bridgeport and recently, the same Stockton Thunder in the ECHL with Trivino.
 
 
Trivino recently received major team accolades when he scored the GWG against the Bakersfield Condors when the Thunder came back to score 6 goals in the third period to win by the score of 6-5.  Why would Trivino resign with the Stockton Thunder and why would the Islanders want him resigned unless they thought something could come of a partnership?  Corey Trivino is currently 4 and 12 for 16 pts in 24 games played with 14 PIMs with Stockton, but he is not currently listed among the prospects in the Islanders system.  What will the future hold for this talented young man who has the ire of many and has suffered greatly from his poor choices? 


He must remain alcohol free, submit to random alcohol and urine testing and a psychiatric evaluation at the end of a two year probation after pleading guilty on two counts of assault and battery, and one count of trespassing.  Is there a promising career in professional hockey for Trvino if he works hard and stays clean?  Some would say no, he doesn't deserve anything.  Having said he was deeply sorry for his transgressions, lets hope he gets a chance to make the most of his next opportunity.







Saturday, December 14, 2013

Montreal Over Isles In O.T.


With Ryan Strome making his NHL debut tonight, the Islanders will face the struggling Montreal Canadiens.  Both teams will come out hungry, but the Islanders will see Evgeni Nabokov back in their net.  Hopefully, these changes will jumpstart their game.
 
 
 
 


Forwards:  Vanek-Tavares-Okposo; Grabner-Nielsen-Bailey; Nelson-Strome-Clutterbuck; Boulton-Regin-Martin.

D-Pairings:  de Haan-Hamonic; MacDonald-Hickey; Strait-Ness

Evgeni Nabokov gets the start with Kevin Poulin on the bench.

 

Right from the start, tonight's game was fast paced and pretty well executed on defense for both teams.  Eric Boulton dropped George Parros with a solid punch to the jaw.  Parros would not return.  There was plenty of puck movement and checking to a man, but a smothering coverage from the shooting arc in front of the nets.  The Isles need to open up their offensive scheme and have a more creative attack scheme.  Going into the second intermission, the game is scoreless.


To start the period, Lars Eller hit John Tavares with what what was classified as a hit to the head.  Arthur Staple quoted Tavares, " Tavares said he didn't mind Eller hit. "It was mostly my shoulder. I didn't think it was too bad a hit." Evgeni Nabokov (23/23) was stellar in the third as he found his rhythm, making huge saves to keep the game scoreless and go to O.T.  Shots were 23-21 Montreal after regulation play.


In the 4 on 4 O.T. period, Aaron Ness and Thomas Hickey pairing made multiple mistakes early in the period, including giving up the puck at Nabokov's net resulting in 2 Montreal shots on goal, the second making it in to a mostly open net.  Montreal wins the game 1-0.  The Isles get 1 point in the standings, but lose another game in a most frustrating way.  Ultimately, another defensive breakdown.  It would have been nice to get Nabokov (and the team) the win.  I question having that pairing out in O.T at that moment, but I obviously know nothing about what makes good NHL coaching.


The good things:  The Isles were out hitting Montreal and their PK was good going 2/2.  Eric Boulton continues to up his game beyond the physical stuff.  He is a responsible and decent hockey player.  Calvin de Haan was much better in the game, as was Brian Strait.  Michael Grabner has looked good on the PK and has played a much more physical game than we are use to seeing him play.  Cal Clutterbuck with a good effort as well.  Evgeni Nabokov was a bit rusty, but found his groove in the third period and made some big saves.  Ryan Strome looked comfortable and played some big minutes on 5 on 5 and PP situations.



 

Isles Notes:

 
Per Arthur Staple, Casey Cizikas out tonight (Jaw). Not sure of long term status yet.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Bad Moon Rising


Prior to game time on Thursday, Arthur Staple was again the hated messenger, "Waiting for Capuano to confirm, but looks like Strome won't play tonight. Isles were wary of dropping him in w/ no practice time."  The fans were angry yet again at the coaches decision for having a red hot Ryan Strome miss a BST game and get called up after Bouchard cleared only to sit against Phoenix because he hasn't had enough "practice" time with the Isles.  Brian Compton adds, "So if Isles don't practice tomorrow (which they won't), does that mean Strome sits again Saturday?  Its not really a big deal and may indeed benefit Strome in the long run, at least that's what they are saying.


Evgeni Nabokov and Brian Strait return to the line up.  Both players should help the teams chances to win.  Arthur Staple commented, "Capuano pointed out that Strait should help the PK. PK w/Strait this season: 21/24 (87.5%). PK w/o Strait: 51/77 (66.2%)."


Forwards:  Vanek-Tavares-Okposo, Grabner-Nielsen-Clutterbuck, Bailey-Nelson-McDonald, Martin-Cizikas-Boulton.

D-Pairings:  de Haan-Hamonic, MacDonald-Hickey, Ness-Strait.

Kevin Poulin will make his second consecutive start and Evgeni Nabokov is back on bench.

Regin and Carkner are the scratches tonight.

 

Eric Boulton (MacDonald & Strait) opened the scoring for the Islanders, but the Coyotes scored shortly after to tie the score at 1-1.  Kevin Poulin would then play well for the Islanders and make some big saves in the first period to preserve the score going into first intermission.  In the second period, Phoenix would break through a shaky Isles defense and a myriad of mistakes to score 3 times by the 6 minute mark to bring the score to 4-1 Phoenix.  “To give up six goals like that and leave our goalie out to dry after making some big saves again is unacceptable,” Tavares said. “We’re not going to win too many hockey games if we’re getting back to habits like that.”  There were deflections and bad luck for Poulin (20/25 with a .835Sv%) in the second who despite giving his all, couldn't save this one for his team. 


The Islanders would rally behind John Tavares (Vanek & Ness) and Kyle Okposo (Strait & Nielsen) to close the gap, 4-3.  The Isles regrouped and were trying hard to even the score, but their confidence is fragile.  The Coyotes would score again by the end of the period making the score 5-3.  In the third period, the Isles struggled with bad penalties and sloppy plays, until they surrendered another goal to close the scoring at 6-3 in favor of phoenix.  Just after the 18 minute mark, tempers flared for New York.  Matt Martin and Kyle Okposo got involved in frustrating situations that showed the team is near the end of their composure rope.
 

The refusal by NHL officials to make calls on behalf of the Islanders is getting laughable.  High Sticking, or the lack there of has become an every game occurrence and happens with a high frequency.  Visnovsky was injured on a non call and that has been a major component derailment of the season so far.  last night, Casey Cizikas left the game and never returned for what is being reported as a broken jaw.  The Islanders cant afford to keep losing these kind of players.  The league should be embarrassed that this goes on at all.
 

After 33 games this season and 5 regulation wins, and other than acquiring Vanek for Moulson, Garth Snow and Jack Capuano have pretty much kept the team the same.  The Isles prospects pressed into service right now should not be called upon to play these major roles at these minutes. That's where the mistakes come from. Its not a fair assessment.  de Haan looked great for a few games and looked terrible last night just like Matt Donovan did before him.  Capuano had a few quotes after the game.  On his defense, "That's about the worst I've seen them play all year." And on possible changes, "Changes? There's not a lot of options."  Is that referring to Visnovsky and possibly Martinek being down, or was it a passive aggressive lash at Snow and Wang's "Plan?"


Once again, as we ALL have said, something has got to give with this team.  I just hope our real core players don't get disenfranchised with the team and ask to move on.  This is the kind of statement I used to roll my eyes at when other guys wrote it.  Except now, I've witnessed some of the lowest level of hockey an Islanders team has ever played.  The team is spiritless at times and continues to look lost.  The opposition is even taking liberties on John Tavares lately and I don't see enough pride in the defense of team mates as a whole.


I am a die hard fan, but I am losing my patience while watching the same failures repeating themselves over and over again.  Bring on Ryan Strome.  Hopefully, the pressure will be managed correctly and he rides his hot streak onto Long Island.

 



 

Isles Notes:


Per Arthur Staple, "Looks like Nabokov may come off IR today as well. Poulin will start, Nabokov backing up and Nilsson back to BPT."


Per Jay Figs, "Kudos to Isles fans to being 1 of 4 teams to raise average attendance, seriously."
 

The Islanders will be home against Montreal on Saturday, 12/14 @ 7:00PM & Tampa Bay on Tuesday, 12/17 @ 7:00 PM.  Then at MSG to face the Rangers on Friday, 12/20 @ 7:00 PM and back home against Anaheim on Saturday, 12/21 @ 7 PM.
 

Sound Tigers Notes:
 

"BST PLAYER TRANSACTION: Matt Lowry and Scooter Vaughan have both been signed to PTOs."
 
Three players will make BST debut Friday night. Scooter Vaughan (wearing No. 7), Matt Lowry (No. 17) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard (No. 96).