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

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Unbe-Leaf-Able Loss


Tonight, your New York Islanders face the surging Toronto Maple Leafs led by Isles fan favorite, Dion Phaneuf.


Head Coach Jack Capuano: "We need to be better with our sticks & positioning on D, but offense also needs to get to the tough areas & take away goalie's space."  He adds, "We're looking for a spark. We need the energy that someone like Boulton brings to the lineup."


Boulton's play is the spark the Islanders were missing?  Really?



Forwards:  Moulson-Tavares-Boyes, Bailey-Nielsen-Okposo, Grabner-Cizikas-McDonald, Boulton-Reasoner-Martin.

Defensive Pairings:  MacDonald-Hamonic, Hickey-Visnovsky, Finley-Streit. Nabokov between the pipes.

 

The Islanders start the first period with some good energy.  Josh Bailey makes it 1-0 Islanders on the 1st shot of the game from his knees off a nice feed from Kyle Okposo and Andy Mac Donald.  Per Arthur Staple, its the first time Isles score on first shot of game so far this season.  Bailey puts another off the post shortly after the goal.  Almost 2 for 2 there.  Kadri scores for the Maple Leafs with Andy Mac Donald out of position, tieing the game at 1-1.  Michael Grabner breaks in on net, gets pulled down.  Penalty shot awarded.  Grabner goes high, wide right.  Grabner is 0-2 in penalty shots this season, and the Isles, 0-3.  Per Eric Hornick, "Grabner 1/5 in career pen shots; Isles have failed on 17 of last 18 home penshots (Grabs had only gl-last April)." Game still tied, 1-1.  Toronto fans start a "Go-Leafs-Go," chant in a silent Colisieum of 9,222.  Isles fans answer back.  Toronto outshooting New York 9-6.
 

In the second period, the Isles get pressure in Toronto's zone, and John Tavares scores in the ensueing scrum.  The officals investigate and wave it off because it was tapped in above the crossbar.  Later, Casey Cizikas sets up Lubo Visnovsky (with Andy Mac Donald) for a lazer that beats Reimer, 2-1 Islanders.  It is Visnovsky's first goal as an Islander and first of the season.  Evgeni Nabokov keeps the Islanders in the lead with a few big saves following the go ahead goal.  The Maple leafs keep up the pressure and see Kadri and van Riemsdyk make it 3-2 Toronto in :90.  The Islanders need to be better on changes and defensive responisibilities.  They have kept Toronto in the game.  Reimer is unable to hold the puck on control any rebounds.  New York needs to elevate there physical game and scoop some garage into the net.  Kadri scores a Hatrick on a rush through a loose Isles defense.  4-2 Toronto.  Isles outshoot Maple Leafs 11-10 in period.  Toronto holds a 19-17 shots advantage in the game.



They third period starts with a Isles goal waived off because it hits the post and never actually went in to the net.  The Isles keep coming and this time, their efforts pay off.  Andy Mac Donald (Streit and Okposo) scores his first of the season with a blast from the right circle.  Score is now 4-3 Toronto.  The Isles need to be more physical and crowd the Maple Leafs net.  Time out, Toronto.  Officals have punched out in the game, penalty free thus far.  The Isles are getting a little more physical.  Kyle Okposo with a blast from a top the right circle midway through the period.  Awesome goal.  Hopefully, that will jump start Okposo's offensive punch.  He's 1 and 2 for 3 pts. tonight so far.  Game tied, 4-4.  Evgeni Nabokov, quietly contributing to the defensive stability when the team needs it, but he can only do so much.  Reimer loses puck behind net, Moulson mishandles and Toronto clears.  That was a huge scoring opportunity missed by Moulson.  Isles take time out with :45 to go in the period.  Nabokov with a big save and Isles press Toronto net, time expires.  Isles out shoot Leafs 9-8 in period, Toronto with the 27-26 advantage in the game.  No penalties called in regulation.
 

Overtime.
 

Michael Grabner hits a post seconds into O.T.  John Tavares with a split lip on the bench.  Defense watches as Phaneuf beats Okposo and shoots past a sprawling Nabokov (.852 Sv% tonight) for the score.  Maple Leafs win by a score of 5-4.  Isles get a point, but lose at home.  Again.
 

Secondary scoring was on point tonight with Bailey, Lubo and A Mac getting their first goals of the year.  If Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo come on, the offense becomes much harder to defend.  If Frans Nielsen can just join his linemates on the scoresheet, this is a good second line.  If Lubo, who has been a solid defensive and PP addition catches on offensively at even strenthg, threat level rises again.  The Isles continue to fight and the Cizikas' and Martins bring emotion to their game.


Goalposts and waived off goals add to the fans frustrations.  Despite the efforts of the Islanders, a couple of mistakes and a bad change results in 3 Toronto goals in 5:17.  This team is to fragile to be coached by Jack Capuano.  They are sloppy on changes,soft, defensively vacant, undisciplined and erratic.  Far to many defensive breakdowns and soft defensive play by the forwards on the back check.  Too little, too late.  Good effort, but not enough.  Blah, blah, blah .... 
 

The Islanders have the players to comptete now if they work hard and play aggressively.  A few more additions and call ups, and they get even better.  An experienced NHL Head Coach would be great.
 


Consistency is the key.  The Isles seem unable find the lock. 



 

 

Isles Notes:
 

Tonight's penalty free game was the first for New York since a game in 1980, when the Isles played the Hartford Whalers.


Brian Compton observes, "Isles have yet to win a game this season without scoring a minimum of 4 goals.
 

Per @mirtle, Frans Nielsen is 24-for-39 (61.5%) in shootout attempts - the highest percentage among players with at least 13 career attempts.
 

Per @NHLhistorygirl, "On February 29, 1984, Isles Pat LaFontaine and Patrick Flatley made their NHL debuts."

 

Sound Tigers Notes:

 
BST Player Transactions: Forward Max MacKay has been loaned to Wheeling (ECHL), forward Adam Huxley signs PTO.



Rick DiPietro: The Aftermath Of Being Waived


News12's Kevin Maher's interview with Rick DiPietro can be found here.
 

Kevin Maher:  DiPietro told me Isles waiving him felt like, "they ripped my heart out, stabbed it, set it on fire and flushed it down the toilet."  I asked DiPietro if he thinks he's still part of the Islanders future plans. He said, "I don't know."  DiPietro also admitted injuries, losing and fan hatred over the past 3 years made him think about killing himself at one point.
 

Garth Snow's official response to DP's comments, "We are aware of Rick’s comments today and the severity of them. We will handle them internally as we do with all player matters. This is an opportunity for Rick to play lots of games in Bridgeport.”


Kevin Maher, "While I appreciate the retweets I think it's awful to see what some Islanders fans are saying about DiPietro. Borderline disturbing stuff."


Rick DiPietro later stated that he was kidding about the suicide threats and that he has a dark sense of humour.  This sentament was mirrored by colleagues and reporters.  When I watched the interview, I saw depression and a real sense of frustration in Rick DiPietro, and rightfully so.  He has endured a lot and still struggled to compete.  He has my respect and I will always appreciate his heart.  He credits his wife as a stabilizing force in his life during all the challanges he was forced to endure.
 

However, to say he didn't see this waiver wire move coming after his play over the last couple of seasons, I say how did you not?  What is important now is doing the best he can in Bridgeport.  If he can somehow overcome his injuries, maybe he can come back with a team who believes he can still play.  
 
 
If that happens, where might that be?  We will see.

 
 

 
 


Isles Notes:

 
Per Arthur Staple, "In actual on-ice news, Rick DiPietro will start for BST tomorrow night in Hartford. Scheduled to play Sunday vs. Whale in BPT as well."



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Unbearable And Still The Underdog


 
Your New York Islanders will face the 4th place Boston Bruins tonight on NBCSN at the NVMC for game 2 of a 7 game homestand.  The Isles are coming off a disappointing loss and need to improve their 2-7 home ice record in a big way. 
 
Matt Moulson: We've shown how good we can be. In wins against NJ, PIT and NYR we wore them down but we have to find that consistency.



Forwards:  Moulson-Tavares-Boyes, Bailey-Nielsen-Okposo, Grabner-Reasoner-Ullstrom, Martin-Cizikas-McDonald.

Defensive Pairings:  MacDonald-Hamonic, Hickey-Visnovsky, Streit-Martinek.

Evgeni Nabokov starts in net with Kevin Poulin backing up.

 

Early in the first period, there is a lot of movement and physical play.  Isles look lost while Boston controls play and take the lead, 1-0 from the blue line.  Soft one to give up for Nabokov.  Soon after, Bailey misses a wide open net.  Michael Grabner splits the Boston D, and breaks in on Rask to be denied.  Isles need to keep their game moving to counter Boston's size.  It is frustrating to see John Tavares get roughed up by opposing teams each night with very few call made because of it.  Casey Cizikas brings hustle, energy and goals.  @Zeeker11 blows past Bergeron and ties the score at 1-1, Josh Bailey and Andy MacDonald with the set up.  Chara and Martin exchange hands to the face.  Isles survive slow start, PK holds up and they finish the period strong.  Isles hold an 11-10 advantage on shots.

 

Hickey leaves an opening and Boston goes up, 2-1 just :38 into second period.   Bruins easily break into Isles zone and bury another one, 3-1 Bruins.  Forwards need to play better defense and the fore check is missing from New York's game.  Islanders seemingly starting to unravel.  Michael Grabner misses another breakaway.  Isles taking too many penalties in the period (3) and relying on their PK a little to much.  Boston's brute force winning out over Isles speed thus far.  Shots are even at 22-22.



In the third period, the Isles struggle to play catch up.  Credit Evgeni Nabokov for keeping the score at 3-1.  They need to take some chances and bring some force to their speed.  John Tavares is awe inspiring as usual.  His efforts are legendary.  Bruins putting on full defensive pinch to thwart Isles best efforts.  The Islanders are really working hard late in the third to salvage this game, cycling the puck and playing more physically.  Think its too late.  Capuano pulls Nabokov way early with 2:30 remaining, a move that never works for the Isles. Bruins score on the empty net for a 4-1 win forcing the Isles to go 2-8 at home so far this season.  With just a few more wins at home and the Isles would be inside the playoff race instead of outside it.  The Isles out shot Bruins 14-12 in the period and 37-34 in the game.  Nabokov made 30 saves and had a .909 Sv%.

 

Tonight, the Isles started slow, went behind early and when they regained momentum they couldn't hold on.  Their lack of physicality has hurt them for most of the season.  Shaky back checks and non existent fore checking led to penalties and defensive breakdowns.  They did apply some pressure and show some punch, but couldn't finish.  When they did, Rask came up big or they missed an open net or breakaway opportunities.  The same formula of inconsistency that results in loses at home and on the road.  Energy and heart will not get the Isles where they need to be with the current line up.  At least not without some solid coaching.  If the team has passengers like Coach Capuano has said, make some changes and move or waive the under performers and make a call up or trade for an upgrade.  Just don't do anything and pretend its all good.  Saying that the Isles are only 2 points out of a playoff spot is reason to keep hope alive, but I think this team can do more with only a few tweaks. 

 
 
Staying calm and composed is a good plan if your machine is working.  But the Isles machine needs a tune up. 
 
 
This is getting so old.
 


 

 

Isles Notes:

Rick DiPietro has reported to Bridgeport today.  Per Michael Fornabaio, "DiPietro declined to talk today."


Per Brian Compton, "Aucoin has no goals and one assist in the past 12 games.


GAMEWATCH UPDATE: Okay fans, we've decided to leave the date of our next Gamewatch up to you! Please select one of the two available dates. Voting ends Wednesday March 6 at 10PM.
Vote Here @ Islanders Fans in Brooklyn
 

Sound Tigers Notes:

2/25  Bridgeport Sound Tigers released (G) Steve Valiquette from Pro Tryout Contract.


IPB's Kevin Schultz looks at the non-play of Anders Nilsson. 



NHL Notes:
 
NHL proposes realignment. 



Sunday, February 24, 2013

Disadvantage: Islanders


 
Tonight, your New York Islanders start a 7 game homestand when they face the Carolina Hurricanes.  It was the last contest vs. the Hurricanes where all the problems and inconsistencies became painfully exposed for New York.  John Tavares and Travis Hamonic showed their frustrations and the season seemed to feel all but lost.  Since then, the Isles have gone 4-2 and are only a point out of eight position in the Eastern Conference standings.

 

Forwards: Moulson-Tavares-Boyes, Bailey-Nielsen-Aucoin, Grabner-Reasoner-Okposo, Martin-Cizikas-McDonald.

Defensive Pairings:  MacDonald-Hamonic, Streit-Martinek, Hickey-Visnovsky.

Kevin Poulin gets his first start of the NHL season tonight.  Evgeni Nabokov is backing up.

 


With 10,048 fans watching in the first period, the Islanders look strong.  Kevin Poulin looks calm and poised in his play so far.  Matt Moulson (Boyes and Tavares) scores on a nice rush to make it 1-0 Isles.  The Islanders are applying some strong pressure and a hard fore check, really playing well.  John Tavares (Moulson) scores off a nice wrist shot to make it 2-0 Isles!  Somehow, the Islanders were out shot 14-5 in the period they seemed to dominate.
 
 

The second period opens with more aggressive play from New York.  Kevin Poulin not getting much work here in the second thus far, he needs to stay sharp.  Casey Cizikas continues to bring energy to the Isles game.  Bad call against Martin, gives Canes a fluky PP goal.  2-1 Islanders.  And just :45 after, Carolina scores again, it's 2-2 game.  Although the Isles played poorly on defense there, that goal is one Poulin wants back.  Despite that, Poulin has played well so far overall.  The Islanders cant let a bad minute erase two good periods of play.  The Isles out shot the Canes 14-3 in the period, but were outscored 2-0.  Game tied at 2-2.
 
 

In the third period, the Islanders need to answer this challenge and show they have matured and keep up the pressure on Carolina.  Aside from a couple of rushes, the Isles look a little flat in the third.  Kevin Poulin has comeback to make a few nice saves.  More questionable efforts on the Isles defense and an odd man rush gives Carolina a 3-2 lead mid-way through the third period.  Cam Ward has really tightened up for the Hurricanes.  The Isles seem snake bitten late in the period.  Coach Capuano pulls Poulin in the final minutes and puts Reasoner and a struggling Okposo on the ice.  Why?  An empty net goal gives the Canes a 4-2 lead and the win in tonight's game.  Carolina finished the game with a 28-25 advantage in shots on net.
 
 

JT ties (Stamkos) for the NHL lead in goals scored.  That's 13 goals in 15 games.  Matt Moulson scored his 10th goal tonight.  That makes the Islanders the only NHL team with double digit line mates.  Kevin Poulin looked OK in his season debut with the Isles.  He was 24 of 27 with a .889Sv% in the loss.  Poulin should get better as he gets more practice with the team.
 
 

Marty Reasoner has been good on face-offs this season and has a few assists, but terrible on ice the rest of the time.  Kyle Okposo struggled through out the game tonight and still looks lost.
 


Once again, the Isles crumpled after bad luck, adversity or what ever you want to call it came up to challenge them.  When you out play a team and don't put them away, you keep them in the game to come back and beat you.  Tonight's game was yet another example of this principle.  Again, I blame the coaching of Jack Capuano.  His teams inability to play a complete game at home is ridiculous.



In a post game interview, Islanders Head Coach, Jack Capuano said they (Isles) shouldn't have been up 2-0 to start the game.  He said that he was aware of no emotion or spirit in the room before the game, "I saw it going into the game."  When asked how it could be fixed, he said he "couldn't figure it out for the life of him."  Maybe this team would benefit from a proven NHL coach who has won at this level and proven some proficiency over his career.
 
 

The only consistency of this promising young team has is their inconsistency.  Jack Capuano should stop blaming his star players.  He should stop blaming his Captain and take responsibility for HIS teams preparedness and compete level.  He has created an overall lack of confidence and fostered a losing culture with his coaching. 
 
 
Own it.
 


 
 

Isles Notes:
 

Radek Martinek will replace Finley in tonight's lineup and Kevin Poulin will get the start tonight for their season debut.
 

Kevin Poulin:  In 6 games last season, he was 3.04 GAA, .907 Save Pct. with 2 wins & 4 losses.


Islanders have worst home record in the NHL at 2-7 so far this season fter tonights loss.  They rank 6th best in NHL on the road at 6-3-1.  Per Eric Hornick, " so good on road, but match 2nd worst home start in their history (had 3 pts in 72-73, and 4 pts in 89-90 and this year) ."

 
The Islanders will face the Boston Bruins on Tuesday @7:30, the Toronto Maple Leafs @7:00 on Thursday and a 3:00 against the Ottawa Senators on Sunday.



Islanders Handle Buffalo


On Saturday night, the New York Islanders faced the Sabres in Buffalo following the news that Rick DiPietro was put on waivers earlier in the day.  He has since cleared waivers and will report to the Isles AHL affiliate.  Per Arthur Staple, Appears that Rick DiPietro won't report to Bridgeport until next week, so he won't play in AHL this weekend.  DiPietro was given permission to take this weekend for himself. Plan is for him to join the BST next week.


Mark Streit said the Isles need to have stronger starts. "We got lucky against Montreal. We need to skate and manage the puck better."  How would they fare against Buffalo?



Forwards

26 Matt Moulson - 91 John Tavares - 24 Brad Boyes
12 Josh Bailey - 51 Frans Nielsen - 10 Keith Aucoin
40 Michael Grabner - 16 Marty Reasoner - 21 Kyle Okposo
17 Matt Martin - 53 Casey Cizikas - 13 Colin McDonald


Defensemen
47 Andrew MacDonald - 3 Travis Hamonic
52 Joe Finley - 2 Mark Streit
14 Thomas Hickey - 11 Lubomir Visnovsky


Goaltenders

20 Evgeni Nabokov
60 Kevin Poulin


 

Mark Streit, Michael Grabner, John Tavares and Colin McDonald scored for the Islanders in a 4-0 win vs the Buffalo Sabres.  Evgeni Nabokov made 35 saves in a shut out performance.  Per islanders.nhl.com, “Nabokov made 26 saves in the second and third periods, including 10 shots on Sabres power plays as the Islanders penalty kill went 6-for-6. With the win, the Islanders improve to 8-9-1.
 

"I just play and react," Nabokov said. "I don't go, 'The night is going good,' or 'The night is going bad.' I don't think that way. I just try to be ready for the next shot and keep going. I don't want to think too much out there."


Arthur Staple had some observations at the end of the game.  Good to see the Sabres last shift showing some class, Foligno barreling over Nabokov and Kaleta hitting Streit late. All class.”  He later added,  “Ugly finish with Miller getting knocked down, trying to fight Martin.”
 

Matt Martin: "If they want to be physical around our net, we'll do it around their net. It goes both ways."
 


 


Isles Notes:
 

Kevin Poulin has been recalled by the New York Islanders and will be with the team for their home game vs. the Carolin Hurricanes on Sunday night @ 7 P.M. Cappy on Poulin: "He's had a lot of playing time this year. He can step right in and give us a chance to win."


Per Arthur Staple, “4th line has produced 5 goals in 18 games. Last season, most used 4th line (Pandolfo-Reasoner-Nino) produced 3G in 60+ games.”

 
 

Sound Tigers Notes:


2/24  Riley Holzapfel’s tally in the bottom of the fourth round of the shootout proved to be a game-winner, as Wilkes-Barre/Scranton goaltender Brad Thiessen denied Brock Nelson’s shot to lead off the fifth round as the Penguins beat the Bridgeport Sound Tigers 2-1 at Webster Bank Arena on Sunday afternoon.
 

2/23 Sound Tigers earn late PP, unable to find equalizer. Final score: Monarchs 3, Sound Tigers 2. Kenny Reiter got the start in net vs Manchester, his first home start as a Sound Tiger.


2/23 Player Transactions: NYI recall G Kevin Poulin; G Rick DiPietro clears waivers, assigned to BST; G Steve Valiquette signs PTO w/BST.

 
2/23 Landry scores with 7.9 seconds left in regulation. Final score, Falcons 5 - Sound Tigers 2. Unofficially, 217 PIMs (BST 137, SPR 80).


 

NHL Notes:
 

Per David Pagnotta, BREAKING: Expect multiple outdoorgames next season, starting with WC. NHL exploring diff cities, including NYC & LA.

 

 

Isles Place DP On Waivers


On February 22nd, The New York Islanders placed Rick DiPietro on waivers.  The reason mentioned by the organization was so he could revive his game and possibly regain his NHL all-star form.  Realisitically, there is little to no hope that will happen or that he will ever play for the Islanders again.

In August, I wrote an article examining the man, the player and his struggles throughout his once promising, turned injury plagued career.

For what its worth, I'd like to thank Rick DiPietro for all he was able to do, and what he tried to do for the Islanders.  No one can take that away from him.









 




Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sacre Bleu!


The Islanders come into tonight's game against the 1st place Montreal Canadiens with something to prove to themselves and their fans.  That their head coach is viable and they are disciplined enough to take the next step in their evolution.  Thats a tall order, but I will be cheering them on.

 
 
Forwards:  Moulson-Tavares-Boyes, Bailey-Nielsen-Aucoin, Grabner-Reasoner-Okposo, Martin-Cizikas-McDonald.

Defensive Pairings:  Finley-Streit, Hickey-Visnovsky, MacDonald-Hamonic.

Evgeni Nabokov gets the start in net with Rick DiPietro dressing as back up.



In the first period, Mark Streit put a pass deep in Montreal's zone, behind the defense for a 1 on 1 with Price.  Advantage, Price.  Good start to the game for the Isles.  Moen scores for the Habs after a giveaway from Hamonic, 1-0 Montreal on their first shot of the game.  The defense really needs to communicate better.  Per Arthur Staple, "3rd time this season Isles opponent has scored on 1st shot against -- occurred 10 times last season."  Eric Hornick adds, "2nd time in 3 games Isles have allowed goal in first minute."  I blame the preparedness and mindset of the Islanders.  Coach Capuano does not have this team dialed in once again.  Nabokov has fought off shooters well so far.  The Canadiens have been clicking, especially in the Isles zone.  Pacioretty takes advantage on the PP, Isles D out of position and its 2-0 Canadiens.  Motreal out shooting Islanders by a 15-2 margin and have dominated play thus far.  Brian Compton points out the Islanders have only 1 goal in the last 140 minutes of game play.



The Isles to start period with a PP, and Matt Moulson (Streit and Visnovski) deflects it past Price.  2-1 Montreal.  Islanders starting to look better with the puck.  A turnover by the Hamonic in the Isles zone results in another Montreal score.  3-1 Canadiens.  Travis Hamonic and D partner, MacDonald has been off for the last three games.  As crazy as it sounds, I think he should be scratched.  He needs to refocus.  Isles take advantage of a PP, Moulson scores (Tavares) to make it 3-2 Montreal.  Despite the 28-13 shots advantage and 5 on 5 Montreal control, the Islanders are not giving up.  John Tavares brings this team hope each and every game with his effort.  Per Eric Hornick, the Isles now have 12 PP goals in last 11 games, even though they actually have 0 PP goals in 7 of them.

 

The third period starts with penalties for both teams, only seconds apart.  That kills a crucial PP chance for New York.  Montreal called for another penalty.  Isles get a :53, 4 on 3 PP chance.  Nothing gained.  Isles on 5 on 4 PP.  Nothing there either.  Big opportunity missed by the Isles.  John Tavares continues to struggle in the faceoff circle, 14/21.  Montreal icing the puck 6 times in the first 8+ minutes of the third period.  Nielsen works it out of the Isles zone to Aucoin, Bailey back to Nielsen with a wrist shot to beat Price, game tied at 3-3 with about 10 minutes remaining.  Islanders kill a big PP chance for the Canadiens.  Casey Cizikas being creative on the PK, clearing the puck.  Visnovsky gets called for interference with just under 3 minutes remaining in the game.  Isles kill the penalty, get a point and force Overtime.  Emelin cross checks J.T. to the elbow and Tavares coasts to the bench in pain.  Looks to be better now.  Montreal outshot Isles 32-23 in the 1st 3 periods.


In O.T., both teams trade chances early. Thomas Hickey scores (John Tavares -from laying on the ice, Michael Grabner) and wins it in overtime for the Islanders!  It's Hickey's first NHL goal.  The win puts the Islanders 3 points out of 8th position in the eastern conference.


 

The Islanders' lacked physicality, a defensive pressence and a reliable and calming influence behind their bench, and it showed early in the game.  The Isles STILL need a stronger effort 5 on 5 and can not spot these early leads to strong defensive teams.  Eric Hornick notes, Isles are 1-5-1 when trailing after 2; 2-31-2 last season.

 

The Islanders strong PP efforts are a good positive to focus on with this team.  John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Frans Nielsen, Casey Cizikas, Mark Streit, Thomas Hickey and Evgeni Nabokov had particularly strong efforts tonight.  The defense, led by Streit, added to the offensive rush tonight as the game went on.  It showed as well.

 

I also still say we can get excited about the AHL call ups.  Nino Niederreiter, Ryan Strome, John Persson, Brock Nelson, Kirill Kabanov, Aaron Ness and Matt Donovan deserve a serious look soon. Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson deserve one as well.  And don't forget Anders Lee.  The organization really does have the depth, they just need a few tweaks right now.

 

Lets hope the coaching changes. That is the biggest problem holding them back right now. Say what you will, they have a lot of the pieces already. I still contend they are 1 Offensive and 1 Defensive free-agent player from a competitive line up.  The Islanders will get there Isles fans. It has and will take longer than it needs too, but they should/will contend by next season and Brooklyn will only help things improve.
 


 

Isles Notes:
 

Per Eric Hornick, Tuesday's game against Ottawa was DiPietro's 14th gm since fite w Brent Johnson in 2011. He's allowed 3+ goals in 13 of them, and had a save % >900 only 2x.


On February 20th, the Islanders retired Billy Smith's #31.


Per NHLhistorygirl, In 16 years of playing in the NHL, Isles Billy Smith was pulled from a game only once because of injury.


Per nhlfreeagents.com, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins released former Isles (D) Mark Eaton from pro tryout contract.
 

The Islanders will be on NBC for a game at the NVMC vs. the Carolina Hurricanes @ 7PM. 

 

*** I will most likely miss covering the Buffalo and Carolina games.  I will try and get updated by early next week.***

 

NHL Notes:


Lindy Ruff has been fired as head coach of the Buffalo Sabres. 


Brian Compton adds, Isles have had 12 head coaches since Lindy Ruff was hired by the Sabres.

 
Per Ryan Kennedy, Just talked to an NHL exec: As good as Nichushkin has been, MacKinnon still the top forward in draft - him and Jones still 1A, 1B.



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Better But Worse Off


Your 11th place New York Islanders have an opportunity to play for some serious pride tonight and try to make up for their lackluster effort at home yesterday against the Flyers.  The fans rallied with pitchforks and torches while calling Coach Capuano's name. 


Tonight, the Isles start a 3 game road trip (4-2-1 on road) in Ottawa against the 7th place Senators.  Ottawa is 5-1-2 at home.
 

Will the Islanders rally or just sit back and wait for John Tavares to make it happen?



Forwards: Moulson-Tavares-Boyes, Bailey-Nielsen-Aucoin, Grabner-Reasoner-Okposo, Martin-Cizikas-McDonald.

Defensive Pairings: Finley-Streit, Hickey-Visnovksy, MacDonald-Hamonic

DiPietro starts in net with Nabokov backing up.

 

In the first period, the 4th line of Martin-Cizikas-McDonald set a strong pace for the Isles in the game.  The Islanders have been more aggressive on the fore check and more positional of defense, good offensive pace.  Adjustments appear to have been made.  Lets see if it holds up.  New York finishes the period a little sloppy after strong start, Josh Bailey hits a crossbar off Aucoin feed, Isles fail to score 5 on 5, or on the PP.  Isles outshot Sens, 8-7.  Isles 0-1 on the PP.

 

Isles start the second period very strong and apply immediate pressure to Craig Anderson.  Islanders give Ottawa a PP, and they convert.  1-0 Senators off a defensive breakdown with both Isles defenders going behind the net leaving Greening wide open.  Second one is all on DP sitting way back in his nets and shot goes in from the blue line.  Danger zone approaching.  2-0 Senators.  Anderson continues to thwart any Islanders comeback effort.  Give the Isles that, they have not quit.  Islanders get lazy and give away PP chances to Ottawa.  Isles still outshooting Ottawa, 25-15.

Per Eric Hornick, so far, the Isles have been blanked for last 100:35, outscored 9-0.

 

The Isles hard work pays off with a goal by Travis Hamonic (Reasoner and Okposo), 2-1 Senators.  Arthur Staple adds, " Hamonic's first goal since the opener; first goal by an Isles D since Jan. 31."  Credit the Isles 4th line for contributing to that goal as well.  Good looks on the PP for the Isles, moving the puck well and disrupting Anderson's game a little.  DiPietro forces a clear right into Ottawa player who puts it back on net, DP covers.  Ottawa shot goes off post and out.  DiPietro bobbles puck from glove, attempts an awkward sweepand it ends up in the net.  3-1 Ottawa.  Brian Strait was missed in the defensive scheme.  Benoit and Dziurzynski get first NHL goals tonight against DP.  Isles net is empty.  Kyle Okposo takes penalty late in period, DiPietro goes back to the net.  Ottawa finish the game on 5-3 PP.
 

Isles fall to 6-9-1 on the season.


Game ends with Ottawa winning 3-1, despite being outshot by New York 38-26 and without key players like Spezza and Karlsson.  John Tavares was neutralized and frustrated by Eric Gryba and Matt Moulson missed a few opportunities that he might normally make.  The bottom line is that the team played better and worked hard.  But they lost.  Again.  Working hard is not good enough anymore if it doesn't result in a win.  You can not spot teams a 2-3 goal lead and try and comeback against a goaltender with an NHL leading .950 Sv%, 2nd best GAA of 1.57 and 3rd in shutouts with 2 in Craig Anderson.  Per Brian Compton, Rick DiPietro has not given up less than 3 goals in a game since 11/3/11. 
 

I am sure there needs to be a head coaching change.  Players like Marty Reasoner should not play over David Ullstrom or a call up for Nino Niederreiter, Ryan Strome or even Brock Nelson.  Lets see Aaron Ness and Matt Donovan get a shot on defense.  If the team continues to lose these kind of games, at least give these guys some minutes and see what they can do.  Kevin Poulin can use some more NHL games as well, he is the projected #1 goaltending prospect for the Isles.  Management needs to make a statement and it needs to be a big one.  The fans are beyond angry.
 

What was up with the network crashing into commercial when Travis Hamonic was asked about the Isles goaltending tonight?  Either way, it looks bad.  If Hamonic did say something negative, then the organization better take note again.  When core players are melting down, there is trouble. 


When Management looks past this and ignores disfunctional team coaching and the roster it has been struggling with without making changes, thats when guys like that don't care anyomore.


But I think that the team will stay the course and be conservative.  It is technically still early and they will most likely look to the positives to not act to aggressively against "the plan." 
 

I just hope there is something left in the players and fans when the smoke clears.


 
 
 

Isles Notes:

 

DiPietro in net tonight. Ullstrom and Boulton scratched, Reasoner in. Hickey in on D for Strait
 

It has been confirmed that Isles Defensemen Brian Strait is out with a broken ankle. He will be out 6-8 weeks.


Mark Streit is in talks on a contract extension to remain a New York Islander.  Streit has stated he wants to remain with the team.
 

Today's the day that Matt Moulsn ties Denis Potvin for 3rd on Isles all-time leader board w. 262 consecutive games played.


On this day in 1979 - Mike Bossy scores his 100th career goal in his 129th game. It is the fastest 100 goals ever scored by a player in the NHL.


Chris McNally of Lighthouse Hockey does his homework - Cap'n Momentum?: Islanders Streak the Wrong Way Under Jack Capuano