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

Monday, December 29, 2014

Islanders Capitalize In Our Time

Kevin Poulin has been returned to Bridgeport & Jaroslav Halak has been activated off IR.  So tonight when your New York Islanders face Islanders killer, Alex Ovechkin & his Washington Capitals for the final home game & 9th sell out of 2014 at the NVMC, history will be made. Halak will be in net for New York with the same line up as the Buffalo game.  "It was a good time for us to just give him a couple more days after the small break that we had," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "He's healthy and ready to go (tonight)."  The Caps are 18-11-6 and have won 7 of their last 10 games.

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

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

Jaroslav Halak is in net with Chad Johnson backing up.


In the first period, Capuano juggles the lines a bit.  Frans Nielsen & Brock Nelson were playing on each-others lines.  Brock Nelson takes a big hit to the face from Latta and goes to the dressing room with a cut over his eye.  No call.  Anders Lee is called for the hook, Isles to the PK.  Caps get called 17 seconds later when Ovechkin holds Cizikas’ stick. More juggling as Kulemin joins the first line for a shift. Thomas Hickey puts the puck on net and Anders Lee (Hickey & Strome) puts the puck past Holtby for a 1-0 Isles lead.  Nelson returns to the bench.  Isles hard on the check throughout the first, especially on Ovechkin.  The Lee, Nielsen, Strome line continues to play well.  Capuano has gotten to be good at this juggling thing.   Nelson goes off for a retaliatory highstick, Isles to the PK. Halak with a big PK save against Ovi & has been solid for the Isles tonight in his first game back. Isles kill the penalty.  Capitals press late in the period and Halak looks dialed in with several key saves.  New York with an 11-6 shots advantage and nicely aggressive on the check.

John Tavares is called for hooking just 48 seconds into the second period.  Isles with another good job on the PK.  Halak covers with a scrum in front of the net, no whistle, Isles take exception to the Caps busy sticks.  Hickey with another strong game on defense.  Isles to the PP thanks to Wilson.  Lubo Visnovsky (Nielsen & Grabovski) scores off an Anders Lee screen off Orpik, 2-0 Islanders.  Lee is a monster in front of the opposition’s net.  Matt Martin is taken down by Hillen, Isles to the PP.  Leddy’s shot rebounds to JT and he rings it off the post, Isles aggressive on the PP, but come up empty.  Bailey back with JT & KO.  Kid line solid again tonight.  All three players having standout games.  The Islanders have come to play.  Orpik dumps Nielsen, nothing called.  Nelson called for interference with 13.4 seconds remaining.  Caps will finish the final 1:47 of their PP in the third.  Isles ahead 22-16 in shots and have played a solid game so far.

The Isles finish the remainder of the PK time is convincing fashion and add a shorthanded goal from Calvin de Haan (Tavares & Kulemin), 3-0 Isles.  Its de Haan’s first of the season and 1st SHG of his career.  Laich skating in the crease and leaning into Halak when Fehr slaps in a loose puck, 3-1 Islanders.  Backstrom skates past de Haan and beats Halak, 3-2 the score.  The Islanders need to find a way to stay disciplined when they build a big lead.  Niskanen is called for high sticking, but the Isles fail again on the PP.  The PP found its way back to its bad habits and uninspired execution.  Johnny Boychuk crushes Laich, the crowd cheers.  The amount of calls missed by the Officials has been mind boggling tonight.  Orpik with the slime move trying to crush Clutterbuck against the boards behind the Caps net, pays the price and gets called for the roughing penalty.  Looks like he hurt his knee.  Isles to the PP.  Islanders tentative on the man advantage, looking for the perfect shot and fail to score.  Nelson losing his temper for getting the brunt of the Caps’ aggressions.  Isles get a few offensive rushes, trying to make something happen but need to put more pucks on net.  Grabovski knocked down in front of Holtby, play continues.  Halak continues to battle, keeping the Isles in the game.  For the second straight game, 4th time in December, the Isles blow a 3 goal lead.  Ovechkin ties the score at 3-3.  But Kuznetsov high sticks Strome in the face, Isles to the PP for 4:00.  This could be a huge break for New York.  Time expires with 2:56 remaining on their PP going into O.T.  Isles with a point and a big chance to get the second on 4 on 3 man advantage.  Shots were 12-10 in the period and 34-26 in regulation.

In overtime, the Isles move the puck, put pressure on Holtby but struggle to capitalize on their golden opportunity.  Islanders call timeout with 1:02 remaining in the PP, Weight angry on the bench as he draws up a play.  Isles move the puck, put 5 shots on net with time expiring on the PP and Johnny Boychuk launches it up high for the game winner and falls to a knee in adulation (or apparently mocking Ovechkin).  The 4:00 minor was major for the Isles who used it to get the win and keep Ovi off the ice.

Islanders win 4-3 and grab a share of 1st in the Metro with a Penguin’s loss.  A feat not accomplished in the last 25 years!  Johnny Boychuk & Anders Lee were 1st & 2nd stars of the game.

In conclusion, the Isles PK was 4/4 and their PP was 2/7. They were 33-28 in face offs. Coach Capuano said the Isles are normally a good face off team in his post-game press conference.  Seriously?  While I have noticed them getting better, they are hardly regularly solid in the face-off circle.  

The Islanders came out hard, played a physical game, checked well and controlled play especially along the boards for most of the game.  Their defense played pretty well in the first half of the game and Jaro Halak (23/26 with an .885Sv%.) was good between the pipes.  Blowing big leads was a deficit of their recent past that they had looked to overcome, but it’s starting to happen to them a lot this season.  But tonight they were able to regroup, settle things down & ride their veterans to get the win.  How huge have Lee, Nelson & Strome been on the season?  Huge.  And I’m not just talking points here.  They are getting better in their overall game and having a major impact on the result.  Anders Lee is starting to shine and deserves all the praise.  He worked hard to get called back up and hasn’t looked back.  I also want to give it up for Thomas Hickey again tonight.  

It was another ugly win, but the character came through tonight.  Hopefully, it won’t have to come through as much when the Isles get a handle on blowing leads.


The Isles start their road trip with a New Year’s Eve game in Winnipeg @ 5pm on Wednesday.



Isles Notes:

Michael Grabner skated in today’s optional morning skate.


Sound Tigers Notes:


Peter Sivak and Kent Simpson have been sent to the @StocktonThunder of the ECHL.

A great shot of NVMC from @Smitty329 on Twitter.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Islanders Blow Lead In Buffalo

Your New York Islanders announced that goaltender, Jaroslav Halak has been placed on IR (lower body) retroactive to December 20th before the Christmas break, despite a few “maintenance” days.  The Islanders have recalled Kevin Poulin on an emergency basis from the BST.  Poulin is 10-6-4 with a 2.41 gaa and a .928Sv% and is coming off a 2-0 shut-out against Providence last night.  The good news is that Halak practiced in net with Chad Johnson today and could return to the line-up as early as Monday if his injury is in check.  This could be seen as bad news for Chad Johnson, in that the organization seems to be giving Poulin a chance to show what he can do instead of going back to Johnson who had a good effort in the loss to Montreal.  Per Arthur Staple, Capuano said, "Kevin (Poulin) deserves a shot. He played well in camp, he played well last night. He's earned it."  Its Poulin’s first start since January 27th.

Tonight, Kevin Poulin and the Islanders will face Ted Nolan, Matt Moulson and the struggling, but improving Sabres in Buffalo.  The Sabres are 10-3-0 in their last 13 games.  A dangerous game for any team that finds themselves in a similar situation.  The Isles will need a complete, 60 minute effort tonight.  A balanced scoring attack & a solid defensive effort will be required to get a win tonight.

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

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

Kevin Poulin gets the start in net with Chad Johnson backing up.


In the first period, the Islanders got on the board early off a goal from Nick Leddy (Okposo & Bailey) through a John Tavares screen.  1-0 New York.  There is a much needed goal by the defense.  Kevin Poulin looks good on his first few shots of the game, including one against Matt Moulson in close.  John Tavares is leading by example with strong two way play again tonight.  Lubo Visnovsky has definitely been the best Isles defensemen tonight, including a nice effort to break up a Buffalo scoring chance.  Isles finish the period behind 10-9 in shots, but will start the 2nd on a PP thanks to Stewart hit on Clutterbuck at the end of the period.

Isles fail to score on the opening power play of the period.  Okposo is called for trying to check a stick, Isles to the PK.  Weak call, but Isles kill it off.  Isles return to the PK on Hickey’s trip against Ennis and kill that one.  Bailey forces a Buffalo turn over and John Tavares scores on the backhand to make it 2-0 Isles.  Tavares ties Okposo for the team lead in points at 30.  Tavares is really starting to elevate his game and that is a very good thing.  John Tavares (Bailey & Okposo) scores again to give the Isles a 3-0 lead.  de Haan called for tripping against Larsson.  The PK kills off another one.  The Isles have made their share of mistakes, but have tightened up defensively to help out Kevin Poulin who has gotten better as the game has gone on.  First line clicking with another good effort tonight.  Josh Bailey has started to look like he belongs with JT & KO.  Shots are at 19-17 Isles by the end of the period. 

Enroth comes up big on a Frans Nielsen shot off a nice feed from Thomas Hickey early in the third period.  Deslauriers gets one for Buffalo at the 6:39 mark, 3-1 Islanders.  Gut check time for Kevin Poulin and the Isles.  Casey Cizikas has had another quietly effective game for New York.  Stafford gets a call for goaltender interference against Poulin.  Credit KP for selling that one.  Isles to the PP.  Girgensons gets a SHG to make the score 3-2.  It’s the first SHG surrendered by the Isles. Time out New York.  de Haan burned by Stewart, who goes five hole to beat Poulin & the game at 3-3.  Three goals on 4 shots by the NHL’s worst offensive team in 5:02.  Islanders are reeling here late in the third period and have fallen off defensively.  Poulin has responsibility here, but it’s not all on him.  Sabres call a time with 26.6 remaining to draw up a play.  Isles finish regulation 33-23 in shots and trail 34-21 in face offs.  Somehow, this game is going to O.T.  The Islanders blow a 3-0 lead and salvage a point.  They will try for 2.

In overtime, the Isles have a few good chances and Kevin Poulin makes a nice stop on Girgensons.  Thomas Hickey is the Isles MVP in the period.  Isles were 0/2 on the PP and 3/3 on the PK.  This game is somehow heading to a shoot-out.


Moulson is stopped by Poulin!

Kyle Okposo is stopped by Enroth.

Ennis scores.

Frans Nielsen misses the net.

Girgensons is stopped by Poulin!

John Tavares is stopped by Enroth.  Game over.

The Islanders lose to the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 in the S.O.


The positives have been addressed in the period recaps, but the real failures are as follows:   Islanders blow a 3-0 lead, fail again on the PP, mismanage momentum & lose for the first time this season in the extra session. Kevin Poulin (23/26 with a .885Sv%) could have been better, but he was not the cause for the loss.  The cause:  Another weak third period & failing defense were the primary culprits tonight.  Credit the Sabres for fighting hard, but the game was given away by the Islanders.  23-11-1.  Time to refocus.


Capitals visit the NVMC @ 7pm on Monday.


Isles Notes:


Per @TheGoalieGuild, “Poulin starting tonight for the Islanders, making them the 12th team to use a 3rd goalie this season.”

The Islanders have reassigned goaltender Kent Simpson to the BST from the Stockton Thunder.

Isles G prospect Ilya Sorokin recorded a 3-2 S.O. win in net for Russia vs. Denmark at the WJC yesterday.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Islanders Fall To Montreal

Tonight, your New York Islanders welcomed the Montreal Canadiens to the NVMC on their final game before the Christmas break.  Fans sold out the old barn for the 8th time this season and hoped for the Isles to extend their 4 game winning streak.  Chad Johnson was named the starter and Kevin Poulin was recalled to serve as back up.  Coach Capuano called it another maintenance day for Jaro Halak who said he feels great to those who are quick to fear the worst in these kind of situations.  Johnson has struggled in his last few starts, but would have a full compliment of Isles defense in front of him tonight.  Johnson wore a NYPD hat when he met the press to show support for slain police officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.  The Islanders organization had a moment of silence before the game tonight to honor their memory. 

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

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

Chad Johnson gets the start with Kevin Poulin backing up.

The Islanders opened the game on the attack, outshooting Montreal 14-3.  Kyle Okposo (Tavares & Visnovsky) has had some really strong efforts lately and found a way to open the scoring just after the midway point of the period when he took a Tavares pass and put it behind Price for a 1-0 Islanders lead.  The Isles did a good job controlling play in both zones and were good at moving the puck, but once again showed that dominating a period in every way except on the scoreboard is a sure way to keep your opponent in the game.

Markov & Gallagher scored for Montreal in a second that could have been the complete opposite of the first period effort put forth by the Isles.  The Habs played the middle stanza with a little more jump, especially in the Islanders zone. The Isles were unable to match their intensity and regain control of the game.  Coach Capuano mixed up lines (18-91-21, 17-51-15, 27-29-86 & 12-53-84) for a few shifts trying to create an offensive spark, but there was none to be found.  The Isles defense needed to "activate" & control play in their own zone, but seemed content to react to the Canadiens attack allowing the shift in momentum. It was a two way failure for New York to which they would never recover. While they out hit Montreal, the Isles also lacked the physical and goal front pressures that were so prevalent in the last few games of the winning streak.  Price was able to settle down and have good visibility against any shots he was made to face, which were even at 9-9 in the second period. 

Although Montreal felt the need to call their time out in the third, the Isles were never able to mount any real sustained pressure.  Desharnais scored the empty netter around the final minute to give Montreal the 3-1 win.  Chad Johnson (18/21 with an .857Sv%) was pretty good in net for the Isles.  If anything, he wasn't able to establish a rhythm by the time Montreal got going and fell victim to the Isles weak defensive game that manifested itself in the second period.  Isles were outshot 38-21 in the game.  The PP was a brutal 0/2 again tonight, going 2 for the last 22, 0 for its last 11. Their PK was good again & held against two PP chances by the opposition.  They edged Montreal 28-27 in the face off circle.

Although the Isles uninspired 2nd period & soft play were enough to snap their 4 game winning streak in the final game before the Christmas break, it wasn't a melt down or a major setback in any way.  They sit at 23-11-0 and have given the fans a pretty solid holiday gift thus far. They still have room to improve in many parts of their game as individuals and as a team, especially on the PP and on face-offs, but they have improved enough to force the NHL to take notice are definitely a team Isles fans can be excited about.


Isles Notes:

FYI:  Per the NYI, Kevin Poulin has been returned on loan to the Soundtigers.

Per Arthur Staple, "Tavares said he got stitches on the outside and inside of his ear. Puck split open his ear like a zipper being unzipped. But Tavares is fine, no thanks to the high shot from Tampa's Radko Gudas, not exactly changing his status as 91's least favorite NHLer."

Per Rich DeKorte, "Boychuk: 'I knew we were gonna be really good you don't know how you're gonna start the season (until you do), be we started great."

Isles Prospect Report: Russia's Ilya Sorokin stones Canada in World Junior exhibition play.

January 19th will be the un-official, fan inspired Frans Nielsen tribute night.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Weekend Lookback: Detroit & Tampa Bay

This past weekend, your New York Islanders had another two important games against another pair of really good teams.  They would face the Redwings in Detroit on Friday and the Tampa Bay Lightning at the NVMC on Saturday.  on Friday 12/19, Johnny Boychuk and Travis Hamonic were removed from the Isles IR list.  That meant they would be ready to return to the line up in time to help your New York against the Detroit Redwings.

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

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

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

After a Zetterberg goal in the first, Brock Nelson (Grabovski & Lee) would tie the score at 1-1 near the end of the period.  Jimmy Howard (later named third star of the gamed) would leave the game due to injury after the first period and was replaced by Petr Mrazek at the start of the second period and had a strong effort in net for the Wings to be named second star of the night.  But Anders Lee (Nelson) would put the Isles ahead for what would be the 2-1 final.  It was Lee's 6th goal of the season.  New York really pressed in the offensive zone and finished with a 16-7 advantage in shots.  The Isles were awesome in the third period and were very strong defensively throughout the contest.  Boychuk & Hamonic endured a rough NHL game back from injury and were a major component of their defensive stand.  “We got the lead and we were able to just eat clock there in the second and third,” Brock Nelson said. “We did a good job of keeping them in their own zone. I thought we did a really good job defensively.” The third line was again dominant for the Isles and were clearly the difference for them.  Three solid draft picks by Garth Snow, developed in the Isles system and making a name for themselves in the NHL this season. 
The Isles outshot Detroit 32-18 and had the edge in faceoffs 28-24.  Their PP was once again 0/3 and the PK was perfect, going 2/2 on the night.  Jaro Halak was 17/18 with a .944Sv% and named first star of the game.

The line up would remain the same for Saturdays game against the Tampa Bay Lightning and so would the relentless effort of your New York Islanders in front of their 7th sellout crowd.  While there was no scoring in the first two periods, the third would have some anxious moments for Isles fans.  The game was a slow paced contest in which the Isles would put tremendous pressure against a young goaltender named Andrei Vasilevskiy, who at times seemed unbeatable in net.  Ryan Strome hit the post, but Connolly would give the Lightning a 1-0 lead off a strange deflection almost hallway through the third.  Instead of letting their frustrations derail their resolve, the Isles would continue to attack the Tampa net, even after TB drew first blood.  Just after the 16:00 mark, John Tavares (Okposo & Bailey) would finally tie the game 1-1 with a memorable goal scored from his knees while falling to the ice.  Anders Lee (Hamonic & Nelson) would score just 12 seconds later to give the Isles a 2-1 lead.  Tampa would fight back with pressure in the Isles zone, but through a strong check and even stronger goaltending, the Isles were able to repel their assault.  Nikolay Kulemin (Clutterbuck) would score an ENG at 18:49 of the third to make it 3-1 for the Islanders.  Despite a PP chance with 35.9 remaining, Jaroslav Halak continued his stellar play, good enough for a .952Sv% in a 20 save effort to seal his second win for the Islanders in back to back starts.  As the team saluted the crowd at the end of the night, Anders Lee joined into the fans "Yes,Yes,Yes!" chant with synchronized arm pumps.  Think these guys appreciate your support? 
The Isles out shot and outdrew Tampa Bay 48-21 in shots and 27-20 in the circle for the game.  Their PK was perfect again at 2/2 and their PP was scoreless, once again going 0/3.  The "Kid Line" was aces again.  Anders Lee and John Tavares were the first & second stars of the game.  Vasilevskiy was the third star and looked impressive for the Lightning, making 45 saves on several good scoring opportunities for New York.  There were some scary moments for Isles fans that included Strome, Okposo, Nelson and Tavares seemingly injured. Tavares & Nelson, now reported as OK, needed stitches after the game.

The Isles are now 23-10-0 and are in the midst of a 4 game winning streak.  Only Anaheim & Pittsburgh have more points than the Isles at this point.  They will look to extend their good fortune against Montreal at the NVMC on Tuesday, 12/23 @ 7pm before the Christmas break.

This is how it feels for diehard Isles fans to be rewarded for their loyalty.

So the Isles are now 17-6 when Johnny Boychuk and 18-5 when Travis Hamonic are in the line up.  “Every game, every win is a new standard for us,” Hamonic said. “We know we can keep getting better. I know it’s still early, there’s a long way to go and we understand that, but we’re starting to put a pretty good foundation here to make a hard push for the second half of the year.” 

Adam Proteau said "The Islanders are for real. I don't care how foreign that sounds on your tongue. Deal with it."  Nice.


Isles Notes:

Per Arthur Staple, "Isles mini-locker nights for Bryan Trottier (Jan. 16 vs PIT) and Mike Bossy (Jan. 29 vs. BOS) announced.  Not confirmed yet, but in the works: Night to welcome back multiple past Isles, including John Tonelli.  Pat LaFontaine returns to be honored Mar. 24. Bobblehead nights for Okposo (Feb. 14), Martin (Feb. 28) and Tavares (Mar. 29)."

Per @EliasSports the Isles are 1st team in NHL history to win their first 9 games that required extra time in one season (3-0 OT, 6-0 SO).

On Saturday 12/20, Sebastian Collberg was reassigned by the @NYIslanders to the #BST from the @StocktonThunder

On 12/17, "Griffin Reinhart was returned on loan to @TheSoundTigers."

"Michael Grabner (lower body) was placed on the team's IR list retroactive to Dec 13."


Sound Tigers Notes:

Today's BST game against the Worcester Sharks has been postponed and will be rescheduled to a later date.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Islanders Banish Devils From NVMC

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Frans Nielsen is stopped.

Halak makes the save on Ruutu.

Kyle Okposo head fakes and scores!

Halak is beaten by Gomez.

John Tavares is stopped.

Halak makes a reverse pretzel save.

Strome is stopped.

Halak makes the save on Zidlicky.

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

Josefson goes wide. 

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


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


Isles Notes:

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


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Islanders Handle Hawks

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

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

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

Jaroslav Halk gets the start with Chad Johnson backing up.


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

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


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

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

Up next, a home game vs. the Devils.


Isles Notes:

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

Sound Tigers Notes:

The BST have signed forward Colton Gillies.  

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Black & Blued

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Isles Notes:


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

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

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


Sound Tigers Notes:

Jason Bast has been released from his Professional Try Out.