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

Thursday, October 30, 2014


Tonight, your New York Islanders meet the Avalanche in Colorado.  To beat Colorado, the Isles need to play better on defense, get stronger goaltending and bring their PK back to where it was to start the season.  John Tavares & Brock Nelson lead the team with 12 pts each while Kyle Okposo will play his 400th pro game tonight for the Isles.  Chad Johnson gets the start in goal and will put his 3-0-0 record to the test.  Arthur Staple reported that their is no further discipline coming for Nikolay Kulemin from NHL.  Travis Hamonic, Eric Boulton & Matt Donovan have been scratched for the Islanders.

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

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

Chad Johnson gets the start in net with Jaro Halak backing up.

In the first period, The Isles fail twice to clear the puck and Colorado takes a 1-0 lead.  Bad goal for Johnson.  Islanders respond with a stronger fore-check and better play in the offensive zone.  The 2nd line continues to work hard. Isles making things happen, but not on scoreboard.  Isles unsuccessful on their first PP chance near the end of the period.  Colorado gets another delay of game Penalty.  Tavares hits the crossbar as time expires.  PP will carry in to the second period.  Isles lead 9-5 in shots while Colorado has blocked 11 Isles shots. 

The second period starts with 1:18 remaining on the Isles PP chance.  Isles come up  empty and go to the PK.  Isles scrambling, Johnson and 2 of his 4 team mates go to the ice early and MacKinnon has all day to pick his spot, 2-0 Avs.  How about a time out?  Isles PK is now 21/32 with a 65.6% rate of success.  Strait is absolutely awful and I think de Haan is suffering for it.  Isles continue to ice the puck and are scrambling to make plays.  Chad Johnson lets in another bad goal, 3-0 Avs.  The Isles lazy play leads to another goal for the Avs, they now lead 4-0 without calling a time out.  Isles go back to the PP, but cant make anything happen.  Arthur Staple notes the defense pairs have been shuffled: 2-11, 14-44, 37-55.  Isles will have some PP time to start the third period.  Isles outshoot Avs again, 17-14 and are close in face-offs at 22-24, but are weak defensively and spiraling downward.  Second periods continue to be tough for the Islanders.  Credit where it is due. Varlamov is aces tonight and the Avs taking advantage of Isles misfires. 

Chad Johnson remains in net for the start of the third period.  Isles fail to score on PP, but go right back to the man advantage, and then take a penalty of their own (Boychuk) to negate the PP chance.  PP is 0/5 tonight.  Isles successful on brief PK, and things even out.  The Isles continue to work in the final period, but are having trouble generating much in the way of real offensive pressure.  More penalties cancel each other out with 6:23 remaining.  Avs score directly off the face-off loss, 5-0 Colorado.  Isles go to PP again at 3:16 remaining, but fail to score.  The Colorado Avalanche win by the score of 5-0.   Isles PP went 0/6 tonight, their PK was 1/2.  They led in shots, 40-23, while the AVs blocked 22 shots in the game.  Chad Johnson finished 18/23 with a .783Sv%.  Isles were able to move the puck and generate chances, but lose 5-0 and fall to a 6-4 record on the young season.

The Isles have a lot of assets and have played well at times early in the season.  However, their 4-0 start seems a mere footnote when compared to their current efforts.  Its tough to see a team that I really believe in, blow games in this fashion and just unravel as their opponents pile up goals against them.  This Isles team is making the same mistakes without consistent adjustments by the coach in my opinion.  Puck management was a strength to start the season, but has become a weakness to this point.  I know they are still 6-4, but the wins came at the start of the season and they have 4 loses in last 6 games.  There needs to be a change in the Isles game plan or an adjustment to something in their preparation.  You can not tell me its all on the players.  The teams major consistency issue to me has been coaching above all else, but there's a lot of issues in these meltdowns. Players have to own it.  But they also need to be coached well to win.  I am so tired of saying it, so I'll just stop saying it.  There are adjustments that need to be made by the players as well as the coaching staff.  Maybe a few players (Strait, Martin, Conacher) who need to be waived or sat down to facilitate a change.  Their suffering defense misses Travis Hamonic and should give Matt Donovan another try.  He has made mistakes, but he also played well for this team with Calvin de Haan in the past.  He needs a real chance to develop his game at the NHL level.

Capuano said, "some guys weren't very good."  So do something about it. 
Let's move on.  Isles at SanJose on Saturday.


Isles Notes:

I will need to do a Weekend Lookback for the Isles-Sharks game on Saturday.

Dan Savarino points out. "Regardless the Isles outcome, Oct will end w/ most wins in the 1st month of the season since 01-02, 1st winning record in Oct. since 07-08."

Josh Ho-Sang with a 4 point game. It gives him 14 pts in his first 7 games of the OHL season.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Islanders Downed By Jets

The Winnipeg Jets are on the Island to night to face your first place, New York Islanders in front of 11,508 Isles faithful.  Jaro Halak (3-2-0, 3.38 gaa. & .891 Sv%) is back in net after two wins backstopped by back-up, Chad Johnson.  Halak will probably be very focused on bringing his "A" game tonight and further establish himself as the Isles go-to guy.  John Tavares has plenty of confidence in Halak, "Jaro's been around for a while; he's not an old guy, but he's been around and has proved a lot at this level on a consistent basis," Tavares said. "You just know Jaro is going to make the saves he needs to make. He's been huge for us." 

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

Defensive pairings:  Leddy-Boychuk, Hickey-Visnovsky, de Haan-Strait.
Jaro Halak is in net with Chad Johnson on the bench.

In the first period, Brock Nelson (Boychuk & Okposo) puts in a deflected Boychuk shot that redirected off the post, and gives the Islanders a 1-0 lead (PPG) early in the game.  The Isles get two more chances on the PP, but come up short.  PK was 1/1.  They were guilty of a few giveaways, but play a strong period.  Isles controlling much of the play in the period and win 12 face-offs to Winnipeg's 10.  Isles with a 9-7 shots advantage.

Nikolay Kulemin gets ejected (and a 5 minute major) for hitting a Jets player into the boards to open the period.  Winnipeg gets 2 goals in their major advantage to take a 2-1 lead in the game.  Halak made some big saves in the PK, but wasn't seeing the puck well enough behind a tentative PK and allowed 2 weak goals.  Islanders frustrated, but show some jump after the kill with some pressure in the offensive zone.  They can not allow Winnipeg to gain any more confidence than they already have.  Isles Martin is held, then somehow called for diving.  Martin and bench are furious.  Halak gives up a weak 4 on 4 goal, Jets lead 3-1.  Isles have lost their focus and cant seem to recover since Kuemin's ejection.  It may be the turning point of the game.  Hickey is brutally hit from behind & into the boards, but only get a 2:00 PP chance, Isles take exception.  Kulemin was ejected and should have been, but the hit on Hickey was far worse.  John Tavares (Nelson & Boychuk) gets the PPG, Isles come to within 1, score 3-2.  Islanders playing with an edge, Mikhail Grabovski from Lubo Visnovsky execute some sick moves to tie the game at 3-3.  The Islanders are showing tons of heart here, using their frustration as the extra motivation they needed to get the justice they feel was deserved.  Fun to watch.  Halak gets another chance to be the hero.  Jets go up 19-14 in shots.  Isles still up 22-18 in face offs.  Isles and Winnipeg are 2/4 on the PP.  Offense has been King for both teams through 2 periods.

The Jets get the go ahead score just 3:31 into the third period.  Winnipeg has averaged 2 goals a game coming into tonight.  The major PP helped with their goal scoring chances, but the Islanders have to play better defense and expect more form their goaltenders, especially Jaroslav Halak.  Capuano continues to shuffle lines to try and capture something missing from the line up tonight.  Grabovski with a great individual breakaway effort, hits post, but draws penalty that yields nothing.  Conacher draws a high sticking penalty and Isles pull Halak.  Time expires, Isles fall to Winnipeg 4-3.

Before I sum up tonight's game, my point on the Nikolay Kulemin ejection is the need for consistency. He was ejected & may face further discipline.  So what about the Mark Scheifele hit from behind & into the boards on Thomas  Hickey? It wasn't worse? Please.  It was a far more intentional and inflammatory version of the same call.  If its bad enough for Kulemin to get ejected, its bad enough for Scheifele.

Now with that rant off my chest, there were a quite few negatives to tonight's Isles game.  Giveaways were everywhere tonight for New York, especially in the first period.  John Tavares was guilty, Kyle Okposo was guilty.  Travis Hamonic has been missed.  Accountability on defense has to be spread across the whole team.  The forwards have to be responsible, the defense has to do their job and the net minders need to have a .900 Sv% for the Islanders to be a top team.  Halak was 26/30, .867 Sv%.  The Isles have given up 3 or more goals in 8 of their 9 games this season.  The Officials helped botch tonight's game for the Islanders, but their sub par defense and shaky goaltending did them in.  I wont even comment on ice time tonight.  Its all been said.

I loved the fight the team showed tonight to climb back into the game after the Kulemin ejection.  That tenacity is a big component of what a champion needs to possess.  Brock Nelson has really developed into a strong & steady leader on the ice for the Islanders.  He is really turning into a more complete player.  Mikhail Grabovski & Lubo Visnovsky were bright spots for their individual and team play tonight.  It was a tough loss with Kulemin out, but this team needs to use their depth to recover from stuff like this and the head coach needs to coordinate their new plan of attack and settle down his bench.  He did a great job to rally them in the second period, but there needed to be more to finish with a win.  As a team, they did some good things tonight, but their shortcomings are creating a pattern of concern.  Halak: "bottom line, I need to be better." 

There are still a lot of good things here.  Isles will have another chance in Colorado on Thursday.

Isles Notes:

Frans Nielsen (@NYIslanders) named an NHL Star of the week.

Nielsen: "something I'm really proud of."  Any praise that Frans gets is LONG overdue. Just sayin.

Happy Birthday to former Islander, Benoit Hogue.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Isles Star Is Rising

Tonight, your New York Islanders will face the Dallas Stars, who they swept in the season series last season. The Isles are 8-3-3 in their last 14 games against the Stars and will look to keep that kind of success going into tonight.  Some interesting facts about these Islanders were pointed out by Eric Hornick today.  "Isles look to get to 12 pts in 8 games w win tonight. Would be 2nd best start in post-Cup era (6-0-0-1-1 in 2001-02). Had 11 pts in 87-88," and "Isles win tonite would also match best home start (done many times) since 84-85 thru 4 home games."  The Isles hold their, "Hockey Fights Cancer Night," tonight where they will auction off special purple jerseys worn by the players during warm ups.  A great cause to stand up for.  I Love you Mom. R.I.P.

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

Defensive Pairings:  Leddy-Boychuk Hickey-Visnovsky de Haan-Straight.

Chad Johnson will get the start tonight in net with Jaro Halak on the bench.

In the first period, the Stars come out flying, but the Isles good, especially in their own end.  Chad Johnson with some huge saves early.  Anders Lee (Hickey & Nelson) deflects a puck put on net by Thomas Hickey, 1-0 Islanders.  Anders Lee could be the larger, modern day Pierre Turgeon.  Let that sink in.  Cory Conacher takes a Jon Tavares feed and almost gave the Isles 2.  Anders Lee and Calvin de Haan come close as well.  Islanders are buzzing, skating well and attacking the Stars in their own zone.  Johnson thinks he has the puck; it deflects to an open spot, Dallas ties game at 1-1.  Nikolay Kulemin with a great grab off the boards puts in a blast for his first of the year, 2-1 Isles.  It’s a SHG.  The period ends with a 10-8 shots advantage for Dallas, but Isles leading in face offs 10-8.  Isles had 2 strong PK performances in the period.  I am liking the chemistry of the second and third lines tonight.  The Maven bashing the Officials for pro Dallas calls. Love it.

Brock Nelson (Strome & de Haan) scores to make it 3-1 Islanders.  Johnson comes up big on Visnovsky shorthanded giveaway.  And just like that, Dallas scores to make it 3-2.  The Islanders looking a bit rattled in the period.  Stars tie game on PP, 3-3.  Anders Lee with some good looks on the man advantage, but Isles fail to score again.  Islanders fail on several clearing attempts and making mistakes the Stars are waiting for.  Dallas takes the lead, 4-3.  Just :30 seconds later, Resilient Isles score to tie the game at 4-4.  Lubo Visnovsky (Okposo & Conacher) rips a slap shot past Lindback.  Isles escape the second tied, but are giving Dallas too many PP chances, including one to start the 3rd period.  Isles pulled ahead in shots in the period (31-9) and are still leading in face offs (21-17.)  Per Dan Savarino, Brock Nelson: "Just relax, get back to our game."  It must at least be noted, that the officials are calling a very inconsistent game tonight. 

In the third period, the Isles are forced to kill the remaining 1:54 of a Stars PP opportunity.  Dallas had no shots on net.  Another good kill for the Isles PK.  Nikolay Kulemin and Frans Nielsen get an odd man rush off a crossbar, and a Mikhail Grabovski pass, Nielsen makes it 5-4 Islanders.  That’s the 200th pt. Of Kulemin’s career.  The line connects again for another odd man rush and Frans Nielsen (Grabovski and Visnovski) makes it a 6-4 Isles lead.  A few seconds later, Dallas capitalizes on a bad bounce, making it a 6-5 Isles lead.  The Isles can be explosive at times.  Get that dialed in and look out.  Empty net for Dallas with 1:03 remaining.  Dallas calls a time out with 45.4 remaining.  Officials somehow put 3 extra seconds on the clock.  Frans Nielsen gets an ENG with 1/10 of a second left in the game!  First career hat trick for Frans Nielsen and he does it all in the third period.  Isles win 7-5!  Nikolay Kulemin gets the 2nd star and Frans Nielsen gets the 1st star of the game.

The Islanders brass needs to find a top line winger for the first line.  Cory Conacher has done some good things, but isn’t enough to be a consistent contributor.  Nikolay Kulemin can be the guy, but he needs some real consistent time with JT and KO.  Not to mention, I like the Grabovski, Nielsen, Kulemin line.  If Kulemin isn’t the guy for the coaching staff, an acquisition should be made to optimize their effectiveness. 

John Tavares had a bad game.  He was guilty of several turnovers tonight.  Matt Martin as well.  Poor decisions, some that resulted in PP’s for the opposition.  Chad Johnson was hot and cold.  The negatives in his game were a few goals he would love to have back, poor positioning and letting up high visibility goals.  The team iced too many pucks and needed to check better in this game.  It resulted in 5 goals against and that won’t win you too many games.  They finished behind on shots 31-28 and the PP went 0 for 2.  The goaltending needs to better.  As good as Halak and Johnson (26/31 with a .839 Sv% tonight) have been, their Sv% & GAA needs to improve, but its way too early to panic.

Some of the good things were the play of Lubomir Visnovsky, Calvin de Haan, the Grabovski, Nielsen, Kulemin & Lee-Nelson-Strome lines.  Lee, Kulemin and Visnovski got their first goals of the season tonight.  Frans Nielsen gets his first career hat trick and 1st star honors.  Nielsen is a relentless player on both sides of the puck.  He played an unbelievable game tonight.  The Isles responded again and preserved the win in the third period.  They had the edge in face offs 32-26 & went 4 of 5 on the PK.  They improve to 6-2-0 with 12 pts., good enough to retain 1st in the Metro and sit at 2nd in the eastern conference.  They are riding the second best start in franchise history since the Stanley Cup era.  The team has scored throughout the lineup and that’s why they have hung in and won games.

Jeff Capellini had the quote of the night.  I'm saying this now: I know who was on board before the bandwagon started. You will be denied admission. I promise you.”  Even with some unresolved issues, you gotta love most of what this team brings.  Don’t let any Coaches, Players or NHL Officials ruin that.  Just be proud that you love this team as much as I do and these guys are a great bunch to invest yourself in.  Being a fan is about enduring the tough times and we have all done that.  Now, let’s beLIeve that the Isles have a chance to shock the NHL world this season. 
Its been a great start so far.


Isles Notes:

The Isles are home to face the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, 10/28 @ 7pm and will be in Colorado to face the Avalanche on Thursday, 10/30 @ 9pm.

The attendance was announced at 15,208 tonight.

Mikhail Grabovski has been taken off the team's IR list. Josh Bailey has been placed on IR retroactive to Oct. 23rd.

Per Arthur Staple, Michael Grabner (hernia surgery) could begin skating next week.  Josh Bailey (hand) saw a specialist today.
My Mother died of cancer on April 13th, 2013.  I Love you Mom. R.I.P.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Islanders Best Bruins

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Isles Notes:

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

Islanders Update: Changes & New Ownership


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

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

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

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


Charles in Charge:

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

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

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

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

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


Isles Notes:

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

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

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

Sound Tigers Notes:

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


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

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Islanders Swept Away By Leafs

Tonight, your New York Islanders welcome the Toronto Maple Leafs to the NVMC.  The Isles can either handle a struggling Leafs team and get a win at home tonight or fall into a pattern of playing down to the level of their opponent.  We shall see which Isles team emerges tonight.  Per Kevin McGran, "The Isles are 5-1-2 in their last eight games against Toronto; each of the last three Coliseum games have been decided by an overtime goal."

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

Defensive Pairings:  Leddy-Boychuk Hickey-Hamonic de Haan-Strait.

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


In the first period, Nick Leddy (Strome & Bailey) puts the Isles on the board to give the Isles a 1-0 lead.  Isles lose a little of their pizzazz after the Leddy goal, and Toronto ties the game  near the half way mark.  Nielsen puts it off the boards behind the Toronto net on the PP, John Tavares puts a nice one timer behind Bernier for a 2-1 Isles lead.  And that's how the period will end, Isles on top.

Leafs take it to the Islanders early in the period, Isles defense looking a little unsettled.  Isles PP continues to misfire.  Leafs taking control of the game and beating the Isles on both ends of the ice.  Toronto ties the game at 2-2, Isles too passive in the game.  Defense continues to struggle as leafs make it 3-2.  Isles look like they are getting into trouble in the period, they need to take back control of this game soon.  Leafs make it a 4-2 game at the 3/4 mark.  You wonder what it will take for Capuano to call a time out?  Halak looks rattled and the Isles look baffled in front of him, no skating, no checking pressure at all. 5-2 Leafs late in the second.  This collapse is not all Halak's fault.  Kessel has been literally unguarded out there.  Isles getting pushed around and look unable to regroup as leafs score 4 unanswered goals.  Changes need to be made in the 3rd.  Islanders are booed off the ice.

Some changes are made.  Chad Johnson comes out to start the period with Kulemin on the first line replacing a struggling Conacher who has been added to a line with  Nelson & Clutterbuck.  Isles play with some urgency, Leafs call a time out early in the period.  Hickey took a skate to chin, looks cut and goes in for stitches.  Isles continue to play better and create chances, but need a goal to start this thing over again.  Calvin de Haan shows his frustration with a hit to Clarkston's head and gets a penalty.  We will see if the NHL looks at that tomorrow.  Kulemin looks good on the first line.  Toronto gets another one, but the late goal doesn't count, as it was kicked in.  Time expires and the Isles lose 5-2 to the Leafs at home.

Isles out shot Toronto 36-28 in the game.  Halak went 18/23 with a .783Sv%.  Johnson was perfect in the third with 5 saves.  So the Isles won the first period, but lost the game.  It was another incomplete effort and a lackluster result.  The Isles stopped skating in the second period and sat back to watch Kessel dismantle them.  Halak looked shaky, but wasn't helped by the forwards weak checking effort in front of him.  They need to be better 5 on 5, especially against this kind of team.  The defense got worse as the game went on as well.  The PP was horrible at 1/6, but the PK stood tough going 4/4.  Toronto controlled face offs (36/24) and out muscled the Isles for much of the final 2 periods.  The Isles lost two in a row after winning the first four, but that's no reason to panic.  The Isles need to play hard from start to finish if they want to win night after night.  They need to play their own game instead of trying to keep up with their opponents.  They should get motivated to play Boston on Thursday.  I know Boychuk & Johnson will be. 

Consistency breeds success.  The lines will probably be shuffled and some things will be addressed in practice tomorrow.  I know its only two loses, I know they are 4-2 at the start, but Coach Capuano didn't impress me while he watched the game spiral out of control in the second period and didn't call another time out when his team needed it.  I'm not a fan of his roster moves either.  It's an all too familiar pattern for me.  The players need to be accountable when they don't play well enough to win.  Capuano thinks the Isles had some mismanagement on the ice that contributed to the loss.  I'd agree, but I might be jaded.


Isles Notes:

Isles to officially introduce new owners at 3 p.m. press conference this Wednesday at @Nassau_Coliseum.

Per Kevin Maher, "Report: New #Isles owners could also buy majority share of Barclays Center.

PROSPECT REPORT: @MDalColle71 has five-point week; @GriffinReinhart scores first professional goal.

Per Tony Stabile, "Josh Ho-Sang gets some Hockey Canada love, invited to OHL Super Series Camp along with 5th overall selection Michael Dal Colle."

Toronto's, Nazem Kadri feels that he an John Tavares are close in skill level.  Um, OK.

Per Ray Ferrero. "excited to be heading to Long Island for my last gm @ Coliseum / some of best memories there, '93playoffs, Al Arbour, fun teams #NYI #leafs.

NHL Notes:

Per Pierre LeBrun,"For those asking, NHL trade deadline is March 2 at 3 pm ET; NHL and NHLPA finalized the date earlier this month."

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Weekend Lookback: Pittsburgh

Your New York Islanders had a wake up call of sorts against the Penguins yesterday in Pittsburgh.
Thomas Hickey (Strome & Nelson) scored the lone goal for the Islanders who fell to the Penguins by the score of 3-1.  Hickeys goal was scored less than 6 minutes into the first period, but what followed was an Islanders team that changed its game and went 0 for 7 on the PP.  The PK was 2/4 and although they brought a physical game to bear against Penguins, Pittsburgh was able to capitalize on some of their chances while the Islanders once again failed to do the same.  The defense was pretty good in a close game against a quality opponent, and should get better as Lubomir Visnovsky is closer to returning.  Special teams are a work in progress, so the there's that. Terrible PP when it had worked well in prior games was a major reason for the loss. Their PK is a big weakness, despite all the teams improvements.  It is certainly a concerning issue so early in the campaign, but we aren't only ones to see it.  While the players need to execute, the staff needs to rework the scheme and change what isn't working.  What is working thus far is a strong net presence.  Jaroslv Halak was good again for the Islanders.  His performance (35/37 and a .945 Sv%) was good enough for the third star of the game honors.
There were bad calls against them, but the Isles made too many mistakes & and the ghosts of past seasons incomplete efforts haunted them in the game.  The great teams overcome the bad calls and learn form their mistakes.  It is yet to be seen how good this team will be, but we must focus on the positives. The Islanders are a very good team and have done a lot of good things in the first five games.  Even against the Pens, they played hard, did well 5 on 5, were strong defensively & in net while limiting Crosby's effectiveness in the game.  The team can learn from their shortcomings while they are still in control of their future so early in the season. 

Its prime time for the coaching staff & captains to hold accountability lectures, and then look to themselves to address their own shortcomings & failures.  The leadership needs to be there, helping the team to continue succeeding and enforce their belief that this season can be different.  After an empty net goal to make the score 3-1 Penguins, the loss should leave bad taste with the team.
They must learn from the experience, correct their issues and focus on Tuesday's game with Toronto.
Isles Notes:

It has been reported that Mikhail Grabovski awoke with concussion symptoms the day after the hit and his status has been changed to "out indefinitely."  He will be evaluated again sometime next week.  Colin McDonald took his roster spot and the lines were reshuffled for the game against Pittsburgh.
Eric Hornick, said the loss against Pittsburgh was the 1400th L in Isles history (includes OT loss in the pre-loser point era) & the Isles fell to 1-7-1 in last nine reg ssn games against the Pens.
Anders Lee scored twice, gets the game-winner just :41 secs into the OT frame of today's game against Springfield.

Per Neil Sheehy, "Anders Lee has 3G-2A-5P in 5 games for Bridgeport this season after scoring 9G in 22 gms with NYI last season and 10G in 24 NYI career gms."  Bring him up.  Seriously, do it now.
Griffin Reinhart scored his first goal as a pro in the AHL with Bridgeport.
Per Arthur Staple, "Report: Isles sales price is $485 million."  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Islanders Harpoon Sharks

Tonight, the San Jose Sharks are on the Island.  Its another real test for the surging Islanders to see how they can compete with one of the NHL's elite teams.  Per Eric Hornick, Isles look for 7th straight W (3 in Apr, 4 in Oct) tonight -- last won 7 straight (you won't beLIeve it) 12/31/89-1/19/90 (9 gms).  Are they for real?

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

Defensive Pairings:  Leddy-Boychuk Hickey-Hamonic de Haan-Strait.

Jaro Halak is in net with Chad Johnson backing up.


In the first period, the Isles play with a lot of energy but are being bested by San Jose.  A few missed opportunities in front of the net.  Mikhail Grabovski laid out by a clean hit, gets to his feet slowly and skates to the locker room for evaluation.  Isles leading in takeaways 7-1 & out shooting Sharks 13 to 3 at this point with 9 blocked shots against.  Halak looking poised for the Isles.  Sharks rookie, Stalock keeping the game scoreless.  Grabovski did not return.  Game remains scoreless.  The Isles can't keep failing to score on those chances

Grabovski is not on the bench to start the second period.  I hope Grabovski is OK, but who gets the call up if he is hurt. It would have to be Anders Lee.  Per Arthur Staple, "Grabovski (upper body) out for tonight, Isles say."  That probably means concussion to anyone who doesn't speak the lingo.  Tavares takes a hard shot off his foot, Sharks take a 1-0 lead while Tavares lays on the ice.  Nice.  Tavares back on the ice & doesn't miss a shift.  Nick Leddy (Tavares & Okposo) roofs it to even the score at 1-1 for the Isles.  Islanders renewing their focus here with a lot of pressure against San Jose, but Sharks score on a PP off a deflection and a partial screen, 2-1 Sharks.  Brian Strait having another poor performance early.  Halak still looking strong in net for the Islanders with a 3 on 1 save resulting from a bad change. Isles continue to apply pressure, but go wide and hit posts.  1st line is working hard & Casey Cizikas is having another strong game, making things happen.  Islanders finish period with a flourish, but still down 2-1.  Need to raise the level 5 on 5 and on the PK.  Isles still out shooting Sharks 28-11.

Isles come close to scoring early in the third period.  Josh Bailey's wide open shot goes high after it was deflected by a Sharks player.  So close to the equalizer.  Kyle Okposo ties the game at 2-2 on the PP.  Isles continue trend of strong third periods so far this season.  Isles & Sharks with an entertaining, hard fought game tonight.  Josh Bailey (Cizikas) corrals the puck, plays it, spins in front of the net and gives the Isles a 3-2 lead half way through the period.  Isles lead in shots 35-12.  Sharks ties the game a few minutes later, 3-3.  Isles respond with some nice defensive plays in their own end, Matt Martin with some strong efforts.  Travis Hamonic leading by example on the Isles defense.  This much can be said, As much as the Isles dominating in shots, the sharks have made theirs count.  Time expires and the Isles get a hard fought point in the standings.  The game is going to overtime.  Isles with shots advantage at 40-16 (73-50 in shot attempts) with a sight edge in physical play.  Halak finishes regulation going 13/16 with an .812Sv%.  Stalock with a strong game, .925Sv%.

The O.T. period opens with Nielsen sets up Hickey with a good scoring chance, but Stalock comes up with the save.  Both teams trade strong salvos throughout the period, but its going to a shoot out.

Frans Nielsen misses on the backhander.

Sharks score.

Brock Nelson goes wide.

Halak makes the save.

Kyle Okposo scores.

Halak makes the save.

Ryan Strome hits the post, no goal.

Halak gets a piece, puck goes wide.

John Tavares dekes and dangles for the score.

Halak stops Thorton, Isles win 4-3 in the shoot out, improve to 4-0 on the season.

 Thanks to Megan Reiff for the screenshot.

If you can find a big thing to be critical about, it was mistakes made in the defensive game.  Those mistakes led to goals for San Jose.  The fact that the Sharks were able to score goals on such a low shot total should be another troubling statistic to the coaching staff.  Despite strong play, Isles goalies still have so-so Sv% numbers.  These will have to improve to sustain momentum when Isles have trouble scoring in a game.  Arthur Staple says he was told Grabovski's injury was not a concussion, so that's good.  We will have to wait and see.  Keep Mikhail Grabovski in your thoughts tonight. 

Isles with a pretty complete effort from goal on out.  Their fore check was solid again and their tenaciousness in both zones was evident as well.  They never quit on the play and worked hard throughout the night.  de Haan had a decent debut and made a difference on the blue line.  Casey Cizikas was good.  John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Travis Hamonic all had big games for the Islanders tonight.  Give credit again to Josh Bailey.  His hard work continues to pay off.  The Power Play has been solid for the Isles so far this season as has their efforts in the third period.  Lets put this November thing to bed and were in business.  Its so satisfying to emerge bloodied, beaten & wounded, but still victorious.  Your team doesn't quit & that leads to consistency. 

Your New York Islanders just put the NHL on notice. They are the only undefeated team in the league tonight & they are for real.


Isles Notes:

Kyle Okposo & John Tavares are named stars of the game.

Islanders loan defenseman Griffin Reinhart to Sound Tigers.

John Tavares is the 2nd  player in New York Islanders history to open a season w/ 3 straight multi-pt games (Bossy started 1984-85 campaign w/ 7.)

Per Tom Liodice, "Johnny Boychuk has 2G, 3A, 5PTS on the PP this year in 3GP. His PP numbers in previous 321GP? 1G, 4A, 5PTS."

Per Rich DeKorte, "Hickey on now vs. last year: 'There is a different feeling about it sort of a confidence not a swagger but there is just a belief."

Strome: "You try to perform everyday at a high level because there are guys knocking at the door to take your spot."

Per @NHLhistorygirl, "On this date in 1972, defenseman Darius Kasparaitis was born in Elektrenai, USSR."


NHL Notes:

Per Neil Humble, "All 30 NHL goal horns to annoy your friends and please yourself," via @BarDown.