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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Weekend Lookback: Washington & New Jersey

This weekend, your New York Islanders finished a home-at-home series with the Washington Capitals & met the New Jersey Devils at the NVMC for a Denis Potvin tribute night. 

On Friday, the Islanders fell to the Caps by the score of 5-2, with Johnny Boychuk (UBI) out of the line up, and saw Lubomir Visnovsky leave the game with a upper body injury.  It was only their second loss in twelve games, but the Isles fell behind 2-0 in the first and struggled to find their stride for the rest of the game.  Other than scoring two nice goals (Tavares & Lee) in less than a minute to tie the score in the first, their sloppy play would eventually cost them while Chad Johnson (22/26 with an .846%) had another rough start.  Despite the Isles outshooting the Caps by a 28 to 27 margin and blocking 27 shots on net, the special teams weren't so special with an 0/2 PP and a 1/2 rating on the PK.

The next night, the Isles came out with a little more urgency.  It could have been because Denis Potvin was in the building in front of another sold out crowd.  Nikolay Kulemin, Cal Clutterbuck put the Isles on the board after strong play in the first two periods. It was Casey Cizikas' short handed, empty net goal that would preserve the 3-1 win.  But the real story of the game, and a microcosm for the season was the solid play of Jaroslav Halak.  Halak played big in net for the Isles, making 34 saves on the night for his 9th win in a row.  In the third period, the Isles were out shot 16-2, and Halak made some huge saves that repelled the Devils attempt at a comeback, especially in the 5 on 3 late in the period.  "I always say, you're only as good as your last game," - Halak. 

Calvin de Haan and Thomas Hickey played well for New York against the Devils and made a major impact on the ice defensively.  A healthy de Haan is fast becoming the type of player the Isles expected and let's just look at Hickey's maturation in the Isles system. A former LA first rounder, then Isles waiver pick-up to a solid NHL D-man. Casey Cizikas was another Islander that had a strong game for me.  His intangibles are always there.  He & his line mates usually make a difference to the Isles beyond the score sheet. 
Lubomir Visnovsky and Johnny Boychuk were out with upper body injuries (day-to-day). Matt Donovan replaced Lubo Visnovsky and worked hard, even getting some time on the PP.  Credit the Isles for refocusing their play, even on their sixth game in nine nights and have won 11 of their last 13 (11-2-0) for the first time in 24 years, second time in franchise history, and have won 17 times in the first 24 games for the first time in franchise history per Eric Hornick.

The Islanders are 17-7-0 overall, 9-2-0 at home and 8-5-0 on the road.  17 wins put the Isles at the top spot for the most in the NHL and with the win, extends their home streak to 6.  Halak is one win away from tying Billy Smith’s club record for consecutive victories (10), which was set in 1982 - Hornick.  Pure win.


Isles Notes:

Anders Lee completed his 100th pro game (41 NHL, 59 AHL). He had his 40th pro goal (15 NHL, 25 AHL).

It is impressive to notice that the Isles have no over time losses. Winning those games guaranteed that the Isles gained the extra points.   Teams around them have given those points up in similar situations. That is a major reason that the Isles are at the top of the NHL right now.  Love it.

Former Islander, Oleg Kvasha returns to professional hockey with Barys in the KHL.

Sound Tigers Notes:

The Sound Tigers snapped their six game winless streak this afternoon as they defeated the Providence Bruins 3-0 at Webster Bank Arena.  Kevin Poulin (8-3-1) picked up his first shutout of the season as he made 33 saves and was named the first star of the game.


From Craig at New York Islanders Hardcore:

THE 2ND ANNUAL NYIHC "TOYS FOR TOTS" TOY DRIVE WILL BEGIN THE DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING. ALL TOYS MUST BE UNWRAPPED. THNX IN ADVANCE!!!! NYIHC .... you can contact me or Victor Grappone for drop off location and I will also be collecting at The Barn.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Islanders Cap Off Another Big Win

On the night before Thanksgiving, your New York Islanders will face Alex Ovechkin & the Washington Capitals.  The Isles are 15-6-0 & won 9 of their last 10 games.  Jaro Halak & Mikhail Grabovski will no doubt be ready to face their former team and help the Isles get another 2 pts.  The Isles are in their stadium series inspired 3rd jerseys tonight.

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

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

Jaroslav Halak is in net with Chad Johnson backing up.

In the first Period, the Isles came out buzzing and converted their 8th shot on net.  Anders Lee (Strome & Nelson) puts in a back-handed rebound off and behind Holtby for a 1-0 Isles lead.  Nelson ties Tavares for the lead in team points.  Isles to the PK on Martin's hooking call.  Ovechkin ties the game at 1-1.  Isles to the PP, but look out of sink, until Travis Hamonic (Clutterbuck & Cizikas) sends a wrist shot through a screen on the PP for a 2-1 lead.  The period ends with the Isles leading in shots 12-9.  Each team got a PP goal. The Isles need to do better in their own zone and stop turning over the puck.

The Islanders are very disorganized and are stumbling through the first 5 minutes of the second period here. Its dangerous to tempt fate like this.  Orpik hits the post while Halak is screened.  Hamonic takes exception to Ovechkins' goonery on Tavares, both go off for roughing minors.  Hammer has been agitating Ovi all night.  Anders Lee and Tom Wilson drop the gloves with 1:53 remaining in the 2nd period.  Its the first fight of Lee's NHL career.  Lee handled himself well there.  Anders Lee gets an extra 2:00 for some reason and Ovechkin scores his second on the PP, evens the score at 2-2. Isles lead again in shots 11-10 and getting job done 5 on 5, but keep giving Washington life on the PP.  Not the best 2nd period this season, but also not the worst.  Hamonic:"They have a pretty deadly PP- we've got to go back to what've we done...We want to have a big 3rd."

The Islanders come out in the third with more energy.  The crowd at tonight's game has been reported as a sellout.  Someone tell Boomer.  Isles to the PP.  Visnovsky in for Boychuk on 1st PP unit.  Isles held without a shot on net that time.  Clutterbuck opportunity denied by former Isles, Jack Hillen.  Isles buzzing in final few minutes, but fail to score.  Isles get at least 1 point and his game is going to overtime.  Isles finish regulation with a 37-27 shots advantage.  Ovechkin needs to be contained now.  He has killed the Isles in the O.T. period.

In O.T., the Isles get some good chances.  Backstrom holds Nelsons' stick and the Isles are going to a 4 on 3 PP at 2:22 of O.T.  John Tavares (Strome & Boychuk) scores the 3-2 game winner with 23.2 seconds left.  Credit Johnny Boychuk with a great screen on the Tavares shot.  The O.T. winner is the sixth for John Tavares and extends his franchise record in that category.

The Islanders had 5 shots to none in O.T.  Halak finishes the game 25/27 with a .926Sv%.  The first place Islanders gain a second point and reach a 16-6-0 record on the season, winning 10 of last 11 and riding another 5 game winning streak.  Jon Tavares & Anders Lee got named the first & third stars of the game.

While the PP remains a glaring concern and the PK suffered against a good PP unit, several things were done well tonight.  Travis Hamonic did a good job on shadowing & frustrating Ovechkin.  Johnny Boychuk & Nick Leddy were everywhere and factored in to much of the Islanders success tonight.  As mentioned in prior articles, Lubo Visnovski remaining healthy has been another bright spot for the Islanders.  His transitional game, defensive play & leadership have been a big part of the teams success this season.  Anders Lee has been solid, especially lately on a line with two players like Strome & Nelson.  I would assume he shouldn't see Bridgeport again.  The 4th line made some noise tonight and have really started to make Jack Capuano good for playing them in key situations.  And finally, Jaroslav Halak continues to play big for the Isles and earned his his 8th straight win.

Credit the fans in the building tonight. Between the chants, cheering and added energy, you guys were unreal for the guys on the ice. Way to get after it.  Don't tell Esiason.

"We have the best atmosphere in the league by far and want to feed off that energy," - John Tavares


Isles Notes:

On @Bossy5050's point, I feel the Isles turning point on intimidation was "storied" war w Pens when they answered on scoreboard & w fists.

Weekend Lookback: Isles 3 - Pennsylvania 0

Let me start by thanking everyone for their patience and overwhelming support in my efforts to care for my Dad last weekend.  As difficult as each day caring for an elderly person is, he had a particularly rough few days.  But with MaryBeth's help, we will continue to do the best we can for him as he battles the challenging affects of cognitive impairment.



Your New York Islanders swept the state of Pennsylvania last weekend.  It included a sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins in an exciting home at home series and finished off with the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday with an intense S.O. victory to break an Isles' team record. 

Prior to the Pittsburgh series, Coach Mike Johnston commented on playing the Isles: “I look forward to these two-game series we have. It gives us a chance to simulate playoff action."

11/21  Game 1:

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

Defensive Pairings:  de Haan-Hamonic, Leddy-Boychuk, Hickey-Visnovsky with Chad Johnson in goal, Jaro Halak backing up.

Pittsburgh drew first blood to take a 1-0 lead early in the first, but the Isles would fire back.  Matt Martin, Nikolay Kulemin & Ryan Strome gave New York a 3-1 lead in a 2 minute span.  Ex-Isle, Blake Comeau would bring the game to a 3-2 score by the end of the period.  Nick Leddy increased the Isles lead  to 4-2 in the second, while Pittsburgh tied the score by the 13:00 mark of the third to force overtime.  The Isles had a couple of chances to end the game, but couldn't score in the O.T. period.  In the shoot out, Frans Nielsen & Kyle Okposo scored to give the Isles a nice 5-4 win.

The Isles PP was 0/1 and the PK was untested in the game.  New York edged the Pens 27-26 in the face off circle & outshot them by a 35-30 margin.  I felt the Isles were able to take advantage of the Pens slow & sloppy line changes, and that was the difference in the game.  Ryan Strome had another strong effort with a goal & two assists, while Kyle Okposo played well in the game & absolutely undressed Fluery on the shootout winner.  Chad Johnson started slowly, but tightened up later in the contest.  He was 26/30 with an .867 Sv%.

Ryan Strome & Kyle Okposo were the 1st & 2nd stars of the game.

11/22  Game 2:

The Islanders organization honored hall of fame goaltender, Billy Smith in the pre game, that included the ceremonial face off with John Tavares & Sidney Crosby.  Smith was as fired up as he usually is & told stories with Butch Goring about noteworthy events and lore about the Islanders dynasty.

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

Defensive Pairings:  de Haan-Hamonic, Leddy-Boychuk, Hickey-Visnovsky with Jaro Halak in goal with Chad Johnson backing up.

The Islanders fell behind 1-0 in the first, but Matt Martin would tie the game in the second period at 1-1.  Anders Lee, Brock Nelson (PPG) & John Tavares put the Isles in control at 4-1 after dominating the third period and a sweep of the home at home series against the eastern leading rival Penguins.  They finished with a 35-28 shots advantage.

The Islanders had 11 players on the score sheet with JT netting 2 pts.  A key stat had to be that they won 61% of their face-offs in the game to help dictate play & control the flow of the game.  Jaroslav Halak turned in a great performance, stopping 27/28 shots with a .964 SV%.

Brett Cyrgalis got some good post game quotes, "Capuano: "Last year is in the past. This is a new hockey club with a new attitude.”  Tavares on 1st place: "We just want to continue what’s going on. If we’re there at the end of 82, that’s what’s most important.” 

Isles win a 4-1 final, shutdown Crosby, sweep home @ home beat Penguins on Billy Smith tribute night & share 1st in East.

Matt Martin, John Tavares & Anders Lee all had strong games & were named the 3 stars of the night.


11/24  Flyers

Your New York Islanders were coming off two big wins against the 1st place Penguins, so it wouldn't be out of the question to worry that a struggling Flyer's team could come out hard and maybe push for an early advantage.  It seems that the 2014-15 Isles team takes very little for granted and are only getting hungrier with each success they experience.

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

Defensive Pairings:  Leddy-Boychuk, Strait-Hamonic, Donovan-Visnovsky with Jaro Halak in goal with Chad Johnson backing up.

Calvin de Haan & Thomas Hickey missed the game due to illness.  That opened the door for Matt Donovan's debut & for Brian Strait's return from the bench to fill in on defense.  Per Eric Hornick, "With Thomas Hickey out of the lineup, only one player has played in last 73 Isles games. His name: Brock Nelson. "

Johnny Boychuk was pushed into the net by Coburn and got up slowly, but continued to play in the game.  He has been knocked around over the past few winning efforts, but you have to wonder if it is quietly taking its toll on the versatile D-man. 

While the Flyers did a good job forcing the Isles outside and got sticks on everything up the middle of the ice to keep the game scoreless, Steve Mason was the difference in a game that could have been much different on the score sheet.  Mason was 46/46 through overtime for Philadelphia.  Credit the Isles for being relentless in the O zone and Jaroslav Halak (10-4-0 on the season) for being a stabilizing force in the Isles net, yet again, for his 3rd shut out (21/21) of the season (3rd best in the NHL). The Islanders were 0/3 on the PP and 2/2 on the PK.  The bottom line was that the team kept working and manufactured the opportunity to make good things happen.

Frans Nielsen & John Tavares scored for the Isles to win 1-0 in the shootout and Jaro Halak had some huge saves to give New York a chance in both the O.T. & S.O. extra sessions.  Frans Nielsen is now 37/65 in all-time shootout attempts.  His 56.9% success rate is the best among active NHLers with at least 20 attempts.  The Isles improve to 62-41 all-time in shootouts.  Only Pittsburgh (63-34) has more shootout wins.  The Isles held NHL leading scorer Jakub Voracek to just one shot, after holding Sidney Crosby to 0 shots and 1 shot in the home-and-home series with Pittsburgh per Eric Hornick.

This is the first in franchise history the Islanders have started the season winning 15 of 21 games.  They have now won 9/10 and are 6-0 in OT/shootout games.

Have the Isles beaten many of their own weaknesses?  They share first place in the Metro and are winning conference & divisional games regularly and their ability to hold on to leads, win at home & in the month of November (9-2-0) have been consistent to this point.  They are playing well, but can still improve greatly on special teams & will get back Michael Grabner soon.

 Tonight, the Islanders host the Washington Capitals @ 7pm, face the same Capitals in Washington @ 5pm on Black Friday and then home again for the Devils on Saturday @ 7pm.

On an aside, Apparently radio host, Boomer Esiason called out Islanders fans for not selling out every game, despite the team is doing so well on the season.  While its hard to realistically expect sellouts at every home game, especially weeknight games, the Isles have been weak for several seasons and may have to prove something first.  The remaining long-time fan base of the Islanders have endured a lot of organizational shortcomings and it will take time to make up for 20+ years of failure.  Some media & fans will always bash the Islanders and complain about even the slightest detail while others will condemn and malign the team only to jump on the "praise" bandwagon like they haven't ever been over critical.  It's best to call out the team when it is warranted & praise them when it's deserved.  Right now, the whole organization deserves the respect of the entire hockey world for what they have accomplished so far.  Especially because the coaches & players have not basked in this season's success. While they have embraced their successes, they have also been quick to point out elements of their game that can or must be improved.


Isles Notes:

Per Arthur Staple, "Hickey, de Haan on the ice for Isles practice. Grabner out there as well," & mentioned, "Boychuk not on the ice for Isles practice."  Boychuk had a maintenance day.

The Isles have acquired F, Alexandre Mallet & 2016 3rd-rd pick from Vancouver for D, Andrey Pedan.  Alexandre Mallet has been reassigned from the Kalamazoo Wings to the ECHL's Stockton Thunder.  The Canucks originally drafted Mallet in the 2nd round, 57th overall in 2012. In his final QMJHL season he tallied 81 points in 68 games.  Pedan is the Isles 2011, 3rd round pick.  He split time between ECHL Stockton and AHL Bridgeport this season, his 2nd full pro season.  The Islanders were not happy with Pedan & were able to trade him due to the depth of their system at defense and most likely moved him while he would bring back what they felt was maximum value.

Pedan commented on Twitter:

"Thanks @NYIslanders organization for everything ,good luck to my old teammates! Really exited to start my journey with @VanCanucks !!"

Jaroslav Halak is 7-1 with a1.35 GAA & .950 SV% in November.

Per Forbes, the Isles franchise value has increased by 54% since 2013, the largest jump of any NHL team during that span.  Rangers are valued at $1.1 billion.

Congratulations to radio play-by-play voice Chris King, who is broadcasted his 1,500th career regular season game on 11/21.


Hockey Notes:

Well respected Player, Coach, Manager & Owner, Pat Quinn along with legendary Russian coach, Viktor Tikhonov passed away on 11/24.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Islanders Ground Lightning

Your New York Islanders get a chance at revenge tonight as they face the Tampa Bay Lightning and Evgeni Nabokov at the NVMC.  Nabokov is sure to receive a warm welcome, at least at first by Isles fans for his contributions as an Islander.  Nabokov's former team mates have good things to say about the former Isles goaltender.  Islanders Captain, John Tavares said, “He was a great teammate. He fit really well in this locker room and made a big impact on a lot of us, especially myself.”   Welcome back Nabby.  The Isles will do their best to move on tonight and get one back against the Lightning.  Cal Clutterbuck is in for Cory Conacher.

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

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

Jaroslav Halak gets the start with Chad Johnson backing up.


The first period starts with Boychuk having trouble skating off the ice after sliding into the boards following an icing call, not putting much weight on his leg.  Travis Hamonic wasted no time getting reacquainted with Callahan, nor Matt Martin throwing the body early.  Boychuk returnes to the ice with Leddy.  Brock Nelson's line applying pressure as well.  Isles to the PP off an errant high stick by Nabokov & Boyle goes off for hooking, 5 on 3 for 1:07.  John Tavares misses on a nice tic-tac-toe play, then Nelson with added pressure, but Nabokov is equal to the test so far.  Isles finish the 5 on 4 without a goal.  Its another missed opportunity for New York.  Bailey hauled down on a partial break-away, but no call by the Officials.  Halak loses control on the rebound, Tampa score on the third rebound, 1-0  Lightning.  Matt Martin called for goaltender interference as he is pushed into Nabokov out of his crease.  Martin is furious.  Nabokov is booed, but the Isles to the PK.  Martin & Cizikas on a rush, Martin again pushed into Nabby again, but Killorn is called for the penalty.  Isles to PP.  Isles with some good chances again, but they come up short. Thomas Hickey with a soft interference penalty at the 19:52 mark of the first.  Isles get 12 shots on Nabokov, 5 on the PP & 3 from the 5 on 3 opportunity.  Isles 0/3 on PP in the period & 1 goal in last 19 PP chances (Staple).  Isles were soft on defense and despite coming out hard & misfired on opportunities.  They need to cash in on those kind of chances against the TBL with a motivated Nabokov that has something to prove to his old team.  They lead 12-9 in shots, trail 1-0 in the game.

In the second period, the Isles will work a 1:52 PK.  Stralman gives away the puck and Cal Clutterbuck get a SHG for his Birthday. He ties the score 1-1 and could have created a turning point in the game.  Thomas Hickey joins the rush out of the box and gets taken down by Stamkos.  Isles to the PP.  Brock Nelson with a good chance, Nabokov gathers it in.  Isles fail to score on the man advantage, that's only 1 goal in the last 20 chances.  Halak having a good period for the Isles with some nice saves.  Former Islander & Tampa assistant coach Steve Thomas gets a round of applause by the Isles faithful when he is shown on the jumbotron.  Johnny Boychuk limps to the locker room during the T.V. timeout.  Capuano sends out the revamped Kulemin-Tavares-Nelson line, then Neilsen between Grabbo and Okposo.  Mikhail Grabovski (Neilsen & Okposo) slaps one past Nabokov for a 2-1 Isles lead.  Ryan Strome (de Haan) comes out with Bailey & Lee & puts in a wrister for a 3-1 Islanders lead.  Per Eric Hornick, "Milestone assists for both Nielsen (ties K Jonsson for 18th) & Okposo (ties J Potvin for 22nd) on Grabovski goal."  Credit Coach Capuano for apparently getting this line juggling thing dialed in tonight.  Per Brett Cyrgalis, "Down a dman in Boychuk, Capuano then juggles lines - 12-18-27, 29-91-86, 84-51-21 - and gets 2 goals in 63 seconds."  Credit Coach Capuano for getting this line juggling thing dialed in tonight. That's right, I said it.  I've bashed him when I am not happy with his coaching, so I have thrown a few compliments his way when he gets results.  Isles outworking TB late in the second and Casey Cizikas draws a penalty with 7 seconds remaining.  Isles take a 3-1 lead into the dressing room and had a stronger level of play in the second half of the period after Clutterbuck's shorty.  They need to keep up their improved fore-check and manage the puck like they did in the second half of the period.  Isles lead in shots 12-9 in the period and 24-18 in the game so far.  They lead in face-offs 20-16.  Their PP is 0/2 and PK is 4/4.

Isles have 1:55 on PP time to start the third period.  Brock Nelson (Visnovsky & Nielsen) scores on the PP & puts a slap shot behind Nabokov, 4-1 Isles.  Johnny Boychuk returns to the Isles bench.  Tampa Bay puts in a rebound to make it a 4-2 game.  Rebounds have stung a little tonight.  Grabovski's skating makes things happen, Isles back to the PP.  A crosscheck by Bailey negates the man advantage. 4 on 4 for :54.  Isles kill ensuing PP with 11:30 remaining.  Casey Cizikas (Okposo) with a twisted wrister over Nabby's glove for a 5-2 Isles lead.  Anders Lee is making it difficult for anyone to talk about sending him down to Bridgeport.  Isles win 5-2. 
Shots were even at 10 in the period with Isles having a 36-28 advantage in the game.  Isles went 1/6 on the PP & 3/3 on the PK.  They held advantage in face-offs 30-21.  Jaro Halak was 26/28 with a .929 Sv%.  Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas & Mikhail Grabovski get the 3 stars of the game.  Per Matt Saidman, "Cizikas when told he was one of the stars: "Seriously?"

Points of concern for tonight's game is the health of Johnny Boychuk and his leg.  Boychuk left the bench again tonight and seemed injured after going down awkwardly in the game.  Hopefully, it doesn't become a major issue in his game and gets better in time, even if he needs to miss a few games.  The Isles PP needs to get better.  It will become more of a major deficit for the team going forward and hamstring the teams ability to stay in close games.  John Tavares continues to play hard and contribute offensively, even if it has decreased in frequency.  However, he really seems to be struggling with something in his game.  While I am sure he will rebound soon, it has been noticeable to me in each game.  Just imagine this team when he comes back with a vengeance.

The Islanders endured Tampa Bay's onslaught tonight and mounted one of their own.  In a game that focused on Nabokov's return and the specter of the Isles recent loss to the TBL, the Isles came out swinging, didn't quits and broke loose after a SHG to mount a very successful 2nd period.  For what its worth, five different Islanders (Clutterbuck, Grabovski, Strome, Nelson & Cizikas) scored tonight on even strength, PP and shorthanded chances.  I can not stress enough, how well I feel Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolay Kulemin have influenced the Islanders ability to win games so far this season.  This has been evident when they have been out of the line up and Garth Snow deserves all the credit in the world for adding them and everyone else signed or traded for in the off season.  I love Strome's development, Lee's progression and you know how I feel about Nelson.  Goaltending & defense has been better for the most part and special teams has been good at different parts of the season, but not as a tandem.  So there is room for improvement despite how hard and well this team is playing for each other.

The Isles are 12-6-0 with 24 pts. Good enough for 8th in the NHL and are 6-2-0 in the dreaded month of November.  How does that sit with you?


Isles Notes:

The BST's are enjoying the Isles depth as well. Better players aren't constantly being called up so they can mature & win together.

Per NHLFREEAGENTS, "Portland Pirates signed (F) Corey Trivino & (G) Peter Mannino to PTOs."


NHL Notes:

Per Shannon Hogan, "There will no longer be a dry scrape of the ice surface between the end of regulation and the start of overtime. GMs at their annual November meeting Tuesday, decided the process was taking too long. Starting Saturday, shoveled by hand."

Per Craig Custance, "Gary Bettman on advertising on jerseys: "I don’t love the trend. It’s not something we want to run off and do."

Monday, November 17, 2014

Weekend Lookback: Tampa Bay

On Saturday night, your New York Islanders faced the Lightning in Tampa Bay.  The Isles were riding a 5 game winning streak, but had trouble capitalizing on their chances and it cost them.  After a strong start, the Isles were out muscled and frustrated by the Lightning & fell to Tampa Bay by the score of 5-2.  Clutterbuck, Donovan & Strait were the scratches for the Isles.

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

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

Chad Johnson got the start with Jaro Halak on the bench.  Metrics.


Brock Nelson (Tavares & Okposo) opened the scoring and gave the Isles a 1-0 lead.  Callahan evened the score at 1-1 shortly after the Isles opening goal by beating an out of position Johnson on the short side.  But Josh Bailey (Boychuk & Leddy) got his 3rd goal of the season off a Boychuk deflection and gave the Isles a 2-1 lead.  In less than two minutes later, Tampa Bay would score two more times and take a 3-2 lead into the first intermission.  The TBL led in shots 13-11 in the period.

In the second & third periods, Tampa Bay scored two more times to make the score 5-2 and that is how it would all finish.  The Isles had several opportunities, but were denied by Bishop.  They were also off their game and made some out of character errors.  Watching Grabovski & Kulemin collide was a microcosm of the night.  And if that wasn't enough, it was evident that the hockey gods just weren't going to favor New York in the game.  Even Frans Nielsen was close to giving a boost to his team, but sent the puck wide.  He was very frustrated when he got back to the bench and wasn't trying to hide his disgust on the night.  Chad Johnson was 23-28 with a .821Sv%.  He struggled for much of the night including a couple of really bad goals late in the game that buried the Islanders' chances of getting back into it.  While their PK went 2/3, their PP had an 0/4 showing on the night.  The Isles continue to struggle in the face off circle, being out dueled by a 33-24 margin. 

Some positives on the night was the continued play of Brock Nelson.  His work ethic and hands are starting to elevate him from the pool of "good" NHL players.  Watching the Nelson, Strome & Lee line was something to get excited about, yet again.  These guys have skills and are improving as a line.  Josh Bailey looked good again in his second game off injury.  The Islanders moved the puck well and got some good chances, but couldn't convert against a good Tampa team.  In some ways, the Isles can learn a lot by their experience in the game.  While we know they are a very good team, Tampa Bay executed and repelled all the Isles had for them.  They need to use this as motivation to get even better.  Their first opportunity will come tomorrow night against the same Lightning team at the NVMC.


Isles Notes:

Lines at Practice:  Bailey-Tavares-Okposo, Kulemin-Nielsen-Grabovski, Lee-Grabner-Strome-Nelson, Martin-Cizikas-Conacher-Clutterbuck.

With Bishop in net against the Rangers tonight, Evgeni Nabokov could very well see action tomorrow night on the Island.

Per Arthur Staple, "Capuano: Grabner not ready yet, but "I think he'll be cleared (to return) pretty soon." Clutterbuck ready to go tomorrow.  Where Grabner skated "no indication of where he'll be when he gets back." Also says waiver status won't determine roster move...  Translation of last two tweets, to me anyway: Lee is staying."

Why was Josh Ho-Sang traded?  “I don’t fake the team concept,” Ho-Sang said. “I truly believe it takes a team to win. I also believe in myself and I’m not afraid to tell people that.” 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Islanders Refuse To Lose Vs. Panthers

Tonight, your New York Islanders face the Panthers in Florida & look for their 5th straight win.  Per, A win would tie a franchise record of winning 11 of the first 16 games to start the season. The Islanders won 11 of their first 16 four times before (1976-77, 1982-83, 1987-88, 2001-02).  Josh Bailey comes of IR, Eric Boulton goes on IR & Jaroslav Halak is in goal tonight looking to extend his shut out streak into and through a third game.  Ex-Islander, Roberto Luongo is in net for the Panthers.  While the Islanders have outscored their opponents by an 11-3 margin over the past four games, the Panthers don't score a lot of goals at less than 2 per game average, but they have an eastern conference best in goals against at 2.31.

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

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

As mentioned before, Jaro Halak is in net with Chad Johnson backing up.

In the first period, the Isles go on a PP just :36 seconds in, but fail to score with just 3 shots on goal.  Tavares takes a pass from Kulemin and comes close to getting a goal.  Lee feeds JT a few seconds later, and Luongo makes the stop again.  Clutterbuck with a chance, but nothing there.  Isles putting on the pressure in Florida's zone, but Florida penetrates and scores, 1-0 Panthers, streak is over at 12:37 of the first.  Eric Hornick mentions the streak is over for team at 193:48 & Halak at 156:04.  Isles still skating well making the Panthers work to maintain their lead.  After 1, the Panthers hold a 1-0 lead in the game. NY ahead in shots, 11-8.  Is is important to note that the Isles trail after the first period for only 2nd time all season (Hornick).

The second period starts with the Isles right back on the attack, but Luongo has been there again.  They need to bump and screen the Florida net a little more to change their fortunes.  Lee puts a dangerous deflection on net from Boychuk, but Luongo makes the save at the 6:31 mark of the second period.  Isles to the PK, ward off Panthers.  John Tavares (Okposo & Bailey) makes it 1-1 game off a one-timer from K.O. That's Career point #332 for Tavares, passing Ziggy Palffy for 16th on Isles all-time list (JT is now 16th all-time in goals, assists & points -Hornick.)  Ryan Strome (Hickey & Halak) dekes & scores off a break-a-way just 1:59 later, now 2-1 Isles.   It's Strome's 2nd in as many games.  Isles back to the PK.  Panthers say they have scored.  Halak pins bouncing puck under the crossbar with the back of his head. "No goal" after the review.  Replay shows puck rested on Halak's left shoulder against where his right ear would be, on the line at best. Isles kill another one.  Period ends with Strome going back at Thorton's crosscheck with his own version.  Love it.  2-1 Isles after a two big goals by the Isles and a Jedi ear, shoulder save by Halak.  Shots at 24-18, New York.

John Tavares victimized by a weak hooking call to start the third period, Isles to the PK.  Isles come close again, Luongo makes the stop on the short handed attempt.  Halak stops Huberdeau, Hamonic with the clear.  PK is over, Isles 3 of 3 tonight.  Nikolay Kulemin puts in a Boychuk rebound for his first even strength goal on the year, Isles lead 3-1.  Kulemin rings another one off the post.  Isles back to the PP.  Tavares called for a slash.  Bad penalty there for JT.  Just after the 4 on 4 ends, Panthers score, 3-2 Isles.  Isles back to the PK off a another slash by Bailey. Isles losing their discipline and need to refocus before they let Luongo & the Panthers back in this.  Clutterbuck denied on the short handed break away and paid the price, Isles kill the penalty.  Bailey takes Clutterbuck's spot in the line-up.  Isles flub the clear and the Panthers tie the game at 3-3 as puck deflects off Halak.  Isles to the PP, fail to score and time expires with the score tied.  Isles secure a point with over-time coming.  New York led in shots, 32-29, behind in the face-off circle by a 34-25 margin.  Halak was a mortal, 26-29 with an .897Sv% in regulation, but did have some very strong saves on the night, which isn't over just yet.

In the O.T. period, the Islanders played catch up to the Panthers pressure, forced to play defense for much of the extra time.  Halak has been good in the O.T.  Florida calls a time out with 1:39 remaining.  Panthers put a shot on Halak, a scrum ensues and the Isles go to the PK for the final 1:03.  Halak with a big save on Boyes & Jokinen.  Hickey with a huge clear as time expires.  Halak made 9 saves in the O.T. period to raise his Sv% to .921.  Isles were 0/3 on the PP, but 5/6 on the PK.  Shoot out upcoming.

Frans Nielsen scores!

Huberdeau scores.

Kyle Okposo undresses Luongo!

Jokinen is stopped by Halak.

John Tavares is stopped.

Boyes is stopped by Halak.  Isles win 4-3 in the shootout.


The Islanders stopped skating & took some bad penalties that allowed Florida to gain some confidence and climb back into the game.  John Tavares has been good for much of the year, but has had his share of struggles and uncharacteristic mental lapses as well.  Jack Capuano is not at fault for tonight's partial collapse.  It was clearly more of a player driven lapse by way of on-ice error and not just team focus.  Just another example of this teams tendency to seemingly play down to the level of an apparent, lesser team's level.  Credit Florida for playing a good game though and giving the Isles all they could handle.  Dale Talon is doing a great job there.  We will have to wait and see what the word is on Cal Clutterbuck after leaving the ice tonight.  Hopefully he isn't seriously hurt.

The Isles had some positive contributions tonight.  Jaroslav Halak was strong on the PK all night & rebounded late to keep his team in the game.  John Tavares did score and it was a big goal in the first period to tie the score.  He's a gamer and always leads by example, even when he struggles with his own game.  Josh Bailey looked good in his first game back and picked up an assist.  Nikolay Kulemin had another strong performance on both sides of the puck and picked up an even strength goal.  Ryan Strome continues to improve as an NHL player by playing smart more consistently.  I thought Anders Lee had a strong effort tonight, despite not getting onto the score sheet.  Frans Nielsen & Kyle Okposo came up big in the shoot-out to seal the deal.  The defense played well as a unit and made ground when they had to do so.  Most of all, don't forget that the Isles win their 5th straight game tonight by a 4-3 score in the shoot-out, gain a second point on the night.  Oh, and looking at the big picture, they just might be 11-5 on the season.  Yes, 11 & 5.


Isles Notes:

Isles have games tomorrow (A) & Tuesday (H) against the Lightening, 7PM starts and Friday (A) & Saturday (H) against the Penguins, 7PM starts.

Before tonight's game:

John Tavares – 11 assists from 200.

Nikolay Kulemin – 14 goals from 100.

Josh Bailey - 19 points from 200.

Joshua Ho-Sang traded from OHL Windsor to Niagara.  Will make his IceDogs debut tonight.

Brent Thompson on Ryan Pulock: "I do see a comparable, if he elevates his game, I do see that Drew Doughty comparable."

Sound Tigers Notes:

The BST win their fourth straight, defeating the HWP 6-1 in Hartford! Rematch tomorrow at 7PM.  Poulin with 34 saves and BST match their highest goal count in Hartford.  Poulin, Pulock & McDonald get the 3 stars of the night.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Isle Be There: Yes!, Section 329 & The Blue And Orange Army

In a series of articles, called Isle Be There, my intention is to focus on the different social groups that support your New York Islanders team & its players. This will also include current events, situations and personalities in and around the team as it relates to its fan base and community.

I love going to the Coliseum to see the Isles play.  I love the atmosphere and the whole excitement of the day.  I usually try and show up several hours before the pre game skate when I am able, and take my time easing into the whole game day experience.  That might include getting a jersey signed from players leaving the Marriott or checking out the team store to see what new stuff appeals to me.  But the coolest part of the day is always talking to other fans.  

The best way to get my fill of the Islanders was always on the team's official site or reading a good blog like the ones by Chris Botta or Dee Karl.  It was a way to feel more connected and to be involved in everything Islanders centric.  Several years back when I was in between games, I found a place on Isles message boards like Islander Mania & N.Y. Islanders Country.  More recently, I have found the draw of groups and pages dedicated to the team on Twitter, Facebook, Google and NYI Reddit to get my fill of Isles culture.

 One of the groups I noticed at games were the Blue & Orange Army in section 329.  They were always there in force and always struck me as a dedicated bunch of fans.  From their sweet tailgates to their community outreach drives, section 329 were a group I wanted to learn more about.  I do know that the group's origin hail from two buddies, Bill McCue & Phil Fairbanks who used to sit atop section 329 during the lean years surrounding the 2009 draft.  The friends were so hardcore, they would chant "John Tavares" when a visiting team would score a goal to show their spirit was true blue (&orange) and unbroken.  While I am not the first one to write about them, I still want to talk about my experiences with the group and an informal, but constant friendship I have with one of their members.

Pat Lehmann (@631life on Twitter) is a vocal and loyal fan of your New York Islanders.  He is also a member of the BOA that I have gotten to know through my time on Twitter and Facebook.  While he grew up a Rangers fan because he was 6 yrs old in '94 and didn't know any better, he soon realized his Long Island roots ran deep. He was exposed to his native Islanders team around the age of 13 and became a big fan of then Isles Captain, Michael Peca.  Pat watched the Isles of the early 2000's. A team whose success included the infamous, but very short playoff run that featured the Shawn Bates penalty shot.  Now, guys like Grabovski & Nelson are among his favorites.

My focus on Pat and his 329 faithful tonight revolves around their apparently controversial adaptation of WWE's Daniel Bryan's Yes! chant.  You see, the Blue & Orange army are made of many different personalities, some of which are big soccer fans who regularly attend New York Red Bulls or New York Cosmos games.  Part of the football culture is the passion of the team songs and elaborate chants made famous by their die hard fans.  Section 329 adapted this tradition to their home team Islanders hockey club.  I know this is done to support the team and more importantly, its players, while attending games at the Coliseum.  These chants are just as loud & passionate when the Isles are having a bad game or a woeful season as when they are winning.  They are not something that is done just to get attention or irritate anybody.  It's an honest, infectious enthusiasm designed to give the players on the ice an audible boost and to make them understand their fans are behind them, no matter what is going on in the game.

The Yes! chant was first chanted by 329 about 2 years ago to celebrate a goal being scored.  The BOA noticed that it was an easy chant to understand & that other fans were soon joining in the celebration ritual, so they made it a thing.  But not everyone is a fan.  There has been calls made to the Islanders organization by some Season Ticket Holders to have the chant stopped at games.  While the Islanders didn't respond to my request to give their position on the subject, Pat Lehmann wanted me to know he and his fellow 329'ers don't plan on stopping their Yes! Yes! Yes!, or any other chant recited by the Army.  "I'm still going to go to the games and I'm not going to stop," Lehmann said.  "None of us are.  We are there to cheer on our boys and no one is going to stop us."  Pat reminded me that he always has fun at the home games, even the ones that don't result in a win.  He said it was about supporting the team and spending quality time with his friends.  I know what he means, but I am OK with more Isles wins for once.  I'm just sayin'.

If you haven't gotten to a New York Islanders game early on game day and walked the tailgate circuit, I advise you to do it as often as you can this season. Because after this year, the team will relocate to Brooklyn and fans will need to park in the large garages scattered across the borough or take the train to each game.  That means the only way to socialize is in the concourse, cramped bars or local restaurants. 

Please don't miss out on a great NVMC Isles tradition.  Get together in person or on-line with the many social groups who support the team and their players.  Truly celebrate your New York Islanders and what it means to be a fan with those who share your passion.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Islanders Unleash Avalanche On Avalanche

Tonight, your New York Islanders celebrate Veteran's Day by facing the Colorado Avalanche at the NVMC.  The memory of their 5-0 defeat in Colorado is sure to motivate the Isles, as is their recent string of road trip wins.  Jaro Halak is in net tonight and playing his best hockey of the year.  Johnny Boychuk will return to the line up and there is sure to be a loud bunch of fans at the coliseum cheering on their team.  Arthur Staple quoted Boychuk on Clifford hit: "When I see it again, it doesn't look like a good hit. I'm just happy it wasn't as bad as it could have been." 

Jiggs has the call again tonight.  Andy Grazziano points out the Isles are 13-1-3 in last 17 games that he has called.

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

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

Jaroslav Halak is in net with Chad Johnson backing up.


In the first period, the Isles wasted no time coming out with a lot of jump.  They controlled play early and scored their first of the game almost as fast.  Nick Leddy (Boychuk & Strome) puts a wrist shot past Varlamov for a 1-0 Isles lead.  It's Leddy's 100th NHL career point.  New York continues to press and Anders Lee puts one in off a set Zamboni door play by Boychuk to make it 2-0 Islanders.  Jaro Halak hasn't been very busy, but is looking good so far in the period.  Cal Clutterbuck is denied on a break away opportunity.  Some of tonight's calls have been suspect to say the least.  When Jiggs calls you out, you have been called out.  Isles will have PP time remaining to start the second.  Out shooting Avs 13-5.

The Isles fail to score on the remainder of their PP chance to start the second period.  Travis Hamonic (Tavares & Kulemin) rips a slap shot past Varlamov to make it 3-0 Islanders.  Isles doing a great job with their "puck management."  They are moving the puck well and executing a strong possession game thus far, dominating the neutral and defensive zone play.  Isles go to the PK, but Nikolay Kulemin (Nielsen) backhands a SHG to make it a 4-0 game for New York.  Isles finish the period in relentless fashion and have really shown up to play so far tonight.  "We're trying to keep with the game plan & listen to what the coaches want us to do" - Kulemin.  Shots advantage to New York, 28-13, 24-23 in the circle.  Oh, and Nikolay is his own inspiration.  Nice.

BTW, Section 329 has been heard loud & clear over the air.

In the third period, Casey Cizikas (Visnovsky & Conacher) is rewarded for his hard work on his first goal of the season, 5-0 Islanders.  Two minutes later, Ryan Strome (Nelson) makes it a 6-0 game with his first of the season.  Touchdown Islanders!  Butch Goring with a great point on Roy leaving MTL for not getting taken out in a blow out game.  Kyle Okposo with JT in the middle puts a sweet pass to the stick of Kulemin, but puck misses up high.   Isles finish the game strong, with a 6-0 trouncing of the Avalance.  They outshoot Colorado 46-20 in the game and finish 1/6 on the PP and 3/3 on the PK.  They maintained a 35-32 edge in face-offs.

Halak, Kulemin & Strome get the stars of the game.

On a day to remember all that our war veterans allow us to enjoy, your Isles Improve to 10-5 on the season after collecting 8 straight points, get their 4th win in a row.  How good can they be when all their top players are in sync and they get healthy?  Tonight's game was the biggest margin of victory since the Pittsburgh blowout when your Isles team had their coming of age & put the NHL on notice.  Leddy, Lee, Hamonic, Kulemin, Cizikas and Strome score for the Islanders. Jaro Halak stops everything for his second straight shut out.  Halak has a shut out streak of over 146 minutes and counting.  A streak that is only 18 minutes shy of the franchise record. 
It was a tactical, well played & physical effort by the Isles.  They were able to take Colorado completely off their game tonight.  The Isles out scored their opponents 12-3 on winning streak and have only allowed 5 goals in their last 6 games.  And that's a 14-1-3 record when Jiggs calls the game.

Enjoy your ample supply of Papa Johns & Wendy's chili tomorrow.


Isles Notes:

On Saturday November 22nd, The Blue And Orange Army will be holding the 2nd Annual BOA Thanksgiving Food Drive. It will be held prior to the Islanders game vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1PM to 6PM at our usual tailgate spot outside the plaza. Donations can include items such as canned goods, pastas, cereals, stuffing, instant mashed potatoes etc. Grillmaster Teese Will be cooking up food, $5 donation per person and Steve Clay will also be setting up the XBOX for NHL 14 Games at $5 donation per game. Lastly, we will be hosting the 1st BOA Thanksgiving open invitational 2 on 2 street hockey tournament, $5 donation per person player, Goalies play free.  All donations will be going to Trinity Church Soup Kitchen in Coram and St Frances de Chantal soup kitchen in Wantagh.

Trade Rumors:  Word is that there are none in the works.  To get an impact player, you need to give one up. Or you need to give up the high picks that the Isles don't have or top young players they already have designs on.  Salary dumps are a possible scenario, but the Isles have a much higher payroll now, more depth & good chemistry that they don't want to risk upsetting.

Isles prospect, Alan Quine is on a 7-game point streak and has tallied a goal in the last three games.
Mikko Koskinen (Sibir) was named a KHL player of the week for his play in net.

Per @NHLhistorygirl, "Bobby Nystrom had no idea he'd been drafted in 1972 until his dad called & told him. "I said, 'Who are the New York Islanders?"

Former Islander Goaltender, Yann Danis signed a PTO with Norfolk in the AHL.

Coming Soon....