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

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Islanders Getting Offensive

Your New York Islanders had another curious start to their post-Christmas initiative.  A home at home with the Toronto Maple Leafs who sat last in the Atlantic, but with a bit of recent successes.  The Isles were 1-8-2 vs the Atlantic division including a dismal 0-6-0 record at home while going 12-0-2 vs rest of the NHL.  They came out slow and sluggish before a sellout crowd at the Barclays Center and didn’t even really start to play until late in the third period, already down 2-0 on the scoreboard.  Nikolay Kulemin (Leddy & Strome) scored to bring the game within a goal, but the Isles fell by a 3-1 score (ENG) to the Leafs in what many called a lifeless effort and blown opportunity to gain ground in the standings.

No doubt, revenge would be on their minds when they got to Toronto yesterday.  They were so fired up and in different line combinations, that they got goals from every line and managed to tally 3 goals in each of the first two periods.  13 forwards not named Okposo registered at least a point and saw the Isles match the season high in goals en-route to an impressive 6-3 win. Brock Nelson, John Tavares, Frans Nielsen. Nikolay Kulemin, Matt Martin and Anders Lee had the goals in a spirited offensive effort despite being outshot 33-21 in the game.  Thomas Greiss was in net for the Isles (Halak out do to upper body injury) and was good, going 30 of 33 with a .909Sv%.  Tavares, Nielsen and Lee were named 3 stars of the game.

The Islanders defensive game is on point and has been all season.  The tandem of Halak and Greiss (.932 and 10 wins) sit among the best in save percentage and (2.09) goals against average and 7th as a team in goals against.  Their penalty killing is an impressive 87.7%, good enough for best in the NHL.  This includes 39 consecutive kills and no goals surrendered in 15 straight games (best since 87-88).  “It’s our second year here together with [Assistant Coach Greg Cronin] and we’re kind of figuring out what he wants us to do and our routes,” Nielsen said. “We’re working hard, sacrificing and hopefully we can keep it going.”

The Isles play their best (13-3-2) when they score first and compliment themselves on defense.  Their offense has been on and off all season, but they have managed to score 2.70 goals per game (12th in NHL) and a rate 17.5% with the extra man (10th in NHL.)  The power play is a major reason for the team’s limitations.  Isles have proven that with a 10-3-3 record when scoring at least one PPG and a 10-9-2 record when they unable to score on the man advantage.  That includes a 17-2-0 record when scoring at least 3 goals and 3-10-5 record when they are unable to reach the 3 goal mark.  It all starts with the play on ice.  Tavares (27 pts), Okposo (26) and Nielsen (24) lead the team in scoring and Brock Nelson (21) has been hot lately with 3 points in his last 6 including 1 GWG.  He also recorded a career long 5 game point streak in November (5 & 3 for 8 points.)  John Tavares scored for the first time in 6 games and has started to generate more opportunities in the last few contests.  For New York to complete their efforts, the offense needs to keep pace with their defense.  Once that happens, they will be an even more dangerous team to play against.  That will require a major adjustment and consistency in their overall game.

A more complete game by both players and coaches.  They have the attention of their opponents and for all they are having trouble with, you can’t ignore the big picture.  The Islanders are 20-12-5 with 45 points in 37 GP sitting at 2nd in the Metro and 3rd in the eastern conference.

That’s what I call, “Battle Level."

Isles Notes:

Islanders are in BUF @6pm on NYE, PIT @7pm on Saturday and home against Dallas @5pm on Sunday.

Eric Hornick, “The Isles earned 97 points in calendar year 2014.  With their win tonight, they have earned 95 points in calendar year 2015 (with 1 game to play).”

Sound Tigers Notes:

Kyle Burroughs has been reassigned by the #Isles to the #BST, Loic Leduc to the #MoMavs.

Christopher Gibson (Halak Injury) has been recalled to the Islanders and Parker Milner to the Sound Tigers.


Matt Barzal has shootout winner for Canada in 3-2 victory over Switzerland.

Islanders prospect Linus Soderstrom, Sweden shut out USA at World Juniors: 5 things to know.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Isles Christmas Goals

Your New York Islanders scored 3 goals in a 4:49 span of the 1st to overcome a 1-0 Anaheim lead yesterday at the Barclays Center.  The series was en-route to a 5-2 victory and a sweep of the Ducks on the season.  After a Matt Martin tilt against Josh Manson, Cal Clutterbuck, Travis Hamonic, Brock Nelson, Josh Bailey and Martin (ENG) scored for New York with 2 assists and a noticeable fight (Ryan Getzlaf) from John Tavares to help keep things moving in the right direction for the Isles.  With the team on their longest PK streak in team history (29) in 13 straight, the Isles defensive game is becoming their strength.  Jaroslav Halak made 27 saves (10-6-3 with a 2.09gaa and .923Sv%) in the victory and made several key stops to preserve the offensive surge, especially in the second period.

Most importantly, the win ended a 3 game skid in which the Isles managed to score a total of only 3 goals (11 goals in the prior 3 wins.)  The 5 goal effort was a good way to enter the Christmas break and possibly build momentum from another game in which they were able to take control and contain their opponent.  They showed versatility in their scoring depth and were led by JT’s example on the ice.  While the defense needs to improve their scoring output by continuing to jump into the play, Ryan Strome (3 & 8 for 11 pts), Brock Nelson (12 & 8 for 20 pts) and Anders Lee (4 & 11 for 15 pts) have been better for New York to help create offense.

The Isles are 6-3-1 in their last 10 games, but still need to find a way to score on a PP (0 for 3 in game vs Ducks) that ranks 16th in the league at 18.4%.  Once some offensive consistency evens out, the Isles will be close to where they need to be as a team.

Isles Notes:

The Islanders welcome the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday, 12/27 at 6pm to start a home at home series (12/29 in Toronto at 7pm.)

The Islanders are 19-11-5 in 35gp with 43 points good enough for 3rd in the division and 4th in the eastern conference.

Kyle Okposo (lower body injury) & Eric Boulton were scratched for the game.

Barzal & Beauvillier make Team Canada, Missouri starts new streak. 

Per Eric Hornick, “The Isles have lost 69 games this season due to injury/illness.”

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Improving Play Of Calvin de Haan

Your New York Islanders are now 18-8-5 with 42 points after 31 games played and have extended their non-losing streak to 8-0-2.  After a solid 4-0 win against the rival Devils at the Barclays Center in front of 13,259 screaming faithful last night, the Islanders showed how they can play a methodical and complete game.  They were so good, they chased Corey Schneider from the net and overtook second place seat in the Metro from the Rangers following the win.  The Isles are 7-0-2 in the Metro and are the only NHL team to earn a point in all their division games this season.  Against the Devils, Zidlicky book-ended 2 and Tavares & Martin scored the middle 2 goals in the game.  Thomas Greiss (9-3-2) got his 4th career shutout, his first as an Islander and as Eric Hornick points out, it’s the only shut out by an Isles keeper not named Halak in the last two NHL seasons. Your Isles are only 1 point off their pace from last season and haven’t lost in regulation since before Thanksgiving.  You remember those dark days, right?  That was way back when the very same New York Rangers held an 11pt lead over them.

Just think of when the first line gets back up to speed with the other 3, how dangerous their offense could be in time for the playoffs.  It will lend itself to how well the team has been playing their defensive game in front of the only top 10 (Sv% & gaa) goaltending tandem in the NHL.  Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy and Travis Hamonic are elite NHL defensemen game in and game out.  Marek Zidlicky is a skilled journeyman highlighted by his memorable game against NJ and Thomas Hickey’s return has been a big improvement to the blue line.  But the play of Calvin de Haan (12th overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft) goes well beyond the stat sheet and his game has been noticeably improved this season.

de Haan is 1 & 4 for 5 points and a +6 in 31 GP for the Islanders.  He averages over 20 minutes of ice time a game and has been counted on in many key situations by Coach Capuano and his staff.  de Haan’s special teams play has improved along with his standard defensive game.  And with his strong skating and improved veteran D game falling into place, It feels like it’s only a matter of time before his juniors offensive output could start to reach his pro game performance.  Especially watching a veteran player like Marek Zidlicky do his thing day in and day out.  de Haan has been limiting some of the bad decisions and turnovers that he seemed to commit over the past few seasons.  I think a few fans might be noticing that he has started to make a difference.  What do you think?

Isles Notes:

The Isles have killed all 22 opponent power plays in their last nine games. It’s the second such streak this season.

Sound Tigers Notes:

The Islanders AHL affiliate, Bridgeport Sound Tigers are 16-10-1-1.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Frans Nielsen: The Great Dane

Your New York Islanders are 16-8-5 with 37 pts in the NHL standings.  That puts them 3rd in the Metro at just 3 points behind the first place Capitals, and sitting 4th in the eastern conference.  Their play hasn’t been perfect, but they are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games and on a 6-0-2 non losing streak.  The Isles are on an 8 game point scoring streak and are at a season high 8 games over the NHL .500 mark.  It is a bit concerning that they have blown leads and have been subjected to 4 consecutive O.T./Shootout games (Including a victory against the Rangers) while being out-shot by a 16-8 margin in those extra sessions.  Per Eric Hornick, they are now the winning-est NHL team (67 wins) in the shootout.  Their recent defensive game and particularly from the net out has been the primary reason for their success with Jaroslav Halak winning his last 2 shootout appearances. Halak made 43 saves in the last win against the Flyers, his most as an Islander, and improves to 8-4-3 on the season.  Although offensively, while their primary scoring has been struggling, the Isles secondary scoring has improved. But their tendency to take the sloppy and untimely penalty (like 2 too many men penalties in last 2 O.T. periods) has made closing and winning games much more difficult than it should be.  But they are getting points and staying close to the top of the division.  I wrote about the goal-tending tandem being the primary reason for the team’s success in a prior article, but there is a particular player who is making a major statement on the offensive side of the ice for the Islanders this season.

Frans Nielsen will be an unrestricted free agent heading into next summer and is sure to get a raise from his current $2.75M salary from the Islanders or anyone else.  When they selected him 87th overall in the 3rd round of the 2002 NHL entry draft, they probably didn’t realize that he would be one of the most consistent players for the modern day Islanders franchise.  He is certainly reaffirming his quality as one of the standout players for his team with 11 & 10 for 21 points and a +4 in 29 games on the season.  As a complete two way threat, Nielsen seems to be getting better each and every season.  In last night’s win, Nielsen scored twice and was a major component in the team preserving the win.  That puts him one goal behind John Tavares for the club lead and one point behind Kyle Okposo & John Tavares for the team lead in points. 

Whether it’s his fan dubbed, “Danish backhand of judgement,” his five-hole shot or are n improvisation of the moment, Nielsen has all hockey fans eyes glued to the ice when his number is called in the Isles shootout rotation.  And it doesn’t seem to matter that goalies know what shots are coming.  Nielsen’s proficiency in the shootout (33/60) has also been a major contributor for his team’s success in that area and their ability to hold on and win when it counts.  His success rate remains as the NHL record holder in shootout goals (all-time), and game deciding (shootout) goals.

How Frans Nielsen will finish the season and what will happen over the summer isn’t known to us at this point.  But his character and commitment to his craft is beyond question and out of anyone who has worn the orange and blue in the last 13 years, I hope he can stay with this team for a long time to come.

Isles Notes:

From a historic standpoint (Hornick), Frans Nielsen’s 110 goals has him 25th all-time for the NYI, and just 6 behind Ray Ferraro.  He tallies 208 assists, good for 16th all-time and 29 behind John Tavares.  That’s a total of 318 points.  19th all-time for the Islanders, 9 behind Kyle Okposo and 13 behind Ziggy Palffy in 554 games played, ranking him 15th among Islander skaters and 40 behind John Tonelli.

Sound Tigers Notes:

The Sound Tigers are 15-9-1-0 on the season, beating Hartford by a 4-2 score on Sunday.

NHL Notes:

NHL exec committee member says no discussion on when vote on expansion will happen. There was only information passed on to board during Monday’s meetings.

The range on next year’s salary cap was given out, with high number of $74.5M.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Greiss Is Nice

Your New York Islanders have had an up and down season so far.  They are 12-8-4 after 28gp, good enough for 6th in the east and 4th in the metropolitan division.  Consistency continues to elude them and their PP was a woeful 1 for 25 in their 8 games prior to their 3-2 comeback win against Tampa Bay on Saturday night.  The Isles surrendered a 2-0 lead to the Lightning, before Josh Bailey PPG, Cal Clutterbuck and John Tavares PPG would secure the 3 unanswered goal comeback to seal the win.  The return of Thomas Hickey was also a huge factor. The continued strong play of Calvin de Haan, Fran Nielsen, Brock Nelson and a re surging Ryan Strome should keep the Isles trending in a positive way and help them improve on their 2-0-1 record in their last 3 games (6-6-1 in November).

In my opinion, the main reason for the come behind win was the steady play Islanders backup goaltender and first star of the game, Thomas Greiss.  Greiss improved to 6-3-2 on the season and quietly made several key saves, including a pivotal penalty shot save midway through the second period on Lightning captain, Steven Stamkos to secure the win. "Definitely I got a couple of bounces here and there, sometimes the puck just hits you," Greiss said. "Penalty shots have been around for a long time with the shootouts, you're used to it by now, (so you) just do your thing and try to play your game."

Greiss has an impressive .927Sv% (ranked 8th in the NHL) and 2.24gaa (ranked 14th in the NHL) in relief of a only recently struggling Jaroslav Halak (3-3-1 in November) and has helped his team stay in the hunt for playoff position at the quarter-mark of the NHL season.  He has had a couple of shaky games, including a 4-2 loss to Montreal last Sunday, but has been able to recover quickly when called upon.

As the Isles number 2 goaltender, Greiss is slowly proving himself to team management and the coaching staff.  He has quietly gotten 40% of the team’s starts in net, despite an NHL career that has never seen more than 25 appearances in an NHL season.  His strong positional play and strategic thinking in the net has made an impression to more than just his team mates.

Islanders super fan and countrymen of Griess, Michael Alexy.

Isles Notes:

Isles prospect, Anthony Beauvillier is turning a few heads.

Happy Birthday to Isles hall of fame color analysist, Jiggs McDonald.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Isle Be There: Helping The United Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County.

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.

The New York Islanders have moved away from the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum to play at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  But the Isles roots run deep on the Island proper.  The years of history and thousands of fans, that still call Nassau County home, will always be just as relevant to the team as any new successes experienced in the future.

It is for that reason that my Isle Be There feature will not just focus on the new, but also things in and around the Islanders and Nassau County.  I would encourage all residents of the community to consider checking out the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City Long Island, NY for their Festival of Trees on Saturday November 28th, 2015 from 10:30am - 4:00pm.
Feature photo in Newsday Explore LI with TK6744

It will also be an opportunity for Star Wars fans to meet the members of the 501st Empire City Garrison and get their fandom on in a big way for a great cause.  “The Empire City Garrison is a New York based Star Wars costuming group founded in May 1999. This group consists of individuals who show their love for Star Wars by building and wearing detailed replica costumes of such favorite characters as Darth Vader, Stormtroopers, Scout Troopers, Snow Troopers, Bounty Hunters, etc. The Empire City Garrison routinely attends local science fiction conventions, parades, blood drives, toy stores, and have participated in a variety charity events with many organizations.”

Members of the 501st Hudson Valley Squad at Mahopac Library for Star Wars Day.

The 501st’s Empire City Garrison and members of the 501st Hudson Valley Squad will be at the Cradle of Aviation Museum this Saturday to help and support fund raising efforts to benefit the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County. The CAM is Long Island's Air and Space museum, and features several cool exhibits and attractions that cover early attempts in flight straight through to man’s exploration of space.  They have a planetarium and Dome Theatre in addition to a collection of incredible artifacts from our aviation history.

This is the 5th year that the 501st will be appearing at the Cradle of Aviation Museum and they will host special Star Wars themed events like "Blast-A-Trooper", and be available for photos with attendees throughout the day to specifically help raise money to benefit the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County

The Festival of Trees event, “is renowned for its spectacular array of designer-decorated trees and gingerbread village. Features continuous live entertainment, Santa, vendor marketplace, children’s activities, Department 56 village and display, and more! All trees and gingerbread are for sale. Visit the ucpn Toy and gift shop for great bargains. All proceeds raised benefit the United Cerebral Palsy Association of Nassau County, Inc. and the Cradle of Aviation Museum.”

I plan on attending the festival as a member of the 501st and would love to meet as many of you as possible while I am there.  I hope to see you on Saturday.

TI-13222 and a young Star Wars fan.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Travis Hamonic Answers Trade Request

Travis Hamonic spoke to the media today regarding the rumors that he requested a trade from the New York Islanders.  He confirmed that the request was made strictly for personal reasons and had nothing to do with his feelings on the organization, "The root of all this is a personal family matter of mine that I hold dear to my heart.”

Hamonic went on to speak highly of his team and the people he has known since being drafted 53rd overall by New York in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. “It has nothing to do with the organization or how I’ve been treated here for six years of playing and another two or three since I was drafted. I’ve honestly been treated like gold from the start.”  He went on to say that he would play the entire season if the situation warranted that he do so.  That particular detail gives Garth Snow much more formal leverage when dealing with other possible suitors interested in trading for Travis Hamonic.  Head coach Jack Capuano agrees with the way the team has reacted to the situation.  Per Brett Cyrgalis, “Capuano said he's known about this for months, he and Snow have talked about players in the West. Life is more important than hockey.”

Hamonic suggested that he respects Isles ownership, coaching staff and General Manager and it was made clear today that he always has respect of his organization and his teammates.  “When [Garth and I] talked about this, it was more on a personal level than just a player-GM thing,” Hamonic said. “He understands what this means for me and how difficult it is. He’s really been there for me and I couldn’t thank him enough.”  His teammates stood by Hamonic when addressing the media.  “He's like a brother to many of us...I've been with him here a long time and he's a great guy,” John Tavares said. “We're there to support him, we're there for him and we made sure we let him know that.”  Hamonic addressed that exact point when he spoke with the media today, "One thing I can guarantee and promise is it's not going change how I play on the ice."  Now that the initial distraction has blown over, the Islanders can focus on a home at home series against the Montreal Canadiens over the weekend.

Per Darren Dreger, “Good Insider Trading segment tonight on TSN. Hamonic's agent (Epp) permitted to speak with GM's about potential trade among topics.”  The only other detail that remains is to see what deal Garth Snow can make on the trade front for his star defensemen during the season or into next summer.  Whether you support his decision or not, Hamonic will most likely be leaving for another team when the right deal can be made.  That choice is yours to make.

NHL Notes:

The NHL, NHLPA announce new format for Honda NHL All-Star game in more detail.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Travis Hamonic Requests To Be Traded

Elliotte Friedman broke the news earlier today that Isles star defenseman, Travis Hamonic asked for a trade prior to the start of the 2015-16 season.  Hamonic declined to comment after the news broke and it was reported that his reasons were of a personal nature. It is reported that he will comment on to the media sometime tomorrow after speaking to his teammates about the situation.  Neither, Islanders General Manger Garth Snow or Hamonic’s agent, Kevin Epp, were available for comment. 

Travis Hamonic signed a 7 year deal in 2013 worth $27M to with the Islanders.  His injury at the end of last season was the primary reason in this blogger’s (and most everyone else’s) opinion for New York’s first round elimination in last season’s playoffs.  Hamonic is said to hold no ill will to the Isles organization, but feels a move to a western Canadian team is very important for him for personal reasons.  Darren Dreger said, “Hamonic loves the Isles. This is personal. Wpg, Edmtn, Cgy and Van all preferred. Might expand to other west cities. Tough on Isles, Garth Snow wants an equitable player in return. Given status of Hamonic tough deal to make.”

Hamonic’s 23 minutes of tenacious ice time per game will be very difficult to replace.  His character is another great commodity that will be lost to the Islanders and well as his leadership and presence in the community. He overcame the death of his father and made it a commitment to reach out to other children who have been made to endure the same life changing event he had faced as a child.  His 4th season of charity work with the Islanders called “D partner of the game” sees Hamonic host a child who had lost one or both parents at a game that includes special behind the scenes autographs & meet and greets.

Per Pierre LeBrun, “Said one NHL team exec regarding Isles GM Garth Snow and a Hamonic deal: ‘He is not giving him away.'' Nor should he for a top-4. Stands to reason that Snow would want top return for a top blue-liner who's 25 and under contract through 2019-20.”

Garth Snow will certainly want a top piece to add to his blue line and may even add another player to the mix in compensation for Hamonic.  Sometimes however, it is difficult to get value in a trade for a player who has asked to be traded.  In Hamonic’s case, it isn’t reported to be an unhappiness with the organization, so Snow will have time to try and accommodate his wishes, but won’t do it without a deal he can be satisfied with.  But those kind of players with skill, term and value are few and far between, especially on defense.  A package may have to do.  I won’t speculate on the possibilities yet because I need to hear a little more on the situation.  I am sure rumors will be everywhere (e5).

It’s a tough pill to swallow for Isles fans everywhere, but I wish Travis Hamonic the best for his future.  He chose not to make it a distraction to start the season and was probably surprised the news broke today.  In any event, we will know more on the details of his story tomorrow.

Isles Notes:

The Islanders went 2-1 on their west coast road trip and got a nice 5-2 win against the Coyotes on Monday.  They are 4th in the east with 23 points at 10-6-3 and are 4-4-2 in their last 10 games.

Per Newsday, After 11 games @barclayscenter, the Islanders rank next-to-last in the NHL in attendance.

Josh Ho-Sang has a 10-game point streak & leads @OHLIceDogs in points. 
NHL Notes:

The All-Star game will be transformed into a 3 on 3 tournament played by divisional All-Star teams.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Are Capuano's Isles Consistently Inconsistent?

The Isles lost to the Boston Bruins by a 2-1 score.  They are 1-3-2 in their last six games after a 6-2-1 start and have scored just 9 goals over those games. Because of this, they have fallen to a 7-5-3 record (17pts), putting them in 5th place within the Metro and ranking them 7th in the eastern conference (and 12th in league).  They are 5-3-2 at home and 2-2-1 on the road.

Offensively, they are ranked 8th in goals for, with 40.  John Tavares and Kyle Okposo lead the team with 11pts after 15 games (JT played 12 games due to flu) while Frans Nielsen has 10 points on the season.  Once a strength, the Isles offense is starting to abandon them in close games with trends like JT being held without a point in his last 4 games.  

The Isles have struggled to find offensive production lately.  They are 6-1-0 when they score at least three goals (including shootout winners) and are 1-4-3 when they do not.  This stat presented by Eric Hornick was proven last season when they were 40-8-4 when scoring at least three goals (including SO winners).

Their on and off PP is still 4th in the NHL (23.1%) despite going 1 for 7 in their last game against Boston on the man advantage. 

Defensively as a team, they are 17th in goals against with 36.  Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss have played well so far. Halak is 4-3-1 with a .928Sv% and a 1.88 gaa & Greiss is 3-1-2 with a .924Sv% and a 2.45 gaa.  Still pretty good numbers, but the team’s inconsistency have worn away at their place in the standings.  They are ranked 4th on the PK (87.8%) and their ability to succeed in man down situations has kept them in games in which they have struggled.  However, recently the Isles have allowed PP goals in three straight games (7-10, 70% PK).

Remember that Pulock & Mayfield are right handed shots, so the Isles called up 21 year old D, Adam Pelech today.  Pelech has 2 & 2 for 4 points for the BST with a team-high +9 rating in 14 games.  Both of Pelech’s goals were SHG.  The Islanders selected Pelech in the third round (65th overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He tallied 11 assists in 65 AHL games last season as a rookie with Bridgeport.  “It was a big surprise, but a dream come true for me,” Pelech said about his first NHL call up against the Sharks in San Jose or Kings in LA.  Pelech has the size and offensive ability to make him an interesting experiment to upgrade the Isles defense and he has earned a shot with his play in Bridgeport.

I have written my opinion on the shortcomings and successes of Jack Capuano in past KoC articles.  He has progressed with his team and there is no arguing that Jack Capuano is 172-153-49 behind the Islander bench, putting him 2nd behind the great Al Arbour.  But the Isles team inconsistency has hurt them over the last few seasons despite their improving roster.  With their 3 game west coast trip starting tomorrow, Capuano and his staff had better win some games or you would think his time may finally be nearing an end.  However, Garth Snow has never worried about what you or I think, so there is that.

But the team has been struggling lately and are starting to misfire their way down the standings.  The struggles of Ryan Strome have gotten him sent down to the BST while Anders Lee and Brock Nelson have netted 7 & 6 points in 15 games so far.  Young players in major roles aren’t always able to consistently find their rhythm game in and game out.  As a matter of fact, vets often have troubles with this as well.  That is where coaching comes into play.  A coach needs to be equal parts tactician and motivator to be successful on the NHL.  A legendary coach like Al Arbour was a master at relating to his players and got the most out of them because of it.  Jack Capuano has gotten the team to be better and, while his current roster leaves little room for excuses, it is an ongoing project.  Still, the team’s game must keep improving.

Capuano, Weight & Cronin have helped make noticeable improvements, but the clock is ticking on JTs prime, so the reality is that the team needs to start consistently evolving and not struggling with the same problems holding 3rd period leads or floundering on special teams.  If not, Garth Snow must be on the lookout for proven & available NHL coaches that fit his system, as well as potential trades or player acquisitions of quality veterans.

Consistency is key. The team’s focus must be on who is playing hard & the coaching staff should run with them. All players, both star or rookie, need to understand that. A player’s talent must equal their effort in order to win consistently.  But in order to find true consistency throughout the lineup, it needs to be managed by coaching. Players must be accountable, and so must coaches.

Isles Notes:

The Isles have lost 31 man games this season due to injury/illness.

Sound Tigers Notes:

The Sound Tigers are 10-4-0-0 thus far this season.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Isles Winless In 3

Tonight, Your New York Islanders hosted the Buffalo Sabers in hopes of ending a winless drought over their last 2 games.  It would have to be without the services of John Tavares yet again (illness) and with Thomas Greiss starting in place of Jaro Halak who had played in the loss to the O.T. Devils on Saturday.  But the Islanders would lose by the score of 2-1 in a game that saw no penalties called and in which they would not be able to generate enough quality chances in the offensive zone.  And when they did, backup goaltender, Linus Ullmark kept them off the score sheet.  Calvin de Haan’s (Clutterbuck) 2nd period goal was the lone score for New York.  Former Islander Matt Moulson would tie the game in the third and Sam Reinhart got the game winner for the Sabres with around 6:00 remaining. Thomas Greiss (20 of 22 with a .909Sv%) had another strong effort in the loss.  The Isles failed to add any points & fall to 6-3-3 on the season. They will have a rematch with New Jersey on Tuesday at the Barclays Center wearing their BKLYN Black jerseys.  Calvin de Haan was named 3rd star of the game.

The Islanders met the Devils at the Rock in a Halloween Matinee on Saturday.  Prior to the game, New York announced John Tavares (day to day) would not be suiting up,  breaking his 92 game streak and said they wouldn’t give the reasons until after the game.  A suspicious and concerning set of events for many fans and media, but as it turned out, he was probably affected by the illness that hit Jaro Halak and roommate, Ryan Strome in the past few days.  Head Coach, Jack Capuano wouldn’t give a timetable for his return and that he would be reevaluated prior to the Buffalo game on Sunday.  Despite taking control of the game after the first 5 or 6 minutes, they lost in O.T. to New Jersey.  The Devils took a 2-0 lead in the first period that the Isles erased in the 2nd.  Anders Lee PPG (Zidlicky & Leddy) and Frans Nielsen SHG (Strait) got the Isles knotted at 2.  Neither team was able to score in the 3rd or Overtime periods, so a shootout would be necessary to determine a winner.  It is important to note that the Devils were held without a shot until the final minute of the 3rd period.  Mike Cammalleri scored the 3-2 shootout winner for New Jersey while Frans Nielsen was the lone Islander to score.  Some of the good news in the loss was that special teams had come up big and that the Isles were able to get a point without Tavares in the lineup.  They played well, but they didn’t show up until the 2nd period and spotted NJ a 2-1 lead.  That kind of thing needs to be addressed and the entire team needs to play a full 60 to be successful.

The Isles dominated in shots by a 26-17 margin and went 1 for 2 on the PP and 3/3 on the PK.  That means the Islanders PK stands at an impressive 27 for last 27, good for tops in the NHL.  Jaro Halak (3-1-1) went 15 of 17 with an .882Sv%.  Frans Nielsen was named 2nd star of the game and now has an impressive 9 points in 11 Games played.

On Thursday, your New York Islanders lost in O.T. to the Carolina Hurricanes by the score of 3-2 due to poor puck management.  Matt Martin (Leddy & Cizikas) and Frans Nielsen PPG (Leddy & Greiss) put the Isles up 1 & 2-0 in the 1st & 2nd periods, but the Hurricanes matched their intensity, forced NY turnovers and tied the score each time to force the extra session.  The Isles held on to a point in a sloppy effort, but Ron Hainsey scored the GWG for Carolina.  Thomas Greiss started in place of an ill Jaro Halak & had another strong outing despite his numbers, going 26/29 with a n .897 Sv%.  New York was out shot 29-19 in the game, went ½ on the PP and 2/2 on the PK.  Frans Nielsen was named 2nd star of the game who said, “We were beating ourselves with turnovers.”  Ryan Strome was out of the lineup due to Illness, Steve Bernier played a good physical & defensive oriented game in relief.

* *

I wanted to thank everyone for their continued support of KoC over the last several years and I enjoy bringing it to all of you.  However, over the last two years, my Fathers health has declined with his progressing dementia and I haven’t been able to bring as much coverage of our beloved Islanders as I would have liked.

Because of this, I will have to modify what I can do with the blog for the immediate future.  I intend to keep bringing you my coverage of the Islanders, but will try to focus on feature articles instead of regularly covering each game.  Although I will recap and comment on games when I am able, my primary focus will be producing articles that give a little more of me, juicy stats and a little less recanting of each and every game.

I hope you will stay with me and cheer on our team for what should be an exciting inaugural season in Brooklyn. 

Until next time fans. Isle be there.

Isles Notes:

Notes from Yahoo on Isles win vs Calgary:  “The Isles' 4-0 win over Flames was first time New York has shut out Calgary since Chico Resch blanked them on Jan. 20, 1981.  Isles' Jaroslav Halak recorded his 38th career shutout to tie Jonathan Quick for fourth place among active goalies.”

Barclays Center & Brooklyn impressions by International Business Times.  

Sound Tigers Notes:

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers have named Michael Picker team President

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Islanders Smother Flames

Yesterday, the only thing better to me than Josh Bailey, Matt Martin & John Tavares having their own Knight of Cups T-Shirt, was seeing our New York Islanders beating the Calgary Flames 4-0 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in front of 11,582 fans.  With the win, the Isles improve to a 6-2-1 record and a second place Metro position, just one point behind the Rangers with a game at hand.  It is the Isles 2nd best start in their post cup era since going 7-0-1-1 in 01-02.

After a closely played 1st period, the Islanders wore down the visiting Flames and simply outworked them in the game.  At the 14:01 mark of the 2nd,  Mikhail Grabovski PPG (Bailey & Boychuk) scored his second goal in two games with a shot from the top of the crease.  But it wasn’t until the 3rd period that the Islanders took control and never looked back. 

Frans Nielsen’s (Kulemin & Okposo) goal early in the period was the one that got the Isles push going after he broke in and ripped it over Ortio for a 2-0 Isles lead.  Cal Clutterbuck deposited a pass in the net from Casey Cizikas who relentlessly outworked the Flames' Russel along the boards to the side of the net and delivered it to his line mate for a 3-0 lead for New York.  Frans Nielsen (Okposo & Kulemin) would add his 2nd of the game after a Kyle Okposo shot deflected off him for the final goal in an impressive 4-0 Isles win.

On the defensive side of things, Jaro Halak is now 3-1-0 (28 saves) and was in great position all night long and completely controlled the crease the entire game.  He made several saves in the first two periods that set the pace for the methodical Isles win.  It was his 2nd shutout of the season and the 38th of his career.

Special teams was big for the home team.  The Isles were 1/3 on the PP (4th in NHL at 25%) and 3/3 on the PK (2nd in NHL at 91.18%) which has gone 21 of 21 in their last 6 games.  They outshot their opponent 35-29 in the contest.

Although Tavares’ point streak ended at 6 games, Josh Bailey has points in 5 straight, Nikolay Kulemin with 6 in his last 6 and Kyle Okposo has 9 points in his last 7.  New York is 6-1-0 when scoring at least 3 goals so far this season. (Hornick) 

Jaroslav Halak, Frans Nielsen & Kyle Okposo were named the 3 stars of the game.

Isles Notes:

Isles D, Thomas Hickey has been put on the IR with a lower body injury and is expected to miss 4 weeks.

Former Isles G, Kevin Poulin cleared waivers for the TBL, assigned to Syracuse in AHL.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Isles Fall To Boston, Then Best St. Louis

Your New York Islanders split their weekend matchups, losing on Friday to the Boston Bruins and besting the St. Louis Blues in overtime on Saturday.

After surrendering the first goal on Friday night, the Isles improved play helped them to a 2-1 lead in the first period on goals by Josh Bailey PPG (Tavares & Strome) and Casey Cizikas (Boychuk & Martin).  Boston answered New York’s renewed efforts with some effort of their own and scored 4 unanswered goals through the next two periods, capturing a 5-2 lead.  The Isles Thomas Hickey would add another goal in the final minutes of the third, but they would lose the game 5-3. 

New York went 1 of 2 on the PP and 3/3 on the PK.  Jaro Halak (2-1-0) finished with 21 saves on 25 shots with an .840Sv%.  The Islanders 4 game winning streak ended with the loss in a game they spent trying to recapture the edge they showed in the opening period. But they were outplayed by their opponents and made mistakes for most of the game, ultimately coming up short and were disappointed in the loss.  Tavares – “We got away from our game and we tried to make too many pretty plays. We didn’t win enough battles and that’s not who we are.”

Casey Cizikas was named 3rd star of the game.

The Isles would look to get back to their winning ways the next night in St. Louis.  Kyle Okposo PPG (Leddy & Nielsen) & John Tavares (Kulemin & Bailey) got the Isles a 2-0 lead going into the third period.  The blues would tie the game at 2-2 and ultimately force O.T., but Mikhail Grabovski (Nielsen) scored at the 4:00 mark of the extra session to give New York a 3-2 win.  On the winning play, Mikhail Grabovski passed it to Frans Nielsen, who then fed the puck back to Grabovski on a beautiful cross crease pass.  Grabovski tapped it in with two St. Louis players right on top of him in the paint.  Probably one of the most exciting goals this season and it was Grabo’s first goal of the season.

Special teams saw the Isles go 1/3 on the PP and 5/5 on the PK.  Thomas Greiss (2-0-1 on Ssn) had another strong effort on the night, making 38 saves on 40 shots with a.950Sv%.  To me, he was the story of the game and interestingly enough, has faced 40 shots in each of his wins this season.  John Tavares has extended his scoring streak to 6 games.

Mikhail Grabovski & John Tavares were named 1st & 3rd stars of the game.

The Isles sit 3rd in the Metro at 11 pts, just behind the Rangers and Capitals with 12 points.  

They have Calgary & Carolina at home on Monday and Thursday @ 7pm and a Halloween matinee in New Jersey against the Devils @ 1pm on Saturday. 

Isles Notes:

Anthony Beauvillier agrees to terms on three-year entry level contract.

Sound Tigers Notes:

The BST have loaned Parker Milner, Loic Leduc & Carter Verhaeghe to the #MoMavs.