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

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