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

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Isles Down Jets - Halak To Bridgeport

Have a Happy, Healthy & Safe New Year in 2017!

Our New York islanders went into their untimely, but mandatory 5-day NHL break after tonight’s game at the Winnipeg Jets.  Casey Cizikas made a return (Beauvillier scratched) and Greiss was in net for an inspired effort as the Islanders won for the 4th time in 5 games, beating Winnipeg 6-2. In that time, they’ve scored at least 4 goals in 5 of those games and in 15 straight periods (Hornick).  The Isles had 6 different players (Kulemin, Tavares, Prince, Strome, Lee & Ladd) score a goal. Anders Lee added his team-leading 14th goal and Josh Bailey, his team-leading 19th assist. They will remain at an NHL .500, 15-15-6 after 36 games over their bye-week, but have once again looked as if they are starting to find a groove.  They are at Colorado on Friday, 1/6 and Arizona, Saturday, 1/7. It was great response and a character win for New York.

Yesterday, Garth Snow elected to place starting goaltender, Jaroslav Halak (62-38-13 in 3 seasons with Isles) on waivers after a soft performance in a 6-4 loss against the Wild, snapping a 3 game winning streak. Halak, apparently, refused to speak to the media after the loss and it may have been the last straw of what has become a negative image of the former All-Star goaltender. He hasn’t been happy with the team for some time. Halak is under contract for the rest of this season ($2.5M) and the next, with a $4.5M cap hit. I felt it was only a matter of time that either Halak or Berube were moved based on the comments of shared agent, Allan Walsh. If you recall, Walsh complained that the trio of Isles goaltenders weren’t getting enough ice time and that it was having a negative impact on their game and the success of the team. The Islanders then made Halak available for trade. It’s no surprise that this kind of attention brought about by a player’s agent probably didn’t sit well with Garth Snow. Eric Hornick reminded us that it was the 2nd time in 3 months that New York waived (P.A. Parenteau claimed by Devils) one of Walsh’s clients.

Halak’s record was 6-8-5 with a 3.23gaa and a .904Sv% this season. Yesterday, Eric Hornick mentioned that in 2016, Halak is 14-15-6, .908Sv% and a 2.94gaa, 2 shut outs while Greiss was (8-5-0, 2.48gaa, .922Sv% this season) is 20-11-2, .918Sv%2.59gaa and no shut outs. Greiss’ 9th win of the season tonight (30/32 with a .941Sv%) was a big one for both he and his team. 

Halak was struggling despite coming off a solid World Cup Tournament effort over the summer. So if Greiss and Berube are part of the Isles future in net, UFA Thomas Greiss needs to be re-signed for next season and to remain an RFA, JF Berube needs to play in 28 of the remaining 46 games.  When I polled my followers on Twitter, many feel that with the efforts they have seen lately, this was the right move, but aren’t happy with the way and timing of how it went down.

Could this be the first change in team culture forced by the new majority ownership or just Garth Snow adjusting on the fly? Could it be that Snow was unable to trade Halak due to his poor play lately? Will the next changes to the team fall more freely? The pressure has to be and should be high for Snow, Capuano and the players on the ice to start winning consistently and controlling their own destiny. If there needs to be changes, then they should be done carefully and if they are, could right the ship.  The Penguins were in a free-fall last year and their mid-season coaching change was a key catalyst in vaulting them to a Stanley Cup Championship. Will a team president be the thing that brings a GM or Coaching change and usually, a new direction for the franchise? The Islanders need to keep riding the surge of players like Ladd and Lee and rally around something to unify their goal to improve. There needs to be less “passengers” and more guys ready to consistently outwork whoever they are set to play against. With this kind of mindset, the winning should be more likely to come.

The truth is Jaroslav Halak had a great start to his Islanders stint, and began to fall off. On Twitter, @ReganKingIsles mentioned “There are six teams who have enough space to claim Halak (EDM, OTT, WPG, FLA, NJD, CAR). None of them are going to.” And after noon today, none of them did. Halak was then assigned to the AHL Sound Tigers after nearly 400 games of NHL experience and leading Team Europe to a runner-up finish in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. He will have 48 hours to report to Bridgeport.  I am sure Tigers goaltender’s, Christopher Gibson, Eamon McAdam and Stephon Williams aren’t too happy about the demotion either.

Snow had this to say on Halak, "Coming to the rink and being the hardest worker, having a great attitude, that's something that doesn't matter who you are and what position you play and what role you have in the organization, that's what we expect out of everyone in this organization … We expect nothing less form Jaro in that regard." JF Berube should have a big opportunity to show more of what he can do and fight for a role on this year’s team. Snow mentioned that Berube will see an increased work load in the last 47 regular season games for New York according to Cory Wright.

When he is on, Halak is probably close to a top 10 NHL net minder, but he has struggled this season and at the $4.5M per season price, no other team was willing to take the chance. The Islanders needs to feel secure in their goaltending to go out and concentrate on controlling play in all zones, applying pressure and scoring goals. This is especially true when they are worrying about giving up early leads or blowing them late in the game, always having to catch up. So whatever change is coming, it needs to set them on a steady path to improvement and one that could lead to consistency.

It has been a disappointing campaign thus far. 

Let the wave continue and the culture change begin.

Isles Notes:

Kieffer Bellows, Matthew Barzal and Team USA were in Toronto to play against Canada in the World juniors and wins Group B for 1st time in 6 years with a 3-1 win, currently 4-0 in the standings. Next game on Monday vs CZE or SUI.

Adam Pelech has been activated off the IR and loaned to Bridgeport.

The Islanders have reassigned forward Carter Verhaeghe and defenseman Jesse Graham to the Missouri Mavericks (ECHL).

Arthur Staple on Josh Ho-Sang, “Some assumed JHS oversleeping first day of #Isles camp last year was his 1st mistake. Far from it, I was told. Culmination of many mistakes. Been some rumors around NHL that #Isles are shopping Ho-Sang. Not true. Still want him to succeed. Part of the process, as they like to say.”

Monday, December 26, 2016

Our New York Islanders: More Naughty Than Nice

Our New York Islanders took a positive two game winning streak into the Christmas break, but some feel they still deserved coal in their stockings.

They have gone 2 & 5 in their last 7 games, sitting 14th in the east and last in the Metro. Although they have improved over the last few games, especially in a 5-1 win vs the Sabres in Okposo’s return to Brooklyn, the Isles continue to struggle on the road (3-7-2), on special teams (27th at 14.3% on PP and 24th on the once dominant PK, now at 79.1%) and holding on to leads, especially late in the game. None of this is new and it’s a recurring, frustrating pattern for the team as they approach the half-way point of the season.  Coach Capuano still has hope, “When teams lose it, they start quitting, there's no emotion. That hasn't happened with this group." While they haven’t quit, we keep hearing about “passengers” and “guys struggling,” but the only changes we have seen aside from the occasional call-up was off-season depth pick-up, Brian Gionta (Per Staple, ‘Gionta's two-way deal is for a prorated portion of $575K/$200K’) being signed to a two-way deal after playing in Bridgeport. @garick16 mentions, "Ironically Steve Bernier would've been a much better call up at 9-5-14 in 18 games.” 

When I polled my readers on twitter, most believe that the new ownership needs to replace the GM first, then the coaching staff while others want to trade veterans like Hamonic and a few top prospects like Ho-Sang and Barzal to get a much needed winger to play with Tavares.

Follower @OneCrazyD mentions, “GM drafts using analytics(possession), hires coach w/no analytical skillset, strategy O dump n chase D collapse block shots … GM at fault for letting coach reduce players skillset with horrid strategies & the coach cant adjust BOTH need to go.”  So does the new ownership of the Islanders continue to stay with the plan, do they just add another executive to the management in the President’s seat to shake things up from the top?  Do they consider making some intermediate or big roster changes?

Credit the team with working on their problematic slow start tendencies. Eric Hornic mentions a few stats that we should consider. The Isles have scored first for the 12th time in their last 14 games. It’s also been nice to see Ryan Strome make some noise for the third time in 5 games and Anthony Beauvillier scored for the second time in his last three and John Tavares returned to the score sheet for the first time in six games.  Even more importantly, “The Isles have scored at least four goals in consecutive games for the first time this season; their nine goals over the last two games matches a season high.”

The other side of the blue line is having a tough time in some areas of the game. Goaltending is mostly suspect and defensively, the Isles are reeling a bit.  Jaroslav Halak has struggled. He is 5-8 with a 3.13gaa & a .907Sv%. But Thomas Greiss has won two in-a-row and is (2.48gaa & .922Sv%) with an 8-5-0 record (6 & 2 in his last 8) has allowed two goals or less in five of those six wins. JF Berube hasn’t gotten a big enough sample size to judge his season so far. An OT loss and tough team effort in front of him against Ottawa has kept him from getting a win, but he has looked comfortable and made some big saves.  As a defensive unit, the Isles “have been tied in the third period in nine of their 14 regulation losses (and 15 of their 20 overall losses) but have allowed the lead goal in the final 3 minutes of regulation five times.”

That’s a losing plan for a coach that says his squad hasn’t quit. I am not sure how long they will be permitted to underachieve despite the talent and efforts of many throughout the organization. We all want to cheer on this team, but we also expect something to cheer about from top, down.

Isles Notes:

The Isles have the Capitals at home tomorrow night at 7pm, at the Wild on Thursday, 12/29 and finish 2016 in Winnipeg against the Jets at 7pm on the 31st.

Casey Cizikas is out indefinitely with an upper body injury. Cizikas is an impact player with 4 goals, 13 points, +7 and 71 hits to his credit in 29 games this season.

Isles prospect, Kieffer Bellows makes team USA for WJC. 

Could the islanders really come back to Long Island?

Former Islander, D Marc-Andre Bergeron signs professional tryout contract (PTO) with the Cleveland Monsters of the AHL.  

Sound Tigers Notes:

Per hornick, “The Bridgeport Sound Tigers are spending the Christmas break with a 16-11-0-0 record, despite a 4-game losing streak.

Bracken Kearns continues to lead the Sound Tigers in scoring (8-14-22), while Steve Bernier leads the team in goals with nine.  Toews leads the team with 16 assists and is second on the team in points (4-16-20); fellow rookie Eamon McAdam leads the team with 7 wins (7-1-0).

Toews leads all AHL rookie defensemen with those 16 assists, and is tied for the AHL rookie defenseman lead with 20 points.”

Friday, December 9, 2016

Islanders Commit To Clutterbuck

Garth Snow has signed alternate captain, fan favorite, clutch, goal scoring PK’er, Cal Clutterbuck to a 5-year contract extension worth $3.5M AAV, broken-down as follows: 2017-18: $5M 2018-19: $4M 2019-20: $3.5M 2020-21: $2.5M 2021-22: $2.5M per @CapFriendly. The 29-year-old Clutterbuck has 2 & 7 for 9 points in 25 games and has usually been a factor for the successes in the wins New York has put together this season. He was coming off a career best (goals, 15 & points, 23) last year and like Casey Cizikas, has proven himself as more than a 4th line player to the Islanders. The front loaded contract is a safety net for Snow and the Isles to allow a more trade friendly scenario if the relationship sours. It’s a lot of money for another likeable agitator, but Clutterbuck is more than that. Again, much like Cizikas, Clutterbuck brings a dynamic to the team that they struggle to replace without them.

And I am not saying the Islanders shouldn’t focus on adding better, top end complementation to the aid of John Tavares, but let’s be real and consider what the big picture looks like. Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera have been contributing slowly, but not anywhere as near expected. When you have a proven commodity like the Isles do in Cizikas and Clutterbuck who can and have changed the fortune of countless games, you try and retain them. It’s easy to bash the team and the GM for the same shortcomings that befall them, and you should. Winning is the goal and they haven’t been able to figure out how to ice a consistent winner with veteran add-ons and promising prospects, but you should also consider the ire generated from “letting go” of players like Okposo, Nielsen and Martin. Losing Nielsen was crushing, but he left to go somewhere else with better money on the table at home and although Okposo and Martin may have scored goals or brought it each and every shift, they weren’t worth the prices they were asking. Especially from a team that needs to plan on how they will be able to keep a free agent in John Tavares, even if he signs on again for a home-town discount.

Eric Hornick points out, “With Clutterbuck extended until 2021-22, every #isles F is now under contract for next yr. (Seidenberg and Greiss are only pending UFAs).”

Our New York Islanders defeated the St. Louis Blues on Thursday by a 3-2 score and are now better than an NHL .500 for the first time all season. They are 11-10-5 and sit 14th in the Eastern conference. Troubles are plenty, but the team has definitely done some damage over the last few games by beating Pens, Caps and their rival Rangers on Tuesday in a physical and energetic fashion. Special teams have been a problem for New York with consistency. Their PP is struggling once again and is tied for the last in the league (FLA at 13.5%). Interestingly enough, they are 3-4-3 when they score at least one power play goal and 8-6-2 when they do not (Hornick). Their improving PK is 13th in the league at 83.3%. “The Isles have not allowed a power play goal in their last 8 games, stopping all 19 opponent opportunities.” They must also do a better job of building leads and holding on late in the game. What else is new, right?

They are 6-2-2 in their last 10 and a few players have begun to catch fire. John Tavares has extended his point scoring streak to 4 games and Josh Bailey had a 6 game point scoring streak end last night. Anders Lee has scored 7 goals in his last 8 games and has scored 10 points on the season so far. Eric Hornick tells us that the Isles have scored at least three goals (excluding shootout winners) in five straight games. And we know there is something to that magic number of 3 (10-1-2) that he always talks about. They are also 7-1-3 when they score first and are 4-9-2 when they allow the opening goal.  Offense is the key, especially when the defense contributes the way it does, so the recent offensive push is what they need to continue their climb from the eastern conference, slump-induced basement.

Isles Notes:

Per @TheHockeyNews, “John Tavares scores after making one of the most unique moves ever.”

Per Eric Hornick, “The Isles are 18-1-3 all-time at Barclays Center against Western Conference opponents.”

Are the Islanders looking for a new President? Yes. With an infusion of new brass blood just like the Lightning did by hiring Steve Yzerman, the Islanders will be looking into some big name alumni and NHL icons. Pat LaFontaine, Brad Richards and Kevin Gilmore have been names I’ve read, rumored to be on the team’s list of prospective candidates.

Jaro Halak is 5-6-5, 2.88gaa and a .912Sv% on the season. Thomas Greiss is 6-4-0, 2.42gaa and a .919Sv%. JF Berube has dressed as the back-up for 9 straight. Per Hornick, “Berube would be UFA if he does not play at least 30 minutes in 22 games this season.”

The islanders are at the Blue Jackets on Saturday at 7pm.

Attention Isles Fans:

Blue And Orange Army Hardcore is running their 4th annual Toys for Tots, toy drive right now at Islanders Home Games through December 18th. They are collecting new, unwrapped toys outside section 228/229 to benefit the Marine Charity.

Be sure to see Craig, Sharon, Fess or Tbone for more information.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Islanders Making Waves & BST Star Wars Night

Our New York Islanders are now 27th in the league, last in the Metropolitan division and the Eastern conference with 22 pts and a 9-10-4 record. The Isles have collected points in 4 OT or SO loses and those have made somewhat of a difference at this point, keeping them close enough to be dangerous. And while a lot has gone wrong, (goal scoring struggles, holding leads, lack of physicality on the check, missing PP with an up and down PK) afew good things have been happening amidst the things continue to plague the team. They have definitely started to trend towards the positive, like a 3 game winning streak which included an OT win vs Calgary, a comeback win vs the Stanley Cup Champion Pens (scored twice in 3 seconds tying NHL record) and a blowout 3rd period, good for a 3-0 shutout of the Caps last night. It was Jaroslav Halak’s (4-6-4, 2.86gaa & .911 Sv%) 40th career shutout. Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera have started to contribute more on the score-sheet and the team’s recent flurry of scoring big goals, very late in games (twice in last 3) is a trend we would love to see continue.

The recent surge could give ownership a reason to stay behind GM, Garth Snow and Head Coach, Jack Capuano despite bad press throughout the NHL media pool and even fan petitions to encourage change behind the bench. The Islanders are playing better offensively and making a difference on the fore and back check, and that is translating on the ice. Eric Hornick mentioned that the Islanders have scored 1st in the last 4 games (3-1) and have won 3 straight for the first time this season, putting them 1 game out from an NHL .500 record. He has also pointed out for quite some time that the Isles magic number is 3. When they score 3 goals, they win games. They are 8-1-1 when doing so this season (37-4-2 last season) and can dictate the flow of a game, bringing more consistent play instead of struggling to stay in the mix.

While rumors abound on the team looking to find a top winger to play with franchise player and Captain, John Tavares, recent line tweaking has yielded some results. The Nelson-Tavares, Bailey line and opened some space and started to give the Islanders a little more bite. With Tavares, Nelson and Bailey all leading the team in points (18,15 & 14), it was definitely worth a try. Defensively, the Isles are enjoying an impact from their D joining the rush and playing well as a unit. They have contributed 47 points and Scott Mayfield has 2 of those points in 2 games played. Ryan Pullock and Adam Pelech look comfortable on the ice and the team has several players that have value on the trade market. They are a tight-knit group that spoke up on behalf of their coach, so we will have to wait and see what happens in the next few games as chemistry may continue to develop.

The Bridgeport Sound Tigers are enjoying a 13-6-0 record and will play Binghamton on Saturday night at 7pm. Eric Hornick, “Bracken Kearns continues to lead the Sound Tigers in scoring (6-11-17), while Steve Bernier leads the team in goals with eight goals.  Toews is tied for the AHL rookie assist lead with those 12 helpers. Christopher Gibson, who hasn't played since an injury November 5th, remains the team leader in victories (6-0-0) while McAdam is now 5-0-0.”

On Saturday, December 3rd, the Islanders major AHL affiliate, Bridgeport Sound Tigers will host a Star Wars night to benefit the Bridgeport Hospital Foundation. The team will be raising money and auctioning off special Star Wars themed jerseys for this great cause. The Sound Tigers have asked different organizations to support them on the night and my wife and I felt a duty to respond. A few members of my international Star Wars charity group will be there, in costume with me to help bring some spirit and smiles to the night. I’ll be the one dressed as a 181st Tie Pilot, please stop by and say hello!

Isles Notes:

Sunday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings will be the first time the Islanders see Frans Nielsen as a member of the opposition, since leaving the team as a free agent this summer.

12/1 Seidenberg off IR, Pelech (upper) on IR.

Per Eric Hornick, “JF Berube dressed as the back-up goalie for the sixth straight game.” Berube has yet to play for the Islanders this season. Thomas Greiss is 5-4-0 with a 2.47gaa and a .919Sv%.

Per Brendan Burke, “PK this season: First 6 games: 95.4% Next 8 games: 61.5% Last 8 games: 91.7% I offer no reason nor explanation, just numbers.”

Per IPB, “The Islanders are said to have a team value of $385 million, which is good for the 18th spot in the NHL, according to Forbes.

Forbes calculated the value of the team to have increased 18 percent from last year. 
New team owners, Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin, paid $485 million to become majority owners, replacing Charles Wang, who is now a minority investor in the team.” 

Per Daniel Friedman, “@forbes also suggests team will leave Barclays after 2017-18 season.”

Thomas Hickey scored another O.T. game winner against Calgary on Monday to give the Islanders a 2-1 win. Per Eric Hornick, “Thomas Hickey became the first defenseman in Islander history to score four regular season overtime goals.”
D, Adam Pelech left Monday night's 2-1 overtime win over the Calgary Flames with an upper-body injury. Scott Mayfield in for Pelech against Pittsburgh on Wednesday, 11/30.

On 11/28 IN 1979: Billy Smith of the @NYIslanders became first goalie in NHL history to be credited with a goal.   

11/23 The Islanders beat the Ducks in a bizarre 14 round shoot out. Thomas hickey scores a controversial goal in 12 round to keep NY alive until Nick Leddy scored the winning goal.

Sound Tigers Notes:

11/29 The @NYIslanders have activated Ryan Pulock (D) off the team's IR list and loaned him to the #SoundTigers.
Per Brian Compton, “Pulock needs a couple of games to get back into game shape. Injury kept him off the ice for a bit.”

11/16 D, Jesse Graham and goaltender Eamon McAdam have been reassigned to the team by the New York Islanders from the Missouri Mavericks (ECHL). In addition, goaltender Josh Robinson has been released from his PTO and returned to Missouri.

NHL Notes:

NBC to televise 2017 Honda @NHL All Star Game - orig. scheduled for @NBCSN, first time on net TV since '04.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Accountability, Isles Style

Peter Botte’s latest article said Isles fans should hold Jack Capuano and Garth Snow fully accountable for the current state of the team. I think we can all get behind that. Everyone involved, from the players on up should be held accountable for their role in the current state of the team, but exactly what will that mean for the New York Islanders in Brooklyn on Friday when they face the Stanley Cup Champion, Pittsburgh Penguins? Without something crucial finding the means by which to change, the struggle would seemingly remain.

On October 25th, I wrote an evaluation of the Isles 6 games into the young season. Their shortcomings were real but there was a list of things that were working and some that needed improvement, from a team that believed they had the horses to become a serious contender in the east. The leadership and consistency that they needed night in and night out to compete with the likes of a Montreal, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay or a suddenly surging New York Rangers team (13-4 including Michael Grabner with13 pts in 16 games) was in short supply. Per Michael Schuerlein, “Too many things that worry me about #Isles among them: Rudderless, zero accountability, goal scoring, depth, Tavares's future, and silence”

On November 3rd, Jack Capuano reacted defensively to a question asked in a post-game interview about his level of concern for the slide the Islanders found themselves on. “Where are we going to get point production? Took 134 points out of our line up (Nielsen, Okposo & Martin) that we lost, and now we’ve got to find a way … to get some balanced offense on our hockey team. That’s my concern.” Whether his team has stopped playing for him or the chemistry lost or changed has been too much to overcome right now, the 2015-16 Islanders aren’t living up to expectations. Expectations of the fans, the new ownership and for themselves. Losing a Frans Nielsen was huge. Losing the points and fire provided by Kyle Okposo and the heart of Matt Martin is something that will hurt unless you, as the organization, do something about replacing it. Garth Snow made some moves that he felt were suitable to do just that, but so far, haven’t delivered. And ultimately, its his show to run.

The Islanders are now 16 games into the season, 6 points (-11 diff) and 7 spots out of a playoff race that traditionally shows a strong indicator of late season playoff positioning by the Thanksgiving break that is just a week away.  All the things that needed to improve like balanced scoring, holding on to leads, improving PP, playing well late in the game by their veteran players just isn’t happeneing. Alan Walsh, an agent for Jaroslav Halak (3-5-3, 3.09 gaa & .904Sv%) and JF Berube (and PA Parenteau) got his clients into the news when he complained the goaltenders don’t get enough practice within a three goalie system to stay sharp. The Islanders responded by saying the impending free agent, and client to Walsh, Jaroslav Halak was available on the trade market. Last year’s hero, Thomas Greiss is struggling behind his team with a 2-3-0 with a 2.71 gaa & a .909Sv%. JF Berube continues to wait for his turn.

As of last night, their scoring is 14th (40), a PP that ranks 26th (10.4%) in the NHL, their goaltending is 24th (49) in goals against, tied for 1st for times shorthanded (64). Top signings, Andrew Ladd (2 & 1 for 3 pts and a -4) and Jason Chimera (1 & 5 for 6 pts and -6) haven’t made the intended splash as of yet and the future young guns of Lee & Strome have 7 points combined so far.

So what this all boils down to is either a coming of age for a team who feels they can take the next step or a team that will cling to an inefficient incarnation. One built from the plans and ideologies that promised a rebuild from the ground up with home grown talent and promising free agents. I think they should be better than their record and they, despite how badly they have played, aren’t out of it yet. But none of that matters.  What matters is that that unless you fix what is broken, things will continue to worsen. Those things that need to be addressed are team leadership and results from the depth of talent. We all know the potential of a Michael DalColle, Josh Ho-Sang and Mathew Barzal. But with a John Tavares in his prime with 2 years left on his $5.5M per contract, the Islanders need their top veteran talent to complement their superstar forward and right now, that is not happening.

Brian Compton posted a quote from Capuano on if the roster needs a boost via trade. This time, Capuano said, "It's on me. I have to find the right combinations for us to find some offense." A quote that has a little different connotation that the one we heard on November 3rd insinuating that the losses of the club outweighed the gains and he was working with what he had. Garth Snow has done some great things and based on the misfiring machine he currently puts on the ice, can stand to make a few more tweaks to his hockey club. Rumors abound about Capuano being days away from dismissal, about Snow on the hot seat and more jeers about the ‘same old Islanders.’ How will the new majority ownership proceed in lessening mediocrity of a team that now sits in last place within the eastern conference?

Mercifully, the series with the Lightning is over. A 3-0 sweep by Tampa Bay that saw New York undone and embarrassed at times, outscored 14-2 over 3 games. An overall refocus and a new outlook is sorely needed and it needs to start with a balanced attack. Eric Hornick points out that the Isles are 0-7-2 when they can’t manage to score 3, so the offense just isn’t carrying their share of the load. If it wasn’t for the defense, the Isles wouldn’t be scoring nearly as much. The blue liners have 13 (& 33 for 46pts) of the 40 goals the team has scored this season.

The Islanders seem to be out of sync and going through the motions, almost waiting for something to change. But good things don’t always come to those who wait. We should know. We have been waiting for quite a while.

Aey, Islanders fans?

Per Bob McKenzie: "I don't think Garth Snow has any intention whatsoever of making a coaching change at this time."

Isles Notes:

Per Arthur Staple, “Talked to a couple Lightning players and asked about the Barclays Center ice. "It's 10 times better than ours."

11/14   Travis Hamonic returns to Islanders line up.

Dennis Seidenberg was placed on IR with an upper-body injury (out indefinitely). Scott Mayfield was recalled on emergency basis.

11/9     Mathew Barzal was returned to the Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

The Sound Tigers have signed goaltender Josh Robinson to a PTO due to injury to Christopher Gibson.

11/7     Travis Hamonic was placed on the team's IR list. Adam Pelech was recalled from Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL).

10/25   Steve Bernier cleared waivers and was assigned to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Per Brad Kurtzberg, “Former #Isles goalie Kevin Poulin signs a one-year deal with Astana Barys of the #KHL.”

Per Magnus Larsson “Former #Isles Sean Bergenheim joins ditto Matt Donovan in Gothenburg's SHL team, Frölunda Indians.”

New plans for Coliseum revealed per Newsday.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Islanders 666

My focus for today's article is like something off of a certain Iron Maiden albumThe Islanders are 6 games into the season and I’ll look into the 6 reasons that they improved and the 6 areas in which they need to focus on to be keep it going. 666 may be the number of the beast, but it’s also the subject of my team analysis. Scream for me Brooklyn!

Your New York Islanders are 3 & 3 after 6 games. They have 6 points and currently sit in the Metro’s 4th spot (10th in east), only 2 points out of 1st. After a tough start, going 0-2 and suffering an agitating loss to the rival New York Rangers, the Islanders have been doing some good things. And those things are making them harder to play and giving them more chance to win. Mr. Eric Hornick sums it up well to those who panicked after the slow start. In the “Last 5 isles games: 3 wins, and 1-goal losses to defending Western Conference Champ and defending Presidents Trophy winner. Time to exhale.”

So let’s go over my top 6 reasons they have climbed back up to a .500 record and made some noise doing it.

1) The offense came together in game 6 and scored 6 goals, half of what they managed to tally in the first 5. And they scored 3 of them in just a 3:08 span against Minnesota. Isles Captain, John Tavares has 5 points in 6 games (along with Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson) while Alan Quine has found a spot with Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier, scoring 5 points on Monday.

2) The revamped “4th” line has been excellent once again. Nikolay Kulemin replaced Matt Martin, joining Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck and the trio has netted some big results for New York. They have 8 points in 6 games, Cizikas, some big face-off wins and the line continues to get a lot of ice time in crucial situations.

3) Eric Hornick reminded us what kind of 9 game tryout Rookie Anthony Beauvillier is having. Beauvillier has 5 points (1-4-5) in five NHL games and in just 47:25 of ice time. “Beauvillier has recorded his five career points He has the highest points per 60 minutes played ratio (6.33) of any player in the entire NHL (minimum 3 games played).” He’s blocking shots, finishing checks, understanding the flow of the game and has been working extremely hard to do all he can to prove he belongs right where he is. Wow.

4) Cory Wright touched on the contributions of the Isles D adding 5 goals over the last two games, a trend that led the team to an 18-8-3 record when getting a goal from a defenseman. That’s especially big going into this season because if Isles can score throughout the pairings (has combined for 6 & 6 for 12 points -Hornick), the contributions will put other teams on notice. Especially if a game changer like Johnny Boychuk (4pts in 6 games) can continue his pace and add a few more shorthanded GWG’s.  The PK is the leagues best, with an impressive 95.5% (21 of 22 on the Ssn.) and continues to preserve their chances while man-down.

5) The team goaltending seems to be picking up where it left off last year and out of this summer’s World Cup tournament. Jaroslav Halak (backed up by Thomas Greiss) kept Team Europe in every game of the tourney and helped them reach the finals against Canada. The tandem is holding the fort as the new look Isles find their groove with a combined 2.54gaa and a .909 Sv%. If an improving defense can play in front of a confident keeper tandem, the Isles can concentrate on scoring goals on the rush. While they rank 14th in goals against per game (2.83), Halak and Greiss have kept them in the mix, especially in close games.

6) The Islanders are home and making the most of it. Yes, we know the back and forth struggles about the ice at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, but we also know that the Isles killed it at home last season (25-11-5) and with 12 of the 1st 17 games at home to open the season, they need to continue to pile up the points early and often. They are 3-1 in Brooklyn so far and will look and will look to add to the win column when they face Montreal Wednesday, on Bill Torrey Bowtie night.

The Islanders definitely have some room to improve. Here are my 6 keys.

1) Their PP once again shows shades of what hampered the team for most of last season. Currently, the man advantage is anything but. The Isles rank 29th in league at 6.7% with a single PPG to show in 6 games. This cannot continue or changes must be made anywhere they can.

2) Adding Andrew Ladd over the summer was huge. It gave JT a competent and legit scoring winger with the leadership qualities and winning experience that he has been lacking in a line mate. He got his first point as an Islander on Monday, ending a 5-game pointless streak which according to Erick Hornick, is the longest of his career to start a season. Something isn’t clicking.

3) Matthew Barzal had a tough open to his NHL career. He made mistakes, found the box a couple of times and looked frustrated in his pro debut against the Capitals. And that was only his first shift. But seriously, he had a right to be nervous and his team mates helped him laugh it off, but Barzal has an opportunity to make the squad as a regular if he improves. He may need more time with the Thunderbirds or he just may need another chance.

4) It’s still very early, but the Islanders are 0-2 on the road so far. The good news is they won’t be seeing much of it to start the season, but that will change on the back end when they will be on the road for 22 of the last 34 games away from Brooklyn, so the road game needs to come together.

5) The islanders, like many other NHL teams are much more successful when they score first. They are 2-0 with 1st goal, 1-3 without so far this year. Falling behind early will take away the team’s ability to dictate flow and control the game, so the slow starts and mistakes in the defensive zone must be minimized.

6) I mentioned the offensive punch they found in their last game earlier, but the fact is that if it wasn’t for the defense, the offensive output by the team so far has been very thin. After the moves made this summer, they need to show more than they have thus far in the season. Riding out a slim lead with a struggling PP won’t get it done and while another impact trade could still happen, the guys in the room need to find some more chemistry, learn to mesh and find a way to score goals throughout the forward core. Currently, the Isles are 18th in goals per game at 3.00.

Let’s hope they keep the flow going and at the same time, tighten up on the holes in their game while developing a better team chemistry. The last game was a hard fought win, but the Islanders need that kind of effort more consistently, game in and game out.

“Can I believe that what I saw that night was real and not just fantasy.”

-\m/      \m/-

Isles Notes:

The New York Islanders have signed Steve Bernier to a one year, two-way contract. Bernier is on waivers today and will report to Bridgeport if he clears. “Bernier, 31, scored six points (one goal, five assists) in 24 games with the Islanders last season. He also appeared in six Stanley Cup Playoff games as the Islanders advanced to the second round.”

D, Ryan Pulock is out 4-6 weeks (lower-body injury) suffered in the 1st period of Friday's 3-2 win over the Coyotes. It was Pulock’s first call-up pf the season from Bridgeport.

Per Eric Hornick, “Monday’s Isles win was the 1,500th in Islander regular season history.”

Nassau County Executive, Ed Mangano, arraigned on federal corruption charges.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

2016 KoC New York Islanders Season Preview

Our New York Islanders finished the preseason playing .500 hockey. John Tavares and Jaro Halak came back to play the final game of the primer along with a mostly veteran line up against Washington, but fell flat in a 4-0 loss. The preseason was a back and forth showing the potential sum of its parts, but the record was secondary to the evaluation of both vets and prospects.  Although players like Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier & Joshua Ho-Sang made a strong impression, apparently free-agent signing and “projected first liner”, P.A.Parenteau found himself of waivers, only to be snatched up by the New Jersey Devils a little later today. It’s a surprising move to many, but a good one if it makes the team better. That answer is yet to be determined. B.D. Gallof noted, “Fact that PA can't make cut on isles does speak very highly of their tracking tech new array of players plus higher expectations.” Jason Chimera is skating with Tavares & Ladd on the top line now, but Jack Capuano wouldn’t comment on the game 1 line up as of yet.

Scott Mayfield, Bracken Kearns and Ben Holmstrom cleared waivers and were assigned to Bridgeport along with Kyle Burroughs, Michael Dal Colle, Matthew Finn, Christopher Gibson, Jesse Graham, Josh Ho-Sang, Ross Johnston, Devon Toews and Stephon Williams. The club's final roster moves, prior to closing training camp today, included loaning defensemen Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock to the AHL club in Bridgeport. Steve Bernier, Colin Markison, Tanner Fritz, Patrick Cullity and Connor Jones were released from their PTOs over the pre-season and enforcer and room leader, Eric Boulton was placed on injured reserve (along with Stephen Gionta & Mikhail Grabovski) retroactive to Oct. 4. Word from Coach Capuano is Jaro Halak (illness) may not be able to play the opener against the Rangers on Thursday. The match up will be only the 2nd time in franchise history the Isles open against the rival Rangers. A team who they swept (outscored 14-7) last season, for the first time in franchise history.

So the management and coaching staff studied their X’s & O’s, and came up with the opening day 23 man New York Islanders roster:


Josh Bailey
Mathew Barzal
Anthony Beauvillie
Jason Chimera
Casey Cizikas
Cal Clutterbuck
Nikolay Kulemin
Andrew Ladd
Anders Lee
Brock Nelson
Shane Prince
Alan Quine
Ryan Strome
John Tavares


Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Haan
Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey
Nick Leddy
Dennis Seidenberg


JF Berube
Thomas Greiss
Jaroslav Halak

My impressions coming into the season are ones of excitement and an all too familiar feeling of uncertainty.

I am certain that Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera will add value and experience to the team and they should make up for most of what the team lost in free agency. Nikolay Kulemin will get his chances (along with a list of others) to try and fill in for the vacancy left by Nielsen, but that is a tall order to fill. Josh Bailey is a good, and often maligned player by the fans. But he does stack up points and comes through from time to time, like it or not. Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas are money as far as I’m concerned and their value is shown by their versatility and impact.

John Tavares looked solid in the World Cup and he should be hitting his stride a lot sooner than other players on team, which can never be a bad thing. I was impressed with the play of the Isles 2015, 1st round picks, Mathew Barzal & Anthony Beauvillier and it was evident that the coaches were as well. Now I’m all about an NHL ready prospect getting time over an aging vet, but only if they play up to the level the team needs.  To me, both Barzal and Beauviller have the talent and drive, but I’m not yet sold on their ability to execute regularly. That usually comes with experience and the Isles want to win now. I assume the chance is theirs as long as they continue to meet expectations.

Eric Hornick reminds us that Barzal was drafted by Garth Snow and the Islanders after the Bruins passed on the 13th, 14th & 15th picks from this summer’s draft. The Isles traded Griffin Reinhart to the Oilers for the 16th (Barzal) and 33rd picks. Reinhart hasn’t really developed the way the defensively starved Oilers had wanted him too and was sent down to their AHL affiliate on October 7th. Snow followed up that same round by flipping the 33rd pick along with his 72nd pick for the 28th (Beauviller) first round selection. So heading into the season, Barzal and Beauviller are still here and Reinhart has been sent down and seemly not in Edmonton’s future plans. Advantage, Snow.

Several players will have the spot light, but need to contribute more. Shane Prince will have his opportunities, but is coming off a lower body injury to start the season. He made quite the impression after being acquired from Ottawa in March of last year and will need to do more of the same this season. Alan Quine is another guy who I love to cheer for. The former BST has all the drive necessary to stay on this team and makes the most of his limited size by playing a quick and hard checking game. More will also be expected from the likes of Anders Lee and Brock Nelson, but I assume they are happy with that challenge. Much like Ryan Strome, who recently re-upped with New York, the trio of young vets need to consistently find their offensive touch and become better all-around players to help the Islanders take the next step.

The renewed commitment of Travis Hamonic is some of the best news Isles fans had experienced in quite same time. The fact is Hamonic is probably the most valuable player on the team not named Tavares and his defensive game is matched only by his grit. Nick Leddy is just a consistently good, all around blue liner who fits well with this team and adds veteran skill to any top D pairing. Johnny Boychuk is an elite defenseman who should be poised to ramp it up again this season and deliver an offensive punch so needed on the PP. Thomas Hickey is another solid player who gives you his best in any role he plays. Calvin de Haan is good when he limits his mistakes and had his best, longest & most healthy season with the team last season. The arrival of Dennis Seidenberg is probably the reason that Ryan Pulock was sent back to Bridgeport. I am not alone in wondering what benefit the minors will serve Pulock, but management added Seidenberg to add quality veteran depth and that is what he will bring. Pulock will probably have his chance due to injury and may never go back after that.

The islanders once again carry a third goalie on their roster instead of a 7th defensemen. Jaroslav Halak & Thomas Greiss will mind the net for New York and J-F Berube will add that 3rd goalie security. Halak wants to be the starter and was until his health gave Greiss an opportunity to shine last season. I expect much of the same again and for the team’s sake, one of them needs to step up and lead by example into and through the playoffs. Berube will have his chances and is obviously valued by the team, but may find himself traded later in the season if the right opportunity presents itself, especially with expansion looming next season.

The team has a few question marks and a few guys who need to fill the voids they were always intended to fill. There is a dire need for consistent special teams play, a strong checking game and clean defensive play if they have any chances to compete with a Washington or a Pittsburgh this season. And the opportunity for error is slim with 12 of their first 17 games at home in the Barclays Center. While home ice can serve them well, facing 22 of the last 34 games on the road including a brutal 9 game road trip from February 21st through March 11th isn’t the time they want to find themselves struggling to get make-or-break points.

I think the Islanders have the potential to finish 2nd or 3rd in the Metro and may even add an impact player as the season goes on. I expect their bar to be raised and pressure to be felt from the ownership on down, to win now. I also expect that anyone in the organization who doesn’t share that mind set will see how badly they want to win. And at their own expense.

John Tavares agrees. “Some may have more talent, but there is no excuse for anyone working harder than you.”

Isles Notes:

Per @generalfanager, “New York Islanders Cap Space: $1,387,859, Total Cap: $71,612,141 Active Roster: 14F/6D/3G.”

John Tavares and Team Canada defeated a strong performance by Jaroslav Halak (with Thomas Greiss) and Team Europe to win the 2016 WCH tournament.

Tony Stabile, “Ilya Sorokin has played 39 KHL games the past 2 seasons for CSKA Moscow during that time he has given up 39 goals and has 13 shutouts.”

NHL Notes:

Former Isles D, Brian Strait was waived by the Winnipeg Jets after signing as a free agent this summer.