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

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Why the Islanders Offensive Output Lines Up

Some 23 games into the 2017-18 season, our New York Islanders are 3rd in the Metro, 2 pts out of 1st (Devils) and sit 5th in the east for playoff positioning with a 14-7-2 record around the Thanksgiving holiday with 30 points. They have won 3 straight, are the only NHL team to remain undefeated at home (7-0-2) and have a +10 goal differential. Per Eric Hornick, “The Isles are 7-0-2 at home in regulation, matching their best-ever record through 9 home games (7-0-2 in 1978-79 and 8-1-0 in 1984-85).” I guess we can just call the Barclays Center, Fort Neverlose, Brooklyn. Their offensive snarl has been the biggest factor to their success so far this season and has kept them undefeated when scoring first with a 9-0-0 record. They lead the Metro with 84 goals scored (3rd in east behind TOR 88 & TBL 86) and are getting contributions from several sources, going 5-1-0 in their last 6 games over a 10-day period.

The Isles top two lines are buzzing and, to me, it’s about skill and chemistry. Josh Bailey is on fire, leading the Isles with 28 points (5 & 23) in 23 games and 10th in league scoring. Captain and elite playmaker, John Tavares, 11th in league scoring, has 26 (15 & 11). And if anyone needs further proof of what the JT-JB combination can do, just look at the video from 1st O.T. winning goal against Philly at the Barc from 11/22. The still improving Anders Lee has 23 (12 & 11) pts and has become a priority for opposing defenders. Would be, Calder candidate, Mathew Barzal leads the NHL for rookie with 6 & 17 for 23, has points in 15 of his last 18 games and has more points than players like Austin Mathews and Sidney Crosby with 22 each. Per Hornick, “Barzal now has 2 point streaks of at least 5 games this season -- only NHL rookie to do so.” 

Jordan Eberle (17 pts in 23 games and team high 3 gwg) has scored 2 goals in his last 3 games and 9 in his last 15. Andrew Ladd is a +8 (tied with Boychuk for team +/- lead) with 11 points (5 & 6) and has helped anchor a solid 2nd line chemistry. Nick Leddy has once again taken center stage on the Isles blue line and should be given Norris consideration with an impressive 20 points (6 & 14) and has a league leading 8 multi-point games as a defensemen. Islanders' statistician, Eric Hornick points out, “An Islander defenseman has earned a point on 11 of the team's last 12 goals.” Hornick also adds, “With 21 points in 23 games this season, Leddy is averaging .91 points/game … No Islander defenseman without the surname of Potvin has ever averaged .91 points/game over a full season (Denis did it 10 times and Jean once).”

The Islanders PP is 12th at 21.9%, having clicked for six straight games. Their normally dominant PK is 16th in the NHL at 80%. The Isles are just 27th in face off percentage (46.9%) and turn the puck over often, tied with Buffalo with a league leading 7 short handed goals allowed. On the goaltending side of things, Jaroslav Halak improved to a 6-6-0 record with a 2-1 win against OTT. Halak has a 2.96 gaa and .903Sv%. Thomas Greiss has been solid as a starter, winning 5 straight with an 8-2-0 record (3.34gaa and .903Sv%.)

The Islanders will face the Vancouver Canucks at home on Tuesday. It will be the first head-to-head meeting of the two (currently) top scoring rookies, Mathew Barzal and Brock Boeser.  On Friday, Ottawa comes to Brooklyn. The Isles start a 4-game road trip (in 6 days) on Monday, 12/4 against FLA, TBL, PIT & BOS.

Isles Notes:

Face-off specialist and lock down player, Casey Cizikas left the game against OTT with a lower body injury early in the second period and did not return. He is being evaluated.

Isles Prospect Report.

11/16:  Josh Ho-Sang emergency recall has been terminated and changed to regular recall.

Isles placed Nikolay Kulemin on IR (upper body), retroactive to November 7, expected to be out for 6 months.

And after the smoke cleared, the Isles got Barzal, Beau and Eberle for Reinhart and Strome.

Eberle:  Per Edmonton Journal, “The Edmonton media can be pretty brutal and your confidence goes and this is a game you can’t play if you don’t have confidence. It’s that simple. It’s the Edmonton Oilers and everything around it. When you read the articles every day about how much you suck, its tough … It affects you and I lost my confidence. The biggest thing for me since I got here (New York) with the Islanders is trying to get that back”.

Sound Tigers Notes:

The BST Bridgeport are now 10-7-1 so far this season and 7-2-1 in their last ten games.

Bridgeport amphitheater approved by council.

Shameless 501st plug:  I hope to be at the BST Star Wars Tribute Night on 12/2 again, this time with the 501st Connecticut Garrison. Be sure to stop by and say hello to the 181st Tie Pilot ;).

NHL Notes:

Per Michael Farber, “NHL was formed 100 years ago today at the Windsor Hotel in Montreal with the Original 4: @CanadiensMTL, MTL Wanderers, @Senators and the snappily named Toronto Hockey Club.” More Centennial information can be found here.

Monday, November 6, 2017

How Islanders Improved: My 5 Keys

What’s bigger news than Matt Duchene finally being traded last night after only 3 shifts on the ice in Brooklyn to a team that’s not the Rangers? I would say that our New York Islanders have been winning games. They are currently 4th in the eastern conference (8-5-1 with 17 points) and two points out of first place with two games at hand. After a decent, but mostly lackluster start, struggles to score, hold leads, apply pressure, tighten up defensively and a PP that was a dismal 0-20, New York put a few things in line to start their trend towards the top of their division. They’ve also been impressive in some problem areas and have showcased some big-time performances by Vets and Young Guns along the way. Tonight, I want to share my 5 keys to the Isles latest surge and talk about the assets that have finally clicked all at once helping to aid the surge.

John Tavares:  When asked once again about a contract extension, the trade deadline and the chances of relocating, he answered the same way he always does. “Not from my standpoint,’’ he said. “I don’t expect to be traded or want to be traded. I want to play here. That’s my goal, it hasn’t changed . . . I’m here as an Islander, really enjoy being the captain and try to give these guys everything every day.’’ Tavares had a slow start, but has come on to lead by example as expected with 18 points (12 & 6 with a +3 rating, a 25% S% and a 50% rating in the FO circle) in 14 games.

Mathew Barzal:  Mathew Barzal has 13 points in last 9 games and is the first Isles rookie to score five points in a single game since John Tavares (2-3-5) did it on Mar. 16, 2010. Barzal had 5 assists against the Avalanche last night and it was the first time an Islanders player accomplished that feat since LaFontaine did it in 1990. Per Eric Hornick, Barzal “is the first Isles rookie in at least 30 years to have 13 points in the first 14 games of a season.” Barzal also now has a 5-game point streak (2-8-10). Barzal spoke to reporters after last night’s win. "It's a pretty cool thing to do," Barzal said. "I'm growing more confident every day and nights like tonight don't really hurt. I'm just trying to fit in and make an impact." Barzal continues to be a standout rookie and asset for New York. I forgot to remind everyone that Avs GM,  Joe Sakic wanted Hamonic, Barzal, Sorokin and a 1st for Duchene.

Coaching Staff:  Per Eric Hornick, “Doug Weight is now 32-17-5 as an NHL coach. On October 28 in Nashville, he reached 30 wins faster than any coach in Islander history.” His new look staff has the Isles keeping it together and starting to make some significant noise in the east. Whether it’s shuffling lines, working on face-offs, special teams (PP 8th at 22.4% and PK 13th at 81.3%) or just pushing for his players to play a more disciplined game that had been lacking before, Weight has made a difference after taking over as coach & doesn’t hesitate to call them out as a group and make the difficult choices to support what he wants from his team on the ice. Demoting Josh Ho-Sang was not a popular move among fans, but Ho-Sang has 5 points in 5 games (2 & 3) with the Tigers and is a +2. Exactly what he needed to work on and he has responded so far. The Islanders have gone 3-2 since Ho-Sang was sent down and the turn overs continue, but they have played better as a unit and their PP has vastly improved. But they still have some major challenges to work on. The goal-tending could be better overall and if they could just buckle down on a league high 6 SHGs (4 for Halak and 2 for Greiss) surrendered and 4th worst 0.5 takeaway/giveaway rating.

Offensive Depth with a newly effective Power Play: The Islanders are 3rd in the NHL for goal scoring (54), scored in 17 straight periods and the 3rd has been the most impressive for New York, with 16 goals for in their last 7 games. The offensive attack has been varied and balanced. Tavares and Bailey have 18 points, Lee (50% FO%) and Barzal (48% FO%) with 13 and Eberle, 11 and Nick Leddy has 10 after just 14 games. Josh Bailey (3 & 15 for 18 pts) is on pace for another huge season. Bailey was named 2nd star of the week (1st time being named an NHL star in career) and is riding an NHL high 9 game point scoring streak. Josh Bailey is the first Islander with 15 assists (currently 2nd in NHL) in the first 14 games in the last 30+ seasons; he now has 3 consecutive multi-assist games and has tallied 11 assists in the last five games. – Hornick. Per Arthur Staple, “Since the start of 2016-17, Josh Bailey has 56 assists. Only 10 players have more — McDavid, Backstrom, Karlsson, P. Kane among them.” As a team, the Isles have scored 6 goals for the third time in 4 games. More importantly, it appears they have finally found their PP touch. “The Isles' power play scored on both of their opportunities and is now 9-16 (56.3%) in the last four games after starting the season 2-33 … They are 5-1-0 when they score at least one power play goal and 3-4-1 when they dont.  The Isles are 5-2-0 when they allow at least one power play goal and 3-3-1 when they do not.” – Hornick. They have scored 2 PPG in each of their last 4 games. Wow. I pinned the success of the team on the PP this year. Lets hope this is for real. And maybe they can find a way to win a few more face-offs throughout the line up.

Home Ice Advantage: Despite the constant complaints about the poor ice at the Barclays Center, wavering attendance and enough off-ice Arena uncertainty to make most fans crazy, Our New York Islanders are 52-23-13 (5-0-1 so far, this season) since moving to Brooklyn at the start of the 2015-16 season. After last night’s “mostly” thrilling win against the Avalanche, The Isles hold a 25-5-4 record against western teams who come to Brooklyn and the Organization still can’t wait to leaveLong standing rumors have the John Tavares extension based on a stable relocation that includes a custom-built NHL compatible arena, in which the Islanders would be able to hang their many proud banners. There is no official time table for the Belmont approval, but Isles co-owner John Ledecky has set his sights there and nowhere else. After a $7M upgrade to their practice facility, Ledecky and Isles brass have started an infrastructure to make the Isles a first-class organization that will attract fans and free agents alike.

The Isles face Edmonton at home on Tuesday at 7 pm in front of the New York Isles faithful. 

Advantage: Islanders.

Isles Notes:

Shane Prince practiced with the Isles today.

VGK, Griffin Reinhart was put on waivers 10/29. Reinhart trade turned into Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier for garth Snow and the Islanders.

Per @Zeb_Habs, “Linus Söderström, Isles goalie prospect gets the nod for the National team in the Karjala Cup tournament.”

Former Isles Captain, Mark Streit announced his retirement on Oct.30th and is returning to Switzerland.

The BOAHC, @Section_329 need your support: It's time once again for their annual food drive, from now until 11/19. A collection to donate to those in need will take place at any Isles home games. Go to section 228/229, to any of their posted viewing parties or contact Craig Richardson, James Francis Fess or Tom Ballantyne for more details. #BOAFoodDrive

NHL Notes:

Calgary Flames place Travis Hamonic on injured reserve, retroactive to Nov. 2.

Sound Tigers Notes:

“Sebastian Aho scored four times last weekend and goaltenders Christopher Gibson and Kristers Gudlevskis each recorded a shutout as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (6-5-0-0), proud AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, swept a three-game series against the Providence Bruins and Springfield Thunderbirds.

The Sound Tigers outscored their opponents 10-2 over the weekend, including Aho's three-goal performance on Sunday, which put the 21-year-old into Bridgeport's record books as the first Sound Tigers defenseman to ever record a hat trick. It was also the first time Bridgeport has registered a hat trick against the Bruins and team's first overall since Alan Quine did it on April 2, 2016.”


Matt Gaudreau (F) has been loaned to the @RailersHC.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Josh Ho-Sang Reassigned to Sound Tigers

After the Isles 5-3 win over Arizona, Head Coach Doug Weight said Josh Ho-Sang could be back in the lineup on Thursday when New York visits Minnesota to face the Wild. This afternoon, the Islanders sent Josh Ho-Sang down to Bridgeport. While Anthony Beauvillier got a full season to make his case last year and any of Mathew Barzal’s shortcomings are over-shadowed by his developing offensive threat level, something in Ho-Sang’s game must not be sitting right with management. Its clear age has nothing to do with it. Beauvillier and Barzal are a year younger than Ho-Sang, but are playing their games and getting big minutes. So, you can ask yourself, why was Josh Ho-Sang scratched twice at home, then sent down? I have a poll on twitter to gauge fan reaction and will update this article when the results come in tomorrow.

Ho-Sang is clearly a dynamic forward that can control the pace of a play and move the puck well, enabling his team to score points. He even had 4 points in 6 games and was tied for the team lead in assists going into last night, but he wasn’t shooting enough (6 shots on goal), needs to improve defensively, make better decisions moving the puck and avoid regular turnovers, 6 in his last 6 games. Not earth shattering based on the turnovers committed by other current veteran team mates, but the Isles need him to be better and I’m sure he knows he must be better as well. He has matured a lot over the past year and is a favorite of Coach Weight by media reports. He will get his chance and should take this time to do what Anders Lee did when he was sent down to the AHL during the start of the 2014-15 season, netting 5 points in 5 games. Produce, work hard and impress management while creating chances regularly enough to never be sent down again.

Because he doesn’t need waivers, he was sent down to the Islanders AHL affiliate, Bridgeport Sound Tigers to work on his game and what probably amounts to allowing him to get some premium minutes in big spots for the BST. I know he needs reps with the big club to fine tune his game at the NHL level, but he also needs to get the message. I get the frustration seeing older players, not in the future plan, getting playing time while Ho-Sang is scratched and now demoted, but the team moves players in and out based on injury, need and accountability.  I also see resentment of fans with Alan Quine making the trip to Minnesota (Staple) while Ho-Sang goes to the BST, but there is a plan for the team on the ice and in the locker room. Each player needs to be a working part of the machine and mesh with one another. I also realize Ho-Sang’s game play and snarl got him drafted 28th overall in first round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the Isles in the first place, but he needs to take the next step to be taken seriously as a pro. I’m not saying Ho-Sang has been backsliding as a player, just that he has room to improve his game if he wants to be a regular contributor on this team. I have no clue why the determination to send him down was ultimately made, other than to tighten up his play and get more big minutes available on the farm.

Let’s look at a defensive model with other young players. Ryan Pulock was a regular scratch, then helped the team get its first PP point after starting 0-20 and has begun to make a case for himself. I’ve always said Adam Pelech and Scott Mayfield were closer to a regular role with the team and I think they are proving it. Dennis Seidenberg had a great season with New York last year and he was signed on short term to see which one of the young defenders would secure their spots, especially with talented Calvin de Haan on a bridge deal heading into next summer. The benefit of competition is that it gives each guy a chance to out play the other. It doesn’t work when the player in question isn’t given a fair shake or get enough of an opportunity to prove his worth. Josh Ho-Sang should be a big part of their success moving forward and hopefully makes the most of his time in Bridgeport.

The Islanders are 5-3-1 with 11 points in 9 games (3rd in metro division, 5th in eastern conference) and have scored 10 goals in their last two games and won their last three. John Tavares is trending upwards in a big way coming off his 7th career hat trick and leading the team with 10 points in 9 games played. Brock Nelson scored Isles 1st PP goal at home this season, Jordan Eberle is the team leader in assists with 6 and had his first multi-point game an Islander while Scott Mayfield opened scoring for Isles defensemen (1-4-5 pts/Hornick) for the first time this season. The team is far from perfect, needs tons of improvement on the PP and more of that ever-elusive consistency, but they are starting to do more things to keep them in or climb back in to a game lately. It’s a start.

Isles Notes:

Per Eric Hornick, “Adam Pelech had three primary assists as he became the youngest Islander defensemen with a three-assist game since Kenny Jonsson as the Isles improved to 3-0-1 at home, matching their best home start in 33 years.”

Arron Asham sat in with Shannon Hogan for intermissions & post game during Coyotes game.

Wilpon donates to Cuomo campaign with eyes on new stadium.

Jonathan Ledecky reveals location of proposed Islanders’ arena at Belmont.

10/14   Ken Hitchcock passes Arbour in on NHL’s all-time list with 783 victories.

Sound Tigers Notes:

Steve Bernier, Scott Eansor & others have been big factors lately.

10/11   Eamon McAdam (G) has been reassigned to the @RailersHC.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Isles Arena News: Ownership Answers Yormark, Adds Intention is Belmont

On October 9th, Brett Yormark of the Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment group gave an interview to John Lombardo of Yormark contends his aim is a Brooklyn centric approach to marketing the Barclays Center. When asked about the Islanders relationship while playing at the Barclays, Yormark said, “The economics just don’t work. It’s a Long Island team trying to create a fan base in Brooklyn, and to date it has been met with very modest success and not at the numbers we have hoped.” In January, Bloomberg News reported, "the owner of both Barclays and the Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov, shared a financial projection with prospective investors that showed the Islanders won’t contribute any revenue after the 2018-19 season.

John Ledecky, co-owner of the New York Islanders responded in kind with Newday. “I guess he’s saying that perhaps that the people on his side didn’t make a good deal … Unfortunately when the facility (Barclays) was built it was not built with hockey in mind,” Ledecky said.” The bad ice coupled with the many obstructed views and bad sight-lines has been a sore spot for most fans since the Islanders signed a 25-year lease in 2012 (started in ’15-16) that has an opt out clause built into the agreement for either side.

Yesterday, Jim Baumbach and Robert Brodsky wrote how Ledecky feels about the Islanders and their future venue plans. Those plans are to focus on putting a new state-of-the-art building on the Belmont property. Per Kevin Maher on Ledecky, “Islanders will win the RFP for Belmont site. At one point he corrected himself while talking to say "when we win it."

“We are locked and loaded on Belmont,” Ledecky said at a luncheon with reporters in Manhattan. “We have blinders on for Belmont. We are not looking at other places or other opportunities. We want to make Belmont a reality.” Newsday repeated, “The Islanders last month confirmed that they ‘submitted a comprehensive proposal to create a world-class sports and entertainment destination at Belmont Park.”

Brian Compton’s point is well taken on other destinations or rumors the team will move, “Ledecky and Malkin have pumped $60M into practice facility. Doesn’t sound like a team leaving town to me. Ledecky said he wants his legacy to be getting this building done and winning more Cups.” He wants it to be a legacy project for the franchise in an area that is “strategically located” with easy access to LIRR.

Jon Ledecky says Isles are contractually obligated to play at Barclays Center next year. He had no comment when asked where the team would play if the Belmont bid was turned down or even accepted and not ready for the team the following season. Per Newsday, “Ledecky said the Coliseum, which underwent a $165 million renovation and seats 13,900 for hockey, was not in consideration, citing its capacity and lack of luxury boxes and suites. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said last month that the Coliseum “is not a viable option” for the Islanders, even on a temporary basis.”

“Nassau and Suffolk lawmakers have urged the team to return to the Coliseum, with many expressing concern that a new Belmont arena could irreparably hurt the Coliseum’s ability to attract shows and drive revenue to the county.” Ledecky says total focus is on securing Belmont arena.

“We don’t want to be nomads,” he said. “We don’t want to be wandering folks. We want to be in our own home in a custom-built arena.” I think John Tavares and a legion of fans would agree.

The most used KoC JT picture in blog history because its awesome.

Isles Notes:

The Islanders are 1-1-1, 3 games in and sit 6th in the Metro ahead of the Penguins and last place NYR. They play in Anaheim tonight at 10pm, SJ (10:30pm) on Saturday and LA on Sunday at 10:30pm. They conclude their road trip against the Rangers in MSG on Thursday, 10/19 at 7pm before a 2 game homestand against SJ (10/21) and ARI (10/24).

Sound Tigers Notes:

Eamon McAdam (G) has been reassigned to the @RailersHC.

The Islanders had 22 AHL grads on their opening night roster. There were 640 league wide.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Isles Ready For Friday After Strong Pre-Season

I must admit that this is the most excited I've been in years heading into game 1. Let's hope Islanders are brewing their perfect storm after a great preseason and team bonding, finishing with a 6-0-2 record. While the warm-up schedule isn’t usually games against full rosters or matched pairings, it was still a platform for the new look Isles to evaluate a few unset combinations themselves.

They could see a little more of what they had in some of the new guys and how some of the vets would rally behind the team’s mission this year. “I think they do count — we’ve got good vibes, confidence, the experience to be gained from winning a bunch of close games,” Weight said. “It bodes well for our group. We had a lot of our youth in those early games and we didn’t just win, we outplayed teams.” -Staple

Yesterday, the Islanders put Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier on waivers (cleared) and returned Devon Toews back to BST as well, despite a strong showings when called upon. It gives the Isles depth with two reliable, hard-working two veteran forwards and an exciting, speedy blueliner very close to making his presence felt in Toews. Per Stan Fischler, “Sorry to see two of my favorites, #StephenGionta and #SteveBernier put on waivers by @NYIslanders. Hard workers give way to ready kids.” That helped them get down to 23-manroster with Quine and Prince on IR. 13F, 8D, 2G, per Staple.

So, that means rookies Mathew Barzal, Josh Ho-Sang and Ryan Pulock all made the cut along with Anthony Beauvillier, Scott Mayfield and Adam Pelech. That’s an infusion of youth that the new look coaching staff will expect big things from this year on both sides of the ice. “It starts with our coaches,” Casey Cizikas said. “They’ve drilled it into our heads from day one that anything mediocre isn’t acceptable. Every shift, every game, every practice, you have to bring your hard hat and get to work. Now we need a good few days of practice so we’re ready for Friday when the bell rings.” John Tavares has 3 points in 3 games, Anders Lee had 5 points in 5 games with a 23% shooting percentage and Jordan Eberle looked comfortable (1 & 2 in 5 games) on his new team. Even Clutterbuck (3 assists) and Cizikas (2 assists) made some early noise in 4 games. Ladd and Nelson (2 points in 5 games) along with Josh Bailey seem poised to benefit from some of the new speed expected to be found up front.

Mathew Barzal has been awesome (27% sp, 3 & 4 for a huge 7 pts in 5 gp /1.4 pts/game) along with Anthony Beauvillier (23% sp, 3 & 1 for 4 pts in 5 games) and have complimented each other well. "I think he's playing Friday," Weight said of Beauvillier. "He's been excellent in every aspect of the game. He's really taken on the PKs and he's an engine, he's working, he's skating better, he's put work in and he's a heck of a player." Josh Ho-Sang (3 helpers in 6 games) has really opened up the ice and been a presence during the preseason, just where he laft off from last season. And let’s consider the way the guys are standing up for each other. “Ho-Sang on his cross check/punch to Manning after Barzal hit: "Nobody messes with my boy." He was laughing when he said it.” – Staple.

Defensively, the Isles infused some youth to add speed and replace the toughness lost by the departure of Travis Hamonic. Ryan Pulock can add some transition and heat from the point while Pelech can stabilize from the Isles zone. Those additions along with Mayfield’s grit and confidence starting the odd-man rush, the young Isles D have a chance to shine this season under a new defensive scheme that won’t block as many shots, but one that’s poised to join the rush offensively. Per Arthur Staple, “Weight said tonight (final game vs Philly) was Pulock's best game of the preseason. Felt Mayfield was #Isles best player Friday in Buffalo.” The players seem to feel the same way. “I think we all accomplished the first goal, which is making the roster,” Mayfield said Sunday night. “Now you want to be a guy that can be an every-night player, someone who can be relied on to play a big role. That’s what all three of us are competing for and I think that competition made for good camps for all of us.” Couple them with some of the veterans on the blue-line and New York looks good on the back end. Johnny Boychuk (3 pts in 3 games) appears back on track and Seidenberg, Leddy, Hickey and de Haan look ready to get things started.

Jaroslav Halak (2-0 in 3gp, .974Sv% and .75gaa) and Thomas Greiss (2-0 in 3gp, .961Sv% and a 1.13gaa) seem ready to get their tandem duties in check and fight for the number one spot. Gibson, McAdam and Gudlevskis will fight it out on the farm and should offer the Isles some good depth in net when called upon.

While the PK has been consistently good, the Isles PP needs to be much better. I would again venture to say that it will dictate the success of their season. Perhaps some of the new blood and new overseers will help its cause. One can only hope. Isles open the season Friday night in Columbus.

"There's a lot of confidence," Beauvillier said. "We've played strong preseason games and it's fun when you win, it's always more fun. I just can't wait for Friday. Let's get it going."

Isles Notes:

Time to give up on Islanders’ return to Coliseum?

Per @HockeyGoalieEh, “Interesting - Tavares leads all NHL forwards in 5v5 ice team over the last three seasons at 3646.94.”

Sound Tigers Notes:

Casey Bailey (RW) has agreed to terms on an #AHL deal w/the #SoundTigers.

Seventh-year forward Ryan Bourque has agreed to terms on an #AHL deal.

NHL Notes:

10/2 Per Elliotte Friedman, “Jagr is done to CAL. $1M+$1M in bonuses. I think it might not be announced until he gets to the city, but there is a commitment.”

10/1 per Bob McKenzie, “DET has released P.A. Parenteau from his PTO.”

J.F. Berube was waived by Chicago yesterday.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Isles Belmont Bid Is In

The deadline for the Islanders to submit a bid to develop a new arena and complex at Belmont Park needed to be done prior to 2 pm yesterday after official proposals were requested on August 1st. So what happened? The Islanders have “submitted a comprehensive proposal to create a world-class sports and entertainment destination at Belmont Park.” Per Jim Baumbach and Robert Brodsky of Newsday, “The Islanders’ group is labeled New York Arena Partners, LLC. It includes Sterling Project Development, which is controlled by the Wilpon family, the Mets owners, and Oak View Group, an arena development company backed by Madison Square Garden.” The plans would most likely include a destination that would develop other viable infrastructure on the property, around a state of the art facility.

“The Belmont RFP calls for plans that include retail, entertainment, sports and hospitality options on the 43-acre vacant land surrounding the horse track. ESD has given no timeline for its decision and it could be several months before the state picks a winning bidder.” The Islanders are currently in negotiations to modify their lease at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, but reports of ownership touring other new NHL arenas (at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena yesterday according to John Shannon) and what they have to offer have surfaced over the last year, so the rumors seem to be accurate. If the re-negotiations don’t go well, executives could terminate it as of January, 2018. 

Could the revived preseason experiment at the renovated (still small, inefficient and still limited luxury suite designed) Nassau Coliseum be a test for a temporary alternative to the Barc if things go south? Twitter exploded yesterday when the Islanders announced that NHL GM's have been told to not bother inquiring on John Tavares until at least January 1, possibly, further solidifying the of a JT’s extension to be tied into new arena deal. The rumors remain that both Tavares and the Islanders organization are not worried about the talks.

The Islanders group was quoted as saying, “We look forward to discussing with the Empire State Development Corporation.”

The NYCFC professional soccer team also wants to build their own 26,000 seat stadium on the site. The organization is owned in part by the New York Yankees, who along with partners appear to be the major source of competition against the Islanders. Per, “NYCFC said it would submit a proposal in a partnership with the Related Cos., a real estate firm founded by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.”

The New York Cosmos tried a couple of times to build a stadium on the site, but failed. But don’t think the NYCFC and its backers are going to go down quietly. They will only back out if opportunities are better elsewhere or things aren’t worth pursuing. And the Blumfield Development Group didn't submit another proposal after being denied on two previous bids, most recently among four failed bidders in 2013.

“The Belmont site in Elmont, New York, is controlled by the New York Racing Authority and sits about 19 miles east of Manhattan, just outside of Queens. It is accessible by car and by regional rail, and an arena there would bring the Islanders closer to its traditional Nassau County fan base.”

Andy Graziano points out, “Can't make this stuff up....#isles Belmont bid backed by Sterling (Wilpon) and Oakview (MSG). Oakview helping renegotiation with Barc. Lol.” So we wait on the next dramatic chapter of “Isles Uncertainty” to unfold, “Lighthouse” be damned!

Until then, we wait for the Empire State Development Corporation to pick a winner.

Isles Notes:

Islanders finish pre-season at Sabres tonight 7 p.m., and then at Flyers on Sunday, 5 p.m.

Per Arthur Staple, “Weight asked if Barzal has done enough at this point to make the team: "Yes."

Ho-Sang is getting the job done so far at Isles camp.

Per Brian Compton, “FWIW, Doug Weight told me this morning he's willing to sit veterans if the kids are outplaying them.”

NHL Notes:

NHL announces rule changes for 2017-18 season

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Islanders Sign Kieffer Bellows to ELC & Mid-Point Notes on Isles Camp

Yesterday, our New York Islanders announced that 6’1, 201#, Kieffer Bellows agreed to terms on a three-year, ELC. Son of former NHL’er, Brian Bellows, Kieffer was a member of team U.S.A. National Development Program, where he helped his squad win a gold medal at the U-20 WJC this year, netting 2 goals in the finals. He also has an international bronze medal to his credit from the 2016 U18 WC with 5 & 3 for 8 pts. in 7 games at the tournament.

Per release, “A native of Edina, MN, Bellows scored 81 points (50 goals, 31 assists) in 62 games while with the United States National Team Development Program in 2015-16. He finished second on the club in scoring and became just the fourth player to score 50 goals in a season with the U.S. Under-18 team, joining Auston Matthews, Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel.”

Bellows was the Isles first round selection (19th overall) in the 2016 National Hockey League Draft and had 14 points (7 & 7) in 34 games as a freshman with B.U. Bellows said he wanted to commit to playing the 2017-18 season for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL, so the timing of the signing was a bit of a surprise to me. The only thing I could think of is that Bellows made an early impression to where the Isles feel he could be used in Bridgeport (when eligible) sooner rather than later, especially while they continue to observe if their rosters meet expectations. While talented, Bellows needs more fine tuning to play at the pro level and should be given every opportunity to develop properly.

The Islanders have been tuning up for their season with a rookie and team camp, and the buzz is starting with fan favorites, and “could-be” future stars getting a look by the staff and fans for the first time this summer. Per The Hockey News, the Islanders finished tied for 3rd (Caps) with 199 even strength goals (Pens & Wild) last season. Their PK is and has been very good. I think the ‘17-18 Isles could just be a PP away from a dominant team in the east. Can Buchberger & Gomez help put in the right man-up scheme in place for the team to take that jump and can Eberle & possibly Pulock raise the bar enough offensively to help get them there?

Our New York Islanders started camp roster with 52 players: 31 forwards, 16 defensemen, 5 goaltenders per Staple. Camp is a great way for the new coaching staff to gel, get to know their veterans and prospects and come together on who will best fit the needs of the new look team as they approach the 2017-18 NHL season. While the buzz on the eventual signing of John Tavares lingers, the players and prospects seem eager to get things back on track in Islanders country.

Arthur Staple got a couple of quotes that caught my attention for sure. “Clutterbuck on Sunday's Coliseum game: ‘It's the first time I've seen so many veterans say they want to play the first preseason game." And with the vacancies and injuries reported prior to camp, the prospects are fired up as well. “Scott Mayfield on #Isles D: "Everyone knows what Travis meant to the organization. But now there's also a spot open there and I want it."

So the Isles opened their preseason against the Flyers with a 3-2 OT win at the sold out (13,917) refurbished Coliseum. Hey followed up with a controversial (goal disallowed) 1-0 OT loss to the Rangers, a split squad 3-2 win and 3-2 OT loss against the Flyers. Last night against the Rangers, the Isles pulled off a 2-1 win in Bridgeport in the Webster Bank Arena at Harbour yard. The warm-up schedule finishes with the Devils in Brooklyn on Monday, at Sabres on Friday and another tilt against the Flyers in Philadelphia on October 1st, before their October 6th season opener at Columbus.

On the pre-season stat sheet, the Isles had some regulars and some exciting names contribute offensively so far. Barzal, Beauvillier, Eberle, Lee, Pulock and Tavares all have 2 points so far, with Barzal and JT scoring 2 goals each. Cizikas, Boychuk, Ladd and Devon Toews all have a goal to their credit. In all, 17 players have registered at least a point out of the 47 players to see varying degrees of action and playing time during camp, including goalies.

Speaking of goaltenders, Jaroslav Halak still has that axe to grind and he doesn’t seem to want to go away quietly. Halak has seen action in 2 games, gotten a win and stopped 52 of 53 shots, posting a .60gaa and a 981Sv%. Thomas Greiss has played in 1 game and posted a 1.50gaa with a .944Sv%. Minor leaguers, Christopher Gibson (2 games, 1 win, 2.00gaa and .900Sv%), Eamon McAdam (1 game, 2.61gaa and .950Sv%) and Kristers Gudlevskis (2 games, 1 win, 3.50gaa and .864Sv%) got a look as well and gave the coaches at Bridgeport some data as they prepare for their own camp opening on Monday.

Arthur Staple had a few roster updates for the team at the mid-point of camp.

He mentioned the first major shift of players went down and likely bound for Bridgeport in time for their Monday open to camp. 

That leaves 31 players remaining in main group, (18 F, 9 D and 4 G).

The full list of moves, releases, waivers and remaining players can be found in this update per release:

Sebastian Aho, Kyle Burroughs, Michael Dal Colle, Tanner Fritz, Ross Johnston, Kane LaFranchise, Eamon McAdam, Kyle Schempp, John Stevens, Devon Toews, Mitchell Vande Sompel and Parker Wotherspoon.

Six other players were released from their professional tryout contracts: Casey Bailey, Scott Eansor, Jeff Kubiak, Ben Holmstrom, Travis St. Denis and Yannick Turcotte

The Islanders also placed the following players on waivers: Christopher Gibson, Kristers Gudlevskis, Seth Helgeson and Connor Jones.

The Isles also returned Kieffer Bellows, Arnaud Durandeau and David Quenneville to their junior clubs. - Staple

Per Release, the Islanders roster looks like this as of this afternoon:


Josh Bailey, Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier, Steve Bernier, Jason Chimera, Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, Jordan Eberle, Stephen Gionta, Joshua Ho-Sang, Connor Jones, Nikolay Kulemin, Andrew Ladd, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Shane Prince**, Alan Quine** & John Tavares


Johnny Boychuk, Calvin de Haan, Seth Helgeson, Thomas Hickey, Nick Leddy, Scott Mayfield, Adam Pelec, Ryan Pulock, Dennis Seidenberg


Christopher Gibson, Thomas Greiss, Kristers Gudlevskis, Jaroslav Halak

** - denotes player on injured reserve

Today’s practice showed (Staple) the lines of Lee-Tavares-Eberle, Ladd-Barzal-Bailey, Beau-Nelson-Ho-Sang, Kulemin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck & Chimera-Gionta-Bernier. First PP unit of Leddy-Barzal-Lee-Tavares-Eberle and 2nd unit of Pulock-Bailey-Ho-Sang-Nelson-Ladd, with Boychuk and de Haan included in the drill work. Pelech (Signed one-way, 4 year deal in late July) and Mayfield have more NHL experience and are the guys I feel are fighting for the open defensive spot, despite the attractive idea of Pulock sticking around, especially on the PP. Like all young D-men, Pulock needs to sharpen his skills a little more defensively before he can make the AHL to NHL leap.

Isles Notes:

Per Dan Saraceni at Lighthouse Hockey, “Beyond nostalgia, Ledecky gives update on team’s Belmont RFP bid.”

On 9/20 per Chris Botta, “Will be writing 2-3 #Isles columns a week starting Oct. 3. Got ideas, tips, opinions (ha!)? Please place in replies or email. Thx!”

Per Arthur Staple, “Weight outlined staff responsibilities: Cronin runs PK, Buchberger/Gomez on PP, Richardson runs the D. Gomez eye in the sky for games.”

9/13, “Casey Bailey, attending #Isles camp on a PTO, was in attendance today. So were Steve Bernier and Seth Helgeson, both on two-way deals.”

On 9/12, Isles Blog did a twitter poll for #isles season ticket holders getting close to 600 votes. “For ticket holders, if #Isles ended up with a short term situation that had games at BOTH Barclays and Coliseum, how would that impact you?” 18% said worse, 19% said no change and 63% said better.

Per Randi Marshall, “Talked to Brett Yormark today, who's hoping yesterday's Coliseum game is "first step" to bringing #isles back.”

Sound Tigers Notes:

Matt Lane, Kellen Jones, Pat Cullity & Mike Cornell have agreed to #AHL deals.