When Will it Change?

Posted by on Nov 25 2016 at 7:25 pm | Tagged as: General, Opinion, Post Game

I have been through some pretty atrocious hockey before.

At 36, I have lived through some really, really, REALLY deplorable (I have to use that word right now because why not – everyone is, right?) hockey with the New York Islanders. Post 94, the years prior, Spano and the Gang of Four, Milbury….the beginning, middle and now maybe the end of Garth Snow.

I have even been fortunate enough to cover the team during the leanest of times. Filling rosters out with has-beens, never will-be’s and hopeful reclamation projects that never came to fruition, or worse – would only come around after they leave Long Island. Coaching changes….I have to laugh – I covered them through four.

In between all of that negative, I have witnessed some REALLY good stuff too. I was there for the Bates penalty shot, my time covering the team from 2007-2011, Al Arbour Night/Day, numerous Core of the Four Celebrations, I judged a High Five Competition with Benoit Hogue, Three Entry Drafts – the biggest being Tavares. There’s a lot more I have to write about, but there will be time for that.

Maybe its fitting, firing up my blog now a season and a half before Tavares makes the biggest decision of his career. Will he stay, or will he go?

But to the present, a rather ominous one.

What will change what we are seeing? We have a rudderless team that cannot seem to string together good hockey no matter how hard they try. They give up goals early, late – actually in 7 of 19 games according to Staple of Newsday.

But then you look to coaching.

Management has given the staff a vote of confidence and the new ownership has given a vote of confidence towards management. Great – but why? We just passed American Thanksgiving, a “deadline” of sorts typically for teams to either be IN the postseason or out – and the Islanders are way out. Dead last out.

We’ve allowed some key guys to leave via free-agency, and that happens to everyone. But the Islanders seem to always have a knack for signing guys who – I don’t know, don’t do their part to replace missing pieces or they are the wrong pieces in general?

Paging Andrew Ladd? You’re a notorious slow starter apparently, but you just signed a pretty fat deal my friend – its time you showed up.

Tavares now has no goals in 9 games. NINE.

We are an absolute disaster up and down the roster, but only because we have a coach who refuses to utilize his team to their individual strengths. The Islanders are said to be a possession team, but yet if you watch them play – they dump and chase, often never even regaining control of the puck. In my eyes this is an anti-possession style. They lack the size and tenacity they did to bang along the boards – yet they still try to accomplish that type of play as well.

Something, perhaps everything – is broken, but we’re not seeing change. The only change we see is young players often being scratched for the wrong reasons – and lip service about where they will be playing, especially at a natural position.

I don’t know entirely enough about advanced stats – but I do know this; giving up leads and mis-matching your lines or not shortening your bench late in a game is a recipe for disaster. That is clearly evident here.

At what point does a fanbase deserve change? We have new ownership that is seemingly sitting on their hands and has not been as vocal as they have been previously. It’s to stand up and address us Mr. Malkin and Mr. Ledecky.

Today is Black Friday, and another loss has given this once storied franchise another reason to wear a black eye.

Signing off now, before I say some things i’ll regret..

From Traffic Lights to Train Stations

Posted by on Apr 24 2016 at 10:44 am | Tagged as: Gameday, General, Opinion, Playoffs

The 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs have progressed nicely in Brooklyn, and I can say that I am fortunate enough to have attended Games 3 and 4. Today, I will be attending Game 6 as well. While the transition to Brooklyn hasn’t been the smoothest, the Playoff transition has gone a little easier.

The Islanders and the Barclays have taken a few different steps to make sure that the arena is a little more like home. From league and team logos to the atmosphere in general – it all feels better. They’ve even spent a great deal of attention to the quality of the ice sheet – which is a story for another blog.

Along the way, we have witnessed another 100 point season and various lengths of strong and not-so strong play (some would say typical of the Islanders). We have made new memories with a Game 3 OT winner by Thomas Hickey and rallied behind the team as they tried to come back again in Game 4. It was loud in Brooklyn, dare I say almost as loud as it was at times at the Coliseum.

More importantly, we have forged some new traditions as well.

During my lifetime, I was never more than 25 traffic lights from the Old Barn. The travel to the Coliseum was always easy (unless there was a bunch of traffic on Hempstead Turnpike). That changed a bit when I moved into Eastern Suffolk, but I still made it a point to get to as many games as I could. During the Playoffs, we had the parking lot and the amazing tradition of tailgating and all the fun that came with that. We went out with a bang before the Barn Doors slammed shut after that thrilling Game 6 win over the Capitals.

This year, I made it to TWO regular season games – for various reasons. Those were my first two experiences with the Barclays, we’ll call it a dry run for the Playoffs. With those two trips, I adapted to the change.

It may not be the most ideal of situations, but the train ride to Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal has become the new tailgate experience. I’ve met a bunch of wonderful fans and had so many awesome Islanders conversations along the way. Coincidentally, I have run into many of the very fans I used to see regularly as a season ticket holder and friends outside of the Isles that I have not seen in a few years.

And then, you have Brooklyn itself.

In the immediate areas around the Barclays – there are a ton of really fun places to spend an hour or two in prior to the puck drop. We’ve adopted KBH on St Marks as the pre-game venue of choice, a short two block walk to and from the arena.

In the end, the Barclays is not and never will be that “home” just a few traffic lights away from where I grew up, but it’s slowly becoming the home of Islanders hockey. Even if that home requires counting train stations.

Let’s make it loud tonight, just like it was 4 years ago to the day of that Shawn Bates penalty shot against Toronto.

An Ugly Win, But It’s a Win

Posted by on Oct 16 2015 at 8:06 am | Tagged as: General, Opinion, Post Game

 What could’ve been the Islanders second loss of the season, fortunately managed to become their second win. It may not have been the prettiest of wins, but it was a big one. All this despite the Predators coming to town with a 3-0 record, despite being grossly outshot 47-28, despite being 0/2 on the man advantage and even, despite giving up a late goal. 

We all know how well the Islanders played and protected leads last season, but it’s with growing confidence I can say that may be a thing of the past. 

The ice at the Barclays Center looked the same as it has the last few games – slow, soft and slushy. I understand that the arena personnel there are new to this ice maintainence routine and that the arena is like MSG with a lot of events, but this is a situation that bears watching long term. 

There were a few positive takeaways from the game however – the Islanders were fairly physical against their opponent, out hitting them 43-33. At times the Isles did what made them so successful last season, were strong on the forecheck and puck retrieval. Three of their four goals came off plays where they forechecked hard, either causing a turnover or kept the play in the zone and were able to score off rebounds or plays down low. 

Surprisingly, both teams were even in draws, but watching I felt that the Islanders were the weaker of two teams. 

The Islanders had scoring from all kinds of players – their first line combined for 5 points (Lee with Goal, Assist – Tavares Goal, Assist and Strome Assist) the second line, also with 5 points (Okposo Goal, Grabovski 2 Assists, Kulemin Goal, Nelson Assist). All told the Islanders had 8 different players on the scoresheet, not too bad offensively. When you have two lines going, it’s going to be harder to stop you. 

Some negatives, the Isles seemed to scramble in their own zone at times. Zidlicky tried to clear the puck from the crease and hit the post, scoring on his own net. There was also a few occasions where they could not clear the crease in front of Greiss, which was evident on the third goal. The Islanders felt there was contact by a Predator player in the crease and used a coaches challenge for the first time this season, but were unsuccessful in their case. While this burned their timeout, the team got an extended rest during the review process – so it was a smart gamble by Capuano. It’s something we could see more of in those situations throughout the season for sure. Lastly, Brian Strait – paired with Zidlicky. That’s all I need to say there. 

Ultimately, this was a confidence builder for the Islanders – a strong team came to town and the Islanders played them well enough to win even though it wasn’t their best performance. The season is still young, but it’s games like this that will matter come April. They face a similar opponent in the San Jose Sharks tomorrow night, they need to play a stronger, more physical game – if they want to come away with two more points. 

On the Mend

Posted by on Oct 14 2015 at 11:11 am | Tagged as: General, Injuries, News

Reports out of practice this morning, by both Artur Staple and the New York Islanders have goaltender Jaroslav Halak and defenseman Thomas Hickey practicing with the full squad.

Hickey, who’s been nursing a finger fracture and Halak a mysterious upper body type injury – have missed the first three games for the Islanders, including the Barclays Home Opener.

While the Isles have made due without both of these players, having your number one net minder and a key pivot on the back end close to returning can only help. That’s not to say Greiss hasn’t played well in his two starts, posting a respectable .915 save percentage and a 2.46 goals against average.

The Islanders certainly bounced back after their second game against the Blackhwaks with a strong, spirited matinee win over the Winnipeg Jets on Monday.

I’ve only gotten to see highlights of the last two games, but it looks like the team is on the right path, I’ll reevaluate after Thursday’s matchup with the 3-0 Predators when they come to town.

This Time, It’s Different

Posted by on Oct 09 2015 at 7:54 am | Tagged as: Gameday, General

 When you’ve been a fan of a team for what amounts to a lifetime of ups and downs, there’s always a lot of optimism following a strong season. One playoff win away from advancing in the playoffs, a strong and emotional send off to your old arena, and of course – the continued development of your youth, and core. In years past, opening night – especially the Home Opener meant great and exciting things for me. I’d drive down Hempstead Turnpike, fighting traffic lights and rush-hour to sit in my season long seats in Section 309, or make my way up to the press box to cover the game. But that’s all behind me these days, as much as it’s still an exciting time. 

As I sit and reminisce about those days, I pass the old barn, it’s colorful exterior advertisements removed and the emptiness of the building and parking lot ring out like the new and failed goal horn of the Barclays Center. The what ifs, the government failures and flat out lies – the disappointment that the team is now a Brooklyn resident instead of a Nassau one. But I digress, they’re still in New York. 

This blog has been dark for a long time, my life has changed quite a bit since I started it almost 10 years ago. I moved to Eastern Suffolk, got married and started a family. There’s been a lot I could’ve written about here and have been called out by some in the mainstream media to start writing again (I’m looking at you Katie and Peter…) – so here I am. 

I’ll eventually post up my experience of the final regular season home game in April and the awesomeness that was the series against the Washington Capitals. In a way maybe I wasn’t ready to let go of the old feelings just yet, but it’s time to move on. 

Tonight marks the beginning of a new era, Traditions New Home as the Yomark folks say. I’m excited to see how much the team has grown from their game seven loss last season. 

Tonight will be different though, as I won’t be in the press box at the Barclays, I won’t be in my seats at the game and I won’t be riding the LIRR to the game (but you never know if I manage to write with any regularity…). Instead I’ll be in front of my brand new TV, taking part in the discussion on Twitter (@islesblogger) and taking notes as I always have for my eventual return to writing. 

The venue may have changed, but Islanders hockey is back – as much as it may still be different, this time. 

Slip Sliding, A Call For Action

Posted by on Mar 18 2015 at 8:11 pm | Tagged as: General, Opinion, Rant

It’s one thing to watch idly as fans when a team begins to falter after months on top, it’s something completely different as a player in the room – I’m sure….

There’s a large contingent of fans who never get to experience the frustration a player experiences as they step off the ice, the scowl on their face, the expletives they spew as they slam sticks or equipment down or the blank stares of disgust as they sit in the stall of their locker. Instead, television interviews expertly crafted show almost nothing but positive thoughts and statements. Some players, allow a bit of their feelings to slip through, allowing you a glimpse of their human nature and inject a level of realism into the post game.

What I’ve grown tired of this season, the LAST in Nassau Coliseum – a season that matters MOST to a large percentage of the fanbase; everything is status quo.

The 2014-2015 New York Islanders have literally kicked tail for stretches of the season, but have now lost four consecutive games for the first time all year. They find themselves stuck in a rut, sliding down the standings to teams who have multiple games in hand and yet remarkedly they’re holding their ground in the division – for now. They’re failing miserably on the power play, and even strength in the goal scoring department and their most lethal offensive threats are nowhere to be seen, guilty of trying to do too much of anything – trying to do something.

We look to coaching, but honestly – without being a fly on the wall we can only speculate as to what is said or what adjustments are or aren’t made.

I like how the players are quoted as believing they can get through this tough time, use positive and playful antics to keep the mood light – I do. But when it comes down to it on the ice, do stuff. I said those exact words on Twitter.

Do stuff.

When the team has been great, they’ve been fast, strong, smart and brutally physical. When was the last time someone stood up for someone? Tavares continues to get frustrated by slashes, hacks or late little hits and has been taking some penalties because of that. Nelson gets head butted last night, and as much as I didn’t watch the game – I didn’t see anything about someone taking exception to this.

Forecheck. The Islanders were relentless earlier this year on the forecheck. Get the puck deep, bang bodies, chip the puck and wear the opposition down. What happened is goals. Lots of them. They’ve done away with this because of injuries, but that’s no reason to stop completely. They have more than enough people capable of speed and causing turnovers. Stop being so stationary and focusing on the same players who get drawn double and triple coverage.

I know that this team is hurting and are missing key guys – but the bottom line is there are players who need to step up, take the body to make a play and skate. Skate like there’s no tomorrow – because at the end of the day, with ten games remaining, your clock is ticking.

Hit. Take hits. Use your speed. Quick, crisp passes. Get the puck deep and make the opposition pay.

I’ve still got hope, but I expect more out of this bunch. Show me the heart on the ice to back up what you say in print.

Don’t let us down. Not now and not in April.

The Building, It Was Electric and Saturday Will be LOUDER

Posted by on Apr 11 2013 at 9:50 am | Tagged as: General, Post Game

photo-12How about these Islanders?

I made it to the game on Tuesday night, the first time this season. Not that I haven’t wanted to go earlier, I have been crazy busy during this shortened season.

From the second we pulled up to the parking, you knew that hockey was back on Long Island. Yes, it’s been back since January when the lockout ended – but it’s BACK these days. We sat in traffic just to pay for parking and had to park near Hempstead Turnpike do to the turnout. The last time that happened was my first as a season ticket holder, in 2006-2007.

It was a beautiful night Tuesday night, so many fans did as they always have during early and late season games – they tailgated. There was a buzz among the crowd, an hour before the puck was even dropped!

Inside, fans were just as plentiful – a far cry from some of the earlier games this season.

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The Answer is 42

Posted by on Mar 20 2013 at 7:51 am | Tagged as: General, News, Post Game

42Dylan Reese, NOT the answer
A central theme that has developed after the Islanders 29 games thus far: third period goals allowed. It’s not the only one mind you, but it ties in to others; blown leads, poor confidence, sustained pressure and momentum, defense. The list goes on.

When Eric Hornick updated his awesome blog with the latest Skinny on the Isles loss to the Senators last night, one glaring stat stuck out like a sore thumb. 42.

No, it’s not the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything actually yes it is, but read on! It’s the total of third period goals allowed, which owns the title of most in the NHL. Perhaps the Islanders never have those handy towels ready. Ok, that was the last unavoidable reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galazy, but not towards the frustrating New York Islanders.

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Isles in Talks to Extend Streit, Boyes, Visnovsky and Nabokov

Posted by on Mar 16 2013 at 5:08 pm | Tagged as: Free Agency, News

freeagentsYou just never know what news might come out on any given day.

Just last week, when Visnovsky returned from a wake in Slovakia, he had his family in tow. News had broken that he had rented a house on Long Island and that he (no surprise) LOVED the area and the team.

Moments ago on Twitter, Arthur Staple of Newsday Tweeted out that the Islanders are still in talks with Mark Streit on a contract extension, which we had heard some time ago. But there was NEW, news as well. The Islanders were also to begin talks with Visnovsky, Nabokov and Brad Boyes – all pending unrestricted free agents.

All in all, this isn’t surprising news. We know that Evgeni Nabokov has been playing some great hockey, and was extended last season into this season. He must feel he has a lot left to offer and could be disappointed with the shortened season due to the lockout.

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Isles Look to Continue Strong Play in Sunrise

Posted by on Mar 16 2013 at 4:22 pm | Tagged as: Gameday, General, Hot Headlines, News

163706363_slideNew York Islanders
It’s been a crazy few weeks for fans in Islanders country. The team finished off a seven game home stand with strong play and appeared to carry that momentum into their small road trip beating the Capitals, but followed that win up by getting brow beaten by the Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Fortunately for the team, they had a rare four days off in between the Pittsburgh game and their game in Tampa against Stamkos and the Lightning and outworked them to a 2-0 victory on Thursday. The break afforded much needed rest for the team, as well as Evgeni Nabokov who’s been used in most of the teams games thus far.

Tonight’s game in Sunrise Florida against the struggling Panthers is a pivotal game for the Isles. Why is this? Let’s take a look at the standings for a second.

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Back From Vacation, Isles Have Points in 4 Straight!

Posted by on Mar 09 2013 at 11:33 am | Tagged as: Gameday, General, News

image-1Hello Islanders Nation!

I’m back from Sunny Florida, as I am sure you may have seen if you follow me on Twitter!

I had a great time on our trip, a lot of exciting things happened – but now that I am back it’s back to business.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t watch any of the games while I was away. I did catch one period of the Ottawa game last Sunday (a really bad stream online), but the rest I caught bits and pieces of via the WRHU iOS app.

On to the good stuff.

The Islanders will be completing a seven game homestand this afternoon against the Capitals and are 2-0-2 in their last four. To have points in four straight is a huge accomplishment for this team at home, as they have had major struggles in front of their own fans. The team is one game below NHL .500 and only a few points out of the final playoff spot with 24 games remaining.

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Isles Looking to Rebound Against Bruins, DiPietro Reports

Posted by on Feb 26 2013 at 11:40 am | Tagged as: General, News

The Islanders are set to take on the Boston Bruins tonight on their second of seven games on home ice. This home ice is in an arena once dubbed “Fort Never-Lose”, but these days it’s the quite opposite “Fort Never-Win” brandishing a 2-7-0 record at home.

Hopefully, Team A shows up, as this game is nationally broadcast.

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