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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Success in Montreal: A Tale of Three Teams

Posted by on Feb 22 2013 at 7:45 pm | Tagged as: General, News, Post Game

Thomas Hickey New York Islanders
This is a post that I wanted to get out earlier today, but work had me running around like a chicken without a head. It never fails, Friday rolls around and customers tend to freak out about the thought of not having heat before a weekend – especially one where the weather outlook is not good. Did I mention they call within an hour of the days end?

In any case – the Islanders were victorious North of the Border in Montreal last night, but it was a tale of three teams. I’m almost certain that you read the title and said – “Eh? THREE teams Mike?”.

Yes, three.

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Issues and What To Do?

Posted by on Feb 20 2013 at 8:29 am | Tagged as: News, Opinion, Post Game, Rant

So we’re just just past the quarter pole of the season and we’ve seen such inconsistency that it’s maddening. Oh to be a fly on the wall of the locker room.

We’ve seen this team come out flying and score goals in the first minute of play and dominate for a full 60, but we’ve also seen the same team come out and look lost and allow goals in the first :27 seconds or less of periods. I’ve seen blame placed upon everything from the owner, to the coach, preparedness, the captain, lack of talent, lack of defense, size – everything.

What are the answers?

That’s a great question. One that I find myself asking as I watch these games from the comfort of my living room with a scowl on my face and sore throat from yelling at the TV.

Let’s analyze.

The Talent


Up front we have Tavares, Moulson and Boyes. While this line has put up points and John has entered beast mode at times, he cannot do it alone. I watch this guy bust his hump game in and game out and teams pay lots of attention to him. Why? Because the talent around him while good, can’t keep pressure off of him most nights. Sure, they can compete with that first line, but he needs someone who can open up space and be as big of a threat as him so he can penetrate the defense without too much trouble and not have four guys hanging all over him.

At the same time, because he draws that many players to him those around him need to get into better position. Something that doesn’t always happen. Moulson gets to the net, creates traffic and is handy with his stick depositing shots – but only when they get through. Boyes shows flashes of being a smart playmaker, but he gets pushed off the puck and causes turnovers at times. I’d really hoped for more out of him and I’m not sure he belongs on JT’s wing.

As we move down the depth chart – we have Grabner who’s speed and defensive play cause fits but he often can’t finish. Nielsen with his defensive play, while he’s a smart player he doesn’t seem to have much as far as offense this season. Bailey has looked better this year, but we haven’t seen enough of him. Ullstrom and Cizikas have been a pleasant surprise. I’d like to see Ullstrom up on JT’s wing for a game or two actually.

Okposo. I’ve never been as disappointed in a player as I have been with Kyle. He seems lazier this year, perhaps because he opted to not play during the lockout and it’s a matter of conditioning? Two games in a row he’s taken penalties that have killed momentum and have been in the offensive zone. You just cannot do that. He’s haphazardly back checked and tried too hard to make pretty plays with the puck. He needs to use his head and slow his game down a touch. He’s been all over the place in the lineup, and last night he looked OK until he decided to be a bonehead.

Aucoin and McDonald – two serviceable guys who deserve spot duty in the NHL, but would be better served down with Bridgeport. Aucoin I’d actually go and say he’s good enough to stick, but I think it’s because of our depth issue.

Reasoner – well, we know what we have there and why the team is shopping him. He actually played ok last night in Ottawa, but as much as this team needs a veteran, he doesn’t fit and hasn’t fit since was signed. Experiment over.

If he’s waived or traded, it’s time for Niederreiter to be called up.

The Defense

This has been a tough year – as noted by our waiver wire addiction.

Hickey has looked good, I like not noticing a player much until he makes that solid play and he hasn’t looked out of place. Finley, well – we could do better but he serves a purpose when he’s around. Carkner has added toughness and been an ok defenseman and I’m actually a little upset he’s been injured. They need his fire.

Visnovsky has been as advertised. I just wish he was a few years younger because he adds an element that this team needs – a secondary power play QB. He seems to like the team, thankfully – and plays every night. Not to say he hasn’t made mistakes though.

Our Captain, Streit – he’s struggled but has given glimpses of the player he was in his first season on the team. I’ve not changed my mind in that he was a bad choice for captain. He would never do as Giroux did for the Flyers and call out his teammates. He should’ve after the 7-0 shutout though. I would have. Sometimes you need to get pissed as a leader and veteran. Just look at what assistant coach Doug Weight did with his “paint peeling” speech last week. We need THAT fire and excitement.

Strait is hurt and that’s a shame. He’s been solid and deserves that contract. A fractured ankle will likely see him gone the rest of the season. I suppose we’ll see the man-o-glass Martinek replace him this week at some point.

MacDonald – oh what happened to you? You’ve gone from a steady workhorse to someone who’s positional play has gotten away from what it was. You’re playing too many minutes friend.

Hamonic – thank goodness for you. You’re the best we have on the rear guard corps, but like your partner you are playing too many minutes. This just screams lack of depth and poor coaching.

It’s clear to me that Capuano trusts who he trusts and is hesitant to change much up. Sounds exactly the way Scott Gordon was and we know how that ended.

The Goaltenders

Nabokov has been outstanding for a player creeping up there in age. He’s been overplayed though and hung out to dry more often than not with his defense.

DiPietro – I’ll get lambasted for saying this, but he’s been ok. Not great, not good – but just ok. Sure last night he flubbed that glove save and it put the game out of reach, but when you don’t allow your goalie to see the puck you can’t expect him to automatically make a save, I don’t care who it is in net.

Final Thoughts

I’ve been writing about this team since 2006, been a fan my entire life and have seen a lot of crazy things go on with the organization.

What I cannot wrap my mind around is the lack of effort by Charles Wang to put a genuine NHL product on the ice. Garth Snow is always forced to assemble a majority of his team with tape and bubble gum and that’s no way to form a contender, let alone a professional hockey team. His hands are tied for the most part – I don’t agree with the thoughts that he’s a bad GM and I’m curious to see how good he can be if he was ACTUALLY free to do what he wants.

Sure there are a ton of issues going on behind the scenes with the pending move to Brooklyn, but enough is enough.

The Islanders are wrecking these years with John Tavares. Plain and simple.

While the farm is stocked with a ton of good prospects – we seem to be stuck in this repetitive cycle of poor management. It’s painful to watch as a fan, I’m sure it’s no better as a player.

We should be going hard as we move towards Brooklyn. The fans in on Long Island deserve to make the old barn rock at least one more time.

I’m tired of feeling as if we’re constantly lied to as a fan base – and I know a lot of other fans out there feel the same way.

I look forward to better days and we’ve been teased with what it’ll be like once we get there.

Tell me you’re feelings or ideas in the comment section. I’m open for debate.

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