Tom Liodice over at The Tiger Track posted tonight that Bridgeport Sound Tiger enforcer Kip Brennan will be recalled now that his suspension is over. What makes this move interesting? Well, with two games slated to end the season against the rival New York Rangers – there is bound to be some enforcing needed.
Per Tom’s post:
Word out from the locker room is that Kip Brennan is going up to the big club…just in time for the Rangers series. Oh boy…
It appears as if the Islanders are relishing the role of spoiler – if anything, maybe they plan on beating the ever living snot our of the Rangers just in case they manage to hold on an make the playoffs.
Good show! Kip, Kip HOOOOORAY!!!
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Good evening – in case anyone was wondering what was going on with my gallery today, there was a bit of a hiccup after my host updated the server. I had narrowed down the problem and my host made the necessary changes to get it back online. Anyways, just wanted to talk a bit about the game last night.
Right from the drop of the puck, the Islanders were able to keep the pressure on the Flyers – whom seemed a bit snake bitten having lost to NJ the night prior. The Islanders were able to take a 1-0 lead after the puck to a ridiculously funny bounce and caught Nittymaki out of position. Richard Park corralled the rebound and put the puck (and himself) into the net. After a brief review the goal was determined as good and we were on our way.
Second period the Isles came out and the Park, Okposo, Comeau line looked great (as they have the past several games) and Okposo would show strong puck possession and Comeau would make the score 2-0. Goals by Brier and Lupul would tie the game, and eventually Franz Nielsen playing in his first game after missing several – would get the go ahead tally (and secure the crowd with FREE Wendy’s Chili!). The lead wouldn’t last however, as the Flyers would storm back and tie the game again on a goal by Richards. Overtime would be pretty uneventful, despite a carry over power play for the Islanders for virtually the entire 2 minutes, and then being awarded a late over time power play – they couldn’t convert.
Into the shootout, Ken Rosenblatt of Islanders Outsider and I were discussing who the probable first three shooters for the Islanders would be – we collectively nailed all three; Nielsen, Okposo and Park. However, the outcome of each we did not guess – as they all failed to put their club on the board. Daniel Briere would be the sole scorer in the shootout for the Flyers – and would earn the extra (and much needed) point.
Wade Dublielewicz would make 51 stellar saves in his performance, but it wouldn’t be enough in the end. The “taxi-squad” as they have been affectionately named in the media – continues to shine. Okposo, Bergenheim, Neilsen, Spiller, Colliton, and Reiger are all making their case for full time work or at least an extended look next season. With the Flyers getting points in their last several games – it should make the games later next week against the Devils and Rangers very, very exciting. The Rangers are likely to find themselves in a must-win situation – and it will be ever so exciting to watch.
As I have been doing in Kyle’s time up with the big club, here are his stats from the game against the Flyers:
Total Shifts: 19
Time on Ice: 17:40
Power Play Time: 1:12
Penalty Kill Time: :00
Average Shift: :55
Blocked Shots: 1
Missed Shots: 2
It’s been really interesting to watch Okposo’s time on ice increase game after game, he has also been shooting the puck more (although he’s been having a problem actually getting them on net) but his confidence will get there. He continues to play a well rounded game and show poise on the puck, much like Comeau. One thing about Okposo, you know when you see that Isles sweater in front of the net or scoring position – it’s none other than Kyle.
I know I am impressed, as are many of the other fans in my section.
Sorry for the late recap of the Pittsburgh game from Thursday – quite frankly I only saw the first period as I passed out for the rest. Looking at the recap, I didn’t miss anything exciting surrounding the offensive play of the Islanders – but I did notice Miroslav Satan and Sean Bergenheim each getting fighting majors. Something else I noticed – a leagues worst 15th shorthanded goal against, this team really needs special teams help in a bad way next season.
It seems moving to the center position has really sparked some sort of edge to the play of Satan, he can however be looking for a new contract from teams other than the Islanders next season so this doesn’t really surprise me. It does annoy me a little bit, because we really needed this type of play from him down the stretch and he was just a body on the ice at times. He has been great defensively this season, but injuries and bad bounces have really limited his offensive output this year. Satan is the type of guy who can disappear for stretches, as streaky as they come – so it’s nice to see him play gritty hockey, he just needs to find the net and someone will have a great winger.
Sean Bergenheim continues to impress every single game – although it’s not always on the score sheet. His timely hits, his positional play and the way he has become somewhat of an antagonist on the ice has really been a huge positive. He has also shown some toughness and a willingness to drop the gloves when the need arises, which is something this team needs in a bad way. With this season under his belt he should come into training camp next season beaming with confidence and should be able to pot anywhere from 20-25 goals.
Philadelphia comes to town tonight after a tough shootout loss last night to the New Jersey Devils, I expect them to come in and really work for those two points. Word on the street is Franz Nielsen will be back tonight and we should see the return of Bruno Gervais in the next few days.
So, this is a late update (after game 6 actually) – but here are Kyle’s stats from Thursday:
Total Shifts: 18
Time on Ice: 15:41
Power Play Time: 3:34
Penalty Kill Time: :43
Average Shift: :52
Blocked Shots: 1
I don’t know how this rumor got started, but it was posted on two separate message boards today. It basically said that Mike Comrie would be missing the remainder of the season due to a hip injury requiring surgery.
This rumor is not entirely true.
From what I gathered, Mike Comrie does have an injury to the hip and will indeed miss the game tomorrow – what happens after that depends on how fast whatever the injury is heals. As a hockey player, I can give my personal opinion on a hip injury, when they are minor. As I type this, I am nursing a hip pointer suffered tonight in my own game. If I had a game in the next night or so (I have a playoff game Sunday), I would likely sit out depending on how aggravating it is because it makes it harder to skate with such a nagging injury.
Also just wanted to throw some kudos to Isleschick at Islandermania, she actually confirmed the hip injury first.
I think I may have over-reacted a bit last night and had a complete brain lock – because Ted Nolan did offer a fair amount of insight into what he changed in their style of play between the Flyers game and the game last night against Pittsburgh. You can hear me stumble through the question at the 3:35 mark of the video on iTV:
For those who may not want to watch or listen, I asked the Coach
“What did you change in the game plan exactly, as last night you guys seemed a little timid. You didn’t really go into the corners and would be two or three steps away and get beaten to the puck a little bit.”
“We can’t give away all our secrets :laughs:. We changed just the way we go into the neutral zone, it was a big thing. A lot of these guys have played for many different coaches, a lot of different systems and we changed a little bit in the neutral zone to help in our defensive zone and tonight it paid off.”
So there you have it, while I may not have posed my question in the greatest way – I did get a fairly respectable (albeit open ended) answer anyway. I think I was more or less embarrassed by the way it came out – it happens and I can laugh about it now.
At least the questions I have asked previously have sounded more professional – there is some hope for me!
What a complete game tonight!
We had a first period short handed goal by Richard Park – assisted by none other than Kyle Okposo. We had a power play goal by Bergenheim and even two even strength goals by players who need to find the back of the net more – Bill Guerin and Trent Hunter. For whatever reason, the Penguins were not sticking to the game plan that makes them so successful, they were trying to be overly physical and it hurt them. They often found themselves scrambling to get back into position and took more penalties tonight then I have seen them take in the previous match-ups.
Conklin attempted to make up for the lack of offensive power tonight, but the Islanders really peppered him with QUALITY shots. In the previous matchup, the Islanders took shots from the perimeter which any goaltender would love all game long. Tonight the Islanders drove to the net and shot from the slot area – something that was missing during long stretches this season.
I don’t know what Ted Nolan said to the team since their deflating loss to the Flyers last night. So I tried find out – but my question came out like something sounding like gibberish, due to my stuttering and stumbling, so when he answered me all was he said he was that he couldn’t give up all his secrets.
Once in the locker room, PR Guru and “Blog Father” Chris Botta patted me on the back and complimented me on my “great question”. Yea yea, the coach and the rest of the press got a chuckle out of it – but I am human and suffered from a momentary loss of clarity, mind control and apparently – English speaking ability. I happened to be standing next to Greg Logan of Newsday at the time, so I asked him if he heard my “super question”. He told me to “Shake it off, it happens to all of us from time to time”. Jim Baumbach, also of Newsday told me through instant messenger that it’s not anything to worry about, although he can see my concern as a blogger looking to remain as professional as possible. When I told him I intended to poke fun at myself in my blog, he said that was the best part about these situations – self deprecation. So there you have it – it’s out in the open and it feels great?! Maybe not.
Fast forward about 15 minutes later and Dee, Tom and I run into GM Extroidonaire Garth Snow walking to his car. We began to chit chat with him about owning large vehicles and gas prices when I realized I was able to have a conversation with him and not feel entirely short. I was standing on a high part of the grass – so, I mentioned this (for those who don’t know during the trade deadline I had a conversation with him about height and how I was entirely too small for the NHL (a vailed attempt at getting him to offer me a ATO contract ::snickers::)) so with that he steps up on the grass to knock me down a peg or two. Strike two for Mike tonight says Dee. Thanks, it’s just one of those days I guess.
Back to hockey talk (or tawk as we Long Islanders would like to say), the game tonight is one of those that really makes you scratch your head. The style and competitiveness of this team varies from period to period, game to game and even minute to minute sometimes. Much like my line of questioning tonight, it’s really hard to wrap your mind around completely. However, with a lineup chock full of inexperience at the NHL level it is definately a positive sign when confidence is there more often than not – so I will take what I can get.
Go Kyle Go! I don’t know how many times I said that tonight, as he was SO STRONG on the puck and pulled off some really confident moves through traffic. With each shift, this kid just gets more confident and plays like he has been in the league for years. Between him, Comeau and Bergenheim I really don’t know who to be excited about more next season. They really give fans something to be hopeful for in the future!
Here are Kyle’s stats from tonight’s game:
Total Shifts: 16
Time on Ice: 13:50
Power Play Time: 2:22
Penalty Kill Time: :36
Average Shift: :51
Blocked Shots: 1
Fairly respectable numbers, although his average shift time decreased from last night’s game – it is due to the decreased special team time. In 4 games with the Islanders, Okposo has 1 goal and 2 assists for 3 points – which is almost exactly the scoring pace he was on down in Bridgeport. So much for those saying Kyle’s game wouldn’t translate well into the NHL! However, having said that, 4 games is 4 games and we will reserve complete judgment until he is allowed to perform at an extended pace next season.
So, 4 points in 3 games isn’t too shabby – especially given we stole the points from division rivals/leaders. I am sure that all the Rangers fans were devout Isles fans tonight – just don’t get too comfy just yet boys – we have 4 points to take from you later on next week. The role of spoiler may not be the best, but it can sure be fun.
For now, I must bid adieu – this bumbling idiot needs to get some much needed rest.
For those wondering when I would post the answer to the poll, answer directly below the poll results:
The answer is: Jeff Tambellini
Scored his first NHL goal on March 14 at New Jersey (Brodeur) with the Islanders
Not really much to say about what we saw against the Flyers last night. It was almost if it was a repeat of the last time the Isles made the trek down the Jersey Turnpike and made a right turn at Gino’s. They allowed the Flyers to score 3 more power play goals on top of the 4 they allowed the last visit. Unnecessary lazy penalties result in goals more often than not.
Miro Satan finally broke out of his slump, scoring on the power play for the Islanders and thus breaking Biron’s chance at a shutout bid. Too bad, so sad Marty – from the South.
If there is ever a shining moment in Islanders hockey these days, it is the continued outstanding play of the kids – Comeau, Bergenheim, Colliton, Spiller, Reiger and Tambellini. Did I leave someone out? How can I forget Kyle Okposo!
Kyle may not surface on the score sheet in every game he has played so far, but he has gained valuable skill and confidence during every shift. Last night he was used on the power play, penalty kill and received extended ice time at even strength.
As always, here is a look at his game stats from last night:
Total Shifts: 16
Time on Ice: 19:45
Power Play Time: 5:43
Penalty Kill Time: 2:43
Average Shift: 1:14
Shots: 1 (blocked)
Well, the Islanders will be facing off shortly against the Pittsburgh Penguins who are still without Crosby due to that high ankle sprain, hopefully we can see some spirited hockey tonight in front of the home crowd. I am about to head out, look for a post sometime tonight recapping this game.
I know my post last night wasn’t much, I actually wasn’t even planning on putting anything up at the time – but felt compelled to post the Okposo news when it happened. The Islanders went into last nights contest against the Devils winless in 6 games and scoring very few times over the course of those 6 games. For the first several minutes last night, the Devils attacked Dubielewicz from all sorts of angles and were clearly shooting high. Their game plan didn’t really work out the way they wanted, as the Islanders turned all NJ momentum when they scored a rare first period goal.
What wasn’t very rare about it was how they managed to score. It seems that Martin Brodeur was screened on a shot by Comeau by journeyman Richard Park. Comeau cycled the puck down low and Okposo took the puck behind the net and cut back towards the corner boards where he found Comeau again. Okposo went to the right post and Park went to the front of the net as Comeau turned and fired a shot that beat Brodeur for a 1-0 lead. The play would mark Okposo’s first NHL point with a primary assist on the play. The Devils would eventually capitalize on a power play, one of their many chances during the game by knocking in a rebound at Dubielewicz’s far post. They would appear to get the go ahead goal in the second period on another power play, but the goal was waved off because the net was off its moorings. Sprinkle in numerous Islanders and Devils power plays and fights here and there and it brings you to the third period.
The third period brought more north-south hockey by both teams and Dubielewicz was forced to make numerous stops at point blank range. Matthew Spiller and ex-Isles Aaron Asham would square off for a title bout, but Spiller would be felled by ONE punch from Asham that drew blood on his cheek. Guerin would later fight Clarkson and they would wind up tying their bout. Zajack would be called for holding late in the third period to give the Islanders a very important power play. Nolan elected to ice his Comeau, Park, Okposo line and it would pay dividends, as Park found a helmet less Okposo who fired a blast past Brodeur to make it a 2-1 Islanders lead. It was Okposo’s first NHL goal and he celebrated like it was his first goal – which is even more memorable because he had no helmet. The Devils would pull their goaltender with just over a minute left and Hunter would backhand the clincher past the sprawling Devils d-men to make it 3-1. Aside from Okposo’s memorable night, Vasicek would square off with NJ’s Pelley with seconds remaining – it seems that the Islanders really responded to the scolding by head coach Ted Nolan for their less than perfect effort against Toronto earlier in the week.
Throughout the remainder of the season I will include a small section in each post highlighting the play of Kyle Okposo to see how he progressive during his time up with the big club. Here are Kyle’s numbers from his second NHL game:
Total Shifts: 17
Time on Ice: 15:35
Power Play Time: 2:31
Average Shift: 0:55
So, not only did Kyle notch his first NHL assist during the first period, he would then score his first goal on the power play against one of the greatest goaltenders to ever play the game. It was also Kyle’s first game winning goal and first multi-point night – clearly a great night of firsts for this budding star!
Just wanted to see if anyone else knew who on the Islanders current roster also scored their first NHL goal against Martin Brodeur.
Islanders are leading with two-minutes remaining. Kyle Okposo has just scored the go ahead goal for the Islanders on the power play, marking his FIRST NHL GOAL in the same game as his FIRST NHL ASSIST! Second game into his NHL career and his gets himself a multi-point night and game winning goal.
Congrats Kyle -what a game!
Trent Hunter just made it 3-1 into an empty net! First win and first points in 6 games.
If anyone has watched goaltender Rick DiPietro as close as I have since the infamous All-Star F-Bomb, the news last night that DiPietro’s season is over due to his second consecutive hip surgery isn’t all too surprising. Thankfully, the surgically repaired left hip of last season is good to go, it’s now his so called “good” right hip that is in need of attention.
DiPietro’s surgery was scheduled for today in Vail, Colorado at the hands of Dr. Marc Philippon, the well known hip surgeon that completed his first surgery, the surgery on now GM Garth Snow two seasons ago and most recently – veteran Mike Sillinger. The decision to call the remainder of this season off was an easy one to make, DiPietro has obviously not been 100% for quite sometime and was likely pushing himself due to the now impossible feat of making the post-season. So to get an early jump on the surgery and the recovery period is a big positive and will help out more than hurt.
Greg Logan brings to light numerous valid points, as always that are a must read in his blog entry today. Here are a few quotes that stand out best:
But with so much riding on DiPietro, the Islanders have to learn they can’t ride him game after game. As much as he admires Devils workhorse Martin Brodeur, it just might be that DiPietro isn’t built to maintain the ironman pace of a Brodeur, who played 78 games last season and has been between the pipes for 68 of the Devils’ 74 games so far this season.
This one in particular:
Whether the Islanders re-sign Dubielewicz, who will be a free agent, or bring someone else in as DiPietro’s backup, it’s time the coaching staff made it clear to the franchise goaltender that he is going to be rested on a regular basis. No more riding him into the ground. The thing is that he needs the mental break as much as the physical break, and if he gets it, DiPietro might attain a level of consistency that is necessary for him and the franchise to take the next step toward true contender status.
I just can’t wait for further contract backlash given DiPietro’s emergence of an oft-injured player and how we could potentially be stuck with a player forced to retire early regardless of the remaining contract years. Either way, DiPietro came to camp lean and mean this year, in the best shape of his career – so I don’t expect anything different next year.
Well – Islanders ice new cast, yet suffer the same result.
Sometimes it doesn’t really matter who you call up to replace players lost to injury, even if they are your top prospect. This is by no means a knock at Kyle Okposo, despite playing a great game he just couldn’t provide enough of a spark to get the Islanders firing on all of their remaining cylinders. The shots were close during the first period and the ice looked fairly choppy so there weren’t many end to end rushes, but the game was relatively close. The Isles took a few early penalties and on one particular penalty kill, a seemingly innocent clearing attempt by defenseman Rob Davison bounced down the length of the ice and right over Toskala’s glove for a 1-0 lead. The goal was measured at 178 feet and it marked the first time Davison has scored this season.
I don’t know what it is about these types of freaky bounce goals, but this isn’t the first time that Okposo has been on a team where it has happened. While playing for Michigan, a bouncing puck allowed North Dakota to tie the game while shorthanded. The difference this time, the bounce went the way of Okposo’s team instead of the other way around. Had I known this I would’ve asked him about it last night – I will be sure to get on that for the next home game.
Getting back on track, the rest of the game was very poorly executed. The Isles did have some pressure and a chance here and there, but they just couldn’t hold onto the lead and eventually allowed a tying goal in the third period. With the game tied at 1-1, the Islanders took yet another penalty and I thought to myself this would decide the game. With that, the Leafs scored and went ahead 2-1. They would top it off with an empty net goal and mar Kyle Okposo’s professional career with a loss.
Kyle played a pretty good game considering it was his very first experience playing against NHL caliber talent. I took a bunch of pictures during his first shift and throughout the game, I will upload those tomorrow as I need to get to bed early tonight. I know there are those out there salivating for Kyle’s exact stats from last night, so here they are:
Total Shifts: 15
Time on Ice: 14:45
Power Play Time: 1:33
Average Shift: 0:59
Kyle, whom I have already praised for his poise with the press – continued to do so with his self-assessment last night. When asked how he felt he did given the amount of attention he received, he had this to say:
“I was a bit jittery,” Okposo said. “I think I psyched myself out. I thought the game was faster than it was the first period. I started to calm down a bit in the second and third … In between the first and second periods, I was like, ‘It’s no different than what I’ve played.’
The entire press corps had almost the same exact question, where numerous journalists asked the same question at the same time. Everyone wanted to know what he felt about the talent difference between Collegiate hockey, the AHL and the NHL. If anyone is the right person to ask this question to, it would be Kyle as he has played in each level over a period of 6 months. His response was the following, as expected:
“Obviously, the players are better, but hockey is hockey anywhere you go, whether it be on the pond or in the NHL or the AHL. It’s still hockey. I’ve played the game a thousand times, and it’s not going to change.”
His answer screamed confidence, so between the help of veterans like Guerin helping him out throughout the night, continued practice and eventually numerous games – Kyle Okposo will completely arrive at the NHL level and will continue to impress. He may not have had a game winner or been a difference maker, but he definately impressed me with his play last night.
Congratulations Kyle, I wish you many years of success and look forward to watching you grow into the powerhouse we know you can be.
DING DING DING
No, that’s not the ending bell for the Islanders season – although admittedly it is rather close with 9 games remaining and the Islanders needing nothing short of an absolute miracle to claim the 8th playoff spot. I am talking about the KO punch named none other than Kyle Okposo making his New York Islanders debut. Clever play on words there, eh? Boxing, KO – never mind.
That’s right, maybe you haven’t been paying too much attention – but news of Okposo’s callup to the big club has been abuzz all over the internet the past several days. However, looking back at the trade deadline – I let everyone in on what I was told by Garth Snow in our interview, so this wasn’t a complete surprise or anything.
Ken over at Okposo Net has been doing a great job keeping everyone abreast on the latest KO developments down the stretch – he has even made a banner featuring the “retired” sweater of KO (one could only hope) and he even heard from Kyle himself on his reaction to the image.
With so many bodies bruised and banged up, it’s not really surprising that the Islanders would bring Kyle up to see what he can do in the NHL. The team has been struggling mightily as of late and a little bit of excitement for the team and the fans couldn’t hurt anything. Says Garth Snow on Kyle’s Islanders debut:
“It’s the right time to give Kyle the chance to show what he can do at the NHL level,” said Islanders general manager Garth Snow. “From the beginning we said that when it came to Kyle we would do what was best long-term for both him and our franchise. He has played well in Bridgeport and deserves a look. Our organization is very excited to see Kyle in an Islanders unifom, and I’m sure so are our fans.
And Kyle’s Reaction:
“My focus had been on playing well in the AHL and helping the Sound Tigers, so I didn’t know when the call would come,” said Okposo. “But now that it has, the excitement is off the charts. I just want to have a good practice on Monday and then I’ll start thinking about playing a big game against the Maple Leafs in front of our fans on Tuesday. It’s up to me to make the most of the opportunity.”
For those wondering WHY it took this long to bring Kyle up to the big club – if he were to play any more than nine games with the Islanders this season, the first year of his contract would count towards the season – bringing him that much closer to restricted free agency. This; obviously being something the Islanders want to avoid – so it’s a no-brainer on waiting it out.
Today, Kyle practiced with the team at Iceworks and there is extensive coverage on the Islanders Website and iTV so check that out. We are told that he practiced on a line with Richard Park and Blake Comeau and fit in very well, impressing the coaching staff as the morning progressed. Here are some quotes from the day:
Kyle on what it felt like to take part in an NHL practice:
“It feels pretty good being out there in my first NHL practice,” said Okposo, following today’s practice. “Knowing a few guys (from Bridgeport) I felt a little more comfortable today. The guys have been awesome and have taken me under their wing. The guys have been great.
Ted Nolan on Kyle’s play and why he will start with the linemates he practiced with:
“He’s an exceptional player that we’re looking forward to see play at the NHL level,” said head coach Ted Nolan. “There are certain players who have that instinct. He doesn’t just skate and shoot the puck well, he also has that great hockey sense. Kyle has all of the ingredients good players have. We wanted to start him on a line with one of our most reliable guys in Richard Park. And considering Blake Comeau has good hockey sense, the three of them should form a pretty good line out there.”
Kyle on the hype surrounding his debut:
“Anytime you play your first game at any level, especially the NHL it’s an exciting time,” said Okposo. I just want to go out there, play my game and help my team win. I look at this as a challenge and try to ignore all the hype. I’m just going to do the best I can to help the team win. I don’t have any tricks up my sleeve.”
Has anyone else been really impressed in the manner that Okposo handles himself with the media? To me he doesn’t sound like a 19 (soon to be 20) year old making his NHL debut, but more of a seasoned veteran! There is a lot of opinion going on out there on the potential negative effects of coming up to the team at this stage of the season, but I don’t feel it will “ruin” Okposo as a player. I don’t really feel this is entirely a gimmick either, or a ploy by the Islanders to salvage whatever ticket revenue they can out of what’s left of the season. I am really excited to see KO make his debut and see what he can bring to the team, at a time they need a spark more than anything. I also don’t expect Kyle to come in and be the savior of the Islanders, light up the lamp at a torrid pace or be the second coming of Crosby – I just want to see him get his feet wet in the NHL and use the experience as a stepping stone and building block towards a long prosperous career on Long Island.
I am going to do my best to sneak out of work a bit early tomorrow so I can get down to the glass and take some pictures of Kyle out there with the rest of the team. I know I haven’t posted pictures from the past several (15ish?) games – but I promise everything will be updated in the very, very near future!