December 2008

Monthly Archive

Injuries Continue as Panthers Prowl

Posted by on 31 Dec 2008 | Tagged as: Call Ups, Gameday, Injuries, News

Thank goodness it’s the very last day of 2008 – it’s not been all bad mind you, I just want to move past all these injuries.

In what is now a daily trend, the Islanders have announced several injuries and players recalled from Bridgeport to serve as replacement for said players. Here is what we know, thanks to Islanders Point Blank:

Rick DiPietroTrevor Smith has been recalled to replace Mike Sillinger who finds himself back in a familiar place – Injured Reserve with a hip injury. No word if this is an injury to his surgically repaired hip or to his “good hip”. It’s a shame too, because he has been pretty good for the Islanders in between missing time with that groin strain and all.

Trent Hunter is reportedly sore, nothing major after that scary hit at the Garden on Monday. If Hunts cannot go – Botta says to expect Sim to take his place.

Sean Bergenheim will likely dress for Mitch Fritz, Bergy is the better choice providing he can find a way to remain out of the sin bin.

The question at this point is why is Yann Danis recalled once again so soon after he was sent back down? Will he serve as backup for a returning DiPietro or will he backup MacDonald. The tricky part about this situation is how Joey Mac took a shot up high off the neck during yesterday’s practice. This is something to watch for sure. The last time I checked everyone thought that DiPietro would be today’s starting goalie – who knows at this point. I know I don’t profess to know or understand anything anymore.

No live blog again today, my apologies – if the mood strikes me I may do something from my phone while in my seats. Follow along with the live tracker at the bottom of the post for all those stuck at work!

Enjoy the game!

Vote for Islesblogger!

Today is the very last day to vote in the Yes Islanders 2008 Best Blog awards!

I know I did not really push this too much, I honestly don’t expect to win – but Yes Islanders is a great community and deserves an extra plug here and there. Head on over there (click the banner below) and sign up to vote – it’s free and easy!

Live Tracker

Isles Look West – Try to Rebound at MSG

Posted by on 29 Dec 2008 | Tagged as: Gameday

Joey MacDonaldAll distractions aside, the Islanders had a pretty good weekend. A win on Friday night against Toronto and a come from behind effort on Saturday in Buffalo that would force overtime and a shootout that ended in a loss. I doubt anyone is asking what kind of distractions – but in case you aren’t following, I am talking about the status of Rick DiPietro. Joey MacDonald is your starter tonight, just to give you a hint.

This is turning into quite the soap opera honestly, think “How the Rick turns” if you will. First, without much warning DiPietro was your starting netminder on Friday. Everyone around the club thought that he should have been given a stint in Bridgeport ala Sillinger – but alas, he did not go that route. DP played, got the win and only gave up one goal. We would later find out that both DiPietro and Sillinger would not make the trip to Buffalo as a precaution, but Ricky would be good to go on Monday. Between yesterday and today I have heard it all – Yes, No, Maybe. Turns out that even the media was confused, as DiPietro practiced with the team, took the bulk of shots and left the ice first – all typical of your starting goalie. WRONG. Turns out it was just a ploy to keep everyone guessing what is going on, even Bridgeport netminder Yann Danis – who by now can do the Bridgeport – Long Island drive with his eyes closed.

In other news, veteran forward Doug Weight is back in the lineup after nursing his sore groin. Weight is only two points away from his 1,000th NHL point, it could very well happen tonight and increase his point total this season, as well as his trade value. Seems Weight’s name is already popping up in the rumor mill, it first started in the back channels – but as BD said this morning it has reached the beat writers as well.

There is one certainty tonight, the Islanders always show up for the Rangers – at least we can expect some spirited hockey tonight. The Rangers are an up and down team despite their record, but they are also coming off a tough loss to the Devils on Saturday – so they will come out just as pumped tonight. Time will tell which teams comes out on top.

Live Tracker

DiPietro’s “Injury”

Posted by on 27 Dec 2008 | Tagged as: General

So those of you watching the game in Buffalo may have overheard Howie and Billy speak about DiPietro’s groin tweak. It was a surprise to just about everyone, except one sharp eyed blogger – me.

It’s true that Danis could only be recalled if it was an emergency. It is also true that the injury could be a ruse, at least that is the hope.

Something I noticed from the Blog Box last night, during DP’s and Campoli’s jumping chest bump – high five, DP did look like he landed awkward. I saw him skate off fine and walk down the runway, but that is where things got strange. If he was injured, I could see this being a key juncture and something I had hoped they would not do in his fragile state.

Discuss.

Isles Shuffle Off to Buffalo

Posted by on 27 Dec 2008 | Tagged as: Gameday, News

Right after the Islanders completed all the post game interviews last night following their 4-1 win over the Maple Leafs, they began their shuffle off to Buffalo. Only it was more then just moving their equipment.

Jeremy CollitonSee, there are several key players who did not make the trip with the rest of the team. Goaltender Rick DiPietro was left behind, despite his win – as was veteran forward Mike Sillinger. The club was erring on the side of caution with both players and felt it would do more harm then good should they play in back-to-back games.

Yann Danis will replace DiPietro and Jeremy Colliton will replace Andy Hilbert who fractured a foot blocking a shot last night. Both DP and Sillinger are projected to be back in the lineup for Monday nights game against the Rangers at MSG, but Hilbert is day to day – but it has been speculated that he could be out anywhere from 2-4 weeks. Another difference, Jon Sim in for Mike Sillinger – no Mitch Fritz.

Tonight, they face a team in the Sabres who are coming off a loss to the Capitals last night and have also been in a bit of a slump themselves. If they have the same chemistry they did last night – they shouldn’t have any problem and could potentially string together a decent batch of games to close out December.

Not really sure about Doug Weight, but I suspect that he is another scratch tonight.

Enjoy the game!

Live Tracker

Islanders Have Returnee’s

Posted by on 26 Dec 2008 | Tagged as: General

Aside from the Toronto Maple Leafs coming to Long Island again tonight, the Islanders also have some returning players. Get this, the players are returning from one of the darnedest things – INJURY.

According to Arthur Staple and Mike Fornabaio the Islanders will be graced with the presence of Mike Sillinger whom is returning from a sore groin, and also Bruno Gervais who had an unspecified leg injury. Both players returning to the Islanders lineup replace forward Ben Walter and defenseman Joe Callahan who were both returned to Bridgeport.

Rick DiPietroA big asterisk on all of the injuries and returns – the status of goaltender Rick DiPietro. Arthur Staple had this interesting quote in Greg Logan’s blog today following the morning skate

As for the goaltender… Scott Gordon didn’t seem like he was trying to be coy. “We have to check with the trainer, the doctor (Elliot Pellman) first,” Gordon said. “We don’t have a lot of practice time, so this is what we’re working with.”

DiPietro was the first goaltender off the ice from the skate, and he took a majority of the shots in one net while Yann Danis mainly worked the other. These are things that make you go hmmm, but it would seem to be downright foolish to toss DiPietro into a game after two months off with two straight days off preceding it.

So, if DiPietro does not make a surprise return tonight against Toronto, should he be cleared to play he may appear in the crease tomorrow night against the Buffalo Sabres. This is definately the story to watch for sure.

DiPietro Starting!

Got to the game early tonight and I see DiPietro is dressed in the warmup skate currently taking shots. One could guess he is your starting netminder. Happy Holidays from your New York Islanders!

Regarding Tuesday night’s game against Atlanta and my live blog – two things happened. First, the wireless internet that the team provides us with went down and did not come back up until the third period. Second, my laptop drive died and I was unable to even use my computer. I ordered a new drive and it should be here soon, the tricky part is waiting for the recovery discs from the manufacturer as the laptop drive had a backup on a different partition – not helpful when the drive dies. Coincidentally, my father got me a mini-laptop for Christmas but I don’t think I will live blog tonight because I have not sat in my seats in quite a few weeks now.

As the games pass here there is nothing really to play for except for some dignity and pride, the Islanders are clearly in a free fall to the bottom of the standings and the top of the draft order come June. Obviously, nobody wants to see them lose for more then ten straight games – particularly the players themselves. It’s a tough situation, but playing against teams like Toronto and Atlanta who are both in dire straights themselves don’t make things any easier. The Islanders are struggling just the same, yet teams who are struggling apear as if they are filled with all star players and walk all over the team. It is times like this that make me beleive that the talent level of the Islanders is way below league average. I don’t know one coach who can take a group of players like this and make them a thoroughbred. However, in the same breath the team has enough talent to steal a few games when they stick to the system like they did earlier in the season. Call it growing pains during a rebuild, but when this team is healthy (and I don’t put much weight into that statement because with their luck they never will be) – they can be more competitive. This all begins with a return of a 100% healthy Rick DiPietro, something a lot of people have been waiting for.

I still love hockey and I still love and support the team, hopefully they don’t completely disappoint tonight. When they don’t, it is certainly easier to muster up something interesting to read.

Live Tracker

Live Blog: Thrashers at Islanders

Posted by on 23 Dec 2008 | Tagged as: Gameday, Live Blog

Finally got an internet connection, I am always the only one with problems.

Doug was nice enough to tell me Tambellini is in – substituted for Jon Sim, while Weight is still out with a sore groin, Thompson is out with his leg injury.

Still getting set up here and I will get the live tracker going as soon as possible.

First Period

7:09pm And we are off.
7:14pm Some back and forth stuff early, no real chances either way and only one shot on goal a piece. Thrashers just iced the puck – Comeau won the race beating our own Callahan….
7:18pm Hey, the ice girls are out for the first time tonight – they have on some sexy Christmas outfits. Nice

Internet is down, they are trying to hey it back up for us. Posting this from my phone.

8:23pm I’m having computer issues, Thrashers are up 2-0. Islanders have had a few good chances, but only managed to hit two posts.

Live Tracker

Islesblogger and The Tiger Track Interview Josh Bailey

Posted by on 23 Dec 2008 | Tagged as: General, News

Just got an email from Josh Bernstein saying the interview that Tom and I did with Josh Bailey is now up on iTV!

Check it out below:

Not too shabby, eh?

The Number Nine

Posted by on 22 Dec 2008 | Tagged as: General

What exactly is the number nine?

It’s the number that follows the number eight and rests just ahead of the number ten. It’s the number that adorns one of New York City’s subway lines, as well as a well traveled route in New Jersey. Place two number nine’s next to each other and it represents the jersey number of hockey’s “The Great One”. It is also the number that represents the month of September in a calendar year, as well as the number of a type of beer brewed by Magic Hat brewery in Vermont.

As I was staring at my bottle of #9 on Saturday I couldn’t help but snap a picture, it is after all a representation of the current number of consecutive Islanders losses.

Quite fitting isn’t it? It’s also somewhat disturbing that someone could have a moment of clarity during the act of consuming alcohol – but stranger things have happened. Just think, had I not been enjoying that beer this weekend I wouldn’t have ever had a reason to post an update.

In all seriousness, this time of the year is crazy. Working in the trade that I do it always seems that the real winter weather arrives at the same time as the holidays. Couple being busy with work and the shopping for gifts and it makes things even worse. I apologize for not giving you guys any real updates this weekend.

So what exactly is the current state of the Islanders organization?

A quick peak at the other blogs and the message boards has everyone calling for just about every head to roll – Gordon, Snow, Wang, every player, usher, popcorn vendor, well you get the idea. I normally don’t make a habit of arguing with other fans or calling out opinions, as I feel that I shouldn’t alienate potential readers. Every now and then there comes a time when you just cannot hold back.

I am sick and tired about the complaints regarding Gordon, his “systems”, Garth Snow, Charles Wang – sick of it all. The fact of the matter is that a majority of this fan base has been calling for a rebuild for well over a decade. Mike Milbury came close to rebuilding a few times, but would always have this notion that he could fix things through trades and quick fixes. I am also sick and tired about hearing how bad of a move it was to remove Neil Smith, the Ryan Smyth trade and finally Ted Nolan’s firing.

Ted Nolan was not a great coach, sorry. He may have gotten the team to the playoffs and had one successful season in Buffalo, but when faced with any bit of adversity he did not like to change his game plan or listen to his assistants. Nolan also allegedly lost the confidence of his veterans – a sure demise for any head coach. If Smith and Nolan are so great and have done so many positive things for the Islanders, tell me why after their tenure here are they still unemployed? Charles Wang gave them an opportunity to prove the hockey world they didn’t deserve to be shut out for so long, yet they are both back on the outside looking in – coincidence? I think not.

The Ryan Smyth trade was actually spoken about in some detail by Chris Botta over at Islanders Point Blank:

In dealing Ryan Smyth and sliding the rest of the 2006-07 season into hockey hell – including the overshadowing of their Mark Messier Night – the Oilers received the following package from the Islanders:

* A first round pick in 2007 (15th overall) which Edmonton reached with to take stay-at-home defenseman Alex Plante, who projects as a No. 5 defenseman at best.

* Former Islanders prospect (and recent first-rounder) Ryan O’Marra, who played half of last season in the East Coast Hockey League and this year is a stunning 0-3-3 in 23 games with Springfield (AHL).

* Robert Nilsson, who after cashing in with a three-year, $5-5 million contract, has reverted to the player-on-the-periphery Pierre Maguire and others had him pegged. Last night he was benched by coach Craig MacTavish for “non-competition – he had no competition. I’ve had enough of that and seen enough.” Islesblogger note: TSN has a great story on Nilsson and his recent benching.

Garth SnowBotta also uses my picture of Garth Snow at the trade deadline last season in another post, where he speaks about his recent interview with Garth about Gordon. It’s a great read and proves that management is behind the rebuild for the long haul, no matter how bumpy that haul is. Garth acknowledges that he has been working the phones, but mostly to listen to other GM’s offers – he knows he cannot make the team better through quick fixes. Garth is honestly in a great position come the deadline with all of the veteran players he has on one year deals. Players like Guerin, Weight, Comrie, and Sillinger could return decent picks and prospects. Hockeybuzz had something up yesterday about Doug Weight given his resurgence here on Long Island – early talk for trades, but he will get the most interest.

Now after reading some of that, you are most likely thinking “But Scott Gordon has not changed his system when it has not worked!!!”. Yes, you are right – however, the system is working down in Bridgeport. Did you hear that? I hear all of the negative Nancies saying that it is better suited in the AHL or that it is better suited for the younger, quicker players. Riddle me this, has a system ever worked straight out of the gate? Did the neutral zone trap gain interest or wide spread use right away? Unlikely, things take time to work the kinks out and I guarantee that Gordon is taking notes during his rookie season and has tried new things over the course of the first 30 something games. If you watch closely, you can see subtle differences – at least I do.

It has been said before that this team is made up of some players who may not fit the system and I agree. There comes a time in any rebuild where you have to assess your talent and jettison players who will not work and import those who will. The most important aspect of all the mixing and matching, trials and tribulations: patience and a lot of it.

With some of the veterans speaking out to the media in recent days, one gets nervous that once again a coach is losing the confidence of his veteran players. Things are different this time, we are actually hearing about players openly discussing their issues – instead of hearsay. This is a positive – although many may not follow. A real veteran, at least to me – is someone who isn’t afraid to look adversity in the face, who isn’t afraid to speak his mind or work with his coaching staff to get things right and who graciously accepts their role in nurturing younger players. Sure, the players are frustrated that they are mired in the middle of the longest slump (re: losing streak) since the 1999-2000 season, wouldn’t you be? Should a player be satisfied or accept a losing streak? Abso-freakin’-lotely not! Show the fire and desire for change both on and off the ice.

I have supported this team for as long as I have been a fan, I have also called them out when need be – but I refuse to think anything but positive thoughts this time. After all, this something I have personally complained about for a very long time. I will continue to support the team through the purchase of season tickets and I will continue to watch every road game. I may not always like what I see, but I am a fan through thick and thin. There will be tough times ahead, but when everything is all said and done, the team is doing the right things for a change- and that’s about all you can ask for.

The “New” Faces of The Franchise

Posted by on 19 Dec 2008 | Tagged as: General, News

For a long while, 2000 1st Round first overall draft pick Rick DiPietro has been the face of the Islanders franchise, but having two high first round draft picks in three years – the new faces of the franchise are forwards Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo.

With youth and youthful exuberance they graciously dive head first into anything the organization asks of them. I have to say, it is definately fun to have so much youth in the organization.

In case you missed it, check out the latest Islanders TV clip (commercial) featuring the duo talking about the free Spring Hockey program the Islanders are running in which they give out FREE hockey equipment!!

Good on ya boys!

Capitals Visit Long Island

Posted by on 16 Dec 2008 | Tagged as: General

Well – here we are, a mere nine shopping days away from Christmas Day and I have yet to even begin shopping. I am sure many of you are in the same boat as I am, including not knowing where to even start or what to get anyone. It seems I go through this every year – yes, I am a bit of a procrastinator when it comes to gift giving.

Tonight the Islanders look to salvage what has become somewhat of a losing month in December. The team went 0-4 on their road trip and overall in the month they are a frightening 0-6 with only one win coming during their final game of November (yes, the total is 1-6 in their last 7 games). Digging even deeper, the Islanders are 2-8 in their last 10 games. Obviously, the importance of a win tonight is imperative in improving their December record – especially going back out on the road for an abbreviated trip.

I was all set to live blog with the rest of the crew tonight, but unfortunately I had forgotten it was my company’s Christmas party. I was going to stop by there for an hour – but my Father pretty much told me he would rather I stay and skip the game (I work for my Dad’s business). The Blog Box crew is doing something different tonight, they are hosting a live chat during the game – you can check it out on a bunch of different websites such as Doug Davison’s Official Isles Outlook or Tom Liodice’s The Tiger Track.

I will be spectating from the sidelines sadly, which – oddly enough won’t be in front of a television or a computer, but via my own website and the Live Tracker!

I shouldn’t have to stress the same things game after game – but the Islanders need to come out strong, stay out of the box and stick to the system. I hate having to talk about the “system” as much as anyone else – as it is becoming somewhat of a taboo to speak about. The team played the Capitals pretty good for some stretches of their last matchup earlier in the month, hopefully they can make something happen against a healthier Capitals team tonight.

Hopefully Bailey won’t notch his first tonight, it would be my luck to miss it after waiting for it all these games (Sorry Josh – I am selfish!).

Live Tracker

Injury Updates, Ben Walter Recalled

Posted by on 16 Dec 2008 | Tagged as: Call Ups, Gameday, Injuries, News

Well, in what is becoming a regular update, we have lots of new injuries and injury updates to talk about.

New Injuries

Josh Bailey is day to day with an ankle sprain. Hopefully it’s not of the dreaded “high ankle” variety that keeps players out long stretches. Last I checked the team did not know if he would play tonight. UPDATE Chris Botta reports from the morning skate that Josh Bailey is all systems go for tonight! This up and down stuff is crazy!

Nate Thompson (or should we call him “yo-yo”) is down again, this time with a fractured ankle that will keep him sidelined 3-4 weeks.

Injury Updates

Rick DiPietro is skating in full equipment, practicing with the team and is said to be going on the mini road trip this weekend. He should get some game time in the coming week.

Mike Comrie is coming along, it is said he should be back in about a week.

Kyle Okposo is doing well, no timetable just yet, although he is very close.

Mike Sillinger is still suffering from discomfort in his groin and is currently day to day.

Greg Logan has broken some callup news:

Center Ben Walter has been called up from Bridgeport by the Islanders to replace Nate Thompson in the lineup against Washington tonight at the Coliseum. Thompson reportedly is out 2-4 weeks with a fractured ankle suffered Saturday at Columbus.

In 16 games with the Sound Tigers, Walter has five goals and nine assists for 14 points. He’s likely slated for fourth-line duty but has played for coach Scott Gordon in the past and understands the system.

And yet another twist, Mike Fornabaio claims that Jeremy Colliton was recalled as well:

Ben Walter and Jeremy Colliton were missing for the good reason, called up; word is, though, that at least one of the two is himself sick. Now, does somebody else go, too? Good question. You are informed as I am informed.

Islanders Look to Rebound in Columbus

Posted by on 13 Dec 2008 | Tagged as: Gameday, Injuries, News, Waivers

You may have noticed that I have fallen silent here since my last post, it’s hard to really do anything when the team is in a funk like this. What’s more, is that you don’t have to look far to know that the opinion I would add has already been beaten to death everywhere. I don’t have a problem being negative when it’s necessary – such as 9-2 losses when it looks like the team was composed of pee-wee’s. What exactly was pee-wee-esque?

  • Chasing the puck. The entire team was guilty of bunching up and all going after the puck carrier. This type of coverage leaves the rest of the opposing team open and leads to goals, lots of them
  • Penalties, penalties and more penalties. Sure, some of the penalties called on the Islanders in Pittsburgh were questionable at best – but when you take three or four consecutive penalties on the same shift, things need to be addressed. You don’t skate, you are bound to take penalties – correlation 100%.
  • No back checking. It seemed as if the team were spectating their own game, there was no sense of urgency and almost no energy.
  • Passes. Once again passes were to areas where there wasn’t a player or too far ahead of behind. I don’t know how many giveaway’s the Islanders had the other night, but it sure did seem like a lot.
  • Shots. Sure the team started to shoot more, but when you have prime scoring chances put the shot on net for once. I don’t know how many times someone would shoot and it would be high, wide or hi and wide. I was getting sick of Howie Rose sounding like he was announcing a baseball game – “Just a bit outside”.
  • Forecheck. Comes from a lack of skating, for a system that purportedly benefits from a forecheck – it’s not really a surprise that they failed miserably.

What I like about this

I know it’s hard to like anything about the past several days, but I am digging how Scott Gordon is responding to the teams dismal performance. In the past the Islanders coaches would not push the team hard in practice following a nasty loss – but I was hoping Gordon would give them a bag skate and he totally did. The critics all say that the practice before a game day should never be as tough as it would be during a bag skate – but I disagree. If your team is not playing as they should, they should know that a practice so tough it makes you puke is about to be thrown down.

Greg Logan had a great interview with Scott Gordon about the practice:

“You say, ‘I don’t want to kill them in practice and not get it in the game,’” Gordon said. “Well, now I’m at the point where it doesn’t really matter. This needs to be addressed, and it probably should have been addressed three games ago. The goals that are going in are because of our lack of awareness and our lack of effort without the puck coming back into our zone. There’s not a system in the world that’s going to cover your rear end if you don’t have awareness and you don’t have a commitment to get back to your zone.”

“It’s been an ongoing situation where we have not backchecked with awareness and purpose,” Gordon said. “We have to play with more desperation and more purpose all the time. When you’re not doing that, you become easier to play against. That’s not what we want our team identity to be.”

In his blog, Chris Botta talks a bit about the bag skate as well, and has this to say about the two quotes from Gordon to Logan:

That’s completely fair on the coach’s part. But if the Islanders get out-skated tonight, Logie has his angle (and most of his story written) by the end of the second intermission. From what I’ve heard, that skate in Columbus was no moderate bag skate, but Hefty baggy.

If they get out skated. The entire hockey world is one big IF, I am sure Gordon isn’t the first coach to put his team through a rigorous practice the day before a game, I just hope they learned something about not showing up for a game because of it. I don’t even care if they seem tired, a tired team playing the system is better than prepared team not playing the system any day – history has already proven this in past losses.

Sillinger out, Sim back in

Greg Logan also has a blog entry today that claims Mike Sillinger has tweaked his groin and will sit out until he is 100% to avoid the risk of hurting his surgically repaired hip. In his place, Jon Sim who was recently placed on waivers (only to go unclaimed) will find himself getting another look and an opportunity to show the team he can contribute. However, at this point Sim appears to reach his previous point totals if he finishes the season with the Islanders – but there is obviously a log-jam of similar type players (Thompson, Bergenheim, Jackman, Fritz).

Not really sure what to expect exactly tonight, but I know it should be a better effort. We will soon find out.

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