It never fails, I have said this a bunch of times – life tends to get in the way of blogging. A half of dozen times over the last week plus since I last wrote – I actually half wrote something and either got sidetracked or was just to busy to get something out there. I’d like to think of myself as Oleg Kvasha (heh – remember him?) in that department. Plenty of skill, but often disappears for long stretches and drives you bananas.
Enough self assessments. On to hockey.
So as of today, the Islanders sit second in the Atlantic division having played 8 games with a record of 4-2-2 for a total of 10 points. They are one point back of the Penguins who have played one more game than the Islanders. With wins in Toronto and Tampa, the Islanders showed quite a bit of resiliency against tough opponents. They didn’t give up and chugged along, scored timely goals and the special teams continued to shine.
Saturday night in Florida against the Panthers, although the Islanders lost, we saw John Tavares score his first NHL hat trick, two of which were gritty goals in front of the net off rebounds and deflections and two of the three were both on the power play. I know one game isn’t all too great of a concern, but you cannot rely on one person to score and then rely solely on your goaltender to steal two points.
Cue a new version of The Clash’s Should I Stay or Should I Go…..
This next subject is a bit of a hot stove topic because the argument can be made for both sides. On one hand, Nino Niederrieter hasn’t looked out of place at all. He hits, he gets into scoring position and creates room for his teammates while on the ice. While he HAS produced (1 goal and 1 assist in 8 games) he has also taken a fair amount of shots (12, tied for tenth on the team with Doug Weight). Is that production enough to justify keeping him up the remainder of the season and burning the first year of his entry contract?
Scott Gordon had said last week that he felt Nino was different than Bailey when he was kept up. He’s a different player, stronger and already smarter than Josh was at the same point in his development. It’s clear that Bailey’s development hasn’t been hurt by being kept up a full season (he was on fire until he went down due to a hip pointer) – so wouldn’t it make sense to keep Nino around?
Personally, from what I have seen from Nino, going back down and playing in Portland may actually hurt his development. He’s a world class player with a great deal of talent – in a way I feel like that type of situation isn’t going to benefit him in the long run. I understand the fear in bringing a player up too quickly, but he’s not looked out of place.
Let’s just hope that if Garth Snow and Scott Gordon decide to keep him around past nine games that there won’t be any trouble…
A tweet from Newsday’s Katie Strang earlier today: Josh Bailey will be playing tonight when the Islanders face the Montreal Canadiens in Montreal.
Before Bailey suffered the hip pointer in Toronto, he was on a tear. He was the Islanders leading scorer at the time, but is still up there in good company (3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points in 6 games). He had all the confidence in the world and looked like a complete beast out there, strong play on the puck and in the corners, would initiate contact all over the ice – that’s the player I hope we see tonight.
While we are on the subject of players on the mend, Andy MacDonald is out 3-4 weeks after suffering a hand injury. He underwent surgery a few days ago to repair the damage (from what I believe was a shot).
Michael Grabner, is sitting tonight out with a sore groin – in his place the recall of Matt Martin who will be making his season debut. It should make for an interesting game with Konopka, Gillies, Sim, and Martin all in the lineup (think there will be retribution for the Cammalleri’s slash on Nino? I do.)
Trent Hunter who’s been nursing a foot injury will be a game time decision and Rob Schremp is still nursing his sore back that was injured during the preseason, although he has been going through full practice with the team.
The Habs are 5-2-1 with 11 points and are coming into tonight winning the last two – they have always been a tough opponent for the Islanders both home and on the road. I guess only time will tell, but from what I have seen from our Islanders as of late – odds are it will be a great game.
Say what you will about the New York Islanders these days, they just don’t really seem to buy into common opinion.
Just about every major sports news outlet has pegged the Islanders for dead last in the league, just as they have year after year – they just always seem to thrive on that negativity though. Be it new faces in the room, or simply a bond of young raw talent looking to change the perception of the team, they have not rolled over in the face of adversity. Although, it just got a bit tougher with the two game suspension of James Wisniewski. (An aside, check out my humorous look at the “gesture” over on Lighthouse Hockey from yesterday).
Last week, I posted the first part of a multi-part post on my workout with Islanders strength and conditioning coach Jesse Demers.
The first half talked about some general stretching, jumping rope and several dynamic leg stretches. In this part, Demers showed me several floor stretches that utilized a yoga mat, swiss ball and even a very complex set of stretches from a push-up position. If you enjoyed the first part, you’ll likely enjoy this one even more.
Hockey is back and Nassau Coliseum! I know, I know – it’s been back in one form or another since July, but I promise – it’s back in full swing as the Islanders opened up their 2010-2011 season against the Dallas Stars tonight, a 5-4 shootout loss in which the Islanders dominated in shots 47-22.
Let’s talk about some key points.
The Islanders are full of new and fresh faces, and you can tell. Gone were the players whom you would moan and groan about because of bone headed plays, instead there was a calming and veteran presence on the ice. But it wasn’t because of an influx of veteran talent though. Bailey looks like he is twice as strong as last season, he skated and hit with reckless abandon. He mixed it up offensively and even finished the night with two assists. Trent Hunter looked like the Trent of old, hitting every single player on his shift – including nearly depositing one of the Stars back onto his bench. He would finish the night 3 registered hits, but there were times he was hitting three of four per shift.
James Wisniewski, there isn’t enough you can say about that player. If you rewind the clock back to August and read my one on one interview, you’ll see a player brimming with confidence even back then. Move the clock back to present and you’ll see someone who stepped up in Mark Streit’s absence big time. Power play, short handed – it didn’t matter the situation. He hits, he scores, he passes – did I mention hits? At one point in the third period Wisniewski absolutely tattooed Jamie Benn in front of the Islanders bench. He needed to be assisted off the ice and you could tell that he had no clue where he was. The Wiz Kid would finish the night with 1 goal and 1 assist, 4 hits, and 24:10 TOI. I really liked what I saw tonight out of him and hope it continues.
Mike Mottau, Mark Eaton and Milan Jurcina make our defense leaps and bounds from where they were last year. Those three players alone accounted for a bunch of hits and general mayhem wherever they were. Speaking of mayhem, the Gillies-Konopka-Sim line is scary, and effective. Scott Gordon threw that line out there and they got under the Stars skin. Konopka was Ott’s shadow tonight, although he couldn’t get him to dance at all.
Nino Niederreiter did not look out of place at all, in fact – he really does look like an NHL player. He hit, he skated, he dangled and most importantly – he shot the puck. He was a little timid in the early going, but once he got his legs going he was hard to stop. Nino finished with 11:27 of ice time, registered two shots and accounted for 4 hits. He may find himself with his first NHL goal relatively quickly.
PA Parenteau may not have been in the spotlight, but he didn’t need to be. He showed he has the hands and the skill to bring stuff to our Islanders. He did struggle a bit in the neutral zone with turnovers, one lead directly to a Stars tally, but that’s fine. Parenteau finished with 4 hits, 17:05 minutes of ice time and an assist. For a regular season debut in a his first full time role, he did fine and will improve.
Don’t take that statement the wrong way.
The first three Islanders goals, including both power play tallies came from up top near the blueline. The Islanders have not had that much success from up top in I cant even remember. That’s a big reason why they were able to storm back from a two goal and one goal deficit tonight. Then, you have to factor in a great power play and extremely effective forecheck.
Who was that guy skating around with the number 93 tonight? Could it, could it be? Yes, it was Doug Weight. Who knew a little snip and tuck of the shoulder would rewind a players career ten years – but that’s how it looks. The Captain had three points tonight, a goal and two assists. Consider Weight played injured in his time last season and did not score for quite a stretch a clear cut improvement. Scott Gordon talked about Gordon like he never has, but his main reasoning was because he hasn’t seen Weight play so good, skate so fast and make the moves he did since he hoisted the Stanley Cup in Carolina. Yea, Doug Weight is back and he looks good.
Rick DiPietro started tonight, that in and of itself should be a lead story. What’s more is that he played well for two thirds of the game. DiPietro faced 22 shots making 18 saves. He shook off the rust after a few bad goals in the first period, something Wisniewski said that weren’t DP’s fault as he was “hung out to dry there”. With time, the well oiled althletic machine in DP we have all come to know and love will be back and that’s huge. Scott Gordon said he hasn’t decided who is starting against the Rangers on Monday, but that DiPietro would not skate tomorrow. DiPietro claimed he felt great and it was fantastic to be back.
Early in the first period, John Tavares was circling back into the defensive zone when he was hit by Stars winger Adam Burish. Tavares lay in a pile near the blueline motionless and would eventually be helped off the ice by head trainer Garret Timms. We would later find out that Tavares suffered a mild concussion and would be re-evaluated on Monday.
Should JT be sidelined any significant amount of time, it would be yet another crushing blow for the Islanders, already having lost Streit and Okposo to longterm injury and Rob Schremp for a few weeks. Not good.
So to recap my recap, the Islanders lost to the Dallas Stars 5-4 in a shootout. While there was some bad, the team clearly is on the right track and will work out some of the kinks in the days that lie ahead. The Islanders came out with a point today, it’s a starting point and provides them a good place to build their success off of. It’s going to be an exciting year and I cannot wait to watch the rest unfold!
It’s been a long summer, like many of you I kept tabs on the Islanders throughout the offseason through both stories on their website and on their Twitter feed. If you haven’t caught this multipart series on the Islanders strength and conditioning Coach Jesse Demers, you should certainly check it out!
Demers has installed a new program that every player in the Islanders organization takes part in. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like if an amateur hockey player goes through what the pros do, wonder no more as I got to see (and feel) first hand just how tough it can be. This story ties into this summer’s training camp and the Islanders stories on Demers perfectly, as you can picture your favorite players doing many of the exercises and stretches that I was put through.
This is a multi-part post due to the length and descriptive nature, so please don’t forget to check back later in the week for the follow up post!
Just heard via Twitter that the New York Islanders have claimed 23-year old forward Michael Grabner off waivers from the Florida Panthers.
The Islanders have also placed Andy Hilbert on waivers.
Grabner, who was drafted 14th overall in 2006 by the Vancouver Canucks, played 20 games in 09-10 for the Canucks and finished with 5 goals and 6 assists for 11 points.
Grabber was traded during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, along with Steve Bernier and the Canucks first round choice in the draft, the twenty-fifth selection to the Florida Panthers for Keith Ballard and Victor Oreskovich.
This should be a pretty good pickup by Snow, being we gave up nothing to get him. Hopefully he will be another one of those great steals we have come to expect!
With training camp all but over, it’s time to trim the fat – an inevitable part of camp that many players likely do not look forward to. In my mind, (well my imagination anyway) – I picture Manny Legace or Dean McAmmond going to their locker after the split squad scrimmages last night and finding a big fat red card. What follows is a stream of obscenities or in other cases maybe even some tears.
In all seriousness, I am sure that’s not how things are handled, but it’s fun poking fun and referencing sports movies. No?
The Islanders today announced that they have cut several players from the roster and assigned them to their AHL affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers and have also released several players who were invited to camp on tryout agreements.
Forwards Justin DiBenedetto, Micheal Haley, Rob Hisey, Jesse Joensuu, Mark Katic, Tomas Marcinko, Rhett Rakhshani, David Ullstrom, and Jeremy Yablonski, along with defensemen Dylan Reese, Travis Hamonic and goaltender Mikko Koskinen have all been assigned to the Sound Tigers.
Veterans Dean McAmmond, Jed Ortmeyer, Anders Eriksson, Manny Legace and Krys Kolanos, who all accepted invitations on PTO contracts for Training Camp, all hit the unemployment line and will be looking for employment elsewhere in the league.
This round of cuts, follows a smaller cut earlier in the weekend when the Islanders placed defenseman Dustin Kohn on waivers, and assigned Robin Figren, Kevin Poulin, Anton Klementyev and Tony Romano to the Sound Tigers. Also hitting the unemployment line was Joel Martin, when he was released from his PTO – but he will be attending the Sound Tigers training camp.
It was a busy weekend, but the Islanders are that much closer to setting their final roster of 23 players – and they have until Wednesday to do so. The Islanders have five days of practice until their home opener next weekend the 9th when they take on the Dallas Stars