November 2010

Monthly Archive

Streak Over, Weight Coaches Power Play, Colliton Signed, Earthquakes

Posted by on 30 Nov 2010 | Tagged as: General, Hot Headlines, Signings, Sound Tigers

This is a really late recap – I know Michael, shame on you uh..I mean yourself.

Let’s chalk it up to a turkey hangover. Perhaps even a hockey hangover, because I attended several NHL games and played in three myself the last six days (in case anyone wants to know I had 4 goals and 2 assists). I am available for that PTO at any given point Garth……

Well, where do we begin – I got your attention with quite a headline, hopefully a few laughs too because I am in a good mood.

By now mostly everyone knows that the Islanders beat the New Jersey Devils on Friday last week 2-0, effectively ending their FOURTEEN game skid and extending Capuano’s point streak to three games. His record in the NHL is now 1-2-2. While he has the Islanders playing much better, they still need to work on their special teams – it’s funny that you can watch a teams struggle at even strength, then with a man advantage and then back to even strength over the season.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Maybe that’s where the Captain, Doug Weight comes in. It seems he was coaching the power play today during practice. With the Islanders putting up a big fat 0-fer the last 31 chances, I guess you can say anything could help – but that’s not saying Capuano is incapable of handling this himself – in fact, this was HIS idea.

Just read the paragraph below taken from the story on the Islanders website:

“I actually talked to Dougie and I thought it would be a good idea (to have him give the players some pointers),” Capuano said. “I saw him at the rink because he was getting some therapy and I picked his brain a little bit. I wanted to get a few ideas from him so we can build off it as well.”

Since Weight hasn’t played in the last four games, he’s watched from the press box. Sometimes watching games from above gives players a better view of the game and different areas the team could improve upon because they can see the play develop.

“He’s been around a long time,” Capuano said. “(He talked to the players about) what he sees up top during the game, puck movement, player movement not being so stagnant, getting pucks to the net, having a better net-front presence. These are things that we talk about, but sometimes a different voice is good too.”

To me, THAT is a quality that makes a great coach – he recognizes the value in a veteran player like Weight and sought out some advice on what could be done to implement change. Reading some of the message boards, many fans disagree and just chalk this up to another loony move the organization likes to make. Obviously I disagree here, and I guarantee you that this happens in varying situations throughout the league – ESPECIALLY when it involves young teams.

Jeremy Colliton Signed

Getty Imagages

With some trade activity in the Eastern Conference today, the Islanders announced the signing of Center Jeremy Colliton, whom they selected 58th overall in the 2003 draft – to a two way deal. In spot duty for the Islanders, Colliton has one goal, two assists and sixteen penalty minutes in 42 games. Down in Bridgeport, with the Islanders AHL affiliate Sound Tigers, Colliton has scored 134 points (50 goals, 84 assists) in 250 career games.

Although there are numerous injuries to the Islanders, this signing is likely a depth move. It keeps Colliton down in Bridgeport and gives the Islanders another option at center should they want to try a different look. I shouldn’t have to remind anyone that the Islanders have quite a few centers already however.

Speaking of centers, Josh Bailey was injured this weekend down in Bridgeport where he is on loan to the Sound Tigers. Apparently, the injury bug follows the Islanders players to their farm team. It’s a shame too, because reports from CT were good, as Bailey had been working hard and racking up some assists. All that is reported thus far, is that it is a strained pectoral muscle – and nothing more.

But wait, there is more – Bruno Gervais suffered a fractured cheekbone in his fight with Colin White on Friday. Surprised? Maybe you didn’t see the fight….

Wait, did you feel that? Too bad the earthquake today didn’t happen when Gervais was felled in two punches.

Islanders Dropping Like Flies

Posted by on 26 Nov 2010 | Tagged as: Gameday, General

Two seasons removed from a season that saw the Islanders lose the most man games to injury, the team is once again decimated with injuries and mired in the middle of the longest losing streak since 1990, and one game off (15) the most in franchise history.

Injuries however, aren’t the Islanders only issue – but it is another big problem.

Katie Strang posted on Twitter just this morning, that Trent Hunter suffered a knee injury Wednesday night and will undergo an MRI today. He joins his fellow injured teammates in Mike Mottau (eye), Milan Jurcina (hamstring), Andrew MacDonald (hand), Mark Streit (shoulder), Jack Hillen (concussion) and last but not least Kyle Okposo (shoulder). Not to forget our Captain – Doug Weight who has missed a game or two in the last couple with back spasms. I cannot seem to find any information on him today, but he did not practice yesterday. Edit: Weight will miss his fourth straight game tonight, as he is still experiencing back spasms.

Recent callups Dylan Reese and Travis Hamonic have played well, although Hamonic has been the better of the two. There were times on Wednesday night against Columbus that Reese had no clue where the puck was and often couldn’t clear a rebound quick enough in front. The Islanders are asking big things of the young defensemen – but they have been great otherwise.

Jesse Joensuu has also played well, using his body and being the wrecking ball he can be down low in the corners. I’d like to see him go harder to the front of the net more often, or even plant his large frame in front of opposing goaltenders looking for screens and deflections.

Going the opposite way this week is forward Josh Bailey – he was sent down to Bridgeport on loan to shake things up for the struggling 21 year old. Bailey was pointless in his last thirteen games and appeared to be suffering from a lack of confidence. All reports indicate that Bailey has taken the demotion in stride, and registered an assist in his first game with the Sound Tigers.

Something that has bothered me a great deal during this streak, the Islanders reluctance to shoot the puck. It seems they pause for a second when they get the puck looking for a perfect shot. If they shoot off the pass or just get the puck through to the front – they can generate more chances. When they pause, it allows the other team to close shooting lanes – which is why the Islanders appear to suffer from the most blocked shots every game.

The Islanders are set to take on the New Jersey Devils this afternoon on a post triptophan filled matinée game at Nassau Coliseum. The Devils have their own host of problems with injuries and scoring as of late – so it should be an interesting game.

Even With Jack, Streak Reaches Eleven

Posted by on 17 Nov 2010 | Tagged as: Gameday, Recap

The Islanders showed resiliency tonight and according to some have also broken the curse as they have scored more than one goal for the first time several games (second in eight). Perhaps Capuano can take that plateau and build on it….I am sure he will have plenty of tape to digest after tonight’s game.

Walking around the locker room I heard some great things, well – decent things. Guys like Mottau, Weight and Roloson know that there was effort there. Roloson pointed out in his interview that “some of the younger guys have three years in the league, so they know what to do”. He also went on about the positive thinking he’s spoken about a few times. It’s a veteran presence like his that will ensure that a losing mentality doesn’t grasp these young impressionable Islanders in a strangle hold. One thing that impressed me, and I said this was something that needed to be done – was Roloson said that Capuano basically told the team to go out there and play hockey tonight.

The normally bubbly and approachable Josh Bailey sat quietly in his stall – Dee Karl and I tip-toed up to him and asked him for a minute and he obliged, but you can see the frustration looking for a place to erupt. When asked if he was trying a little too hard, he said he felt he wasn’t doing anything different than normal and one of his two penalties tonight he couldn’t really do much about (regarding the slashing penalty). I couldn’t ask the questions I wanted to ask, because the poor kid had been through enough for one night. He did ask me how I have been though, as Josh and I have developed a great relationship the last few years. If anyone is due to get that monkey off of his back – it’s Josh.

Matt Moulson and John Tavares preached about continued hard work and doing all the simple stuff that sometimes teams forget about.

Moving onto Jack Capuano’s post game press conference, he said that stick infractions and offensive zone penalties will always come back to haunt you and will be addressed. He commented when approached on what Roloson said – adding, “I did tell them to play and have fun, but we do have guidelines”. He spoke on his confidence behind the bench and said he felt good, but that he had plenty to look at but felt the team responded well. He was happy with the shots and felt the power play had some good chances but there was also work to be done there as well.

In all honesty, in my time doing the blog – I have been through three coaches now (Nolan, Gordon and now Capuano) and without a doubt – Jack Capuano is a bright hockey mind. He is intelligent, well spoken and has that cliched student of the game moniker about him. You can tell he is very technical, spoke of east-west and north-south play and just generally understands what you need to do (and NOT do) to be successful at hockey games. I am confident that given some time, and patience – he can squeeze a little bit more blood out of the stones he has been given. I am not saying there will be miracles made, but there is still plenty of hockey left to be played.

I can leave the rink, at least THIS MUCH more confident than I did prior to going down stairs. These things take time, I don’t expect miracles.

The streak may have reached eleven, but the effort put forth against a tough opponent in Tampa was a big step in the right direction.

Islanders vs Tampa Bay, Cappy’s Debut

Posted by on 17 Nov 2010 | Tagged as: Gameday, Live Blog

Well there is a strange aura here at the Coliseum. No, it’s not that we are less than ten minutes from game time and there are MAYBE 500 people here (even that’s generous) – it’s that there is a strange anticipation of things to come should Jack Capuano not manage a win here at home.

That said, it’s Jack Capuano’s Islanders coaching debut capping off his mere 48 hours of prep time with his team trying to solve this ugly ten game losing streak. He has made some tweaks, but said he really didn’t want to change much all at once – so perhaps his replacing of Scott Gordon will be change enough to light that proverbial fire.

Tampa Bay has struggled, losing three in an row and six of their last seven – so a win here tonight isn’t out of the question should they jump on Tampa early.

I will be having a semi live blog going, with Tweets entertaining those following at home as I watch this contest safely from my perch above the ice known as the press box.

Continue Reading »

Cablevision Employee Memo on iO Sports HD

Posted by on 15 Nov 2010 | Tagged as: General, News

I don’t know if it is because I have been playing way too much Call of Duty: Black Ops or not – but I will chalk this up to the “intel” variety.

My source with Cablevision graciously provided me with an employee memo earlier today regarding the broadcast of MSG+2 in HD later this month. Several people have questioned me on the validity of this development citing a lack of a formal announcement to subscribers.

The memo outlines the launch of a new sports channel that will feature MSG and MSG+ overflow games named iO Sports HD.

This should put that to rest:

Thanks to all the Rangers and Devils fans who have been visiting the blog and spreading the links around, this is a positive development for us all. It’s just a shame it’s taken Cablevision this long.

Scott Gordon Fired, Jack Capuano Moves Up

Posted by on 15 Nov 2010 | Tagged as: General, News, Sound Tigers

Much happier times for Scott GordonBruce Bennett - Getty Images

Over the course of these last ten losses the Islanders have been handed, you could feel the pressure building from the outside. With each step, each mistake and each time the hole got deeper and deeper it was only a matter of time before someone suffered. That person was Scott Gordon, as we found out this morning.

Ten losses in a row is unacceptable in professional sports, although it is a little easier to cope with in the NHL with the long season and parity in the league. Regardless, when teams are spiraling out of control management will do all it can to right the ship by shaking things up, more often than not that starts with a coaching change.

News first hit this morning via Twitter and then an announcement on the Islanders home page. Islanders GM Garth Snow was quoted as saying: “We believe we need a change in direction and, with the majority of the regular season still ahead of us, our goal remains to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs”. And followed with “Scott has made tremendous strides with our team the past three seasons and I look forward to continuing our relationship in an advisory capacity.”

Yes, although technically “fired”, he was reassigned to a front office gig.

Gone now are the days of “overspeed”, or are they? Jack Capuano has been coach of the Islanders AHL affiliate since the 05-06 season, but when Gordon was hired by the Islanders – the Sound Tigers adopted the same systems so the players would be familiar with the big clubs system once they were brought up. It was a good idea in theory, with just one problem – the system clearly had some flaws.

Arguments are already being made that switching coaches with the same players playing the same flawed system isn’t much of an answer or a change. What I want to point out however, is that Capuano could revert back to his systems utilized prior to switching in Bridgeport. I guess time will tell. If I could offer any advice for Wednesday – it would be that he allows them to go out there and play hockey.

Garth Snow Press Conference

So, I happen to be home sick today (I am always amazed that this stuff happens when I can barely breathe and have no voice…) and lucky for me I got to call into the press conference this morning.

When I signed in at 11am, there were already 31 other people on the call – with more coming before the 11:15 am start.

Garth Snow shot right out of the gate and began his press conference by saying their focus was on a big game coming up against Tampa on Wednesday. He wants a big win in front of the home fans. When asked why he chose Jack Capuano, he said “Capuano has experience with our organization and our players so he can come right in and feel comfortable so there is no “feeling out” period”.

Garth was then asked if he was disappointed it had come down to a coaching change and if the decision was a difficult one to make. Garth replied by saying “Yes, it was disapointing as Scott is an excellent coach and a good friend, it was an excellent experience these last three years. Sometimes, decisions are tough and you have to go with your gut”.

When asked what the biggest issues the team would have to overcome, Garth said “I think the biggest issue is confidence, we are looking to get that swagger back that we had early in the season”.

When asked if he had spoken to any available NHL coaches, Garth skirted the question and said he wasn’t really looking past Wednesday and reiterated he was comfortable with Capuano because of his familiarity with the team and players.

Jack Capuano cannot be expected to be brought in and work miracles, however from what I have seen of him down in Bridgeport he is a likeable and talented coach. As we have seen before, the Islanders have promoted their AHL coaches with mixed results (See Steve Stirling). For once, as a fan – I wish to see a coach turn the team around and give some stability to a franchise in desperate need of stability.

MSG+2 To Broadcast in HD!

Posted by on 12 Nov 2010 | Tagged as: General, News

I just posted this on Twitter, but it’s also worth a mention here.

For the last several years, a bone of contention among Islanders and Devils fans has been the horrible broadcast of the teams when it is on overflow channels on Cablevision (MSG+2). There really hasn’t been a reason for it, the feed is sent out in HD, but Cablevision decided to keep the channel in standard definition, which made it look HORRENDOUS to say the least.

A source with Cablevision just confirmed for me tonight that the feed will be going to HIGH DEFINITION starting November 19th.

I know there have been a few threads on the various Islanders message boards and a few posts around the blogosphere on this subject – your voices have been heard.

Islanders fans rejoice, well – about something anyway.

Islanders Look To Stop Slide Before Nine

Posted by on 11 Nov 2010 | Tagged as: Gameday, General

This is always the toughest time to blog about a specific team – it’s one thing when you can’t ever seem to find the time to keep things as updated as you like, it’s a completely different thing when nothing seems to be going right for the team. What is there to say that hasn’t been already said about this slide? Slides are SUPPOSED to be fun….

Eight games now, eight.

Last week when the Islanders made the trip to Ottawa, I addressed the lack of offense (and defense) by throwing some scary statistics out there. Well, that’s only gotten worse in the games following my post.

During the first five games of the losing streak there have been 10 goals for, 25 against.

In the next three losses, the Islanders have scored 2 goals and given up 7. For those following along at home – allow me to clarify; that is 12 goals FOR the Islanders, while ALLOWING 32.

The last two games were definitely a better effort, but in the game in Anaheim last night the Islanders appeared unable to hit the broad side of a barn. I know that’s a bit of a cliche, but come on.

I have a really neat app for my iPad (NHL Game Center Premium) that allows me to view the shots recorded for each period. This is something that has bothered me for quite some time now – if you look at the game last night in Anaheim, they are almost all perimeter shots or from crazy angles (low percentage shots, I will see if I can post screen shot).

Luckily for the Islanders, their opponent tonight – the San Jose Sharks, are also struggling offensively so if there was a time and place that the skid was likely to stop it would be tonight. One stat that is in the Islanders favor, they have outscored the Sharks 87-78 over the series 24 game history.

Perhaps this skid will never, ever, see nine.

Islanders Look To Turn It Around In Ottawa

Posted by on 04 Nov 2010 | Tagged as: Gameday, General

What is going on here lately?

Hello hockey fans, I’m writing this in the middle of a press conference at the Las Vegas convention center. It’s the first time I have had a free minute to get something posted here during the last week. (Check out Motorz TV for what we are doing here)

After an impressive start, earning points in six of their first seven games (4-1-2 10 pts) the Islanders have lost the last five games. You can blame the tough road schedule, you can blame injuries or you can blame goaltending.

While Rick DiPietro hasn’t been the sharpest player on the team, Dwayne Roloson has looked great often giving the Islanders at least a chance. Scoring on the other hand, has also been a problem. The Islanders have only scored 10 times during this streak, while giving up a staggering 25.

As a hockey player myself, it’s hard to place blame on one problem though. After a bad loss, it’s not the goalies fault or even a player who happened to take a few ill advised penalties – it’s a team effort at the end of the day and the same holds true for what’s going on with the Islanders.

It’s obvious that DiPietro is struggling, but the team HAS TO play better in front of him. Placing the blame on him alone just isn’t fair.

Maybe the thrilling start was luck or an inflated sense of self confidence of a new, young team believing in themselves despite key injuries. Maybe it was simply flash in the pan, but in the end the Islanders have the talent to compete within the division and conference.

The team did the right thing by sending 18 year old Nino Niederreiter back to the WHL, Matt Martin has looked good being called up from Bridgeport in his place. Rob Schremp made his return and season debut this week, Jon Sim was waived and sent to Bridgeport for the second time in two seasons – and netted a hat trick and shootout winner in his debut (oh the irorny).

Head coach Scott Gordon said that he will be shaking up the lineup tonight in Ottawa – let’s hope the team responds.