March 2011

Monthly Archive

Isles-Rangers, Montoya Extended, Donovan Signed

Posted by on 31 Mar 2011 | Tagged as: Call Ups, Gameday, General, Hot Headlines, Signings

It’s been a slow few weeks here at Islesblogger, but not because there hasn’t been anything going on in Islanders Country lately. No, instead – this blogger was in Sunny South Florida, escaping the crazy fall weather here in NY that has featured, rain, rain with snow, snow with lightning and of course – the accompanying cold.

While in Florida, I missed a few games – First in our ugly loss to the Atlanta Thrashers and then in our loss against a team we cannot ever seem to beat in the Philadelphia Flyers. My sincerest appologies there – but, I did catch two baseball games down in Ft Myers, Twins-Orioles and Twins-Yankees. First time ever watching spring training live, it was fun!

Tonight, the Islanders are looking to exact revenge on many levels against their cross town rival New York Rangers. Al Montoya gets the start again against his formal club, looking to make up for being pulled in their last meeting two weeks ago. The Islanders could potentially steal two VERY important points against the Rangers, who have fallen to eight place in the East after their 1-0 loss to the Sabres last night.

The Isles have been mathematically eliminated for a few games now, so they have nothing to lose – figuratively of course. Unless you count pride that is….

The Islanders also played last night, in a 3-2 loss to New Jersey at the Prudential center – a game in which they struggled for long stretches, came close – but couldn’t find the will to win.

Michael Grabner will miss his second straight game as he is expecting the birth of his son. Al Montoya will be sporting his best – a one year, one way extension with the New York Islanders.

In other news, Islanders defensive prospect and 2008 Draft Choice Matt Donovan has been signed to his rookie deal. He joins the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on an ATO, like Ness was also done a few weeks ago. The Sound Tigers find themselves in need of defensive help lately, with Gervais and Jurcina both hurt – Reese and Katic are up with the big club.

In other news, perhaps you missed my interview with the Islanders website, which was also featured on the NHL website – or so says a few emails and texts I received!

Oh yea – injuries! We lost Andrew MacDonald for the rest of this season with a hip injury, Mark Streit was not cleared to play and wont play in the upcoming worlds, Bruno Gervais and Milan Jurcina are banged up (as I said earlier), and Doug Weight if you couldn’t guess is done for the year and may retire.

While there may not be too many exciting things left in what’s left of the Islanders season – at least this awesome rivalry will keep us entertained.

Be sure to follow along as I tweet live during the game on Twitter and check back later on for in-game and post game analysis.

Aaron Ness Signs Entry Deal With Islanders!

Posted by on 16 Mar 2011 | Tagged as: Draft, Hot Headlines, News, Prospects, Signings, Sound Tigers

Reports were running rampant over the last several days about Islanders defensive draft prospect and Minnesota Golden Gopher Aaron Ness being close to signing his pro contract with the Islanders. His agent, in response to these reports – claimed the rumors as “irresponsible journalism” directed at both blogs and the mainstream media reports alike, in clear denial.

But the rumors just did not stop.

Aaron Ness on Draft Day 2008

Earlier today, Newsday’s Katie Strang said via Twitter that there was something up with the Islanders and Ness once again.

[blackbirdpie id="48077192164417537"]

We all knew how a previous situation played out with the Golden Gophers and Kyle Okposo being lured to the Islanders – this was aired out in the media all over the place, with Garth Snow and Gopher’s head coach Don Lucia verbally sparring. After Ness was drafted and committed to Minnesota – Islanders fans raised an eye brow, and ear marked that page out of curiosity.

Aaron Ness skates for Minnesota Golden Gophers

Flash forward to today – and the rumors and speculation turned out to be correct. The Islanders announced around Noon today, that they had agreed to terms with Ness on his entry level contract and would be reporting to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Islanders AHL affiliate.

Per the press release and Islanders website:

The New York Islanders announced Wednesday that they have signed defenseman Aaron Ness to a three-year, entry-level contract. Ness will report to the Islanders’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and play out the remainder of the 2010-11 season on an Amateur Tryout Contract (ATO). The entry-level contract will commence in the upcoming 2011-12 season.

Ness, the Islanders second-round selection (40th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, signs after completing three seasons of collegiate hockey at the University of Minnesota. The 5’10”, 177-pound defenseman appeared in 35 games this season with the Golden Gophers, recording 14 points (two goals, 12 assists) and 41 penalty minutes. The 20-year-old blue-liner concludes his collegiate career with 111 games played and 43 points (six goals, 37 assists).

So, Bridgeport will get to see how Ness could help their defensive and offensive woes – the Islanders get to take a look at another one of their defensive prospects, all the while not even burning the first year of his contract in the process. Lastly, Ness will now be under the watchful eye of the Islanders and Bridgeport coaching staff which will help in his development.

Seems like a win, win, and WIN situation to me.

WINNING!!

The Blue Collar Islanders

Posted by on 11 Mar 2011 | Tagged as: Gameday, General

The life of a blue collar worker usually involves going about his or her business quietly, without much notice or recognition. They do the dirty work to get things done, often rolling up their sleeves and digging right in. The truth of the matter, the world wouldn’t turn without the hard work and dedication of this group of working class. These are our Islanders.

While there are a few players that will undoubtably reach stardom, Garth Snow has assembled a team of hard working players – who, under the tutelage of what is the epitome of Blue Collar in coach Jack Capuano, is perfecting a recipe for success on Long Island.

They say, with hard work and dedication comes success. Sprinkle in the right attitude – which Capuano has appeared to do here with this team, often comes greatness. I’m not saying that the 2011/2012 New York Islanders are a lock for a Stanley Cup next year, but greatness starts with a strong foundation – and it’s hard to argue the Islanders have been building from the ground up, the same way your blue collar workers build pretty much anything.

The Islanders have seen their fair share of the bad times; injuries, suspensions and along with it the ridicule and disrespectful press clippings from around the NHL and North America. The Hockey World was put on notice a few weeks back – when these young Islanders decided to revolt, stand up for their image and most importantly each other. Through all of the adversity thrown at the team – their bond and strength has only continued to grow. Young boys often become men on the battlefield – the same holds true here.

AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill

Players like Josh Bailey, Kyle Okposo and John Tavares have all made positive strides, showing physical and mental strength and maturity. Matt Moulson is on track to surpass his points totals from last season – proving he was very deserving of his recent contract extension.

Younger players thrust into the spot light like Travis Hamonic, Kevin Poulin, and Micheal Haley – have all shown guts and gained the respect of their “veteran” teammates.

Michael Grabner is proving to the world he is more than just waiver fodder, joining Tavares and Moulson in flirting with the 30 goal mark, the first time the Islanders could have three or more goal scorers since 1993-94. All the while Blake Comeau and PA Parenteau could quietly reach 20 goals on the season.

Not so quietly, Zenon Konopka has been banging the drum – leading his troops into battle. He’s changed the teams image in many ways on and off the ice. Be it through his fists, his words, his hard-nosed style of play and most importantly, his veteran leadership. Konopka is also VERY vocal about his desire to remain an Islander after this season. While talks of an extension have yet to begin between Garth Snow and Konopka’s agent, I feel this is the type of player and LEADER this team has lacked for a very, very long time.

There are teams beginning to take not that the Islanders will not just roll over when they show up to play hockey. That may have been their MO in years past, but they cannot be taken lightly. The Isles have been playing very spirited hockey with Jack Capuano at the helm these days. They have played some tough teams both on the road and at home, while they may not have won them all – even the losses have been entertaining to watch. You can just tell that Capuano has them believing there is nothing they can achieve.

The Media has begun to take notice as well, with some pretty good articles coming out as of late as well. Two even mention that Capuano should be at least considered for the Coach of the Year award. Even if Capuano doesn’t get the nod for the Jack Adams trophy, he is certainly earning his chance to drop the Interim Head Coach tag. He’s earning himself his next contract.

There have been a bunch of consistencies over the last several weeks and even since the All Star Break – the Islanders have turned their play around, they’ve established a team unity and identity that have not been seen in some time, they’ve corrected their scoring issues from earlier in the season and – these are not the same Islanders we saw the last several seasons. The sun is shining brightly over the horizon, while the team may no make it to the post season this year – they are certainly making everyone pay attention and look forward to the immediate future.

Perhaps it’s fitting, that these blue collar Islanders award a games hardest worker with a hard hat – it represents the image they portray in a way that words just cannot seem to capture.

The Islanders take on Zdeno Chara and the Boston Bruins tonight at the Coliseum, be sure – as always, to follow me during the game on Twitter and on Facebook.

Weekend Warriors Look to Top Toronto

Posted by on 08 Mar 2011 | Tagged as: Gameday, General, Recap

After some strong play over the last four games (six out of eight points) and three out of four possible points over the weekend, the Islanders next task and test of strength comes against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at Nassau Coliseum.

The young Islanders are set to face off with another team rebuilding their image in the Leafs, as General Manager Brian Burke did his thing prior to and on the trade deadline.

Several of the Islanders have been consistently hot, often times scoring highlight reel worthy goals. Kyle Okposo scored a nifty between the legs goal against Minnesota in their 4-1 win at home last Thursday. It was Okposo’s fourth goal of the season and he would finish the game with a goal and assist (4g 12a 16 points in 21 games). Blake Comeau would find the scoring touch he found prior to suffering a concussion against Pittsburgh, netting two goals Thursday – his 16th and 17th of the season.

Frans Nielsen would finish the game with three assists, although he played a great game – you could tell he was still upset about his defensive mistake that lead to the Capitals game winning overtime goal the game prior and told us he felt he played like, well – excrement. If a three point night is a bad game, well I’d like to see what his idea of a great game is.

Moving onto the matinee game against St. Louis on Saturday – John Tavares would open the scoring for the Islanders, off a sweet pass from Parenteau that certainly earned highlight space. Tavares muscled his way to the slot, beat two men low and then the Blues netminder for his 24th of the season. PA Parenteau would make up for missing a gimme, scoring off a slick pass by Michael Grabner – giving the Isles an early two goal lead.

Defenseman Andrew MacDonald would double up on his goal total, adding two more for four on the season and third in two games. His first tally of the game came on an absolute howitzer from the point and his second on a breakaway. Speaking of breakways, Grabner would finally break his scoreless streak topping off the scoring for the Islanders by netting his 26th of the season and his second point of the game.

The trio of Islanders players all flirting with 30 goals are all getting closer – Tavares now with 24, Grabner with 26 and Moulson with 28. Each player has plenty of time to reach the feat, with 15 games remaining on the season.

On Sunday, the second of back to back matinee games this weekend, the Islanders suffered a 3-2 Shootout loss to Red Hot New Jersey. While the loss was disappointing, the Islanders played very well against a team doing all they can to reach the post season.

After a scoreless first period, the Devils would score early in the second period on the power play – needing only one shot to tally the go ahead goal. The Islanders would score the equalizer on a power play of their own – Josh Bailey found a small section of open net above Martin Brodeur and make him pay.

The tie would last until the third period, when Ilya Kovalchuk would catch Al Montoya off guard with a knuckler that beat him between the pads. Blake Comeau would again tie the game for the Islanders, capitalizing on a Devils turnover and beating Brodeur. The tie lasted the remainder of the third period, and overtime. The Shootout did not end well for the Islanders – although Nielsen would score first, Kovalchuk and Rolston would score for the Devils giving them the extra point and the win.

Toronto comes into tonight hungry for two points – they are 4 points behind 9th place Carolina, 5 points behind the 8th place Sabres and 7 points behind the 7th place Rangers – with 16 games remaining.

The Islanders sit at 14th in the East at 60 points, 12 points out of the 8th seed with 15 games remaining. While not technically mathematically eliminated – it would take some unstoppable hockey down the stretch. That said, they CAN continue to play the role of spoiler and give the teams ahead of them headaches from here on out. It only helps their experience for next season, one that’s sure to be better before it even begins.

I’ll be covering the game tonight, be sure to follow me on twitter @islesblogger all throughout the game!

Official Islanders iOS App!

Posted by on 05 Mar 2011 | Tagged as: Mobile, News

The New York Islanders have just announced their official application for Apple devices running iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad).

You can listen to the radio stream, watch videos, order tickets and more! You can download this FREE application in the Apple iTunes store by clicking here.

Here is the release:

The New York Islanders announced today the release of their official app for iOS devices (iPhone, iTouch, iPad). The Islanders app is free and currently available for download in iTunes as well as in the app store on iOS devices.

Fans can now listen to the Islanders live radio broadcast of every game directly from their iPhones. The app will also keep fans more in touch with their favorite hockey team with all the top news, statistics, videos and features from newyorkislanders.com.

The app was developed by Synergy in conjunction with the teams’ radio broadcast partner, WRHU, Radio Hofstra University.

“The advent of smartphones has put the world on to our hand-held devices,” said Paul Lancey, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales. “Our organization has made a real push in the digital space, this is just the next step. We look forward to watching it take shape, and we couldn’t ask for better partners than our friends at Hofstra.”

Dr. Evan Cornog, Dean of the Hofstra University School of Communication, said: “I’m delighted that the partnership between Hofstra and the Islanders is continuing to grow. We are pleased the role our University plays in broadcasting Islanders games on WRHU as well as in the new media space.”

And some screenshots!






Islanders Look to Change Gears Against Wild

Posted by on 02 Mar 2011 | Tagged as: Gameday, General

You can’t fault these Islanders, I mean well – you can but let’s just call it growing pains. The Islanders held off the always dangerous Washington Capitals 1-0 for almost the entire 60 minutes last night. It only took two missteps, two breakdowns, two well – marvelous Washington plays to tie and ultimately win the game in overtime.

The Islanders are winless in their last four, although they have managed a few points in that span – they’ve certainly cooled off from that February stretch of excellent hockey. One can say that it could be because they’ve played a ton of hockey down the stretch, or that having the uncertainty of the trade deadline looming could have affected focus or psyche.

Moving forward, the Islanders have played some very good hockey against a tough team or two. They have shown some grit, character and given the league if anything a glimpse of the good things to come from this team.

Moving into tonight, the Islanders take on a Minnesota Wild team a few points out of the eight spot in the Western playoff race. Like every other team that comes into the Coliseum – they will be looking to skate off with an easy two points. I hope Ex-Isles draftee Jared Spurgeon, hometown boy Eric Nystrom and company came prepared.

In net for your Isles tonight – Al Montoya. Trevor Gillies is also back after sitting out his nine games for the fight fest against the Penguins. Micheal Haley is out after suffering a knee injury last night in Washington.

I’ll have more after things wrap up here at the Coliseum. Please follow me as I do some play by play on Twitter – @Islesblogger

An Inactive Deadline For Islanders

Posted by on 01 Mar 2011 | Tagged as: Gameday, General, Sound Tigers, Trade Deadline, Trades

I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t get excited about the NHL Trade Deadline. I understand and respect the logistics of the day, the same can be said for the necessity of wheeling and dealing for some, as well as the uneasiness for the players involved.

I still remember quite clearly, spending an entire day from morning to night at Nassau Coliseum on deadline day – my first year blogging about the Islanders. The Penguins were in town, we watched their morning skate from section 206, and then watched as several players ran the stairs on either side of our perch. Two players stopped and asked us for updates – it was a bit unnerving to inform Colby Armstrong he was likely going to be traded. Crazy stuff. (Another crazy bit was Garth Snow extending Mike Comrie another year…but hey – live and learn).

As a fan of the Islanders, you never want to see players you have grown to know and respect moved. But, as it has been said elsewhere thousands of times – that’s the nature of the business. At the same time, you always get excited at the prospect of adding to your core players, as the hope is to ultimately improve your chances at winning the Stanley Cup.

I came into this years deadline with little to no expectations. Garth Snow had already moved what I considered (you know – I was playing armchair GM here) – the teams most tradeable assets in Dwayne Roloson and James Wisniewski. Sure, he could infuriate the the fanbase by trading a struggling prospect like Josh Bailey if he was blown away, but at most I figured he would trade a pending unrestricted free agent or two.

Throughout the day yesterday I was glued to my iPhone – checked Twitter, TSN, watched NHL Network via Slingplayer, checked the TSN Tradecentre app, message boards, blogs – the whole nine.

Seemed as if nothing was going on – and it stayed that way all day.

At one point, it appeared that an Anaheim deal for Zenon Konopka was imminent – but big Z himself headed off that rumor with TSN directly. Radek Martinek was also spoken about as well – but Garth was apparently asking too much for each of these players. Good thing too, Martinek is one of the teams only healthy veteran defensemen and Konopka is way too important for the locker room.

As it would turn out, the only player moved from the Islanders yesterday was Rob Schremp – who was placed on waivers late last week. He was claimed by the Atlanta Thrashers. In his place, Justin DiBenedetto was called up from the Sound Tigers and makes his debut tonight against the Washington Capitals.

Kudos to Garth Snow for not wanting to disrupt what chemistry he has in his current roster for the sake of adding a draft pick or two for the upcoming draft. In addition, I am happy he decided, once again – not to mortgage the future for the sake of going after a rental player. This team isn’t quite ready to go that route – the promise land is still a ways off on the horizon.

Instead Garth Snow will likely look to add a piece or two this coming July when the free agency period opens – which for the sake of the team, I hope to be a little different this year than in years past.

When the Islanders take on the Capitals tonight in Washington, D.C. – Nathan Lawson will be the starter and DiBenedetto will be paired with Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau. I highly doubt the Capitals will be the same team the Islanders saw this past weekend, I hope they bring their A game.