Archived Posts from this Category
Archived Posts from this Category
When you’ve been a fan of a team for what amounts to a lifetime of ups and downs, there’s always a lot of optimism following a strong season. One playoff win away from advancing in the playoffs, a strong and emotional send off to your old arena, and of course – the continued development of your youth, and core. In years past, opening night – especially the Home Opener meant great and exciting things for me. I’d drive down Hempstead Turnpike, fighting traffic lights and rush-hour to sit in my season long seats in Section 309, or make my way up to the press box to cover the game. But that’s all behind me these days, as much as it’s still an exciting time.
As I sit and reminisce about those days, I pass the old barn, it’s colorful exterior advertisements removed and the emptiness of the building and parking lot ring out like the new and failed goal horn of the Barclays Center. The what ifs, the government failures and flat out lies – the disappointment that the team is now a Brooklyn resident instead of a Nassau one. But I digress, they’re still in New York.
This blog has been dark for a long time, my life has changed quite a bit since I started it almost 10 years ago. I moved to Eastern Suffolk, got married and started a family. There’s been a lot I could’ve written about here and have been called out by some in the mainstream media to start writing again (I’m looking at you Katie and Peter…) – so here I am.
I’ll eventually post up my experience of the final regular season home game in April and the awesomeness that was the series against the Washington Capitals. In a way maybe I wasn’t ready to let go of the old feelings just yet, but it’s time to move on.
Tonight marks the beginning of a new era, Traditions New Home as the Yomark folks say. I’m excited to see how much the team has grown from their game seven loss last season.
Tonight will be different though, as I won’t be in the press box at the Barclays, I won’t be in my seats at the game and I won’t be riding the LIRR to the game (but you never know if I manage to write with any regularity…). Instead I’ll be in front of my brand new TV, taking part in the discussion on Twitter (@islesblogger) and taking notes as I always have for my eventual return to writing.
The venue may have changed, but Islanders hockey is back – as much as it may still be different, this time.
Fortunately for the team, they had a rare four days off in between the Pittsburgh game and their game in Tampa against Stamkos and the Lightning and outworked them to a 2-0 victory on Thursday. The break afforded much needed rest for the team, as well as Evgeni Nabokov who’s been used in most of the teams games thus far.
Tonight’s game in Sunrise Florida against the struggling Panthers is a pivotal game for the Isles. Why is this? Let’s take a look at the standings for a second.
I’m back from Sunny Florida, as I am sure you may have seen if you follow me on Twitter!
I had a great time on our trip, a lot of exciting things happened – but now that I am back it’s back to business.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t watch any of the games while I was away. I did catch one period of the Ottawa game last Sunday (a really bad stream online), but the rest I caught bits and pieces of via the WRHU iOS app.
On to the good stuff.
The Islanders will be completing a seven game homestand this afternoon against the Capitals and are 2-0-2 in their last four. To have points in four straight is a huge accomplishment for this team at home, as they have had major struggles in front of their own fans. The team is one game below NHL .500 and only a few points out of the final playoff spot with 24 games remaining.
Three games in six days agains the same opponent – it has a playoff feel doesn’t it?
The Islanders are in New Jersey tonight to take on the Devils for round two of their three game stint.
The Islanders are 2-1 against the Devils so far this season – with three games remaining in the season series. Last weekend, the Islanders blanked the Devils 1-0 thanks to their strong defensive play and the great play of their rookie goaltender Anders Nilsson who stopped all 24 shots he faced.
The Islanders cannot give up ANY points in their quest for a post season appearance. They have struggled to put together win streaks longer than a two or three games much of the season.
Scoring has often disappeared, as the only line doing much damage is their first line, however Josh Bailey’s move to wing has paid dividends as of late. Bailey has scored four goals over the last four games, while Kyle Okposo has played well with his new linemates and scored the only goal – the games winner last weekend against New Jersey.
With 16 games remaining, the Islanders are 7 points back of the 8th and final playoff spot. While not mathematically eliminated, they need to win the next string of games with strong, confident and consistent hockey of they don’t want those hopes completely dashed.
It’s a stretch, but crazier things have happened. Just look at the parity in the league – these six points against the Devils are HUGE.
There’s been lots of contract extension talk regarding some of the pending UFA’s on the Islanders the last few weeks. Most notably, Frans Nielsen and PA Parenteau.
You can take the Great Dane off your list, as Garth Snow has inked Nielsen to a four year $11-Million dollar contract extension earlier tonight.
No official news per the team, but it was just talked about on MSG during the Islanders telecast and TSN’s Bob McKenzie had several tweets on this:
Nielsen has been a key defensive forward for the New York Islanders, and he also has that deadly go-to move during the shootout.
I’ll have more shortly.
Three years ago in Montreal, you couldn’t tell any of us there in attendance on the Draft Risers that whomever selected John Tavares in the first round wouldn’t be getting anything less than a dynamic player and future all star. Luckily enough for those around the Islanders, Garth Snow wisely selected him with his coveted number one pick.
Flash forward to the present, Tavares has grown leaps and bounds. He’s more confident, he’s a stronger skater and for the most part, has proven he can shoulder the weight of his team.
Look no further than last season, when Tavares would get muscled off the puck, or taken down while skating and compare him to today just to see the difference. It’s night and day how far he’s come, credit that to his character.
Sure, there were knocks on his skating and defensive skills – but he’s improved in those areas tenfold.
John Tavares is who the Islanders needed to rebuild around, he is an integral part of the nature of the team. It’s a good thing he signed that contract extension over the summer, as he will be with the Islanders for a while.
Here are some notes per the Islanders release:
The National Hockey League announced today that Islanders center John Tavares has been selected to participate in the 2012 NHL All-Star Weekend.
Tavares, 21, leads all Islanders in scoring with 39 points (14 goals, 25 assists) through 40 games this season. The first overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft also led the Islanders in points during each of his first two seasons, but 2012 marks his first All-Star selection.
Only 20 players in the NHL have more points this season than Tavares, who has recorded 10 multi-point games, including two four-point efforts and one hat trick. The Oakville, ON native, leads all Islanders forwards in ice-time, averaging 19:39 a game.
Tavares joins some other recent Islanders who’ve gotten a taste of the All-Star weekend: Mark Streit, Rick DiPietro, and Michael Grabner.
It’s great to see Tavares noticed and rewarded for his great work here on Long Island. It’ll be interesting to not how well he’ll do skating alongside some of the greatest players in the game, and if the Garth Snow takes note of whatever chemistry he may have with them.
Either that, or get a dose of reality in what a shot in the arm by way of “upgrading” his roster could do for this team.
Only time will tell.
This has been a tough season.
Not just for the New York Islanders, but – for those of us who follow the team and more importantly, TRY to blog about them. All too many times, I’ve started a post – felt like I have been repeating myself or just don’t have anything positive to add and either quit or delete it completely.
I don’t get paid to write – this is something that I did because I enjoyed watching (and playing) hockey and I liked writing even more.
When you’re a fan and a blogger (a Flogger? No – that’s something completely different…) this task becomes even more difficult the worse the team does, or the more frustrating things around the team make you.
I’m going to make a huge admission here on my blog; I do not enjoy watching this team as much as I have. It’s to the point (for several reasons) – I discontinued my Season Tickets over the summer. I can honestly say, I have not missed them.
I watch the games on TV and I yell at the team as if I am at the arena, or even better – I change the channel. That’s exactly what I did when the Islanders got shutout for the seventh time this season on Monday. Sure, the Rangers are a better team – but that’s besides the point.
What makes the losing even worse? This commercial:
The Islanders have not done a heckuvalot to improve. The team has struggled to score at even strength, at times even seem unable to hit the broadside of a barn. This season isn’t all to different from the last up to this point, being a point or two off of their record from that crazy November skid and the goal differential is almost identical. How is that improvement? How is that COMMITMENT? This is what you do for Islanders fans on their 40th year of existance?
I know this sounds like one gigantic vent – and it is, maybe because I rarely use my blog to lament on the stuff surrounding this team but I cannot hold my breath any more. Something needs to give, waiving a Blake Comeau is not the answer. That said, at this junction there is nothing about this season that is salvageable – it’s another year chalked up to the rebuild. Get this years number one and call it a day.
But no, we have the huge question mark of where the team will play or even if the team will stay on Long Island forever looming over our head. Too many questions, too many variables.
Ok, rant over.
In any case, the Islanders are taking on the Calgary Flames tonight at the Coliseum. It’s a meaningless game in that it’s a Western Conference team – but it’s a chance to earn two points and break out of their funk.
Nabakov is in net, and according to Arthur Staple of Newsday – there are some possible line changes tonight.
If the team comes out and has a strong first period anything can happen. If they allow a goal in the first few minutes, they’ll likely chase the remainder of the entire game – and we know how that ends.
Fans hoping for a little retribution or retaliation on Mark Fistric for his concussion inducing hit on Nino Niederreiter – will have to wait. The Stars, likely by design – have made him a healthy scratch for tonight’s contest. It’s also important to note, he also just returned from a three game suspension for his hit on Nino.
That should all be of no worry tonight for the Islanders, as John Tavares, Josh Bailey and Kyle Okposo are all finding their stride and potting goals for their team. Josh Bailey has been playing like a man possessed as of late – 1 goal and 2 assists in the last five, but that’s not completely indicative of his play. He’s been much more confident on both sides of the puck, and been an absolute beast on the penalty kill. Then you have Okposo, who’s starting to play like he did prior to his injury, being physical and initiating contact.
There are some new faces in the lineup for the Islanders tonight as well, Calvin de Haan has been called up to take the place of concussed D-man Steve Staios to make his NHL Debut – and Kevin Poulin earned the start tonight in his replacement of Evgeni Nabakov. It feels like just yesterday that I was interviewing de Haan and Poulin on draft day!
The Islanders simply need to play their game – smart plays, passes, confidence and poise all the while continue that element of toughness with the puck. As I write this, the Islanders have allowed Dallas to score as the Power Play expired – not the start they were looking for, but they need to continue to pressure Dallas.
I’ll have a full recap after the game, but until then, be sure to follow me on Twitter @islesblogger!
The Islanders have turned their snide around these last four games – earning 7 of 8 points, on the road no less.
Tavares still cannot finish, but he’s certainly been able to start – earning three assists in their win over Dallas on Saturday night, and two the previous game in Chicago. Tavares now has 21 points, 8 goals and 13 assists and is tied with PA Parenteau for the team lead. Matt Moulson had a heck-uva game in Dallas, scoring four goals, the first time any player has scored four in a game this season – and wound up with the NHL’s First Star for the week. Moulson is in third place on the Islanders now in scoring, with 13 goals and 6 assists for 19 points. After that, it’s a pretty big drop off.
While there are some things to be worked on, the Islanders have shown some resiliency the last several games – going deep in the game and coming back when the opposition finds a way back into the game.
Injuries are beginning to mount as the season moves along, with Niederreiter out with a concussion, DiPietro out with a groin injury, Grabner a groin injury, MacDonald a leg injury, Eaton a knee injury, Nabokov with a groin injury, the list goes on. To replace some of the walking wounded, Kevin Poulin backs up Montoya in net and Tim Wallace up to replace Grabner. Wallace looked great during preseason and has fair stats down in Bridgeport – 9 goals and 11 assists for 20 points, top scorer for the Sound Tigers. Also up with the big club, Micheal Haley.
Tampa is on the second game of their four game road trip, and also coming off a loss to Ottawa. It should be a chippy game all around, as the Islanders need these two points to continue their strong play and to make a point that the pushing around that started in Dallas, is going to stop.
Things haven’t been easy for the Islanders this season, but they seem to have found the effort to weather the storm and find ways to win.
Nobody could have seen this start coming for the Islanders, who finished strong last season and looked to carry the momentum into the start of this season, but it’s not the way things have worked out.
The team has struggled to score goals, when they have scored they have struggled to hold onto leads and at times, just struggled in general. The Islanders are a young, talented team on paper, supplemented by some key veterans as well. So why have things been so tough?
Some are quick to cast all that aside and blame management, others even quicker to discount the talent on the team because “they’re the Islanders” – my hope is that the team, like last season, uses the negativity to fuel their fire and drive to prove everyone wrong.
Islanders head coach Jack Capuano is in his first full season as an NHL coach – so it’s really hard to place 100% blame there. Charles Wang has come out, as well as GM Garth Snow stating confidence in Capuano. Trust and confidence goes a long way in the NHL, where we have already seen three coaching changes in this young season.
John Tavares is riding an 11 game scoring slump and the pundits are coming out in full force. If you follow me on Twitter I was quick to point out that nobody seems to bring up the recent slumps of Stamkos and Ovechkin – two players surrounded by world class talent. But hey, Tavares is an Islander, right?
Chicago comes into the game tonight in fourth place in the Western Conference at 14-8-3, and off a recent loss. The Islanders have had a few days rest since their great game in Buffalo, they need to be smart defensively tonight against the Blackhawks scary offensive attack.
No announcement has been made on the starting goalie for the Isles, but Capuano often rides the hot hand and that’s been Al Montoya as of late. He had a superb game in Buffalo, making highlight reel save after save.
Andrew MacDonald is out tonight, with Dylan Reese called up to take his spot – a solid replacement and someone who had hoped to make the opening night roster.
The keys to a win tonight are simple: good puck movement, a continued strong forecheck, a good first pass and entry into the offensive zone. Utilize speed to help the transition and get behind the Chicago defense. Last, but not least – stay out of the penalty box.
If the Islanders bring what they have the last few games, earning their third straight road win is a good possibility.
So the Islanders lost in a tough way last night against their rival New York Rangers 4-2. The game was a fairly entertaining game, and although the Islanders played much better than they have in the last few – it wasn’t enough to beat the red hot Rangers.
For long stretches of time, the Isles were out muscled, out played and out hustled. They did manage to turn it around for a bit towards the end of the first period, and then again during the second with a few power plays but ended the second period down 2-1. The game got chippy at times, with Mottau and Avery fighting and then Martin and Eminger as well.
Nabakov absorbed lots of contact, as have his fellow keepers had the previous games – it’s no wonder why the league is looking into ways of protecting goalies.
There were the typical gaffes, bad passes, blocked shots, poor clearing attempts and a few miscues around the net. But none took the cake like Josh Bailey’s bone headed backhand clearing attempt late in the third. An ill advised attempt that was up the middle of the ice and went directly to Brad Richards who scored the game winner. Josh Bailey may find himself on the outside looking in, as soon as tomorrow nights game.
The team clearly responded Kyle Okposo’s benching last night, but they were just no match for the stronger and more talented Rangers.
During the post game, it was your typical somber and quiet locker room. The players were milling about, with Austrian news crews going through and interviewing Grabner, Niederreiter and Streit, in German. I could barely hear Moulson in his scrum, he was monotone and looking at the floor for the most part. The only thing I managed to understand was how the team is frustrated and that they know they can play better.
Tavares’ scrum was no different, as he is already a quiet person. However, you could literally see the pain and frustration in his expressions and through his words.
I am not going to lie, I’m glad they are frustrated and mad. A team that accepts defeat and begins to expect losing isn’t a team I would want to watch – so perhaps this is another learning experience for the young crew.
Listening to head coach Jack Capuano speak during his post game press conference – it was good to hear that he felt there weren’t any passengers and he saw lots of effort last night. He admitted that they had paid the price on the 5 on 3, and nearly scored right after killing it off.
The Islanders 3rd jersey was revealed tonight at a special event, it had been speculated about for months and was even leaked to a few different websites. Unfortunately, it was that black design that just wouldn’t go away – which I admit I don’t hate, but I don’t love it either. It reminds me too much of the jersey the Mets wear and I really don’t want to emulate that team any more than we already do.
Please, tell me what you think in the comments. Although, I may regret that.
November is typically a tough month for hockey, teams begin to gel and string together wins – like the Rangers have or; in the case of the Islanders, begin to struggle due to weaknesses.
The Islanders have struggled mightily the last few weeks, they’ve had trouble scoring, hitting, and skating. They also have far too many players who are struggling offensively, or just struggling in general. Back on November 1st, I had started a post outlining all of the offensive woes of the current roster – but I got side tracked with the SEMA Automotive show in Las Vegas. I’ve taken on some more responsibility with my friends TV Show and Website – Motorz TV.
In any case, players up and down the roster are struggling – Blake Comeau, Josh Bailey, Kyle Okposo, Brian Rolson, and Marty Reasoner – just to name a few. Head Coach Jack Capuano has stated several times now that there are certain players that are simply along for the ride and not bringing what they can to the game. He’s done little to wake his team up however, only scratching Blake Comeau for two games last month. If you have players who feel they automatically deserve a roster spot, sorry they should be sitting.
Thankfully, Nino Niederreiter returns tonight from his two week conditioning stint in Bridgeport. His style of play and energy should be a welcomed and much needed boost for the slumping Islanders.
Newsday’s Arthur Staple reported via Twitter earlier today, that Capuano will not speak about his roster adjustments until closer to game time, but – he did say that Evgeni Nabakov will be in goal for the Islanders tonight.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise – but the Islanders need to execute their shot selection better. The last handful of games the Islanders haven’t been able to get through their opponents forecheck, or even establish anything once they gain the offensive zone.
Defensively they’ve been no better, as they’ve allowed the first goal on the first shot against way too many times. They have also made a ton of mistakes, miscues and not been hitting aggressively enough. It’s almost like the entire team is afraid to be physical, well – aside from Martin and Streit.
Pressure – simply put, pressure the puck carriers coming into the defensive zone. Put pressure on the opponents defense to force turnovers and for once, just shoot the puck. The team has held onto the puck for way too long at times, it’s almost as if they haven’t learned anything last year.
Fortunately, the Islanders always seem to step up their game when it comes to their cross-town rivals. If there was ever a game that the team would break out of their funk – tonight would be the night.
I know that everyone watching in that arena will be amped up to see some spirited hockey, but will our Islanders?