Archived Posts from this Category
Archived Posts from this Category
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.
The Islanders have completed their first two games of the season, suffering from a 2-0 loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday and hanging on for a 2-1 win this afternoon against the Minnesota Wild.
While it’s entirely too early to accurately gauge what to expect in the remaining 80 games this season – I’ve seen, and heard a few things that are worth noting at this point.
Saturday’s game was disappointing, not only from the standpoint of it being a let-down for the fans that packed out Nassau Coliseum, but because the team looked flat and often misplayed the puck. The bar was raised really high by the organization (well, the players themselves really) – so it stung seeing the team struggle before a building filled to near capacity in their season opener.
The ice at the Coliseum looks horrible, like the players were skating in soup. At one point at the start of the second period on Saturday, the on ice officials spent about five minutes with squeegees getting the pools of water moved from the ice surface. You can only really blame the County for this one – as they are responsible for any repairs. I hope to have more on this in the coming days.
The Islanders came out relatively flat, often misplaying the puck or not making smart decisions with and without the puck. Andrew MacDonald showed plenty of rust, committed several turnovers – even though he wasn’t officially charged with any in the post game stats. Mark Streit played a decent game for someone who hadn’t seen professional action in over a year. Mike Mottau took three penalties – three too many.
The forwards were often unable to get things going, chipping the puck past Florida’s defense and just being stopped cold. Al Montoya kept them in the game though making 27 saves for the Isles. They need to do more offensively, which I’m sure they will once all cylinders are firing.
I don’t want to hammer the team with negatives, so let’s jump right to the positives.
Travis Hamonic threw down the gloves and jumped to the support of his teammate Al Montoya by fighting Scotty Upshall. When I asked him during the post game interviews if there was any words exchanged, or if it was just something he had to do to support his goaltender – I got one of the greatest answers one could expect from the budding defenseman.
Every time you fight, I say you fight for a couple of reasons. One is to defend a teammate, two is to change the momentum of the game and three is to defend yourself. I think that in that instance, it hit the nail on the head for all three of them. I was trying to defend Al, and you know next thing I know I turn around and he [Upshall] was in my face. That’s the part of the game that I welcome, I think it happens with the style of play that I play and at that point it was 1-0 for the other team and I felt it it was a good opportunity to change the momentum of the game, so that’s why I did what I did.
Every game the young Travis Hamonic plays – I become more and more impressed. He hits, he makes sound passes, he’s very physical and he plays big important minutes for his team. When he’s paired with Andrew MacDonald – the two of them compliment each other very well.
Fast forward to this afternoon’s game against Minnesota – the Islanders came out a very different team in the first twenty minutes. They skated, they passed and they moved the puck past the defense in a way they couldn’t manage against Florida the game before.
Andrew MacDonald played a much better game, and made up for the mistakes he committed in his first game back. At the start of the game I never would’ve pegged him to score the first goal of the 2011/2012 season – but score he did and it was a beauty. Take a look for yourself:
The Islanders second goal was even better. Mark Streit fakes a shot from the point and moves down the boards. Frans Nielsen is moving towards the Wild net and Streit executes a perfect shot pass – Nielsen redirected it perfectly to give the Islanders a two goal lead. This goal, you just HAVE to watch:
The rest of today’s game wasn’t as good – even though the Islanders managed to hang on and win 2-1. They looked fatigued as the game wore on, at one point not getting a shot for almost ten minutes and being held in their own zone for long stretches. Despite the negatives, the fact that the team held on is a testament to how far they’ve come since last season. Perhaps you can credit the veteran infusion, but you certainly have to credit Al Montoya for his stellar performance once again.
At the end of the day, the Islanders won, we heard the new Goal Song, the team moved to .500 on the season and improved their record to 1-1. It’s certainly a start.
Once again, the Islanders showed that they should be a pretty good team next season in a spirited 6-2 win over their rival New York Rangers last night at Nassau Coliseum.
Despite mounting injuries and a defensive group made up of mostly Bridgeport Sound Tigers – the Islanders defense held the Rangers at one goal for the better part of two and a half periods. What’s more, missing two important penalty killers (Grabner out his second game due to the birth of his first child and Nielsen suffering a head injury in the second period) – the Islanders PK was outstanding. I’m sure Rangers head coach John Tortorella will have PLENTY of tape to go over, having gone 0/7 with the man advantage, including TWO five on three opportunities.
I mentioned that the Islanders were sporting some defensive injuries, but they also suffered TWO more last night – Ty Wishart suffered a shoulder injury and Jack Hillen suffered an upper body injury as well. It got so bad, the Islanders were forced to play Okposo on defense for a shift.
Let’s take a look at just how spectacular the Islanders defense was last night:
One of the rare veterans in the lineup last night, Radek Martinek had a great game. He was credited with three hits, three take aways, had a goal, an assist and finished with a +1 with 22:49 minutes of ice time. When Martinek uses his shot from the point, great things happen. His goal, a blast from the blueline off a slick Parenteau pass, beat Lundqvist over his glove. He would add an assist, with a similar play, this time deflected by Joensuu in front.
I asked Martinek after the game if the coaching staff wants him to use that great shot of his more – he told me they [the coaches] have wanted him to shoot more all season, he knows he has a good shot and good things happen when he does – he just doesn’t often think shot first.
I wasn’t the only one to notice what happens when Martinek uses that shot – Head Coach Jack Capuano talked about it during his press conference when he said “When Marty uses his shot like tonight, he gives us a chance to win hockey games”.
Young Travis Hamonic continues his strong play and what has become a Cinderella season for him – never expecting to remain with the Islanders for the full season. Last night Hamonic had a team high 24:52 minutes of ice time, tallied an assist on the game tying goal, three hits, two blocked shots and get this – a +4 on the night.
Jack Hillen is another player that has come back from a rough start – he was good offensively last night, jumping in the rush and making smart passes, stood up for his team in his fight with Dubinsky, earned an assist with his cross ice feed to Martinek’s tipped shot by Joensuu, had 22:13 minutes of ice time (that was limited by his late injury), and finished with a +2 on the night. Hillen also lead the team in hits last night with four.
Quietly however, Dylan Reese made the most of his 16:33 minutes of play, unless you count his fight with Fedotenko late in the game of course. Reese would finish the game with THREE assists, and a +3 rating. He’s one of those steady players that you often don’t really notice on the back end, which is never a bad thing.
Mark Katic finished the night -1 and with 19 minutes of ice time, and Ty Wishart was playing well – until a shoulder injury would finish him for the night, having only played 12 minutes.
The forwards were equally impressive, Tavares had two assists and was +4, Comeau finished with a goal and was +3, Joensuu FINALLY used his size in front of the net on his deflection and was +1 with 11:37 minutes of ice time, Moulson had a goal (his 31st) and an assist and would finish +3, Parenteau would also notch a goal (his 19th) and assist (has now reached 50 points) and would wind up +4 on the night. The most surprising goal of the night? Trevor Gillies netting his second of the season and second career goal on a nice deflection of a Reese point shot.
Al Montoya played another solid game, making 25 saves on 27 shots. He was great positionally, gave the Rangers very little to shoot at and controlled his rebounds well. Considering the defense that was in front of him, the Islanders really supported Montoya last night – and gave him his first win over the club that drafted him.
The fight card was chock-full of action last night:
Hillen fought Dubinsky
Avery got clobbered and bloodied by Haley
Prust fought an injured Konopka
Fedotenko fought Reese
But that wasn’t all, there were plenty of hits, pushing, shoving and just outright old school hockey throughout the game. It’s great to see this team stand up for each other, especially when Nielsen was hit from behind by Gaborik in the second period.
In a game with nothing to lose, the Islanders played great and really took it to their rival. They also made it that much harder for the Rangers, who are barely staying in the playoff picture.
They can do even more damage against the Hurricanes this weekend – should be interesting.
In closing, I doubt the league will – but I hope they look into the hit on Nielsen. But we know how that goes.
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!
Missed it by that much.
That was the common theme yesterday in the Islanders 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals at Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders came out and overpowered the talented, yet struggling Capitals team who lost 6-0 to the New York Rangers the previous game.
For much of the first period, the Capitals even failed to register a single shot on net. The Islanders would go into the locker room after the first intermission up 1-0 and leading in shots 14-5. The Islanders also failed to convert twice on the power play in the early goings of the game, and killed off a penalty of their own.
The second period was pretty good as well, the Islanders held the advantage in shots, the Capitals put ten shots on goaltender Al Montoya and the Islanders had eight for the period. At just 2:26 of the second period, right after Travis Hamonic’s third goal of the season and the Islanders lead at 2-0 Zenon Konopka and Matt Hendricks had a very entertaining fight. Konokpa had the win – keeping momentum in the Islanders favor untill Brooks Laich was finally able to solve Montoya and ruin his shutout bid. The Islanders would have another power play with Laich sitting for a tripping penalty, but fail to convert on their third man advantage opportunity.
As I said on Twitter after the second period, the Capitals would come out of the locker room a different team to start the third. They were outplayed for stretches and were trailing a goal. The Islanders were having some issues in maintaining the pressure and it wouldn’t take long for the Capitals to find the equalizer. Mike Knuble would score at 8:08 of the third to tie it and Alexander Semin would score the eventual game winner just four minutes later.
The Islanders would have a few chances to tie late in the third with Al Montoya pulled and an extra attacker on, but the Capitals held onto their lead. The Islanders couldn’t even buy an icing call on two occasions with their goaltender pulled – which was unfortunate and irritating. Not sure what the linesmen were looking at on those two plays, but the calls were waived off.
The Islanders would finish the game with 31 shots, over the Capitals 22. The team had some prime scoring chances – such as Grabner’s opportunity on what was an open net that left him gazing skyward in frustration. Okposo, Nielsen and Tavares would also miss on opportunities – and the newly waived Rob Schremp failed to score on a great feed in the first period electing to stop the puck instead of shooting off the pass.
You have to credit the Islanders defense playing as injured as they are, just one of the Islanders starting defensive corps is currently on the roster – Andy MacDonald. With recently injured players in Milan Jurcina and Radek Martinek out for an undetermined amount of time, it’s nice to see the young d-men playing well enough to give the Islanders a chance.
The mood in the locker room was somber and quiet, you could sense the frustration by the tight knit young Islanders club. Kyle Okposo was stoic and mature in front of the camera and spoke about needing to address allowing three unanswered goals, and getting away from the game that gave them success early on in the game. Al Montoya would echo his teammate, talking about giving the Capitals too much room to capitalize and allowing them to utilize their skill.
Jack Capuano addressed the media during his post game scrum and echoed his players statements, saying they got away from their game, made some small mistakes and not being able to capitalize on their power play opportunities. He explained shortening the bench in the third, wanting to give his two hottest lines more time to try to knot the game up.
With the trade deadline coming up tomorrow – several players may not be with the team come tomorrow night. Radek Martinek and Zenon Konopka are two players talked about in rumors the last week, but you never know what GM Garth Snow will do – should the right deal present itself.
That could have been another reason why the locker room was so quiet, not playing another game until Tuesday – the Islanders may lose a member or two from what Zenon Konopka has called “a family”. But that’s an unfortunate part of the game that often cannot be avoided. Only time will tell which brothers or cousins may not be present after the deadline.
How about the Islanders as of late?
Aside from injuries that continue to mount (Eaton – done for the year, Nielsen – groin, and DiPietro – mystery strain) the Islanders are playing pretty good hockey, (8-2-1 over the last 11). The power play has been clicking at a new rate (seven power play goals over three games) and the youngsters brought up from Bridgeport have been stepping in and filling roles left vacant by their injured veteran teammates. Not too shabby, although – for once I just wish the team could escape the injury bug for a complete season. Perhaps the time is right for some sort of intervention, be it spiritual or otherwise.
How about our boy John Tavares?!?
JT has been giving teams fits down low, both behind the goal line and between the circles. He has been initiating contact, digging for loose pucks and just an overall strength we’ve not seen from him since his awesome performances in the World’s. He has scored two goals in the last few games that have been a great indication that he has the confidence he was lacking earlier this season. He LOVES to stick handle through traffic and make a move in an area that many in the league have a problem doing. He’s scored just over a foot away from the netminders he’s scored on – pretty impressive stuff.
What about this Jeremy Colliton?
Colliton was recalled from Bridgeport to replace the injured Frans Nielsen. Think it worked out? Colliton scored twice on the power play last night, impressive in his own right because we rarely see bodies go to the front of the net the way he did. I wonder if Capuano would want to keep him up with the team instead of dressing Trevor Gillies the next few games. It’s worth a shot.
Another player worth noting, Kevin Poulin. He was stellar in his loss against the Oilers earlier in the week – stopping every shot he faced, but he came up huge again last night. He was sound positionally, controlled his rebounds a lot better than he did his first go round – he did not look out of place despite the tender age of twenty years old. He even earned his first NHL win in his first NHL start thanks to Tavares’ heroics in OT.
It’s great to see the team rebound the way they have after their 14 game losing streak, they have done just about everything in their power to improve their game – despite trading away James Wisniewski and Dwayne Roloson.
If the Islanders win at the very least two more games over the next batch – would you say it’s safe to say that the streak did not hurt as bad? I don’t expect this team to squeak into the playoffs, but I like the way they have been playing and hope it continues.
Over the last few weeks, it’s been rather hard to muster the energy to constructively write about our Islanders. It’s rather tiresome reading all the negative junk on the internet, the media and of course the message boards consisting of FANS of this team. I choose not to ignore it, (I actually read everything) but turn a blind eye in a sense because I don’t necessarily agree with common fan opinion.
Between injuries, the young and often inexperienced roster and of course – the controversial bargain basement roster price narrowly making the league mandated salary cap floor – don’t make being a fan of the Islanders easy when they aren’t playing well.
Fans had lambasted Garth Snow for now addressing fans, so he does a live chat on Islanders TV only for those same fans to now turn around and blast the questions he answered.
Fans are calling for Charles Wang to step up and address fans during these trying times as well. But allow me to say this – for everyone claiming that Charles Wang is TOO involved, you now want him to make a statement? He’s made numerous statements on this very subject, he asked us to be patient while we watched Garth Snow to stick to his plan a plan that has seen us draft well and grab talent from the waiver and free agent wire.
Good things come to those who wait – we just have to stay patient.
Speaking of patient…or should I say patients – what’s this story about a nurse calling out the Islanders while they were visiting a hospital? Wrong time and wrong place. I am a season ticket holder as well and I wouldn’t dare have the audacity to speak like that to players in any situation. Shame on you, especially in a hospital when players are doing something respectable.
Same goes for Opie, it’s one thing that you have money – it’s another to literally throw your tickets out the window. There are plenty of young kids who would still give up anything to attend a hockey game, even one where perhaps the Islanders lose. Poor judgement, but hey that’s what your show is built around right?
Now that my rant is over, let’s look at the game last night against the Anaheim Ducks.
For starters, I missed the game last night as I had LASIK done and literally couldn’t open my eyes – I slept through the night and only watched the highlights this morning.
Defense. The defense looked outstanding with youngins’ Andrew MacDonald and Travis Hamonic leading the charge and shutting down the Ducks top line. Each player played over 20 minutes last night respectively. We also saw the return of Milan Jurcina who’s missed quite a bit of time with a hamstring injury as well as Radek Martinek who was hit by a shot in the hand last week. It certainly had an effect on the outcome of the game having the veteran presence back there.
Scoring. The Islanders scored three goals, something they have actually been doing quite regularly – however they scored three in the first period and three in 99 seconds. We saw another power play goal, this time scored by PA Parenteau off a slick feed by Tavares behind the net. Next up, Comeau was found alone out in front less than a minute later and the Moulson scored thanks to a nice turnover caused by offensive zone pressure. DiPietro would eventually secure the win for the Islanders making 30 saves and giving up two goals, one to former Islander Jason Blake.
The Islanders played their positions well, they finished their checks and most importantly held onto the lead through two periods – something they have not done well at all this season.
The young players are coming along nicely, although John Tavares continues to struggle without a veteran or scoring winger on his side – I am sure Garth Snow is looking for the right piece without having to give up too much in return. He’s spend quite a bit of time restoring his cupboard – why be in a rush to ship those pieces out.
As fans we have to remember that our one job is patience. I don’t like spending my hard earned (and as of late) harder to hold onto money more than the next person – but I am still here to support my team through thick and thin.
Calling for the firing of a GM that has worked his butt off to restore the damage done from years past, and for an owner to sell is just plain silly right now. It can ALWAYS be worse, look no further than the Islanders recent history to be reminded how much so….
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.
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!