General

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Lack of Accountability or Lack of Experience?

Posted by on 14 Feb 2018 | Tagged as: General, Opinion

Newsday
You’re probably reading this and still have a splitting headache from the frustrating things coming out of the Islanders performances the last two games. I know my blood pressure has been insanely elevated just watching on TV.

Mix in what head coach Doug Weight said after the game last night, and I’m sure it spiked even higher for everyone else as well.

Let’s get into it.

We’ve all looked at systems. We’ve looked at personnel. We’ve looked at injuries. We’ve even looked at analytics! We can look at lots of aspects trying to find answers as to what’s causing the issues with the team right now. What if it’s something we’ve been overlooking completely?

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It’s Barzal Mania

Posted by on 10 Feb 2018 | Tagged as: General, Hot Headlines

With all the negative that’s been happening for the New York Islanders on and off the last few weeks, there’s remained at least one constant. His name is Mat Barzal.

Fresh off his rookie of the month nod from the NHL in January, the kid just continues to make magic happen despite the increased coverage and pressure the opposition throws at him. It’s pretty magical to see and thankfully, we can thank the Boston Bruins for passing on him with not one, not two, but THREE consecutive first round draft picks. How many times over the years have we all taken a deep breath and let out a sigh of frustration as we watched talent blossom before our eyes as a fan of the opposition? A lot.

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An Open Letter to Jon Ledecky

Posted by on 08 Feb 2018 | Tagged as: General, Post Game, Rant

Jon,

May I call you Jon? Ok, great.

You may not know me, and that’s fine. Truth be told – maybe a lot of people don’t. That’s fine too.

I used to be a pretty influential blogger around these parts. I traveled to cover the team on my own dime, jet set to destinations to cover entry drafts, helped jumpstart major websites – blah, that doesn’t matter anymore. I got married and had kids so my time is now limited to when I’m at work or when my family is asleep.

What’s the story here?

You’re a smart guy, you may have horrible balance in front of a room full of influential people, but that’s fine.

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This is On Garth’s Reluctance

Posted by on 08 Feb 2018 | Tagged as: General, Opinion, Rant, Trades

For the last two days, the hockey world has seen an abundance of trade speculation and opinion surrounding the New York Islanders. There seems to be a unifying rally cry by fans and experts alike on how the Isles should be looking for defensive help outside the organization.

I know I’ve been absent for a long time, and this being my second piece in as many days – I am humbled by the activity here and on Twitter where I’ve made sure to maintain my voice. I plan on writing regularly here on out and tidying things up on the site as well.

That said, let’s move into the nitty gritty, shall we?

Garth Snow, for all the praise I’ve spoken about him over the years has become extremely frustrating to me. Year after year we hear the same statements: “We kicked some tires”, “Prices were too high”, “We are happy with our roster”, and now this years “I will not trade high end picks for rental players” (I’m paraphrasing because the exact wording doesn’t matter). Why doesn’t it matter? Because it’s both hogwash and yet, almost understandable. Indefensible yet understandable.

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All Signs Point To Trades

Posted by on 06 Feb 2018 | Tagged as: General, News, Opinion, Rumors, Trade Deadline

The current state of the New York Islanders appears to be a mix of flux, confusion, slight panic and outright bewilderment. And that’s not even touching how the fans, or Isles Twitter feels (Spoiler: Isles Twitter is fiercely frustrated).

Still smoldering from an overtime loss to the Nashville Predators last night, rumblings around town have it looking as if Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield’s injury could potentially be quite serious. With a season ending injury already to Calvin De Haan and Johnny Boychuk close-ish to returning barring the setbacks that head coach Doug Weight alluded to – the Islanders may have no choice but to entertain a trade or even trades.

That’s the obvious part, whats not obvious is who a trade partner or trade target would be. We know it would or should be AT LEAST a defenseman but the Islanders are sorely lacking a 1B goaltender who could steal a win or two and someone who could fill out lines three or four.

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When Will it Change?

Posted by on 25 Nov 2016 | Tagged as: General, Opinion, Post Game

I have been through some pretty atrocious hockey before.

At 36, I have lived through some really, really, REALLY deplorable (I have to use that word right now because why not – everyone is, right?) hockey with the New York Islanders. Post 94, the years prior, Spano and the Gang of Four, Milbury….the beginning, middle and now maybe the end of Garth Snow.

I have even been fortunate enough to cover the team during the leanest of times. Filling rosters out with has-beens, never will-be’s and hopeful reclamation projects that never came to fruition, or worse – would only come around after they leave Long Island. Coaching changes….I have to laugh – I covered them through four.

In between all of that negative, I have witnessed some REALLY good stuff too. I was there for the Bates penalty shot, my time covering the team from 2007-2011, Al Arbour Night/Day, numerous Core of the Four Celebrations, I judged a High Five Competition with Benoit Hogue, Three Entry Drafts – the biggest being Tavares. There’s a lot more I have to write about, but there will be time for that.

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From Traffic Lights to Train Stations

Posted by on 24 Apr 2016 | Tagged as: Gameday, General, Opinion, Playoffs

The 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs have progressed nicely in Brooklyn, and I can say that I am fortunate enough to have attended Games 3 and 4. Today, I will be attending Game 6 as well. While the transition to Brooklyn hasn’t been the smoothest, the Playoff transition has gone a little easier.

The Islanders and the Barclays have taken a few different steps to make sure that the arena is a little more like home. From league and team logos to the atmosphere in general – it all feels better. They’ve even spent a great deal of attention to the quality of the ice sheet – which is a story for another blog.

Along the way, we have witnessed another 100 point season and various lengths of strong and not-so strong play (some would say typical of the Islanders). We have made new memories with a Game 3 OT winner by Thomas Hickey and rallied behind the team as they tried to come back again in Game 4. It was loud in Brooklyn, dare I say almost as loud as it was at times at the Coliseum.

More importantly, we have forged some new traditions as well.

During my lifetime, I was never more than 25 traffic lights from the Old Barn. The travel to the Coliseum was always easy (unless there was a bunch of traffic on Hempstead Turnpike). That changed a bit when I moved into Eastern Suffolk, but I still made it a point to get to as many games as I could. During the Playoffs, we had the parking lot and the amazing tradition of tailgating and all the fun that came with that. We went out with a bang before the Barn Doors slammed shut after that thrilling Game 6 win over the Capitals.

This year, I made it to TWO regular season games – for various reasons. Those were my first two experiences with the Barclays, we’ll call it a dry run for the Playoffs. With those two trips, I adapted to the change.

It may not be the most ideal of situations, but the train ride to Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal has become the new tailgate experience. I’ve met a bunch of wonderful fans and had so many awesome Islanders conversations along the way. Coincidentally, I have run into many of the very fans I used to see regularly as a season ticket holder and friends outside of the Isles that I have not seen in a few years.

And then, you have Brooklyn itself.

In the immediate areas around the Barclays – there are a ton of really fun places to spend an hour or two in prior to the puck drop. We’ve adopted KBH on St Marks as the pre-game venue of choice, a short two block walk to and from the arena.

In the end, the Barclays is not and never will be that “home” just a few traffic lights away from where I grew up, but it’s slowly becoming the home of Islanders hockey. Even if that home requires counting train stations.

Let’s make it loud tonight, just like it was 4 years ago to the day of that Shawn Bates penalty shot against Toronto.

An Ugly Win, But It’s a Win

Posted by on 16 Oct 2015 | Tagged as: General, Opinion, Post Game

 What could’ve been the Islanders second loss of the season, fortunately managed to become their second win. It may not have been the prettiest of wins, but it was a big one. All this despite the Predators coming to town with a 3-0 record, despite being grossly outshot 47-28, despite being 0/2 on the man advantage and even, despite giving up a late goal. 

We all know how well the Islanders played and protected leads last season, but it’s with growing confidence I can say that may be a thing of the past. 

The ice at the Barclays Center looked the same as it has the last few games – slow, soft and slushy. I understand that the arena personnel there are new to this ice maintainence routine and that the arena is like MSG with a lot of events, but this is a situation that bears watching long term. 

There were a few positive takeaways from the game however – the Islanders were fairly physical against their opponent, out hitting them 43-33. At times the Isles did what made them so successful last season, were strong on the forecheck and puck retrieval. Three of their four goals came off plays where they forechecked hard, either causing a turnover or kept the play in the zone and were able to score off rebounds or plays down low. 

Surprisingly, both teams were even in draws, but watching I felt that the Islanders were the weaker of two teams. 

The Islanders had scoring from all kinds of players – their first line combined for 5 points (Lee with Goal, Assist – Tavares Goal, Assist and Strome Assist) the second line, also with 5 points (Okposo Goal, Grabovski 2 Assists, Kulemin Goal, Nelson Assist). All told the Islanders had 8 different players on the scoresheet, not too bad offensively. When you have two lines going, it’s going to be harder to stop you. 

Some negatives, the Isles seemed to scramble in their own zone at times. Zidlicky tried to clear the puck from the crease and hit the post, scoring on his own net. There was also a few occasions where they could not clear the crease in front of Greiss, which was evident on the third goal. The Islanders felt there was contact by a Predator player in the crease and used a coaches challenge for the first time this season, but were unsuccessful in their case. While this burned their timeout, the team got an extended rest during the review process – so it was a smart gamble by Capuano. It’s something we could see more of in those situations throughout the season for sure. Lastly, Brian Strait – paired with Zidlicky. That’s all I need to say there. 

Ultimately, this was a confidence builder for the Islanders – a strong team came to town and the Islanders played them well enough to win even though it wasn’t their best performance. The season is still young, but it’s games like this that will matter come April. They face a similar opponent in the San Jose Sharks tomorrow night, they need to play a stronger, more physical game – if they want to come away with two more points. 

On the Mend

Posted by on 14 Oct 2015 | Tagged as: General, Injuries, News

Reports out of practice this morning, by both Artur Staple and the New York Islanders have goaltender Jaroslav Halak and defenseman Thomas Hickey practicing with the full squad.

Hickey, who’s been nursing a finger fracture and Halak a mysterious upper body type injury – have missed the first three games for the Islanders, including the Barclays Home Opener.

While the Isles have made due without both of these players, having your number one net minder and a key pivot on the back end close to returning can only help. That’s not to say Greiss hasn’t played well in his two starts, posting a respectable .915 save percentage and a 2.46 goals against average.

The Islanders certainly bounced back after their second game against the Blackhwaks with a strong, spirited matinee win over the Winnipeg Jets on Monday.

I’ve only gotten to see highlights of the last two games, but it looks like the team is on the right path, I’ll reevaluate after Thursday’s matchup with the 3-0 Predators when they come to town.

This Time, It’s Different

Posted by on 09 Oct 2015 | Tagged as: Gameday, General

 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. 

Slip Sliding, A Call For Action

Posted by on 18 Mar 2015 | Tagged as: General, Opinion, Rant

It’s one thing to watch idly as fans when a team begins to falter after months on top, it’s something completely different as a player in the room – I’m sure….

There’s a large contingent of fans who never get to experience the frustration a player experiences as they step off the ice, the scowl on their face, the expletives they spew as they slam sticks or equipment down or the blank stares of disgust as they sit in the stall of their locker. Instead, television interviews expertly crafted show almost nothing but positive thoughts and statements. Some players, allow a bit of their feelings to slip through, allowing you a glimpse of their human nature and inject a level of realism into the post game.

What I’ve grown tired of this season, the LAST in Nassau Coliseum – a season that matters MOST to a large percentage of the fanbase; everything is status quo.

The 2014-2015 New York Islanders have literally kicked tail for stretches of the season, but have now lost four consecutive games for the first time all year. They find themselves stuck in a rut, sliding down the standings to teams who have multiple games in hand and yet remarkedly they’re holding their ground in the division – for now. They’re failing miserably on the power play, and even strength in the goal scoring department and their most lethal offensive threats are nowhere to be seen, guilty of trying to do too much of anything – trying to do something.

We look to coaching, but honestly – without being a fly on the wall we can only speculate as to what is said or what adjustments are or aren’t made.

I like how the players are quoted as believing they can get through this tough time, use positive and playful antics to keep the mood light – I do. But when it comes down to it on the ice, do stuff. I said those exact words on Twitter.

Do stuff.

When the team has been great, they’ve been fast, strong, smart and brutally physical. When was the last time someone stood up for someone? Tavares continues to get frustrated by slashes, hacks or late little hits and has been taking some penalties because of that. Nelson gets head butted last night, and as much as I didn’t watch the game – I didn’t see anything about someone taking exception to this.

Forecheck. The Islanders were relentless earlier this year on the forecheck. Get the puck deep, bang bodies, chip the puck and wear the opposition down. What happened is goals. Lots of them. They’ve done away with this because of injuries, but that’s no reason to stop completely. They have more than enough people capable of speed and causing turnovers. Stop being so stationary and focusing on the same players who get drawn double and triple coverage.

I know that this team is hurting and are missing key guys – but the bottom line is there are players who need to step up, take the body to make a play and skate. Skate like there’s no tomorrow – because at the end of the day, with ten games remaining, your clock is ticking.

Hit. Take hits. Use your speed. Quick, crisp passes. Get the puck deep and make the opposition pay.

I’ve still got hope, but I expect more out of this bunch. Show me the heart on the ice to back up what you say in print.

Don’t let us down. Not now and not in April.

The Building, It Was Electric and Saturday Will be LOUDER

Posted by on 11 Apr 2013 | Tagged as: General, Post Game

photo-12How about these Islanders?

I made it to the game on Tuesday night, the first time this season. Not that I haven’t wanted to go earlier, I have been crazy busy during this shortened season.

From the second we pulled up to the parking, you knew that hockey was back on Long Island. Yes, it’s been back since January when the lockout ended – but it’s BACK these days. We sat in traffic just to pay for parking and had to park near Hempstead Turnpike do to the turnout. The last time that happened was my first as a season ticket holder, in 2006-2007.

It was a beautiful night Tuesday night, so many fans did as they always have during early and late season games – they tailgated. There was a buzz among the crowd, an hour before the puck was even dropped!

Inside, fans were just as plentiful – a far cry from some of the earlier games this season.

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