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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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The Answer is 42

Posted by on 20 Mar 2013 | Tagged as: General, News, Post Game

42Dylan Reese, NOT the answer
A central theme that has developed after the Islanders 29 games thus far: third period goals allowed. It’s not the only one mind you, but it ties in to others; blown leads, poor confidence, sustained pressure and momentum, defense. The list goes on.

When Eric Hornick updated his awesome blog with the latest Skinny on the Isles loss to the Senators last night, one glaring stat stuck out like a sore thumb. 42.

No, it’s not the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything actually yes it is, but read on! It’s the total of third period goals allowed, which owns the title of most in the NHL. Perhaps the Islanders never have those handy towels ready. Ok, that was the last unavoidable reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galazy, but not towards the frustrating New York Islanders.

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Isles Look to Continue Strong Play in Sunrise

Posted by on 16 Mar 2013 | Tagged as: Gameday, General, Hot Headlines, News

163706363_slideNew York Islanders
It’s been a crazy few weeks for fans in Islanders country. The team finished off a seven game home stand with strong play and appeared to carry that momentum into their small road trip beating the Capitals, but followed that win up by getting brow beaten by the Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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.

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Back From Vacation, Isles Have Points in 4 Straight!

Posted by on 09 Mar 2013 | Tagged as: Gameday, General, News

image-1Hello Islanders Nation!

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.

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Isles Looking to Rebound Against Bruins, DiPietro Reports

Posted by on 26 Feb 2013 | Tagged as: General, News

The Islanders are set to take on the Boston Bruins tonight on their second of seven games on home ice. This home ice is in an arena once dubbed “Fort Never-Lose”, but these days it’s the quite opposite “Fort Never-Win” brandishing a 2-7-0 record at home.

Hopefully, Team A shows up, as this game is nationally broadcast.

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Success in Montreal: A Tale of Three Teams

Posted by on 22 Feb 2013 | Tagged as: General, News, Post Game

Thomas Hickey New York Islanders
This is a post that I wanted to get out earlier today, but work had me running around like a chicken without a head. It never fails, Friday rolls around and customers tend to freak out about the thought of not having heat before a weekend – especially one where the weather outlook is not good. Did I mention they call within an hour of the days end?

In any case – the Islanders were victorious North of the Border in Montreal last night, but it was a tale of three teams. I’m almost certain that you read the title and said – “Eh? THREE teams Mike?”.

Yes, three.

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Isles-Devils Round Two

Posted by on 08 Mar 2012 | Tagged as: Gameday, General

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.

The Story Behind Montoya’s Mask

Posted by on 26 Jan 2012 | Tagged as: General

I’ve been slacking way too much around here, given my duties with the TV show

I am working on a few stories leading up to the All Star Game, the teams play over the last few weeks, the ever looming trade deadline and what to expect out of the Islanders the remainder of the season.

That said, I came across this great clip from a series on The Score called Face Paint. This time they interview Al Montoya and ask him about his current mask design. I am sure there are clippings on this story on the internet somewhere from preseason or earlier in the year, but it’s always great to have the players full explanation.

Pretty cool, have a look:

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