Archived Posts from this Category
Archived Posts from this Category
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?”.
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.
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:
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!
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.