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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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John Tavares an All Star

Posted by on 12 Jan 2012 | Tagged as: Gameday, General, Hot Headlines, News

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.

Rangers Hand Isles Another Loss, 3rd Jersey Revealed

Posted by on 16 Nov 2011 | Tagged as: General, Hot Headlines, Recap

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.

Third Jersey Revealed

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.

You Can Still High Five For 5X!

Posted by on 12 Oct 2011 | Tagged as: General, Hot Headlines

Last weekend at the Islanders home opener, Capital One asked me to be a judge for their High Five For 5X contest – and it went well!

Update 10/13 Check out this highlight video I was sent! It gives you a great idea of how fun this thing really turned out!!

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As a matter of fact, one fan submitted a photo of their High Five from a tailgate in the parking lot!

Kudos to Twitter user @michcarp7 for this very enthusiastic High Five!

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And if you know me, I just HAD to vote!

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The contest took place outside the Islanders box office in an area dubbed “The Visigoth Ice Village”. I got to witness hundreds of fans do their best, most creative high fives. Islanders Alumni Benoit Hogue was a fellow judge, and I think he had as good a time as I did – in fact he actually added a minus sign to one of his scorecards, to taunt – in his words, Rangers Fans!

Here are some samples of the awesome high fives:

Another memorable moment was when Hogue sparred verbally, in French mind you, with two Nordiques fans that were insistent upon the Islanders becoming their team. Hogue did his best to squash that notion, the fans were fun and respectable though.

Just to recap the contest, fans would show the judges their best high five for a chance to win 5X the tickets to an upcoming Islanders game.

Although that contest is over, you STILL have the chance to win 5X the tickets to ANY sporting event!

You want to know how?

Metro-area sports fans can enter the “High Five for 5X the Interest” Online Photo Sweepstakes. Beginning October 8 at 6 p.m., fans can log on to http://highfivefor5X.snapfish.com and upload their favorite “High Five” photo to be entered into a drawing to win five tickets to an upcoming game of their favorite metro-area professional or college sports team.

Follow @SnapfishbyHP on Twitter for updates about the online photo sweepstakes and join the conversation using #highfivefor5x. For more details, see official rules at http://highfivefor5X.com.

I should have some photos of the event soon!

Islesblogger Judging Capital One’s High Five Contest!

Posted by on 06 Oct 2011 | Tagged as: General, Hot Headlines, Site Announcements

If you’ve watched any TV the last few weeks, you may have seen some of Capital One’s new commercials featuring their 5x Checking Accounts. The commercials are pretty funny and feature Jerry Stiller as a movie theatre usher and actor.

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Well, there is a hockey tie in here – trust me!

This coming Saturday at the Islanders Home Opener, Capital one is holding a High Five Contest for fans outside the Box Office, in an area called Visigoth Ice Village (Visigoth’s are those characters from the Capital One commercials, the Vikings). I’ve been asked to take part in a panel of Judges that will also include former New York Islander Benoit Hogue!

Capital One is promoting its new High Yield Checking account by highlighting the excitement of competitive sports with a pre-game “High Five” sweepstakes at this weekend’s New York Islanders game, in addition to an online sweepstakes recognizing metro-area New York teams. Both sweepstakes give fans the chance to enter and win “five times the tickets” (five tickets) in recognition of Capital One Bank’s new High Yield Checking account, which earns at least five times the national average interest on checking.

New York Islanders fans who come to the Nassau Coliseum on October 8 before the game can give their creative “High Fives” in front of a panel of judges and enter for their chance to win five times the tickets to an upcoming Islanders game. The High Five event begins at 6 p.m. at the Capital One Bank Visigoth Ice Village, just outside the box office entrance of the Nassau Coliseum.

Additionally, metro-area sports fans can enter the “High Five for 5X the Interest” Online Photo Sweepstakes. Beginning October 8 at 6 p.m., fans can log on to http://highfivefor5X.snapfish.com and upload their favorite “High Five” photo to be entered into a drawing to win five tickets to an upcoming game of their favorite metro-area professional or college sports team. Follow @SnapfishbyHP on Twitter for updates about the online photo sweepstakes. You can join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #highfivefor5x. For more details, see official rules at http://highfivefor5X.com/a>.

MSG Network Names Peter Ruttgaizer Islanders Host

Posted by on 01 Oct 2011 | Tagged as: General, Hot Headlines

Earlier this off season, the Islanders lost two of their MSG hockey reporters in Deb Placey and Rob Carlin. Placey was moved to the Devils telecasts, while Carlin moved down to Baltimore to be near his wife, who is expecting the birth of twins.

This left a pretty big hole in the Islanders telecasts, with MSG slow to name a replacement. Yesterday, MSG Network finally named a replacement in Peter Ruttgaizer.

Ruttgaizer, a Toronto Native, isn’t a newcomer to the sport of hockey – having covered the Colorado Avalanche recently for Altitude Sports Network. He’s also done work for CBC Sports, EastLink Television, TSN in Winnepeg and CTV in Toronto covering professional and junior hockey as well as the CFL.

Here are a few clips of Ruttgaizer in action:

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In a story on the Islanders website, Ruttgaizer had this to say:

“I’ve always thought about working with the MSG family, and the Islanders are an up-and-coming hockey team with a great history, so I’m honored to have this opportunity,” said Ruttgaizer. “MSG Network and MSG Plus are two of the premiere sports networks in the country and I’m excited to get started with Howie, Butch and the talented production staff.”

As you can tell from the video clips above, Ruttgaizer sounds professional and has knowledge on the game. He’s also said the right things about the organization, which is what we want to hear as fans. Carlin and Placey were great in their own ways, but sometimes change is ultimately not a horrible thing.

The MSG telecasts will still be held down by long time play by play man Howie Rose, with the color being called by Islanders alumni Butch Goring.

Mark Streit’s Got a Little Captain

Posted by on 21 Sep 2011 | Tagged as: Hot Headlines, News, Signings

It’s been a great month for Islanders fans. It really has.

All things considered, this time of year is usually a tad depressing. The summer weather gradually shifts to cooler temperatures, the wardrobe tends to get heavier and more cumbersome, leaves begin to change colors and then fall to the ground. That being said, the cooler temps mean hockey season is right around the corner.

The Islanders started their training camp last weekend. Several Islanders reported to camp with contracts bearing that still-wet ink look. In case you’ve not heard by now, 2009 First Overall draft pick – John Tavares signed a six-year $33 Million Dollar contract extension. This put to rest many of the rumors (we will call them rumours as they originated to our north…) that Tavares would bolt as-soon-as he reached free agency. Next on Garth Snow’s to-do list was a new contract for Josh Bailey, whom did not sign his qualifying offer earlier this summer. Bailey agreed to terms on a 11th hour deal, a two year contract worth $2.1 Million Dollars.

This means that a majority of the teams core young guys: Okposo, Grabner, Moulson, and now Tavares are locked up for the next five years, at reasonable prices too. Next on the list, as we have all speculated – Frans Nielsen. I expect him to earn a raise as his contract has been a bargain for the last several years.

Today, the Islanders held a press conference – confirming what many of us have speculated on for the last while. Mark Streit was named the franchise’s 13th Captain in team history, and the first Swiss born player in the NHL to be named captain.

From the Islanders Press Release:

The New York Islanders announced today the appointment of defenseman Mark Streit as the 13th captain in the organization’s 40-year history.

Streit, 33, enters his fourth season with the Islanders in 2011-12. He missed the entire 2010-11 campaign with a shoulder injury, but in his first two seasons with the club, Streit led all Islanders in ice-time. He also led the team in scoring during the 2008-09 season, while ranking third in that category in 2009-10.

The Bern, SUI, native becomes the first team captain in National Hockey League history from Switzerland.

“It’s truly an honor to be named the captain of such a historic franchise with a rich history,” Streit said. “To follow in the foot-steps of so many legendary leaders that represented the Islanders is a role I am excited to fill. It is a privilege to be considered one of the leaders of this team and I’m committed to taking this team to the next level.”

The Islanders’ 12th captain, Doug Weight, relinquished the position after two years of service when he retired on May 26, 2011. Streit has served as an assistant captain at various points throughout his three-year Islanders career.

“Throughout his three seasons with the Islanders, Mark has been a steadying presence in our dressing room,” said General Manager Garth Snow. “He is constantly pushing himself to be the very best and demands the same from his teammates. Mark is a leader both on and off the ice and we are pleased to name him the 13th team captain in Islanders history.”

The Montreal Canadiens selected Streit in the ninth round (262nd overall) of the 2004 National Hockey League Entry Draft. In 361 career NHL games, he’s scored 52 goals and 162 assists for 214 points. Streit has also played in 12 Stanley Cup Playoff games, recording one goal and three assists.

In international play, Streit has served as captain for Team Switzerland at numerous World Championships and Winter Olympic games. In total, he’s played in 74 World Championship games, 15 Winter Olympic games and 11 World Junior Championship games.

Mark Streit has been one of the most surprising players on this young Islanders squad. Signed as a free agent after spending time in the Montreal Canadiens organization, Streit dominated on the Island. Watching his steady progression has been a great experience. His presence on the back end can be compared, at least in my eyes – to that of Kenny Jonnson. Big hits, timely goals and extremely sound positionally.

It absolutely killed the Islanders when Streit fell to injury last year in training camp, he’s that big of a player for them. Hopefully he’s put the injury behind him and really shines this season.

Another Day, Another 3rd Jersey Leak

Posted by on 22 Aug 2011 | Tagged as: General, Hot Headlines, Off Season

Things have been downright slow in Islanders Country, so slow – that news of Ice Girl Tryouts and apparently something else that may, or may not, be edible with an Isles logo will be coming soon seem exciting to the hockey famished freaks, like myself.

Then as always there is the latest and greatest fad for those who follow other teams not named the New York Islanders, mock and bash them for every step they make (or even don’t lately).

Cue the chorus, we have Jersey Gate.

If you’ve been following lately, you’ve seen some leaks posted out on the interwebz claiming what could be the Islanders third jersey for the upcoming season. It’s hard to explain, well no – it’s not. It’s a jersey sans the awesome crest on the chest that we have all come to know and love, it features colors that were a fixture way back when Starter was the NHL’s uniform designer – yeah, we’re talking black folks.

It’s easier to just show you a picture, courtesy of my friend Greg over at Puck Daddy that ran last week – this was round one of Jersey Gate:

Jersey Leak #1

I don’t really have an opinion on the jersey, well strike-that – I likely wouldn’t buy one, I absolutely love the old-school retro nod to the glory days the team is currently wearing. I’ll certainly be purchasing one of those this year, you know – with the 40th Anniversary Patch.

The team did issue a statement last week however, in reference to this leaked design, via their Twitter Feed:

[blackbirdpie url="http://twitter.com/#!/NYIslanders/status/99212184365699072"]

Fast forward to the second alleged leak of a similar jersey design over on Icethetics and we have this image:

Leak #2 via Icethetics

We already knew how I stood on the first design, the second is pretty much the same.

The only thing I can remind everyone about, NOTHING is set in stone until the Islanders themselves release word and/or photos of their third jersey. I’ll also remind everyone that their last third jersey was a variant of what they wear currently.

The Islanders have asked their fans what they wanted in a third jersey – I doubt they’d ignore that given how active they are in the Social Media department.

Have a little faith fans, until then – I point back to their short statement via Twitter earlier in this post.

Joensuu Signs Two Year Deal in Sweden!

Posted by on 01 Jul 2011 | Tagged as: Free Agency, Hot Headlines, News

With the 2011 NHL Free Agency period beginning at 12 noon Eastern today, the Islanders have already struck out when they traded for the rights to Christian Ehrhoff earlier in the week.

Looking back to last year, the team suffered the same fate when Paul Martin and Dan Hamhuis spurned the Islanders for “better” teams.

Apparently, Jesse Joensuu has opted to sign in Sweden with HV71 of the SEL for two years, as opposed to the Bridgeport to Islanders shuttle he’s ridden the last few seasons here in North America.

This has been Confirmed by the Islanders this morning.

Update: translated link to HV71

While this doesn’t have too much of an effect on the Islanders – the Sound Tigers lose a pretty integral piece.

While the organization loses Joensuu for the time being, they will retain his rights and could always wind up back in North America.

Okposo Signed to Five Year Deal

Posted by on 25 May 2011 | Tagged as: General, Hot Headlines, Off Season, Signings

There is nothing like fantastic news after the first blazing hot day of the summer.

It’s been a slow few weeks in Islanders country, although – not in terms of talks with Nassau County on that whole new Arena business. The Islanders however, have announced today that they have agreed to terms with Kyle Okposo on a five-year contract.

Per the Islanders press release:

The New York Islanders announced today that forward Kyle Okposo has agreed to terms on a five-year contract.

“I’m very excited to commit to the Islanders for the next five years, especially with the news of the new Coliseum,” Okposo said. “This team really showed its potential in the second half of the season last year and I’m excited to be a part of getting the franchise back to the playoffs.”

Okposo, 23, scored five goals with 15 assists in 38 games for the Islanders last season. The St. Paul, MN, native missed the first 44 games of 2010-11 due to a shoulder injury, which he suffered during training camp.
“Kyle has been a critical part of our young core over the past few seasons,” said Islanders General Manager Garth Snow. “He is a high character guy that brings size and a scoring touch to our lineup.”

The Islanders selected Okposo in the first round, seventh overall, of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He has served as an assistant captain since 2009-10. In 192 career NHL games, all with the Islanders, Okposo has scored 116 points (44 goals, 72 assists).

The 6’0”, 210-pound forward has also played in 35 American Hockey League games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, and he’s represented the United States at two World Championships and two World Junior Championships.

Before beginning his professional career, Okposo spent one season in the United States Hockey League with the Des Moines Buccaneers, followed by two collegiate years at the University of Minnesota.

Now that Okposo is in the fold for the next while, Garth can look to some of the other players who are also restricted free agents and deserve some longevity as well.

Kyle didn’t really show us what he could do to the fullest potential this past season – due to his shoulder injury in camp and I was personally disappointed. He is one of those players who may not always wind up on the score sheet, but is ALWAYS in position defensively and makes those important offensive plays as well. He’s not afraid to hit and has shown he has that razzle dazzle with the puck on his stick.

The Islanders certainly solidified themselves for the long term with this contract, as they did with Michael Grabner’s contract a few weeks back.

Michael Grabner – A Calder Finalist!

Posted by on 19 Apr 2011 | Tagged as: Hot Headlines, News

Michael Grabner’s fantastic year is only getting better and better! After a breakout season with the Islanders, and an All Star Appearance, he saw the birth of his first child and has now been named a Calder Finalist. Grabner will be one of three players nominated and will attend the NHL Awards in Las Vegas this coming June.

From the Islanders release:

The National Hockey League announced today that New York Islanders forward Michael Grabner has been named a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy, given annually to the league’s top rookie. Grabner is one of three finalists who will attend the 2011 NHL Awards Show on June 22 in Las Vegas, NV.

Grabner, 23, led all NHL rookies and all Islanders this season with 34 goals, while his 52 points ranked third amongst league rookies and fourth overall on the team. The Villach, Austria, native also led all rookies and finished second in the NHL with six shorthanded goals this season, and he ranked first amongst rookies and tied for second overall with seven shorthanded points.

Ten of Grabner’s 34 goals this season came during a stretch in February in which he scored goals in six consecutive games to match the NHL’s longest goal-scoring streak of the season. Grabner’s 26 even-strength goals also led all rookies and trailed just seven players overall.

To go along with his goal-scoring prowess, Grabner posted a team-high +13 rating this season and was one of six Islanders to finish with a plus rating. The two-way forward also recorded fewer penalty minutes (10) than any other Islanders player who appeared in at least 21 games.

At the season’s midway point, NHL Hockey Operations selected Grabner to represent the Islanders at NHL All Star Weekend in Raleigh, NC. He made his mark on the weekend and helped Team Staal earn a victory at the Honda Superskills event by winning the Bridgestone Fastest Skater competition.

Grabner made his NHL debut last season with the Vancouver Canucks, playing in 20 games and posting 11 points (five goals, six assists). He was traded from Vancouver to the Florida Panthers this offseason, before the New York Islanders claimed him off of waivers on Oct. 5, 2010. In 96 career NHL games, Grabner has scored 39 goals with 24 assists for 63 points with a +15 rating.

Isles-Rangers, Montoya Extended, Donovan Signed

Posted by on 31 Mar 2011 | Tagged as: Call Ups, Gameday, General, Hot Headlines, Signings

It’s been a slow few weeks here at Islesblogger, but not because there hasn’t been anything going on in Islanders Country lately. No, instead – this blogger was in Sunny South Florida, escaping the crazy fall weather here in NY that has featured, rain, rain with snow, snow with lightning and of course – the accompanying cold.

While in Florida, I missed a few games – First in our ugly loss to the Atlanta Thrashers and then in our loss against a team we cannot ever seem to beat in the Philadelphia Flyers. My sincerest appologies there – but, I did catch two baseball games down in Ft Myers, Twins-Orioles and Twins-Yankees. First time ever watching spring training live, it was fun!

Tonight, the Islanders are looking to exact revenge on many levels against their cross town rival New York Rangers. Al Montoya gets the start again against his formal club, looking to make up for being pulled in their last meeting two weeks ago. The Islanders could potentially steal two VERY important points against the Rangers, who have fallen to eight place in the East after their 1-0 loss to the Sabres last night.

The Isles have been mathematically eliminated for a few games now, so they have nothing to lose – figuratively of course. Unless you count pride that is….

The Islanders also played last night, in a 3-2 loss to New Jersey at the Prudential center – a game in which they struggled for long stretches, came close – but couldn’t find the will to win.

Michael Grabner will miss his second straight game as he is expecting the birth of his son. Al Montoya will be sporting his best – a one year, one way extension with the New York Islanders.

In other news, Islanders defensive prospect and 2008 Draft Choice Matt Donovan has been signed to his rookie deal. He joins the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on an ATO, like Ness was also done a few weeks ago. The Sound Tigers find themselves in need of defensive help lately, with Gervais and Jurcina both hurt – Reese and Katic are up with the big club.

In other news, perhaps you missed my interview with the Islanders website, which was also featured on the NHL website – or so says a few emails and texts I received!

Oh yea – injuries! We lost Andrew MacDonald for the rest of this season with a hip injury, Mark Streit was not cleared to play and wont play in the upcoming worlds, Bruno Gervais and Milan Jurcina are banged up (as I said earlier), and Doug Weight if you couldn’t guess is done for the year and may retire.

While there may not be too many exciting things left in what’s left of the Islanders season – at least this awesome rivalry will keep us entertained.

Be sure to follow along as I tweet live during the game on Twitter and check back later on for in-game and post game analysis.

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