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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 in Talks to Extend Streit, Boyes, Visnovsky and Nabokov

Posted by on 16 Mar 2013 | Tagged as: Free Agency, News

freeagentsYou just never know what news might come out on any given day.

Just last week, when Visnovsky returned from a wake in Slovakia, he had his family in tow. News had broken that he had rented a house on Long Island and that he (no surprise) LOVED the area and the team.

Moments ago on Twitter, Arthur Staple of Newsday Tweeted out that the Islanders are still in talks with Mark Streit on a contract extension, which we had heard some time ago. But there was NEW, news as well. The Islanders were also to begin talks with Visnovsky, Nabokov and Brad Boyes – all pending unrestricted free agents.

All in all, this isn’t surprising news. We know that Evgeni Nabokov has been playing some great hockey, and was extended last season into this season. He must feel he has a lot left to offer and could be disappointed with the shortened season due to the lockout.

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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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Issues and What To Do?

Posted by on 20 Feb 2013 | Tagged as: News, Opinion, Post Game, Rant

So we’re just just past the quarter pole of the season and we’ve seen such inconsistency that it’s maddening. Oh to be a fly on the wall of the locker room.

We’ve seen this team come out flying and score goals in the first minute of play and dominate for a full 60, but we’ve also seen the same team come out and look lost and allow goals in the first :27 seconds or less of periods. I’ve seen blame placed upon everything from the owner, to the coach, preparedness, the captain, lack of talent, lack of defense, size – everything.

What are the answers?

That’s a great question. One that I find myself asking as I watch these games from the comfort of my living room with a scowl on my face and sore throat from yelling at the TV.

Let’s analyze.

The Talent

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Up front we have Tavares, Moulson and Boyes. While this line has put up points and John has entered beast mode at times, he cannot do it alone. I watch this guy bust his hump game in and game out and teams pay lots of attention to him. Why? Because the talent around him while good, can’t keep pressure off of him most nights. Sure, they can compete with that first line, but he needs someone who can open up space and be as big of a threat as him so he can penetrate the defense without too much trouble and not have four guys hanging all over him.

At the same time, because he draws that many players to him those around him need to get into better position. Something that doesn’t always happen. Moulson gets to the net, creates traffic and is handy with his stick depositing shots – but only when they get through. Boyes shows flashes of being a smart playmaker, but he gets pushed off the puck and causes turnovers at times. I’d really hoped for more out of him and I’m not sure he belongs on JT’s wing.

As we move down the depth chart – we have Grabner who’s speed and defensive play cause fits but he often can’t finish. Nielsen with his defensive play, while he’s a smart player he doesn’t seem to have much as far as offense this season. Bailey has looked better this year, but we haven’t seen enough of him. Ullstrom and Cizikas have been a pleasant surprise. I’d like to see Ullstrom up on JT’s wing for a game or two actually.

Okposo. I’ve never been as disappointed in a player as I have been with Kyle. He seems lazier this year, perhaps because he opted to not play during the lockout and it’s a matter of conditioning? Two games in a row he’s taken penalties that have killed momentum and have been in the offensive zone. You just cannot do that. He’s haphazardly back checked and tried too hard to make pretty plays with the puck. He needs to use his head and slow his game down a touch. He’s been all over the place in the lineup, and last night he looked OK until he decided to be a bonehead.

Aucoin and McDonald – two serviceable guys who deserve spot duty in the NHL, but would be better served down with Bridgeport. Aucoin I’d actually go and say he’s good enough to stick, but I think it’s because of our depth issue.

Reasoner – well, we know what we have there and why the team is shopping him. He actually played ok last night in Ottawa, but as much as this team needs a veteran, he doesn’t fit and hasn’t fit since was signed. Experiment over.

If he’s waived or traded, it’s time for Niederreiter to be called up.

The Defense

This has been a tough year – as noted by our waiver wire addiction.

Hickey has looked good, I like not noticing a player much until he makes that solid play and he hasn’t looked out of place. Finley, well – we could do better but he serves a purpose when he’s around. Carkner has added toughness and been an ok defenseman and I’m actually a little upset he’s been injured. They need his fire.

Visnovsky has been as advertised. I just wish he was a few years younger because he adds an element that this team needs – a secondary power play QB. He seems to like the team, thankfully – and plays every night. Not to say he hasn’t made mistakes though.

Our Captain, Streit – he’s struggled but has given glimpses of the player he was in his first season on the team. I’ve not changed my mind in that he was a bad choice for captain. He would never do as Giroux did for the Flyers and call out his teammates. He should’ve after the 7-0 shutout though. I would have. Sometimes you need to get pissed as a leader and veteran. Just look at what assistant coach Doug Weight did with his “paint peeling” speech last week. We need THAT fire and excitement.

Strait is hurt and that’s a shame. He’s been solid and deserves that contract. A fractured ankle will likely see him gone the rest of the season. I suppose we’ll see the man-o-glass Martinek replace him this week at some point.

MacDonald – oh what happened to you? You’ve gone from a steady workhorse to someone who’s positional play has gotten away from what it was. You’re playing too many minutes friend.

Hamonic – thank goodness for you. You’re the best we have on the rear guard corps, but like your partner you are playing too many minutes. This just screams lack of depth and poor coaching.

It’s clear to me that Capuano trusts who he trusts and is hesitant to change much up. Sounds exactly the way Scott Gordon was and we know how that ended.

The Goaltenders

Nabokov has been outstanding for a player creeping up there in age. He’s been overplayed though and hung out to dry more often than not with his defense.

DiPietro – I’ll get lambasted for saying this, but he’s been ok. Not great, not good – but just ok. Sure last night he flubbed that glove save and it put the game out of reach, but when you don’t allow your goalie to see the puck you can’t expect him to automatically make a save, I don’t care who it is in net.

Final Thoughts

I’ve been writing about this team since 2006, been a fan my entire life and have seen a lot of crazy things go on with the organization.

What I cannot wrap my mind around is the lack of effort by Charles Wang to put a genuine NHL product on the ice. Garth Snow is always forced to assemble a majority of his team with tape and bubble gum and that’s no way to form a contender, let alone a professional hockey team. His hands are tied for the most part – I don’t agree with the thoughts that he’s a bad GM and I’m curious to see how good he can be if he was ACTUALLY free to do what he wants.

Sure there are a ton of issues going on behind the scenes with the pending move to Brooklyn, but enough is enough.

The Islanders are wrecking these years with John Tavares. Plain and simple.

While the farm is stocked with a ton of good prospects – we seem to be stuck in this repetitive cycle of poor management. It’s painful to watch as a fan, I’m sure it’s no better as a player.

We should be going hard as we move towards Brooklyn. The fans in on Long Island deserve to make the old barn rock at least one more time.

I’m tired of feeling as if we’re constantly lied to as a fan base – and I know a lot of other fans out there feel the same way.

I look forward to better days and we’ve been teased with what it’ll be like once we get there.

Tell me you’re feelings or ideas in the comment section. I’m open for debate.

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.

Steve Staios Agrees to One Year Deal

Posted by on 30 Sep 2011 | Tagged as: News, Preseason, Signings, Tryouts

The New York Islanders have signed Steve Staios to a one year contract today.

I think this is a great signing, and as I said the other day, Staios has looked great during camp and preseason. I felt he earned his contract after coming to the Islanders on a PTO.

With Milan Jurcina’s health in question – Staios being signed is that much more important depth wise.

Per the Islanders release:

The New York Islanders have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with defenseman Steve Staios.

Staios, who originally was attending the Islanders Training Camp on a tryout basis, has played in each of the Islanders three preseason games this month and is set to dress against the New Jersey Devils tonight at 7 p.m. at the Prudential Center.

The Hamilton, ON native has played in 936 career National Hockey League games, scoring 56 goals and 156 assists for 212 points. He has also accumulated 1,269 penalty minutes over the course of his 15-year NHL career.

Staios, originally drafted in the second round (27th overall) of the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, played the last two seasons with the Calgary Flames. In 57 games, he totaled four goals and nine assists for 13 points.

He played in 573 games over the course of eight seasons with the Edmonton Oilers. Staios recorded 35 goals and 111 assists with the Oilers. The 6’1, 200 pound defenseman also played two seasons with the Atlanta Thrashers, three with the Vancouver Canucks and two with the Boston Bruins.

Internationally, Staios has represented Team Canada at the 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2007 World Championships. He tallied two goals and four assists for six points in 33 games.

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.

Lokomotiv Suffers Enormous Loss, A Good Vasicek Memory

Posted by on 07 Sep 2011 | Tagged as: General, News

News out of Russia this morning brings more heartbreak to the NHL during a time of remembrance for players lost here in North America.

A chartered plane for the KHL’s Lokomotiv hockey team has crashed, allegedly killing a majority of the clubs roster.

Per the AP story:

TUNOSHNA, Russia (AP)—A Russian jet carrying a top ice hockey team crashed into a river bank Wednesday while taking off in western Russia, killing at least 43 people and leaving two others critically injured, officials said.

The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said the Yak-42 plane crashed in sunny weather immediately after leaving an airport near the city of Yaroslavl, on the Volga River about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Moscow.

It said the plane was carrying the Lokomotiv ice hockey team from Yaroslavl to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where it was to play Thursday against Dinamo Minsk in the opening game of the season of the Kontinental Hockey League. The ministry was carrying 45 people, including 37 passengers and eight crew, and two people survived the crash.

There were quite a few NHL names among them: Defensemen Karel Rachunek, Ruslan Salei and Karlis Skrastins, as well as forwards Pavol Demitra and Josef Vasicek  all spent a good deal of time in the NHL and were listed on the most current roster on the KHL website. Forward Alexander Vasyunov played in 18 games with the New Jersey Devils this past season.

Josef Vasicek played for the Islanders for 81 games in 2007, scoring 16 goals and 19 assists for 35 points. He signed with Lokomotiv in 2008 where he’s played since. Note: It is unknown at this time of Vasicek was on board the downed jetliner at this time. He is on the roster however.

Here is a video made by Two Man Advantage during the Islanders 2007 training camp, as a good tribute to Vasicek’s character.

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Vasicek wasn’t the only player, or ex-player with ties to the Islanders organization. Lokomotiv’s head coach Brad McCrimmon was an Assistant Coach on the team from 97-99.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved in this tragedy, the Hockey World mourns the loss of some of our brothers.

Another Reason to Vote YES on August 1st

Posted by on 29 Jul 2011 | Tagged as: General, News, Opinion

They often say that a picture is worth a thousand words – well videos convey feelings and emotions in ways words often come up short.

Flash back to the 2002 Playoffs – Islanders vs Toronto

Shawn Bates is screaming down the left boards and gets taken down in front of CuJo. The Islanders are awarded their third playoff penalty shot in team history….well you know how it ends.

Many people are using attendance as a reason to Vote NO on Monday. History has shown that there are a ton of Islanders fans waiting, wishing and most importantly – WANTING for another shot at the playoffs. The Coliseum can be a loud and intimidating place, many teams have said so and continue to say the same.

Take a listen for yourself, 16,000 Islanders fans – all rooting for Long Island’s only professional sports franchise. If you vote no on Monday, the only thing you’ll here is silence – so go ahead and listen to the amazing sound and excitement the Coliseum is set to hear in the near future:

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If you build it, they will come. Jobs will be saved, you’ll help the local economy and most importantly – keep Long Island, specifically Nassau County, a destination for people to come and enjoy for generations.

Without the Islanders and the Coliseum there’s not much more than some white noise and the occasional strip mall – if you can find a store that’s still open anyway.

Do Long Island and Nassau County a favor – Vote YES on Monday August, 1st. Help the Islanders create more history, and complete their Drive for Five!

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