Archived Posts from this Category
Archived Posts from this Category
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.
Maybe its fitting, firing up my blog now a season and a half before Tavares makes the biggest decision of his career. Will he stay, or will he go?
But to the present, a rather ominous one.
What will change what we are seeing? We have a rudderless team that cannot seem to string together good hockey no matter how hard they try. They give up goals early, late – actually in 7 of 19 games according to Staple of Newsday.
But then you look to coaching.
Management has given the staff a vote of confidence and the new ownership has given a vote of confidence towards management. Great – but why? We just passed American Thanksgiving, a “deadline” of sorts typically for teams to either be IN the postseason or out – and the Islanders are way out. Dead last out.
We’ve allowed some key guys to leave via free-agency, and that happens to everyone. But the Islanders seem to always have a knack for signing guys who – I don’t know, don’t do their part to replace missing pieces or they are the wrong pieces in general?
Paging Andrew Ladd? You’re a notorious slow starter apparently, but you just signed a pretty fat deal my friend – its time you showed up.
Tavares now has no goals in 9 games. NINE.
We are an absolute disaster up and down the roster, but only because we have a coach who refuses to utilize his team to their individual strengths. The Islanders are said to be a possession team, but yet if you watch them play – they dump and chase, often never even regaining control of the puck. In my eyes this is an anti-possession style. They lack the size and tenacity they did to bang along the boards – yet they still try to accomplish that type of play as well.
Something, perhaps everything – is broken, but we’re not seeing change. The only change we see is young players often being scratched for the wrong reasons – and lip service about where they will be playing, especially at a natural position.
I don’t know entirely enough about advanced stats – but I do know this; giving up leads and mis-matching your lines or not shortening your bench late in a game is a recipe for disaster. That is clearly evident here.
At what point does a fanbase deserve change? We have new ownership that is seemingly sitting on their hands and has not been as vocal as they have been previously. It’s to stand up and address us Mr. Malkin and Mr. Ledecky.
Today is Black Friday, and another loss has given this once storied franchise another reason to wear a black eye.
Signing off now, before I say some things i’ll regret..
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.
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.
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?”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Islanders have completed their first two games of the season, suffering from a 2-0 loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday and hanging on for a 2-1 win this afternoon against the Minnesota Wild.
While it’s entirely too early to accurately gauge what to expect in the remaining 80 games this season – I’ve seen, and heard a few things that are worth noting at this point.
Saturday’s game was disappointing, not only from the standpoint of it being a let-down for the fans that packed out Nassau Coliseum, but because the team looked flat and often misplayed the puck. The bar was raised really high by the organization (well, the players themselves really) – so it stung seeing the team struggle before a building filled to near capacity in their season opener.
The ice at the Coliseum looks horrible, like the players were skating in soup. At one point at the start of the second period on Saturday, the on ice officials spent about five minutes with squeegees getting the pools of water moved from the ice surface. You can only really blame the County for this one – as they are responsible for any repairs. I hope to have more on this in the coming days.
The Islanders came out relatively flat, often misplaying the puck or not making smart decisions with and without the puck. Andrew MacDonald showed plenty of rust, committed several turnovers – even though he wasn’t officially charged with any in the post game stats. Mark Streit played a decent game for someone who hadn’t seen professional action in over a year. Mike Mottau took three penalties – three too many.
The forwards were often unable to get things going, chipping the puck past Florida’s defense and just being stopped cold. Al Montoya kept them in the game though making 27 saves for the Isles. They need to do more offensively, which I’m sure they will once all cylinders are firing.
I don’t want to hammer the team with negatives, so let’s jump right to the positives.
Travis Hamonic threw down the gloves and jumped to the support of his teammate Al Montoya by fighting Scotty Upshall. When I asked him during the post game interviews if there was any words exchanged, or if it was just something he had to do to support his goaltender – I got one of the greatest answers one could expect from the budding defenseman.
Every time you fight, I say you fight for a couple of reasons. One is to defend a teammate, two is to change the momentum of the game and three is to defend yourself. I think that in that instance, it hit the nail on the head for all three of them. I was trying to defend Al, and you know next thing I know I turn around and he [Upshall] was in my face. That’s the part of the game that I welcome, I think it happens with the style of play that I play and at that point it was 1-0 for the other team and I felt it it was a good opportunity to change the momentum of the game, so that’s why I did what I did.
Every game the young Travis Hamonic plays – I become more and more impressed. He hits, he makes sound passes, he’s very physical and he plays big important minutes for his team. When he’s paired with Andrew MacDonald – the two of them compliment each other very well.
Fast forward to this afternoon’s game against Minnesota – the Islanders came out a very different team in the first twenty minutes. They skated, they passed and they moved the puck past the defense in a way they couldn’t manage against Florida the game before.
Andrew MacDonald played a much better game, and made up for the mistakes he committed in his first game back. At the start of the game I never would’ve pegged him to score the first goal of the 2011/2012 season – but score he did and it was a beauty. Take a look for yourself:
The Islanders second goal was even better. Mark Streit fakes a shot from the point and moves down the boards. Frans Nielsen is moving towards the Wild net and Streit executes a perfect shot pass – Nielsen redirected it perfectly to give the Islanders a two goal lead. This goal, you just HAVE to watch:
The rest of today’s game wasn’t as good – even though the Islanders managed to hang on and win 2-1. They looked fatigued as the game wore on, at one point not getting a shot for almost ten minutes and being held in their own zone for long stretches. Despite the negatives, the fact that the team held on is a testament to how far they’ve come since last season. Perhaps you can credit the veteran infusion, but you certainly have to credit Al Montoya for his stellar performance once again.
At the end of the day, the Islanders won, we heard the new Goal Song, the team moved to .500 on the season and improved their record to 1-1. It’s certainly a start.
Hockey is back! It may not be as organized or as polished as we, as fans would like – but it was great to watch and listen to the game last night.
The Islanders put forth a solid effort last night, despite being shutout 2-0 by their hosts the Calgary Flames – there were a few positive takeaways from the preseason contest however.
If you follow me on Twitter (I mean why don’t you?) you may have caught my little quip on how disorganized hockey makes my head hurt. This wasn’t in reference to any team in particular, as it was clear watching both teams (and highlights from the other games last night) that everyone is working out their kinks. It’s also important to point out, that the Islanders didn’t field a majority of the players we’ll see during the season.
As a matter of fact, the guys on TSN made a few witty comments on the overall age of the Islanders. They had joked about the players standing around in the runway leading to the ice lacking the veterans to lead them onto the ice, they joked about how you know you have a young team when half the players have to get dressed at the hotel before the game (as a peewee and midget who’s not done that?), and then referenced Ryan Strome’s baby face and how he’d get carded the first several years of his career. All light hearted stuff, but true none-the-less.
Let’s get the negatives out of the way.
The young and inexperienced Islanders defenseman often made rushed decisions with the puck, clearing the puck right up the middle, clearing the puck late or at times – right to the opposition. Growing pains, no big deal.
Milan Jurcina getting injured, wasn’t said how extreme, just that he injured his groin and missed the second half of the game.
Evgeni Nabokov doing his best DiPietro impression (I had even joked about this on Twitter) straying out of the crease and misplaying the puck a few times. Shook his rust off though.
Kirill Kabanov showing a reluctance to shoot the puck, holding onto it a tad too long and making late passes unlike what we saw a few weeks ago during the rookie game.
Rhett Rhakshani leaving the game with another injury, although not ANOTHER concussion – this time to his knee.
Offense – the team struggled against the veteran heavy Flames, getting only 13 shots on net, thats after a full 60 minutes.
On to the positives
Evgeni Nabokov made 15 saves in the two periods he was in net. It took him a bit to shake the rust off, but you can see by his positioning and rebound control that the talent is there. I kept shaking my head ACTUALLY seeing him in net and hearing the phrase “Save Nabokov!”.
This youngster has zip, playmaking ability and that moxie you just cannot ignore. He hasn’t looked too far out of place against the big boys, I expect him to get an extra look and perhaps the nine-game treatment.
Here is a kid that not longer than a year ago was labeled a headcase and another problem child Russian. He turned things around in for himself and is taking camp as serious as anyone. He’s looked sharp on Strome’s wing and may find himself in Bridgeport this year should his play continue.
Marty Resasoner looks a bit rusty, granted he’s nursing his knee – but he showed some poise last night.
Jay Pandalfo made some heady moves with the puck last night. I like him for the fourth line if he gets a contract.
Steve Staios needs a contract. I’ve liked what I’ve seen and heard from him all of camp and preseason. He rounds out the defense nicely and adds needed depth.
Trevor Gillies has been hitting, they have been hard and clean. It looks like he spent his offseason really working on his game. (Now with video!)
With the a-team at home likely watching on Long Island last night – it was a decent game to watch overall.
There were some roster trims today via waivers, I’ll have something on that later on tonight.
So, I’m not sure if you know this – but hockey was back today at Nassau Coliseum.
It wasn’t quite what the Orange vs Blue scrimmage was earlier this summer – I think the Islanders learned what worked and what didn’t since then, like having the players wear their full jerseys, WITH numbers (a godsend for us media types located high above the ice….).
In all seriousness though, I felt they did a great job putting the scrimmage together. This time around, it wasn’t just prospects and camp invitees dazzling the crowd of 1500 with nifty passes and toe drags, instead it featured many of the players we will see on a daily basis during the upcoming season, which was a nice taste for a September afternoon. Those missing were those a bit banged up, Captain Doug Weight (shoulder), Kyle Okposo (shoulder), Rob Figren (foot), and Franz Nielsen was also absent and seen walking around the halls during the post game scrums.
The energy was high this afternoon and it was evident from the opening faceoff that the players missed catering to their fans and playing the sport they love.
From the puck drop on, I noted to those around me how strange it was heading Rick DiPietro quaterbacking the players from the goal mouth – I couldn’t honestly remember the last time he was in as good of a mood or as vocal. Not even when I went up to Bridgeport to see DP in his return to action was he as comfortable or vocal (and we know why now…). Continue Reading »
I don’t know if everyone else saw the game last night, but it was – how do you say, more of the same. Or was it?
If you wish to read my ridiculously bleak and furious tone during the game, head on over to my Twitter Feed to read my list of troublesome habits and areas of improvement the Islanders need in order to actually compete this season. I took part in a healthy debate with many of the other furious Isles fans last night too – which is always fun.
Instead of listing what went wrong first, let’s list the things that actually went O.K. for the Islanders:
Unfortunately, I have a laundry list of things the Islanders did not do well last night:
I am sure you get the idea at this point.
My honest opinion of what is ailing the Islanders late in games, isn’t fatigue and the blame cannot be places solely on the coaching staff either – look no further at the makeup of this team. Young players without much NHL experience. Sure, there are veteran players strewn about the team, but this is the type of game you will have with a cast of kids and AHL players. That’s what a rebuild is, and this is what happens to a team rebuilding.
When Pittsburgh and Washington drafted Crosby and Ovechkin respectively, they did not just wake up one day and decide to light the league on fire – it took time, effort and most importantly – patience. The Islanders are not a player or two from being competitive, they need serious upgrades on offense and defense in order to have an even (keyword) spread of talent across four lines.
But that’s just this bloggers opinion, so take it how you will.
With the 6-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight, coupled with a 4-2 Tampa Bay Lightning loss to the Capitals – the Islanders have “clinched” the 30th position and the best shot at the number one pick in the upcoming draft.
The Islanders can win out their final two home games this weekend and still finish with the fewest amount of points – guaranteeing them no worse than the second overall selection, but giving them the best (48.2% chance of picking 1st and a 51.8% chance of picking 2nd – nhlscap.com) chance at landing the number one overall selection in Montreal.
The Draft Lottery is being held up in Toronto next week (Tuesday April 14th) and will be televised on Versus. So Islanders fans, in less than a week – we will know for sure which selection we will receive for all of our pain and suffering this season.
I promise you this much, I want the Isles to absolutely kick the crap out of the Flyers and Bruins this weekend. I am “back” to being an Isles fan first – that’s for sure.
A brief note: There is an extremely GOOD chance that I will be attending the draft again this year in Montreal. I will know more in the next few weeks and be sure to get the news out as soon as I figure out the plan.
From here on out, it’s Tavares, Hedman or BUST!
Edit: As reactions roll in, I will be sure to post links back to those blogs speaking about the same subject.
First “at bat” is Ken Dick over at Okposo Net (Soon to be Tavares Net?). Ken and I were notorious for yelling back at opposing fans whenever they would tell us we were in last place – by saying “Tavares, Tavares”. The other fans, lacking a good comeback – would just say, you’re right.
The boys over at Hockey Night on Long Island have put up their take on securing the 30th position.
Voice of the Islander Fans has his hilariously real take on things as always.
Chris Botta tells us there is “No reason to Vic around” and gives a whole list of reasons why we should announce our intentions to pic Tavares right after learning if we get the number one pick overall right after the announcement of the Lottery next week.
Dee Karl (Aka 7th Woman) gives us her “Unique Perspective” as the she always does – and goes on to say that Garth Snow should just call in sick the day of the lottery – just in case he has any ideas.
James Mirtle goes all statistical on the Isles locking up the best chance at the number one pick and talks about the other teams filling in spots 29-25.
Gary Harding joins the fray, he gives us his reasons behind why we should draft the one we call JT.
Things are getting interesting, yes?
What a game!
Kyle Okposo just scored his fourth goal in four games for the second time this season to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in overtime. It was Okposo’s 16th goal of the season.
No matter the outcome, I still have a problem with being conflicted with the Islanders play as of late. I have a constant eye on the standings I’ll admit – so with each solid game and each point earned in the standings (7 in last 4 games – eeeek) we creep further out of the league basement and make the Tank for Tavares almost a thing of the past. (Note: The Lightning have also won tonight, so the Isles maintain their four point
lead cushion in the standings for the bottom (ie: LAST PLACE)).
I always want to see the Islanders do well, especially when the drive is being led by the team’s future. Players like Jesse Joensuu, Mike Iggulden, Blake Comeau, Jack Hillen, Frans Nielsen, Jeff Tambellini, Sean Bergenheim, Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey et. al. make this season really exciting because we are witnessing a glimpse of our future. We are able to see our team grow and learn with each other, sometimes with really exciting results.
Last week I was asking everyone if Okposo could reach the 20 goal plateau this season, his first full NHL season. Now, I am starting to wonder if I should be asking if he can reach the 30 goal mark – he is doing THAT good lately. I know, let’s not get ahead of ourselves – but it’s certainly a very bright spot in an otherwise tough season.
The Tavares Hunt will continue – it’s still a long, yet short road trip against a group of tough teams.