Welcome to the NYIslesScene!

A blog by a long time New York Islanders fan who stays true to the fellas wearing orange, white and blue…but thinks the Islanders organization has some shaping up to do.

Islanders 2014-15 Season Mantra

Try not. Do...or do not.


Friday, November 30, 2007

From High to Low... At Least We've Got Heart (and Class!)

After an emotional win in a shootout over the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night, the Islanders stumbled last night against the Rangers, as a tired Rick DiPietro and a shaky defense let four goals go in- three of them by players who all had defined scoring slumps (Jaromir Jagr, Chris Drury, and Scott Gomez respectively, as well as a late goal by Ryan Dubinsky). Despite agitator Sean Avery out because of wrist surgery, the Rangers were able to dominate an Islanders team that has definitely seen better nights, but perhaps because of the emotion of the win the night before, just struggled on all accounts, including their continued trouble with scoring (Andy Hilbert and Bill Guerin both had opportunities that went wide, yet again). Unfortunately, neither the usually tight D neither Rick could bail them out, as they have done for the past few games. Next up is the Saturday night tilt against Atlanta, a team that has become extremely strong after Bob Hartley's firing- and look at Wade Dubielewicz in net for this one (if not now, never, most likely, seeing as Rick is simply too tired to start a 19th consecutive game, by the looks of last night- he was out of position, moving around a lot, and he did all he could but ultimately was not the rock in net that he has been as of late. The Isles still put up a pretty good fight (with Mike Comrie showing off his hands and scoring his eighth of the year) and all we have to do right now is regroup and get ready for the Thrashers, their first meeting of the year between the two teams.

On another note, I apologize for the brash tone of the post title, but when I opened the paper on the way to school this morning and saw the Rangers article underneath the game summary, and read about Ryan Hollweg's utterly classless way of trying to get under the Islanders' skin (albeit effective), my blood started to boil, because this proves that the Rangers have low-class players on their team; for every Drury there is an Avery, for every Shanahan, a Hollweg. There are players on that team on Broadway that I at least used to admire, and yet the fact that a player such as Hollweg, who would try to aggravate an injury that defenseman Radek Martinek suffered in a collision with the Senators' Antoine Vermette, has absolutely no qualms about doing so is disgusting. Honestly, threatening to rip out someone's stitches? That's not only bush league and irrelevant to hockey, but it's infantile as well. If Hollweg wants some respect, rather than do dumb things like that, he would do well to actually play hockey and score goals instead of check from behind like some goon. (Look how well acting like a jackass worked for Avery, who I believe has more skill than Hollweg, even.) The Rangers and Islanders don't meet again until I believe late winter to early spring, so that gives the Isles plenty of time to gear up for that showdown- although it will be a bit of a letdown for fans who like these games.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Big Two Points, A Bigger One Tonight... and the Spotlight on One Top Line Center

Great, entertaining game last night between the Sens and the Isles. I apologize to my friend upstate who just loves the boys from Ottawa, but hey, you got a point :P . JK. Upon speaking to Christine last night on the phone I must give her full credit for calling those two shootout goals (Guerin and Sillinger)- your sixth sense is definitely much stronger than I thought, haha. Overall, the Isles put out a great effort (and an otherwise solid Rick DiPietro almost gave me a heart attack in OT, but redeemed himself in the shootout), and thus snapped an eight-game losing streak against the Senators dating back to two years ago. A huge win for them, for Rick, and what impressed me the most was the fact that both Ottawa goals came from a defenseman, Andrej Meszaros. Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza were both stymied by the Isles' defense and DiPietro, despite getting about 40 shots on goal between them. It shows that the Islanders are definitely a defensive team, and with yet another one-goal game behind them, it proves it. Quite frankly, although I would love to see some scoring, as long as the PK and D keeps going strong, and DiPietro remains consistent, I'll be happy to spend my lunch periods typing away in the tutoring office about games instead of doing homework or studying for AP American History, while my friends chatter away and no doubt think that I have no life whatsoever. After all, the Isles are my life, right? *wink*

Now... on to a young man, our supposed number-one center, by the name of Mike Comrie. I say "supposed" because in the last ten or more games, he has slowly faded out of sight and has definitely not played like the monster he was in the first five games of the season. He's been holding back his shot to pass, and oftentimes that pass attempt has turned into clears or non-opportunities. It's frustrating to see this guy play now, and honestly speaking, I could care less about his relationship with that Duff girl (yes, I'm 16 and I've managed not to be a fan of her)- what I'm concerned with is him putting the puck into the net, which he's failed to do as of late. He hasn't been working as hard as I thought he would, and even though he may be our points leader and on pace to score a lot of goals this season, he hasn't been PLAYING like it. Stats could very well be meaningless if there is nothing to show for it in a guy's play. At the beginning of this season, I was looking forward to seeing him play the most out of all the new guys on the Island. Now, I look forward to him actually managing a shot on goal.

He- as well as Guerin (who may wake up now after his shootout goal) and Fedotenko- could do so against the Rangers tonight at MSG. This is their fourth meeting in two months, and the second straight at the Garden, and of course this will be one full of emotion and edge, as games against rivals usually are. Sean Avery looks to miss this one with an injured left wrist, and that saves the Isles from that pest's appearance on the ice, which is a good thing. It may not be so, however, for the Rangers, who have depended on the forward's presence to spark the team (which I find pretty sad- no offense). We'll see how this one pans out tonight, and here's to hoping the offense gets going and the D stays hot!

Hockey Worth Coming Home To

Islanders 3 : Ottawa 2 (SO)

It’s great to be back home! Keeping up with the Isles while away was quite an effort. New Mexico is not exactly hockey central (they do have the Scorpions but I wasn’t able to catch a game) so I managed with ESPN highlights, my Treo, racking up a bill at Kinkos and cell phone sportscaster Angie providing play by play coverage. Before departing I scooped up Forbes magazine (November 26 issue) that had a cover story on the success of the Toronto Maple Leafs, proving concretely that winning games alone does not predict the success of a hockey organization and fan loyalty. Some of my fellow Isles fans who have the ‘if they win we’ll get some respect’ attitude need to read that article. Let’s see what else…Oh yessssss - one thing I learned while away was to never assume an automatic door is working properly. As I recall the sound of that lesson was DOINK! In Albuquerque I met a hotel security guard who was from Bay Shore and an Islander fan! 10 minutes later I confirmed with a hotel employee that I had indeed just walked past John Leguizamo. New Yorkers are everywhere!

My thanks to Angie for taking on the lion’s share of posting over these past few weeks. And yes Angie we reached prophet status, as you ecstatically pointed out on the phone to me after the Boston home game win. You were saying how much you wanted Hilbert to score, I was babbling about Park having net-a-phobia…I said ok let’s put out the intention that both of them score and BAM BAM!! they both score.
Dismissed as coincidence? I think not.

Pre-game stuff:
-Isles vs. Ottawa prediction – if Ottawa doesn’t score in the first 10 minutes of the game, the Isles will win.
-The 3-2, 2-3 games had been lingering on my mind which led me to check out numerology. After reading about the subject I added up the combined scores so far this season and the number 5 reigned supreme followed by 3.
October: 10, 5, 3, 3, 9, 4, 7, 7, 11
November: 4, 5, 5, 3, 5, 5, 1, 3, 5, 3, 3, 5, (& 5 for Ottawa game)
What this all means Isles wise? I haven’t a clue. It’s probably just more evidence that I have way too much time on my hands – either that or my time management skills stink and there is an overdue bill that is now screaming for attention.
-After loading up on Isles and other hockey stuff I wound up having a dream where I was saying to someone that the Isles were showing signs of becoming a Stanley Cup winning team.

Hey what can I say? This is the way it flows on my planet. : )

Onto the game which was incredible! The Isles welcomed back Bates who appeared to still have his groove on after being out for what must have seemed like eternity. DP appeared calm and confident from head to toe and at times like this he physically demonstrates the difference between power and force. The word graceful also comes to mind. Vasicek has that special something many athletes would like to possess, an innate gift of dexterity. Just say yes to some off ice bilateral co-ordination training…piano lessons maybe? As in a jigsaw puzzle I’ve been waiting to hear Park ‘snap’ into place on the team and it appears he’s headed in that direction. Sillinger and Guerin – way to show the young ones how it’s done. Like the dynamic duo formerly known as Witt and Hill, these two fellas have a nice on ice chemistry. As for Ottawa, they seemed a wee bit deflated, lacking the speed that has been running circles around their opponents. The Isles could have fallen into the trap of playing down to that but instead they seized an opportunity and took full advantage.

The physical challenge of beating Ottawa has been achieved; it’s time for the fellas to replenish their adrenal glands and step up to the mental challenge of beating the Rangers while some of us step up to the challenge of being surrounded by Ranger’s fans at MSG.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Becoming An Isle of Frustration??

Islanders 2 : Stars 3 (OT)

There is more to this game than just a point lost. Or won, however you look at the proverbial water glass. It's focusing on some key problems for the Isles, particularly in last night's game at the Coliseum.

There are three, named Fedotenko, Comrie, and Guerin.

In the last nine games (including this one), these three have been -6, -6, and -3, respectively, and after our captain looked to get going earlier, he has had zero points in those nine games. As for Feds and Comrie, they have had a combined 5 points between them. However, they have been invisible as of late (and Guerin took three penalties last night, in a game with sub-par officiating as it was, although IMO two of the three were accurate). The Isles also have the least amount of goals scored in the league with 51, a statistic that can hardly be believed when you look at their record (12-8-1). No doubt the Isles have to wake up their big guns and get them to crash the net way more often than they are now. Leadership begins with leading by example. You can talk yourself into a hole or a corner, but until you start doing something, who is going to listen?

As for last night, the PK for the Isles was perfect, completely taking away the Stars' potent PP (2nd in the league but 0-for-4 last night). The PP also got going for a goal by Miro Satan late in the third to tie it at 2 (4-for-47), and take it to overtime. But then it only took less than a minute for Dallas to capitalize, as a save on Robidas by Rick DiPietro resulted in a rebound carom to Mike Modano, who Rick couldn't stop on the glove side as Witt and a Dallas player screened him. Thus, the Stars get the extra two points and get the hell out of Dodge to play the Devils next, on the wings of their offense.

Offense, IMO, is really what helped the Stars- Marty Turco obviously didn't, despite making some good saves (including a ridiculous sprawling stop on a Mike Comrie shot in the first). The puckhandling goalie took quite a few gambles, one of which resulted in a Richard Park goal to open up the scoring, and others which were not as lucky, simply because the rest of the offense (or lack of it) couldn't get it into the net. Dallas was very lucky that: A. their defense was solid; B. their offense was red-hot and C. ours was not. And offensive machine Mike Modano certainly made a difference; his two goals (one of which was the game winner) were his 514th and 515th career goals. Jeff Halpern also scored his 100th career goal which put the Stars up 2-1 in the 3rd period.

Now for something else in the NHL that happened last night, during the Flyers-Bruins game. These two teams already with a rift between them because of the Randy Jones hit on Patrice Bergeron last month, it was deepened even more last night when Scott Hartnell of the Flyers rammed Andrew Alberts into the boards while Alberts was on his knees near the blueline. His head connected with the dasher, and he went down hard. The hit was a terrible one, and incredibly unnecessary and irresponsible on Hartnell's part- what business do you have finishing a check on a guy who is already down on his knees, pretty much out of the play? Flyers coach Jon Stevens has got to keep on his players to make sure stuff like this doesn't happen- after the Boulerice incident, after the hit on Bergeron, you're STILL going to allow this to go on? It's reached a ridiculous point, and I hope that now the NHL will look into disciplining Stevens and the Flyers more severely.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Little Conversation, A Lot of Action, As Isles Go Halfsies on Home-and-Home

The Islanders got another loss, followed by a much-needed home win, as they collided with Boston this weekend. The first game, a noon start (wtf is that all about by the way?) , found the Isles unfocused and struggling to find the net with yet another nonexistent power-play failures to clear that led to Boston chances. Rick DiPietro was solid enough in this one, although he might have wanted to get back a goal by Glen Metropolit that rocketed past his glove. Overall, the Isles knew what they had to work on before tomorrow night's tilt at Nassau Coliseum... and they came out ready.

Last night proved to be a high-octane game, and I was ready for it. So, also, was Christine, who I spoke with for nearly two hours yesterday before and through the first period of the game. We had great conversation about a wealth of hockey-related topics, from the whole Sean Hill situation (which everyone seems to have glossed over, and it's not right at all), to sports psychology, to specific players on the Islanders who have caught our eyes... and that turned around to two, named Andy Hilbert and Richard Park, two players who have done everything possible and just haven't been able to score lately. Park only had one goal on the season, while Hilbert was still hunting for his first point. (I was completely rooting for him by now.) So the game starts, and while it looks like Boston may well take over once again on an early goal by P.J. Axelsson and the Isles while away a couple of power plays (looks like dressing Marc-Andre Bergeron didn't help things- the power play as of late is now 3-for-43 although more shots are getting to the net), I keep watching and hoping that at least there's a bit of hope- the Isles looked pretty sharp despite those things.

And then the second period hits. And the Hilbert strikes.
Let's set the tone: Hilbert carries it into the zone, past the blueline. I'm watching his every move, holding my breath, saying to myself, "He's gonna score. He's gonna score. SHOOT IT!"
Hilbert shoots....

Hilbert scores. Let the psychotic jumping and screaming begin.

The voicemail on Christine's phone goes something like this... "Oh my freaking God, you will not believe who just scored... ANDY... HILBERT...!!!!!! OMG I AM SO FREAKING HAPPY RIGHT NOW, HE SCORED HE SCORED HE SCORED... ok call me back bye."

What I loved about this goal was the team's reaction- they all seemed genuinely happy for Hilbert, and that shows that they knew his frustration and they felt it as well. This is a tight group on the Island, and they definitely rejoice as one... as did Hilbert on the bench, doing a little "Hallelujah" to the rafters at the Coliseum. Too much.

Now, as if that wasn't completely crazy, Christine's guy- Richard Park- just happens to score one in the third, which proved to be the game-winner!- off of a rebound from Fedotenko that got out of Tim Thomas's reach. So two goals, by two guys that were not expected to carry the offense for the Islanders (at least not this night), but were all too happy and relieved to- as the obviously thrilled looks on their faces showed. Complete props to them for a great night offensively, and Park for his usual consistent defensive and PK play. IMO, no one deserves it more.

Complete credit is given to Tim Thomas- I think he put up a great show, in both games, to keep it a low scoring affair, and I admire him as a goaltender. I also would have liked to see Tuukka Rask in goal, because this confident young goalie has gotten me intrigued to see how far he will go as a Bruin.

Another Islander who impressed me-defensively- last night was Chris Campoli. The confidence level of this guy is through the roof, and it shows, as he was tough and assured last night, not taking anything from anyone and laying some good hits out on some Bruins. I'm extremely happy to see him thrive this season to date, as many who have written him off and thrust him onto the trade block last year may have to get their crow prepared for the eating, if his play continues to be this good.
And I'm also a bit worried about Rick DiPietro, after his collision with Radek Martinek and Metropolit... although he said he's fine, it hardly looked that way afterward. I would hate for him to rest tomorrow against Dallas, a strong team with a strong netminder in Marty Turco, but if he needs a break, it may be Dubielewicz we'll see in net. We'll see.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Win Little, Lose Big... And There Are Some Bones to Pick

Islanders 1 : Montreal 4

After an ugly and emotional win over the Rangers, the Isles had an off night, one in which 47 shots were thrown at Cristobal Huet, but only one went in- late in the third period, when the Canadiens were already up 4-0; thus, the only thing that did for us was save us from a shutout. Otherwise, the Islanders' forecheck became steadily invisible over three periods, as did the power play (which has suffered as of late, particularly from lack of crisp passing and failing to get inside, instead shooting from the perimeter). As for the defense- well, let's just say that as of the first minute (and Andy Sutton's pitiful pass to an unprepared Bryan Berard that gave away the puck) I knew how that was going to go. While screens and spotty D left Rick DiPietro (already a bit shaky) out to dry, the Montreal D (and the entire team, as a matter of fact) , as well as the lack of an Isles presence in front of the net, made Huet's job very easy for him. There was no real challenge for him whatsoever, even as the Isles outshot the Habs- he could see everything, whereas DiPietro was just not that lucky. Overall, this game was a clunker, and I'm hoping a better focus will be found for the upcoming home-and-home against Boston, a team that will not prove very easy to beat.

As for calling this game a result of a Ranger "hangover," if you will... I refuse to call it that, simply because although it may be hard to prove it's a farce, I don't believe that calling it anything like that will change the fact that playing the Rangers beforehand has nothing to do with the fact that this is a new game. Lack of focus can happen to any team, at any given time, and the Islanders simply are not a team that can win every single game no matter how hard they work or how much they try. No team can win 82 games in a season- it's unthinkable. The Islanders lost last night because of that, not because of anything the Rangers may have done, and that is just my honest opinion. Let's not use the "hangover" excuse, please.

Also, I have a bit of a bone to pick with Al Trautwig as well, who saw fit to say yesterday during the second intermission report that the Witt-Komisarek fight in the second period was just a showing of testosterone, and suggesting that it was ridiculous for any coach to try and cajole his players to do so. While I don't think he meant Ted Nolan specifically, I highly doubt that a veteran and a natural leader like Brendan Witt needs his coach to tell him to make a statement, as much as he respects Teddy. That's not how it works. This was an effort to try and wake up his teammates- and while it didn't work, it shows at least some courage on Witt's behalf, which we all know he possesses already. Sure, Trautwig might be (in other people's words) not credible to say anything on the subject, but even he should know better than to suggest that coaches want players to do that kind of thing and take fighting majors, especially if they are key parts to their game.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ricky Gets His 100th as Isles Roll at MSG

Islanders 2 : Rangers 1

In the Battle of New York, the Isles have come out on top three times now this season- the latest one an ugly but entertaining, low-scoring event at Madison Square Garden, in which the physical edge arrived at its peak in the second period (also the period in which I became at my most volatile- for some reason games like these just make my moods worse then they are already, I now have to apologize to my family members for lashing out when they asked what was wrong with my attitude last night).

Ruslan Fedotenko got things going for the Islanders eight seconds into the second, right off of the faceoff, beating Marcel Hossa and Dan Girardi and completely taking Henrik Lundqvist by surprise. Then Josef Vasicek put the Isles up 2-0 (on essentially the same angle, no less), and looked to be in control until Michal Roszival scored on a perfect shot, shorthandedto cut the lead in half. After that, however, the Rangers were unable to convert at least two Isles penalties or establish an effective enough forecheck.
The defense in this game certainly stepped up the physicality, with Witt completely dumping one Ranger on open ice, and great hits by Bryan Berard and Radek Martinek (who is definitely on his game this season- when he's healthy, the guy is incredible).
One guy who (at least in my opinion) looked stupid after this game was Sean Avery. Not only was he kept off of the scoresheet, but he collected 8 PIM total last night (including a 4:00 major for clipping Andy Sutton in the eye with his stick blade), got dumped by both Berard and Witt, and to top it all off, got a goalie punch from DiPietro. Now if that's not a tough night... not that I feel sorry for him at all. Hardly, after the way he deliberately tries to hurt opposing players (first Rick DiPietro, then Andy Sutton, which could have been much worse than it was).

Next, it's up against the Montreal Canadiens, a team that skates well and has just suffered a loss at the hands of the Ottawa Senators last night. Still, this team still has talent, and a good goaltender in Cristobal Huet. If the Isles are going to win, the simplest thing would be just to stick to the game plan.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Three Nights, One Post!

I apologize for the delay in covering the games- my computer has been giving me trouble. But I'm back (for now) and ready to cover the three nights of hockey that have added up. The back-to-back games were half-successful in that a lethargic loss to Pittsburgh (no power-play, too many penalties, hardly effective passing) was made up for in a hardworking win over the New Jersey Devils, in which Martin Brodeur was denied his 500th win by the Isles for the second time (but that was fine, seeing as he won the next night against Philadelphia). Bryan Berard and Bill Guerin are both back in the lineup, and as a result, the power play looks much tighter than it did a few nights ago thanks to BB. Trent Hunter was also very impressive-physical, smart with the puck, and just all over the Devils defense. You have to admire him- although by no means fast, the guy's got drive. And because of that drive (although some people, including a Devils goaltender *wink* don't like to admit it), the Isles were able to stave off the Devs and set the stage for a tremendous game against the Rangers on their ice, their first meeting in the Garden this year. More than that, Isles goalie Rick DiPietro has a golden opportunity to win his 100th against the Isles' hated rivals. Rick always loves games against the Rangers, as any Islander would, and he steps it up a lot against them and the Devils, which may or may not be a good thing- however, his consistency may make it a good thing this time. Expect the confidence level to be through the roof tonight, as he approaches the milestone.
Even so, it's not only up to Rick to win. He's been good, but against the Devils the combination of his solid presence in net and great defensive presence led to the shutout. The Isles will need that same presence tonight. They will also, of course, have to keep an eye on the usual suspects- Jagr, Gomez, and Sean Avery (a key playmaker recently for the Rangers), even though as of late, they have received goals from unlikely suspects such as Michal Roszival. Even so, the key is to stay disciplined, help out the goalie, and get to the net early and often. Although the Rangers are in first place now, their big-name players are still struggling, and they don't have everything solved yet; also, the Isles have played them pretty even so far in this season series, so as long as they stick to their game, this should work out in their favor. Look forward to an exciting match tonight in Manhattan.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Berard, Where Are You??

Islanders 2 : Flyers 3

Captain Bill Guerin sat this one out with an eye injury and is day-to-day, and his presence was seemingly missed, as some bad breaks led to two goals by Scotty Upshall and a shortie by Mike Richards, and the Isles fell to the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-2, at the Wachovia Center. The Flyers remain undefeated against the Isles in their home arena, and goaltender Martin Biron remains hot in his 15th start of the season.

Perhaps the biggest pitfall to this game was the play of Marc-Andre Bergeron, whose bad decision to pinch led to the game-winner on the Isles power play- by the Flyers. Ruslan Fedotenko also had a strangely unsound game. The Isles weren't as strong offensively as they had been against other teams this year, and overall the game wasn't exactly pretty, though the advantage was even throughout. You can't win them all, however, although it would have been nice to get at least a point out of this one.

Two players who stood out to me are Richard Park and Radek Martinek. Martinek, who has had a great year so far, is nearly always positioned well and a terrific shot blocker as well. He's not the biggest guy on the ice, but he's very smart with the puck. Also, Richard Park is developing into the kind of player the Isles can always depend on- smart, hardworking, and always moving. I was very impressed with his game last night, and I believe he is one of the unsung heroes as of late.

One player other than Guerin who we missed last night was definitely Bryan Berard, on the PP. The Flyers PK, unlike other PKs I've noticed, seems to constantly move and pressure the PP, and quite a few times the Isles got flustered and let the puck drift into the neutral zone. Also, there was too much handling the puck and not enough passing. In a good power play, you want to pass quickly and shoot, and there wasn't enough of that. I can hardly wait for Berard to get back so that our PP can get going again.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Miro Satan= Mr. Game Winning Goal For the Third Straight Game

Islanders 3 : Devils 2

As with any game against the Devils, the entertainment factor in this matchup was a bit lacking, save for two places- either end of the ice. The goaltending by both Rick DiPietro and Martin Brodeur was superb, as Marty made some huge saves in his quest for his 500th win, and Ricky was consistent as usual, recovering nicely after a fluke-y goal by Dainius Zubrus (in which it looks as though it went inadvertently off of the blade of Brendan Witt) and making the goal by Miroslav Satan stand up tall.

Speaking of which, Satan is becoming Mr. GWG- scoring his third game-winner in as many games, and becoming clutch for the Isles. People were saying, it's only a matter of time before he starts scoring, and right now he is red-hot for us- and all I have to say is, keep it coming, dude! Now all that's left is for Mike Sillinger to put some into the back of net (meaning he needs to get more chances) and we'd be all set.

That said, Bill Guerin left in the first due to a nasty injury above his left eye when he got hit by a Brian Gionta shot up close, and came back in the second only to leave again after he experienced vision problems. Nothing as of late, but he is being re-evaluated. Also, the rest of the free agent line took some abuse- Mike Comrie in the shoulder and Ruslan Fedotenko after getting crunched into the boards, plus Radek Martinek was sporting a nice little bruise and cut over his left eye when I saw him on the bench on TV last night. Talk about some damage. But those guys seem to be fine, unless the Isles say otherwise between now and tomorrow night.

One thing that I was very happy to see from the guys is the lack of penalties- absolutely none in the whole game! You'd have to go back a few years to see one of those types of games, but it was refreshing to see.

Within the organization, the Isles have reacquired Freddy Meyer on waivers- a move meant likely to increase depth, and maybe to prepare for a trade in the future. When Meyer first came to the Isles, I wasn't the biggest fan of his game, but hopefully he will have improved some by the time he comes back up to the Island to play for us. It's always good to have depth defensively, so unless I see otherwise, I'll say that this is a good move.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Eric Lindros Has Finally Left the NHL Building

Eric Lindros announced his retirement on Thursday. He’s by far at the top of my list of NHL players I’d like to sit down and chat with. Many moons ago I stood next to Eric at a bagel store counter in NJ. It took restraint not to blurt out “what’s with the concussions?...are you sure you want to play hockey?” and instead I picked a dozen bagels and headed for the door. Despite his reputation (and my total lack of love for the Flyers) I always had a soft spot for Lindros. After the conflict with Quebec (now Colorado) and upon his entrance into the Flyers organization I had hoped he would have been given time to acclimate to pro hockey considering his rocky start and that being a rookie would have superseded his potential, that he’d be taken under the wing of a more experienced player and earn his stripes instead of being handed the Captain’s jersey while essentially being told “now go out there and win us the cup”. His accomplishments seemed to be plagued by an undertow of conflict and injury, an undertow that seemed to open up more the possibility of self-sabotage. I wondered if his injuries were rooted in fate or free will and if the added drama on and off the ice was simply a means to an end, maybe not consciously but subconsciously – that he provoked other players so that someone would retaliate and take him out of the game (Stevens came close to doing just that). Maybe getting out this way would provide him with a legitimate reason rather than disappointing anyone, more specifically his father. Was what seemed like rebellion about not wanting to play hockey or in response to being treated like a multi-million dollar making object? I remember reading an article where Eric stated that he envied his brother Brett who was going to college post concussion and exit from the NHL. So after the umpteenth injury I had hoped someone around him would say something like “maybe it’s time you look into what other parts of life have to offer, you know go to college or backpack around Europe…go find your smile like that guy in City Slickers”. Whether a matter of fate or free will, quite possibly a mixture of the two, I hope retirement brings Eric a breath of fresh air as he goes about getting to know the person he is beyond the NHL. When all is said and done, Lindros made a great impact in and on the NHL. One thing he didn’t fall short of was becoming the ‘next one’. There was and is only ever going to be one Great One.

The E-train is once again on the move…

Friday, November 9, 2007

Gearing Up For Isles/Devils Part 2

After a three-day layoff, the Isles are facing another divisional rival in the New Jersey Devils at the Coliseum tomorrow. It's not a rivalry that is as strong as Isles/Rangers, but these two teams can still put on a good show, and hopefully another battle of the goaltenders will ensue between Martin Brodeur and Rick DiPietro. That could be the most exciting part of it- one of the best in the league versus one of the rising stars, both with similar styles of play, only while Brodeur has struggled as of late, DiPietro has been consistent and solid for the Isles.
The key to the game is to get started offensively early, as far as I see it. While we had a good start early on against the Rangers, pressure wasn't put on a lot until the middle of the first period- it seemed more like a set-the-tone type of play up to that point. Also, stay sharp and play hard. The "Ranger hangover" doesn't work here- they've had three days to rest and regroup. Time to show what we can do- and we are a very able team, as we have proven in the last two games.


Here's an interesting article from ESPN, about the top offseason moves. Guess where the signings of Fedotenko, Guerin, and Comrie rank? Better than you think- #3. I suppose it's true that big names aren't everything.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Third Periods Turning Into a Charm for the Isles

For two straight games, the Islanders have recovered from deficits to win, scoring all of their goals in the third period. While not necessarily the best way to play (especially against high-caliber teams like Ottawa and the like), it certainly is a good thing for a team like the Islanders, who until now have not had necessarily strong third periods. What I found interesting about the game was the way it was started, actually- rather than cautious and careful, the Isles and Rangers started off playing their first half of the period with barely any stoppages, and with strong physical, fast-paced play- perhaps an attest to the age-old rivalry between the two teams.
My three stars of the game:
Ruslan Fedotenko- one power-play goal and a beautiful assist on Trent Hunter's goal.
Rick DiPietro- 28 saves, including an amazing three-or four-save flurry late in the third with an open net on the Ranger end of the ice. All of this after getting hit in the ice with a stick blade. What gives?! Not that I'm complaining, of course.
Miroslav Satan- As noted, the guy just knows where to be at the right time. Two game winners in a row and three goals in two games gives him my number one star. And... um, any chance he could be a write-in for the All-Star Game?

Honorable Mentions:
Trent Hunter, with a great goal to get the Isles started in the third- a rocket that Henrik Lunqvist of the Rangers just had no chance on.
Mike Comrie: A cute little between-the-legs fake stunned the Ranger D and produced a perfect lane to set up Fedotenko for the PP goal that tied it at 2. And just when we thought another power play was going to wilt.

And now for news of another sort. Eric Lindros is set to announce his retirement today after 13 seasons in the NHL. He has 372 goals and 865 points in his career, and plagued by injuries (specifically concussions) over the last few years, he has decided to hang up the skates. Now yes, this guy was once a Ranger, but he still deserves respect- after all, at one point he was a formidable presence in the league, and no doubt will be missed by many. Good luck, Eric.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Key in, Lock Opened, Comeback Made, Game Won

Islanders 3 : Rangers 2

Sooner or later I am going to find myself explaining to a police officer that I was speeding because there was an Islander breakaway yatta yatta yatta. “I can’t help it officer, my foot has a mind of its own and automatically responds to the play by play action on the radio”. My guess is that the officer’s NHL allegiance might factor in being issued a warning or ticket. So I arrived home in the beginning of the third period which was a stand in front of and talk at the TV kind of period. Since the Isles seem to be in better physical condition than in past seasons I had faith they would muster up the UMPH! needed to win. As for the Rangers, hmm…how to put the vibe into words - through the years they have managed to become an intimidating organization, from the players to the fans. It’s a presence that seems to remain intact even when their record doesn’t match up in a particular season. The Ranger’s style of play is like a lock that can be opened if you have the key. One key is to remain focused and calm in response to their offensive pressure, another key is to keep firing at Lundqvist until your determination pays off. And IMHO this is what the fellas did tonight. Instead of expending too much energy towards defending that pressure and stepping back offensively, the Isles skated with endurance and confidence which paved the way for them to maintain playing their own style of hockey. A great follow up to Pittsburgh.

All About Al

It was great to finally see the Isles play at the Coliseum this season – from center ice in section 203! For me this game was all about Al coaching again since there was no doubt in my mind that the Isles would win. Because I was in la la land for most of the game while memories from childhood Islander days swirled around my mind, I’ll sum up what I witnessed - the Isles came back and kicked Penguin butt. Seeing Coach Arbour again after all these years along with former Isles was quite an emotional experience. During the post-game ceremony there weren’t many dry eyes around me. Hearing a father explain to his daughter who Al Arbour was gave me warm fuzzies. It was a warm fuzzy night overall. So I’ll leave it at that for now and get to the ice twirls, school bus yellow goalie pads, “shoot already!”, the face painting stand, and my desire for Islander flip flops another time.

whoops almost forgot…

Hey you! guy with the headset on directing everyone on the ice at the ceremony– dude try and remember we can all see you out there getting frustrated and pushing people where they are supposed to go. I recommend some Rescue Remedy before going on the ice.

Q: what do you get when the two most popular players on each team clash in the way that they did and during the particular game that they did?
A: sports psychology fodder


Sunday, November 4, 2007

I'm Proud to be an Islander After Last Night's Game

Islanders 3 : Penguins 2

What a great comeback by the Isles! After spending most of the game down 2-0, they score 3 straight in the third period and come from behind to beat the Penguins, 3-2, marking the third game straight that Pitt has lost a game after leading 2-0, and providing a great hustle by the Isles after losing their starting goaltender! Although we struggled a bit in the beginning of the second period, for the rest of the game we maintained a good pace and worked hard, even down two goals. The one down point was seeing Rick DiPietro go down with that eye injury, from which I hope he recovers completely. The three days we have in between last night and the Tuesday night game against the Rangers (which will be a big one) should help him recover.

The Isles organization got this right, doing the ceremony for Al Arbour after the game. It was tasteful and wonderful, and after an amazing game, was a great nightcap! Seeing the team out there congratulating Arbour on his 1500th game, and 740th win, made me love this team and admire Ted Nolan even more for making it all happen. Nolan is a complete class act, and he deserves much of the credit. It made me so proud of the Orange and Blue- nothing pretentious or showy about it. Just good hockey and great memories. Let's go, Isles!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Let's Get it Ready for Saturday

Thanks very much Christine for that great welcome. I feel honored to be posting for this blog, and I hope I work up to all of those great things you've said about me. And by the way, I believe that icing is when you pass the puck in from your own blue line down to the other end and for some reason it is a stoppage of play and the offending line has to stay on the ice. I have no idea why, only that I know when it's not and when it is. I shall have to study that rule again.

And now to the game- last night was a great effort by the Isles, all around. Although I didn't watch the entire game, I saw the ceremony for Sillinger and I was very touched- seeing the whole team congratulate him and his family for a job well done in the NHL. The best part is, he's still got some left in him! Again, congrats to a great player with intelligence, heart and soul. Rick DiPietro had a great rebound from the abysmal game last week- making some great saves and excellent positioning. And Mike Comrie made his presence felt as well- two assists on the night. Overall, better effort and better outcome, and against a team that has been struggling, yes, but has seemed to have had our number for the last eight meetings.

Looking forward to Saturday, and the great Al Arbour coaching his 1500th game- this is the game to watch as of yet. Not only against a good opponent in the Pittsburgh Penguins with all of their young talent, but to see our coach from the dynasty years alongside our dynamic current coach, Ted Nolan, tomorrow night at the Coliseum. I wish I could be there, but I'm not that lucky- I will, however, be watching very closely. I think our boys will definitely show the respect and the same hardworking attitude towards Arbour as they do to Teddy. Let's make it a win!

P.S. Apparently, USA Today has labeled some of our players, including Trent Hunter and Billy Guerin, as "overrated." Now, I don't want to nitpick, but I doubt that USA Today is a credible source when it comes to talking about hockey. Bill Guerin, while maybe a bit past his prime, is not an overrated player, nor is Trent Hunter, who I doubt was ever hailed as the next coming of Mike Bossy- I mean, come on. As opposed to the smooth and pure-scoring play of the Boss, Hunter's game is more garbage-goal, grinder-style play, which works just as well for the work ethic of the Isles as it is now. The main mistake the paper makes is to confuse "overrated" with "past your prime"- usually when someone is overrated, you notice that early on in their career (such as Matt Leinart in football). But when you're past your prime, that is of course self-explanatory. And even so, Guerin's five goals prove that he is still capable of scoring and contributing. So I doubt that this article by USA Today will be anything more than fodder for Ted's guys to prove that they are otherwise- as they always do. It's satisfying to hear the sounds of serious backtracking in store.

(link to USA Today article)

Congratulations to Mike Sillinger on his 1,000th NHL game and he’s not done yet!

Islanders 4 : Lightening 0

I think it’s safe to assume a shutout felt great for the Isles. It sure caused me to do a victory dance around my apartment. Nice recovery fellas. The much relied upon DP regained his composure. When he batted the puck away with his stick like a baseball I knew all was a-ok. Witt took the Bruce Lee approach and flowed like water in the face of conflict. The replay I would like to see is the 3 on 1 in the 3rd period. I was confused as to what kind of approach that was on net. One of comfort maybe? ICK! It was either the coach of Tampa Bay or Carolina as I recall, who told an interviewer that he hung up a sign for the players to see before going out on the ice that stated, ‘Comfort is Death’. What an effective and minimalist way to remind players that comebacks happen in the blink of a lazy eye. Other game highlights…loved the behind the back pass Guerin sent to Sillinger. Melted me like butta’. The promo piece on Jacques Plante was great and Ted Nolan’s commercial for Al Arbour coaching where he stated he was an assistant coach and an Islander was excellent. As for Tampa Bay, it appeared like the team was struck by lightening prior to the game. The goal by Ranger’s skate…D’oh! Overall it seems like they are going through the construction-deconstruction process. Ask the Red Sox about that (construction) and now the Yankees (deconstruction). Tampa Bay has a strong foundation to re-build upon so the next Isles vs. Lightening game should be an interesting one. All I know is that in this present moment I am counting the hours until I am at the Coliseum watching Al Arbour coach the Isles! I’ve dusted off the Isles knit hat I wore as a kid (thank goodness knit stretches!) and am ready to GO!

Ok fellas, rest and eat well before the game, shut down Crosby, listen to guest Pappa Al, channel the energy of your fans all around you, and know that you can bank upon the Isles team pilot light that never goes out.