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.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Meet Danielle

When the Islanders faced off against the Maple Leafs at the Coliseum the night after Christmas, Christine called me from the Coliseum parking lot happily describing the game. Among other things, she told me of a young girl with a sign saying, "All I want for Christmas is Mike Comrie's stick." After the game, she said to me, Comrie handed her his stick through the Plexiglas and penalty box door, and the girl left with a great Christmas gift.

Well, a couple of days later I had the good fortune of running into the lucky recipient through Facebook, where she posted on the Islanders' official page describing her happy moment, and I quickly responded. She sent me a message, and that started a great conversation.

Danielle is from Lake Grove, NY, and she has been an Islanders fan since birth. "My mom dressed me up in Islanders clothing," she said. " I had a pillow of the Islanders, and a bear with an Islanders shirt on it when I was a little baby." Now, she still supports the team, having gone to seven games so far this year, including Dec 26 and tomorrow's tilt against the Panthers.

Other than Mike Comrie, her favorite players are Josh Bailey, Bill Guerin, Doug Weight, and Andy Hilbert. She thinks Bailey has a great future ahead of him, especially since he's young and is a great playmaker. As for the other young guns, she thinks Campoli can be great in the league too: "He has a lot of goals for a defenseman, and he's got a great shot!"

When it came to the idea of the sign, she said Comrie had thrown a puck to her once, and "I thought since it was Christmas and he's my favorite player, maybe he would do something nice." With her aunt and uncle's help, she made the sign, and got his attention.

As far as the future of the franchise goes, she said, "I think that we do have a very talented team and if they start focusing more, they can be amazing... Once the whole team has confidence in themselves and each other it will open up a whole new level of hockey...so they just need to believe, and it helps when there are a lot of fans at the games cheering them on!" As part of that 15,000+ crowd at the Coliseum last Friday night, she definitely knows a huge supportive fan base is the way to go.

Thanks very much Danielle for giving us your time and a great story to highlight on the NY Isles Scene!

Weight In, DP Out, Isles Fall Short

Islanders 4: Rangers 5

Despite their history of winning ways at MSG and the Rangers' three-game losing streak, the Islanders have had one of their own for a while- a nine-game road losing streak coming into last night's game on Broadway. Not only that, but they skated onto the ice without one of the keys to their success: goaltender Rick DiPietro, who actually is a little too sore to play again (strained groin, day-to-day). So they once more fell back on their second-string goalie, Joey MacDonald, who is fully capable of filling in between the pipes. Could he recover from allowing so many rebounds, however?

Well, not exactly.

The first period started out feisty, with two fights within minutes of each other. First came big Mitch Fritz (apparently in the lineup in place of Sean Bergenheim, a healthy (?) scratch) in a bloody scrap with Colton Orr, which he lost. Then Mike Comrie got into it with Nigel Dawes and landed a few uppercuts. Fisticuffs aside, there were also plenty of big hits, with the Islanders outhitting the Rangers 35-25 throughout the game. t 15:04, Mike Sillinger broke the stalemate, taking advantage of Dmitri Kalinin, who ran into his teammate and gave up the puck to Trent Hunter. Hunter then passed to an open Sillinger who put away his second of the year.

The Rangers came out blazing in the second period, firing away at MacDonald, and eventually Scott Gomez broke through with his seventh on the year, on a delayed penalty call and great puck movement by the Rangers. Kyle Okposo gave the Isles the lead once more with eleven seconds left in the period, redirecting a shot by Chris Campoli in front. It was reassuring for Okposo after taking a hard hit to the shoulder in the first and needing attention from the trainer.

The third period witnessed a very scary moment for Islanders fans and players. Trent Hunter was run into the boards by Ryan Callahan on a clean hit; the door he was hit against, though, opened and caught Hunter in the back. He fell onto the ice and stayed there for a few minutes, eventually skating off on his own; he didn't return to the game, but the newspapers reported that after the game he was fine and only didn't return for precautionary reasons.

Shortly afterward, Petr Prucha tied the game on another rebound by MacDonald, and then Michal Roszival inexplicably gave the Rangers the one-goal lead, 3-2, on the five-hole. (In case you haven't noticed by now, the floodgates had opened at this point.) Blake Comeau tied the game up once more with his second of the year, and you began to get the feeling that perhaps this would be one of those games; that one where you thought the Islanders would lose it, but they would prevail at the end. Lord knows the play last night was going back and forth last night, enough to make you experience whiplash.

Not so, though. Markus Naslund got back the lead at 7:12 after winning another faceoff, with the puck taking a weird bounce over MacDonald into the net. And then Nigel Dawes took the final stab with his sixth of the year, making the score 5-3. That goal zapped everything out of the Islanders, and although Mike Comrie got one back with 18 seconds left, they didn't have it in them to make two comebacks in two games.

Last night, the Isles were fortunate to have kept the score so close, considering the lopsided shot total (37-24 Rangers). The Rangers did miss a lot of shots, and 14 of them were also blocked by the Islanders. But MacDonald, who made 32 saves, was also victim to some strange bounces of the puck in this game. One thing can be said for sure: there's no love lost between these teams, as the game was full of hits, punches, and other means of endearment. If only they could all be this entertaining.

P.S. Doug Weight made his return to the lineup, upon reports that he is being shopped by the Islanders. Guess it's a good thing he's only got one year on his contract, then.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Eyes Left Prize, But One Point's the Consolation

Islanders 3: Sabres 4 (SO)

In Buffalo, where the snow piles high and the hockey is fierce, the Sabres haven't been exactly consistent lately, and it almost showed last night. But they were able to cling to the two points, besting the Islanders in a shootout after receiving the scare of their season.

New York took the first three shots on goal and then had the first power play, which started out tight but slowly faded in the last minute after a couple of great saves by Ryan Miller. Throughout the period, they had some spurts of offense but nothing really flowed. Buffalo, meanwhile, got things cooking on the power play as Ales Kotalik passed to Maxim Afinigenov down low, who in turn hit Jochen Hecht in front for Hecht's fourth of the year.

The Islanders tied it up in the second with help from an unlikely source: Jeff Tambellini, the struggling young left wing who finally found the break in the clouds. Josh Bailey passed to Tambellini in the corner, who passed cross-ice to Mark Streit and then darted to the net to collect Streit's pass on a practically empty net, with Miller out of position. It was a well-deserved break for Tamby, who has improved his play steadily over the past few games. Jason Pominville put the Sabres up once more, though, on the PP at 13:09 of the second (Sean Bergenheim the guilty party).

All night, the Isles kept up great work along the boards and were able to get some good chances, but no finish. Brendan Witt had an improved game, helping out on offense as well as providing solid defense. Also, Kyle Okposo had a great game, skating hard and getting to the net often- the only thing I'd love for him to do is not miss the net, but as a young player with plenty of learning to do, his accuracy will improve over time. He, Mike Comrie and Blake Comeau seem to be jelling very well on a line together.

In the third period, Clarke MacArthur showed how perseverance pays off; he absorbed a big hit from Comrie, got right back up, and joined the play a few seconds later, ripping a shot from the point that beat MacDonald and made the score 3-1. Buffalo was rolling with the lead, although the Islanders led them 10-2 in shots at one point in the third. As a fan, you started to lose hope seeing the play yo-yo back and forth and the Islanders unable to capitalize on anything they threw at Miller (who had a solid game).

The momentum would change late in the game, however, as the Isles made great use of what little time was left on the clock. MacArthur took a tripping penalty late that turned into a golden opportunity for Comrie. With the extra attacker (Joey MacDonald having been pulled with a full three minutes remaining), Blake Comeau passed to Bill Guerin on the right, and then Guerin found Comrie in front, who put in his third goal of the season to make it 3-2. And then, a crazy last minute of the game in which Joey was pulled yet again saw Okposo use both his passing and his physical presence to protect the puck, and found Campoli in the slot, who wristed the puck right over Miller's shoulder and into the net with two seconds left, to Okposo's sheer joy, and that of the rest of the Islanders as well (especially Blake Comeau and Richard Park, who I saw jumping up and down like little boys on Christmas morning). Campoli has showed quite a bit of last-minute heroics this season, and despite his frustration early on, he showed good patience and placement with his shot even with only a couple of seconds left.

His goal sent the game into a frenzied overtime, in which Witt and MacDonald were the two stars; Witt had two huge blocks on the odd-man rush, and MacDonald a few great saves, as the Sabres were on the power play for the last two minutes of OT (once again, Sean Bergenheim in the bin- something is just not right with this kid at the moment). Then came the shootout, and a lesson in actually shooting the puck. Joey Mac was beaten by both Kotalik and Drew Stafford, and neither Richard Park nor Okposo got past Ryan Miller. The explanation here is easy- when you beat a goalie three times up high, wouldn't you think to go up high in the shootout, especially when he once again gives you half the net to shoot at? Not so for the Isles; both Park and Okposo elected to go low on Miller, who made two easy saves. So it goes, and so went the extra point, but nonetheless, the Isles show life now, and as they go into MSG Monday night against a floundering Rangers squad, let's hope they show that persistence once more.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Islanders To Host a Pajama Drive/Super Heroes Night

On New Year's Eve, the Islanders host the Florida Panthers for a special 2pm matinee contest.

The Islanders will be holding a Pajama Drive as we embark on the coldest months of the winter. Fans can donate a new set of superhero pajamas––or any other style––when they arrive for the December 31 game. Not only will you become a hero to a child in foster care, but you will also receive a free ticket voucher to a future game.

At the game, fans can also meet Marvel Comics Superheroes, including Spiderman, Captain America, Iron Man, Incredible Hulk and Wolverine.

All pajamas will be donated to the Education & Assistance Corporation's children's programs.

(source: newyorkislanders.com)

Isles @ Sabres, 7 pm, HSBC Arena

Fresh off a major morale-booster against Toronto, the Isles have headed up north to face off against an enigma of a team in the Buffalo Sabres- a team that has plenty of talent, but somehow, have not shown results accordingly. However, this series is even at one win apiece, and the Sabres have proven to be a tough team to beat for the Islanders, even with their record on the second night of back-to-back stands (1-4-2).

Rick DiPietro is not in net this game, having not made the trip- to be completely cautious, Scott Gordon has decided not to play him on the back end of this weekend stint, but he will reportedly put DP back in net for Monday's game at Madison Square Garden (and won't that be a treat!). Also, Andy Hilbert suffered a hairline fracture on his foot last night after blocking a shot, leaving a spot open in the roster that callup Jeremy Colliton will likely take. Mike Sillinger is also not in the lineup with his groin strain.

I'm not into predictions; all I can infer is that, from what Christine told me about last night, the Isles are looking more like a team, and hopefully that will carry over into tonight's performance. Just watch out; Buffalo is hungry for a win.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Bill Guerin’s 400th = Cake, Isles Win = Icing

Maple Leafs 1 : Islanders 4

Tonight’s loooong drive from NJ to the game proved that at times, taking short cuts does indeed pay off. Although my short cut through Jersey City to get to the Holland Tunnel was no longer a short cut considering everyone else who showed up to take the same route. So in the spirit of ‘where I’m going is more important than where you’re going’, I fine tuned this short cut with cutting through parking lots and driving down streets that I’m not sure were actual streets. After a brief stop in NYC to drop off my zoo crew, the LIE traffic gods were generous, but Coliseum parking gods were not.

Before the game summary I want to send out a sincere thank you to my friend Dom who made sure I received a copy of the 2009 Ice Girls calendar that was given out tonight before I arrived at the game. Thanks for saving me from the disappointment I would have felt had I missed out on this most awesome representation of how women are primarily represented within the Islander organization.

1st period summary in absentia…Kyle Okposo scored (3:47) on an assist from Rick DiPietro…WHAT??? That’s right…Rick DiPietro rejoined the Isles after missing 27 games due to knee surgery. After receiving a pass from DP, Okposo’s wrist shot deflected off of Toronto goalie Vesa Toskala’s blocker. Toronto’s Lee Stempniak then tied up the game (15:44) followed by Tim Jackman and Andre Deveaux both serving 5 minutes for fighting (16:04).

An intense 2nd period, especially the last 5 minutes. What first looked like Josh Bailey’s 1st NHL goal was later credited to Isles Captain Bill Guerin (2:34), with Bailey being credited with the assist. Brendan Witt served 2 minutes for interference (3:26). A few minutes later Andy Hilbert fought the puck and the puck won, taking him out of the game with a reported hairline fracture to his foot (after making his way towards the bench, Hilbert had to be lifted over the bench wall by his teammates). Toronto’s Matt Stajan served 2 minutes for hooking (8:43). Bruno Gervais, also returning to action after missing 13 games due to a leg injury, served 2 minutes for delay of game (puck over the glass) (12:11). Blake Comeau served 2 minutes for hooking (19:14), a call that the rumbling crowd seemed to disagree with.

The 3rd period started with Comeau still in the sin bin but that flew by and the Isles were back at full strength. Bill Guerin scored his 13th goal of the season and drum roll please…his 400th NHL goal (2:34) with a tip in that followed Chris Campoli’s shot on net. When the goal was announced Guerin received a standing ovation from his teammates and the crowd. Guerin became the 79th NHL player, the 8th US born player, and 3rd Islander to score 400 goals *(1). Freddy Meyer added the final goal by scoring from the blue line (slap shot; 8:39), assisted by Blake Comeau. Two penalties were served before the game ended; Trent Hunter, 2 minutes (for DiPietro) for delay of game (10:11) and Toronto’s Jeremy Williams, 2 minutes for hooking (14:14).

The best part of the game was watching the fellas rally together at the net with what seemed like ½ celebratory and ½ welcome back embraces with their much missed goalie. The most fitting closure to this WIN! was the long overdue Chris Campoli and DP high five.

In response to a fan’s homemade sign reading, ‘All I want for Christmas is Mike Comrie’s stick’, Old Saint Comrie supposedly handed his stick over the glass to the fan at the end of the game. I didn’t see this happen but did see the young lady walking up the stairs with a big smile on her face, stick in hand.

Whether the Isles win or lose, their on ice efforts deserve a supportive crowd like tonight (15,173 in attendance) at every game.


*(1) www.nhl.com

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Isles Lose 10 Straight

Thrashers 4: Islanders 2

Andy Hilbert broke an eight-game scoreless streak.

Sean Bergenheim scored his first in 15 shorthanded.

That didn't matter- the Islanders fell into double digits on their losing streak with last night's 4-2 loss to Atlanta on home ice. The lowly Thrashers were able to rebound from a lackluster performance the previous night- literally and figuratively- taking advantage of moments in which Joey MacDonald just could not hold onto the puck. The Isles took 36 minutes and 48 seconds to score, and even so, the fight to overcome a constant deficit proved too much to bear.

Off of goals by Mathieu Schneider and Bryan Little, the Thrashers mounted a 2-0 lead, while the Isles tried to find a way past the tight D and aggressive play of goaltender Johan Hedberg (25 saves). The offense took a while to find out how beneficial crashing the net can be- with both Hilbert and Trent Hunter headed straight for the crease, Richard Park headmanned a quick and effective play that ended with Hilbert putting in the rebound. Then, on the PK, Bergenheim (who looks like he might be getting his edge back) drove down the wing and completely turned around his defender, tipping the puck past Hedberg's right toe, at :23 of the third period.

Things looked good until what I've dubbed "the call"- a slashing penalty to Mike Comrie after he took a hit up high. The player he committed the penalty on sold it really well on the ice, but reportedly skated off of it laughing. Now, I won't dispute that Comrie chose the wrong time to pull something like that- on the power play? Really?- but even so, the call was one to be disputed. However, Comrie will get the blame for losing his cool here, especially when considering that Bryan Little scored his second of the game, and the game-winner for the Thrashers, on the resulting power play. And so the streak stretched to ten games, as Colby Armstrong scored the empty-netter.

Some things I noticed:

- It seems to be a recurring theme here- great chances, no finish. Jeff Tambellini actually had nice work this game, including one play where he bodied an Atlanta player off the puck in the offensive zone- but lo and behold, nothing came out of it except a clear, because no one helped out. And then there were all the shots that went wide, that were blocked, that Johan Hedberg saved easily, and that missed upstairs. No kidding around, but maybe the Isles need some target practice.

-the worst penalty kill in the league was able to kill the three penalties they committed against the Islanders. Missing Doug Weight much? Here's to hoping his groin gets better soon.

- Atlanta also blocked 25 shots altogether. Talk about a tight defense.

-Richard Park won a little lower than 50% of his faceoffs last night, as the team's most effective centerman.

- I still don't see Billy Guerin out there.

- Joey Mac looked like he was getting better at holding onto rebounds until last night. I believe two of the three goals he allowed were on the rebound- and please, correct me if I am wrong.

Overall, this loss was not the worst we have experienced. But it is our tenth in a row... and no doubt some are hoping the next two days will help the Isles regroup and pull off a win or two before 2008 is over.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008



-Angie and Christine

A + B = C

Predators 1 : Islanders 0

Just as I was about to get started on this post my cat Tobionekinobi decided that of all the places to nap, my (now seemingly his) mouse pad was the spot. Since his cuteness prevents me from moving him out of my way…Cat 1 : Human 0.

Soooo….yeah…another ‘L’ for the Isles…#9. Uugh. But HEY! look at the bright side…they only lost by 1! Not doing it for ya? Ok how about the way Joey MacDonald wielded his body around the entire game? 27 saves where some were just fantastic. Still not turning that frown upside down? Ok how about the way Richard Park has recently elevated his game to a level that better reflects his ability? Doug Weight two points shy of 1,000 career points? (Heal thy groin!) I’m guessing there is probably nothing that could be pointed out to calm the Islander fan storm and prevent it from continuing to brew except for seeing a ‘W’ in the game result column. And so I offer this reality check - no one takes the brunt of losing more than the players who each night play to win. And if ever there was a coach who clearly expresses in his behind the bench body language what looks like an allergic reaction to losing, it’s Scott Gordon.

So as of the Isles vs. Predators game we’re at game 33 of the season. Beyond the Isles moving onward and upward…

If I hear the words system and Islanders in the same sentence again I am going to hurl. After a while buzz words are like little pestering gnats flying around. Not that the system should be swatted away but enough is enough already. Let’s go back for a moment shall we to another buzz phrase that I believe has affected this team’s cohesion and quite possibly the outlook of individual players…’youth movement’. Building around the talent of younger players seems like a smart idea (although not an original concept in sports) but publicly touting this plan thus stepping over the older players on the team to do so doesn’t seem smart at all. Way to potentially split the roster. At this point in the season if a guy came in at the age of 50 and could put the puck in the net or prevent the puck from going in the net, sign him up. While realizing I am a far distance from the inner workings of the Isles organization, I can only assert my reaction to this buzz phrase which seems intended to string along disillusioned ticket buying fans in an ‘I’ll pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today’ kind of way. Simply put… Islanders Organization : Sidney Crosby as Isles Veterans : Boris Valabik.

Even if a youth movement approach could be effective down the road no one can predict what will happen on ‘Tuesday’ so what about today? Oh yeah, the system.

sys-tem [sys-tuh m]

a) a coordinated body of methods or a scheme or plan of procedure; organizational scheme

b) one's psychological makeup, esp. with reference to desires or preoccupations

c) a condition of harmonious, orderly interaction. (1)

Although there are many definitions of the word system, these are the ones that I think best fit what I would like to see as a result of Coach Gordon's system, in a Pythagorean Theorem kind of way…however there can’t be too much order in ice hockey cause’ that wouldn’t make it the gritty sport that it is.

last but not least…

Sean Bergenheim please report to the on ice effort that you exuded at the beginning of the season.

Earth to Bill ‘Papa Bear’ Guerin…please come back down.

Blake Comeau please continue to report to the Islanders, not Bridgeport or as a spectator at the Coliseum.

All the Isles with ** next to your name on the roster – get well soon.

LET’S GO ISLANDERS!!! Fall 9 times, stand up 10.

(1) www.dictionary.com

Sunday, December 21, 2008

With Streak at 9, What More Can Be Said?

The Islanders have found themselves in dire straits after last night, where they had their ninth consecutive loss, this time a shutout to the Nashville Predators.

With the next few games against tough opponents- at least for the Isles thus far- in Atlanta, Toronto, and Buffalo, the cold truth is that somehow, the Islanders are going to have to find a way to win two points against each of these teams. So far, they have been fruitless on offense, though not for lack of trying, and although Joey MacDonald is starting to find his touch again after a few lackluster games, he hasn't had much support from his defense lately.

These past few games have driven a stand-up player like Brendan Witt act out of frustration, not to mention having left me exasperated after watching another meltdown. They've led fans to question how much they really love the team anymore, and how much more they're willing to stand. This kind of doubt is only to be expected when it looks as though a last-place finish is in the cards, but anything can happen. The only question that arises from that is... when?

When is the offense going to break out? When is the defense going to get everything on point, and become the defense we need? When is Joey Mac going to stop everything that comes his way (and he has tried)? When are the Islanders going to look more like a team that, youth movement or not, talent or not, wants to be out on the ice, playing with a passion that cannot be matched?

These are all questions with no set answer, but even so, they've got to be on the minds of those fans who still watch devotedly in hope that perhaps the Isles will find that spark and manage a win. Everyone knew this was not going to be an easy season, but that doesn't mean we can't still try.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Major Step Back, Among a Mini Controversy

Islanders 1: Wild 4

Two offensive presences re-entered the lineup last night- but it didn't matter in the end, because once more, one goal was all the Islanders could muster last night, as they fell to the Minnesota Wild, 4-1.

The third period, in the wake of a 1-1 stalemate, was where Minnesota rallied, with three goals to bury the Islanders in their losing streak, which is now at eight games. This was after the Isles had a 1-0 lead in the second period, achieved by Richard Park, who now has three goals and five points in three games. (Weight provided the primary assist, and his 998th career point.) Joey MacDonald made highlight reel-worthy saves, but ultimately got buried as the Wild proceeded to outshoot New York 28-9, holding the Isles to 16 shots total (season low). He finished the night with 35 saves, having allowed goals by Stephane Villeux, Colton Gillies (Clark's nephew, who scored his first career goal against his uncle's old team), Mikko Koivu and Pierre-Marc Bouchard.

With that said, not much else can be told, other than that the Isles can only move on from last night, as they play in Nashville tonight at 8 pm. They also have to move on from the slight controversy stirred up across blogs and message boards, caused by defenseman and alternate captain Brendan Witt of all people. Witt criticized coach Scott Gordon's system, saying among other things, "Personally, I think it's more of a risky type of game... There's a lot of odd-man rushes. But that's the way he wants us to play, and until he decides he wants to change that, we're going to play that way."

The quotes, as reported by Greg Logan, caused quite the buzz among Isles fans and led many to believe that Witt, after signing for an extension this past summer, wants off the Island. Personally, I believe that it was the frustration over the losing streak showing itself; however, I would still keep an eye out for other indications of restlessness from the defenseman. As he and the other veterans go, so go the rest of the team, and Gordon can ill afford to lose them at this point. As for Witt, although he is one of my favorite players, there's no denying he could have gone about this a different way than the media if it's true that he would like to help and, as reported after the fact to Chris Botta, he would like to stay on the Islanders. There are always things to improve regarding the system, but even so, dirty laundry should always stay in the hamper, not aired out in public. Gordon stayed professional about it, only saying that he and Witt did talk about his comments and that "Brendan is correct that our defensive zone coverage has struggled, which is why we spent the last two days addressing it..." Although some may think that this will help Brendan pay his ticket out of New York, there's no telling what may happen before the trade deadline.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Overtime's the Killer

Capitals 5: Islanders 4 (OT)

The great thing about this game was that not only did the Isles look like their old selves in the third period, but they scored over three goals for the first time in about five games.

But the chance for them to stage a complete comeback faded at the hands of the young man you never want to give the puck to: Alexander Ovechkin.

Although Freddy Meyer did all he could to keep the Russian sniper under close watch, Ovechkin was able to tally two goals, including the overtime winner, as the Capitals finally got their two points after a two-goal rally by New York.

The Caps mounted a two-goal lead and maintained it through much of the game, even as the Isles tried to cut it down, before the third period. Boyd Gordon (as far as I know, no relation to head coach Scott Gordon) scored a dirty goal early in the first, and then Brooks Laich tallied a brief momentum-killer after a great penalty kill by the Isles, as Joey MacDonald went to poke the puck away and had it slip through his legs, into the back of the net. Doug Weight got one back on the power play at 16:14 of the first, climbing to 997 points (only three more!) with his seventh goal of the season, thanks to a huge contribution by Richard Park, who scored a goal of his own along with two assists. The first period was feisty and physical, with tons of scrappy play coming from both sides, including a spirited fight between Matt Bradley and Tim Jackman.

In the second, Milan Jurcina scored a tip-in that put the Caps up 3-1, until Park struck on the PP (which scored twice on five attempts- not too shabby!). Then, Ovechkin, who'd been pretty quiet until now, attacked, scoring on a wrist shot in front on a beautiful play by his linemates, Alex Semin and Nicklas Backstrom, who can create plays as well as capitalize on them. Score: 4-2. But the game wasn't over yet.

The third period was all Islanders, as Jon Sim (who's back in the lineup with the absence of Mike Sillinger) and Andy Sutton led their team on a comeback, making the statement that no longer were they to just lie down and let the opponents take the game- at least not on home ice. Sutton scored at 11:19 on a slap shot from the point, with Streit and Guerin on the assists (Guerin had two assists, and Streit had three this game), and then Sim gave fans something to really cheer about when he crashed the net for his sixth of the year (and got a little bit of his own redemption after being waived earlier this month), with 2:13 left in the game.

Overtime went smoothly- or not- for the first four minutes, until somehow, Ovechkin got loose and streaked down the wing. He powered a wrist shot past MacDonald for his 19th goal, and the win for the Capitals. The Isles could only console themselves with the one point, and take pride in that they finally got close to a win. Close, still, only gets you one point.

Next time, they figure, will be a win.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Bailey Day-to-Day

Center Josh Bailey did not practice and is out of the lineup for tomorrow night's game against the Capitals, according to islanderspointblank.com. He is listed as day-to-day with a sprained ankle. Nate Thompson also did not practice (undisclosed injury), as well as Mike Sillinger, who's still dealing with his groin strain.

However, the blog also reports that Mike Comrie and also Kyle Okposo practiced today, in red jerseys. Comrie might be back by the end of the week; Okposo is still listed at 4-6 weeks.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Different Team, Different Day- But Result, Feeling Remain the Same

Islanders 1: Blue Jackets 3

No doubt the Islanders skated into Nationwide Arena last night knowing full well that against all odds, they needed to skate out with two points in order to stop the bleeding of a five-game losing streak.

Well, the game came and went- and so did their chance. So it goes that the Isles are eight games under .500, and remain at 22 points- tied with Tampa Bay for worst in the league.

They dropped their sixth consecutive game to the Jackets, 3-1, and went 0-4 on a road trip in which at least two games- Toronto and Philadelphia- should have been won. It wasn't an easy trip by any means, but for a team that has surprised in the past, it could have been managed better.

Red-hot rookie goaltender Steve Mason and Jason Chimera proved otherwise, as Mason made 24 saves and won his eighth game of the season, and Chimera scored what was the eventual game winner, to pull the Jackets even at 3-3-0 for the month of December and lift the Jackets over the Isles, 3-1. New York, who has been in dire need of an offensive explosion for the past few games, didn't find relief in this one.

In the first, the Jackets trapped the Isles in their own zone, shooting as many as 11 in a row on Joey MacDonald, who made 32 saves. The Isles were able to break out on a couple of chances, but couldn't get past a big, strong goalie in Mason, just as MacDonald stopped all of Columbus' shots. The Jackets couldn't solve him until the second, when Fredrik Modin parked in front of him and redirected a Fedor Tyutin shot off of his skate for a power-play tally. Then, late in the second, Chimera flew up the wing, outskating at least two Isles before making a brilliant move to put the Jackets up by two.

The Islanders got this one back in the final minute, as Richard Park was the recipient of a fortunate puck bounce through the neutral zone and into Columbus territory. He streaked up the ice shorthanded and made a pretty forehand-backhand move, slipping the puck through Mason's pads for his second shortie of the year, and fifth overall. But the Islanders couldn't score any more, despite great chances by Blake Comeau (who had a bit of a skate problem this game- he fell no less than eight times on the ice) and Sean Bergenheim, and earlier in the game when Tim Jackman broke out for a few moves that Mason saw coming. On the topic of Bergenheim, Christine said she'd been wondering where he'd been lately, as he'd had a great start but fallen into the background overall, to which I responded, "Well, no one's really stood out for this team right now." Bergenheim's rush did provoke a burst of hope on my part. Too bad it didn't happen.

In the third, a shot by Comeau went under review due to a quick whistle, but it was concluded that Mason made a great save, smothering the puck with his right pad before it got anywhere near the line. And then Andy Murray padded the lead with his fourth on the year, due to a rebound that MacDonald could not hold onto. So it ended, and so the Islanders go into Tuesday night's matchup against Washington at home, hoping that something, anything, clicks.

Notes: Mike Sillinger missed this game, having tweaked his groin once more.... with his absence Josh Bailey was the most effective faceoff player, winning 38% of draws (3-8), and Richard Park won 33% (5-15).

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Islanders at Blue Jackets, 7 pm EST, 12/13/08

The Islanders, at 10-17-2, are at this point just hoping for a temporary stop to the torturous slide that they are on.

They end their road stint in Columbus tonight, facing off against the Blue Jackets, who have not had a stable December to date (2-3-0). Last time these two teams met, the Jackets almost pulled off a win, rallying back from a 3-0 deficit in the third period to send the game into overtime. However, Chris Campoli scored the OT game-winner to secure the two points.

Tonight, Rick Nash is the one they need to keep an eye on- with eight goals in 13 games, he can certainly help the Jackets take this game. The keys to a victory tonight are the establish a forecheck early on- be fast, be aggressive, and challenge the goaltender. Crash the net if you need to- the past few games have shown that sometimes creativity with the puck doesn't always work. The fast break to renewed confidence is ugly but efficient scoring- then you can focus on getting the pretty goals. The Islanders have to be more aggressive with the puck, as well as on defense. Against Toronto, the defense looked very sure; it was only due to bad rebounds by Yann Danis that Toronto even got to the puck. However, last game that was not the case- the defense failed to help either MacDonald or Danis, soft goals or not. Columbus is a hot-and-cold team lately- if they come out cold tonight, it can only work to the Isles' advantage. Capitalize on every mistake and finish the play. In net, hopefully Joey MacDonald can get back to form and rebound from a shaky game (1 period, 4 GA). For the Jackets, rookie Steve Mason has been impressive (7-4-1, 2.05 GAA, .919%); but granted he starts tonight, if the Isles get to him early, he might not have as much of a chance.

The Islanders are 5-9-1 on the road, but if they find the right combinations tonight, the stats might not matter so much.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Isles Smacked, Dragged and Kicked Around in Pittsburgh

Islanders 2: Pittsburgh 9

If the title of this blog post took you aback... well, don't worry. This entire game did to me as well.

That said, with everything that people could say, write or analyze about last night's complete drubbing by the Penguins, 9-2, there are barely any original words to describe what transpired over 2 hours and 45 minutes in Mellon Arena.

This game was one in which all aspects of the team- offense, defense, and goaltending- were sub-par. As it was, only two defensemen- Mark Streit in the first (PP), and Andy Sutton in the third which made it 8-2 at that point- scored for the Islanders (10-17-2). Doug Weight also pulled to within four points of 1,000 with his 27th point of the season (an assist), but that was only a drop in the bucket when it came to the offense last night.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh found much to cheer about, as Petr Sykora and Pascal Dupuis both tallied hat tricks, and Philippe Boucher, Evgeni Malkin, and former Isle Miro Satan (making it three former Islanders in a row who've scored against their former team) all put the puck past either Joey MacDonald (4 GA, 15 svs, pulled after 1st) or Yann Danis (5 GA, 14 svs). They scored three power play goals out of 11 chances, and outshot the Isles 38-26.

The lopsided loss was enough to make Scott Gordon say, "It was an off night for everybody... I think we can just leave it at that."

Notes: Jon Sim cleared waivers and was a healthy scratch for tonight's game... Mike Sillinger led the Isles with five shots on goal... Pittsburgh goaltender John Curry made 25 saves in his third NHL start.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sim Clears Waivers

Winger Jon Sim was put on waivers by the Islanders yesterday. As of game time, he had cleared waivers and was a healthy scratch. No knowing when exactly he will be back on the ice.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Frustration Builds Along With Loss Total

Islanders 3: Flyers 4

Someone should post a sign in the locker room saying "WARNING: Early leads may cause implosion."

For that, once again, was what happened to the Islanders last night, as they faced off against Philadelphia in the second of two consecutive games in two nights. A plethora of chances went unfinished, and Yann Danis, in relief for Joey MacDonald, allowed 4 goals on 25 shots, in what was a tight game, and a much better effort than the night before. Still, Simon Gagne ended up making the difference, with his power play goal that powered the Flyers past New York, 4-3, leaving the Islanders winless in their last four.

The Islanders had a 2-0 lead in the first period, built hastily in 1:01, as Andy Hilbert redirected a feed through the slot on the PP, which D Chris Campoli and Mark Streit both helped out on. Then Doug Weight pulled to within five of the 1,000-point milestone, scoring his sixth goal of the year on a rebound by Sean Bergenheim.

But the good feelings ended too soon, as another former Islander- Arron Asham- fired a shot past Danis for his second of the year, cutting the lead in half, and then youngster Darroll Powe scored his first NHL goal to tie the game. After some great chances by the Isles, including a failed passing play (or two) through the neutral zone and a bona-fide shorthanded opportunity by Bergenheim which couldn't convert, Philly finally stopped missing the net enough for red-hot Jeff Carter to score his 20th of the season and give them the lead.

They would only hold it for a short while thanks to Blake Comeau, whose shot deflected off of Lasse Kukkonen's stick and trickled past Martin Biron's pads, tying it once more at 2:17 of the third. But midway through, Brendan Witt took a bad interference penalty, and Simon Gagne struck gold, putting the Flyers up 4-3 with his 14th of the year.

Over the past couple of games, however, penalties really haven't been the problem. Although the Isles have taken them, only 3 were committed by each team last night. Rather, the Isles could have run away with this game if not for the missed opportunities-other than Bergenheim's rush, Mark Streit hit the post a couple of times, and late in the game, I felt we spent way too much time in the defensive zone when there was still time for a couple of rush attempts. The defense overall has improved since last game, but Danis did leave a couple of rebounds, which unfortunately the D didn't get to in time. Overall, the Islanders have to find a way to finish the play- or at least get a few dirty goals by crashing the net more often- and preserve a lead. At 10-16-2, the desperation has to kick in some time.

Notes: Mike Richards had two assists... Doug Weight has 26 points in 28 games and leads all NHL players above the age of 33... Andy Sutton was a scratch last night, as was Nate Thompson (both with flu symptoms)... Bill Guerin has points in four straight (2 G, 2 A) as per the Isles' recap... Joe Callahan, a callup from Bridgeport, had three hits... G Rick DiPietro may be about a week to a week and a half away from returning to the ice.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dazed and Confused... And Still Without a Win

Islanders 2: Maple Leafs 4

What the Islanders failed to do last game against Atlanta, the Maple Leafs did in decisive fashion last night on home ice, and with an ex-Isle showing his team exactly what they miss.

Two years removed from his days on the Island, Jason Blake scored a goal and notched two assists against the team he says he loved playing for, helping his current team beat them, 4-2. The loss is the Isles' fifth in six games, and provides no relief for them as they head into the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia tonight to match up against a tough Flyers team.

The Isles never had the lead in this one, and never quite achieved any sort of flow either, whether because of the penalties they took or because, despite scoring a goal on the man-advantage, their power play suffered as well. The Leafs came out buzzing in the first, and their hard work paid off with a goal by Nikolai Kulemin, who pushed the puck past Joey MacDonald (making 33 saves in his 18th straight start) off a feed by Alexei Ponikarovsky. Twelve seconds later, though, Bill Guerin tipped a garbage goal past Vesa Toskala (26 saves) for his 11th of the year and a tie game. However, the Leafs still maintained control, outshooting the Isles 8-1 and putting a lot of pressure on the defense.

The second period opened with a power play for Toronto, and Brendan Witt in the box. They took it into the zone off the bat and managed to keep decent puck movement, but thanks to some great saves by MacDonald and constant work by the rest of the PK (especially Richard Park), the Leafs only managed to score once on five chances. That PP goal came from Ian White off a nice set up by Blake and Anton Stralman. After that, a penalty to Nic Antropov resulted in Sillinger getting a redirection and his first goal of the season in his third game back. However, late in the period, Blake got the wheels going and completely threw off Chris Campoli, blowing past him and tipping it past Joey for his sixth of the year (and only his 20th as a Leaf).

Both Blake Comeau and Nate Thompson headed off the ice at separate times in the third period, Comeau because of a tweak to his hand, and Thompson due to the flu (which I sure hope he passed to Ryan Hollweg during their fight in the first period- the dude threw two dirty hits in the game, one of which could have really injured Tim Jackman). Comeau returned for action in the third, where unfortunately the nail in the coffin was driven- Jeremy Williams, in his first game on the ice this season, drove home his first of the year on another set up by Blake, to make the score 4-2.

So now, the Isles go to Philly to meet up with Christine's favorite team to cheer against, the Flyers, and they look to find, hopefully, some Christmas magic to pull off a W. NOTE: THIS GAME IS ON VERSUS TONIGHT, NOT MSG PLUS.

Notes: Mike Sillinger hasn't lost his touch! He won 9 of 12 faceoffs... Josh Bailey was able to play in front of numerous members of his friends and family, in his first game in Toronto... Rick DiPietro is reportedly going to be back on the ice "very, very soon." Hmm... we'll keep an eye on that.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Shortcomings on "O" Lead to Another "L"

Thrashers 5: Islanders 1

This time, the Islanders got the fast start that they wanted. With an almost immediate power play in their hands, it couldn't have been faster- a sharp goal in the first minute of the game.

And then they simply stalled.

In the end, Bill Guerin's goal at :51 was all the Coliseum crowd could cheer about, as Joey MacDonald was lit up for 5 goals (through limited fault of his own) and bad offensive shifts outweighed the good ones, resulting in the Isles' fourth loss in five games, a 5-1 drubbing by the visiting Atlanta Thrashers.

Atlanta, coming off of a losing streak, had been outplayed for much of the game, but despite the lopsided shot totals (only 17 shots to the Isles' 29), struggling Ilya Kovalchuk and Co. slipped five goals past MacDonald (12 saves) for the win, after a frustrated head coach John Anderson vowed; "If we're going to be a doormat, I want us to be an ugly doormat... We're not going to be an easy mark anymore."

The first period was a good one for the Isles, as they got the first goal and were creative with the puck early on. The feistiness was very evident, as a lively scrap between Tim Jackman and Chris Thorburn transpired. The second period, however, was all Atlanta, as they scored twice on three chances- Kovalchuk slipped a flukey shot past MacDonald, who was already committed, at 10:04, and then Eric Boulton scored on a wrist shot at 15:23. The team that had been regularly outscored by a wide margin in the second period managed 2 goals against the Isles, and went into the third hungry for more; Kovalchuk confirmed to CJ Papa, "We need one more."

They got two more before the night was over- Eric Perrin and Thorburn both capitalized, showing that quality was and is much better than quantity, as the Isles shot everything but the kitchen sink at Johan Hedberg and could only manage a couple of post shots (both Mark Streit and newly recalled Blake Comeau manage to hit metal at least once). Comeau's callup came with unlucky Jeff Tambellini being sent down on a conditioning stint in Bridgeport, and he seemed to thrive on it, showing himself in the play more often than he had been last season.

However, besides that, no one really stepped up for the Islanders, and no one was able to finish off any chances that were made available. All they could do was show frustration in the closing minutes, and out of the two teams coming into last night's game to make a statement, only the Thrashers could get the job done. For the Isles, it's back to the drawing board.

Notes: Brendan Witt led the Isles in hits with 8, and also recorded 5 blocked shots, including 3 in a row late in the third... Doug Weight came within seven points of reaching 1,000 with his secondary assist on Guerin's goal... every Isle recorded at least one hit save for Streit and Mike Sillinger.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Tragedy of the Pink Jersey, Part 2

Tragedy, comedy, horror story- however way you spin it, it's all bad for us female hockey fans, and fans of sport in general.

Observe. A couple of weeks ago, I read a post on Islander Mania by billch89, directed at the Isles' staff, regarding women's jerseys: "I have a few female friends who would love to buy an islanders jersey. They all would prefer the white away jersey, however it looks like the "womens" jerseys only come in home colors and in pink. Unfortunately the largest child size is too small and the smallest male size is too big. I was just wondering if it is correct that there are no away-style jerseys for women and also why pink ones take preference over official ones?"

The response by one staff member was that he would see what could be done within retail and merchandise to get women a white away jersey. The truth is, there should not have had to be anything done to achieve that.

Somehow I find it hard to believe that these pink jerseys are in such high demand, seeing as only a minority of females that I see from my TV in the Coliseum wear any jersey at all, much less the pink and white ones that the league and organization foist onto us. Billch confided to me as well that he did not understand why jerseys not in the team colors would be offered in the first place. The league might think that they're popular, but all I see is the degrading aspect of wearing a jersey of a team that I live for in colors that not only are not theirs, but colors that I have not worn since I was, let's see, around six years old.

Why the NHL believes that women would willingly want these jerseys- and why women would buy them either way- is beyond me. As fans, and fans first, we expect the same as would be offered our male counterparts, and that is both road and home colored jerseys. Plus, we would love it if the merchandising staff of each team would take care not to treat us as though we are lesser than simply because we are women. I can assure you that I am perfectly fine with wearing blue, orange and white- those are the Islanders' colors, and I will wear them proudly. Never will I walk into Nassau Coliseum wearing a pink jersey with impunity.

The Isles thought they'd do something nice for us with "Hockey and Heels Night" in February, with the same effect. In fact, the Isles-Flyers game that took place on that night was the day after my birthday, and I refused to go because of the blatant gender roles that the marketing team of the Islanders thought I would be perfectly fine with. I was fine with the cheap tickets. I wasn't okay with the condescending feel of the fashion show and makeover, and I trust not many other female fans I associate with would be, either.

The truth is, when it comes to things like this, I can't help but get the feeling that women aren't represented with the same level of respect that men are as fans. Pink jerseys are not the way to show respect to the women who come into the Coliseum to cheer on their favorite team. The organization can try to paint it with another spin, but I can still see the ugly pink and white underneath.

A Comeback In the Making Falls Short

Islanders 2: Capitals 5

The Isles do have ways of psyching out their fans.

After falling behind 2-0 on goals by Alexander Ovechkin and ex-Isle Viktor Kozlov, the Isles staged what one would think would be a dramatic comeback, as first Mark Streit (PP) and then Trent Hunter scored to hush the crowd at the Verizon Center before the second period ended. But last night's result showed that even the proclaimed "Comeback Kids" couldn't find it in them to seal the deal, and instead Donald Brashear (of all people) scored the game-winner in the third, poking it past sprawled goaltender Joey MacDonald, who, fresh off his 3rd star of November, made 42 saves but allowed 4 goals.

The Islanders usually start out well in the first period, but quickly got lost in the speed and effective play of Washington's offense, while their defense shut down any chance of a forecheck by the Isles until the second period. Once again, the Islanders went on a penalty parade (although the Caps would join them later), and Washington was able to capitalize twice on the resulting power plays. With a depleted squad coming into last night's game, the Caps held their breath as their superstar Alexander Ovechkin skated off the ice with what looked to be an arm/shoulder injury during the second Washington power play of the night, but he came back and looked to be fine- actually taking a penalty for boarding shortly afterward. Brent Johnson (27 saves) caught a break during the second, in which he dove for and missed the puck coming from the neutral zone on an Isles PP, resulting in the puck going in; however, the puck banked off of the referee's skate, making it a no goal. Otherwise, the usually-embattled goaltender had a strong showing against the Isles, helped out by his defense as well, while Joey Mac ended up being hung out to dry.

The Isles hung on until late in the third, when Eric Fehr scored another PP goal on the backhand, making a 3-2 lead, 4-2. Then, with MacDonald pulled, Ovechkin made a selfless play to give the puck to Nicklas Backstrom for the empty net goal. It was an exclamation point on top of the exclamation point, adding insult to the uninspired Islanders loss.

Notes: Radek Martinek is injured again, re-tweaking his shoulder in a collision with teammate Andy Sutton during practice. He will be out 2-4 weeks... Mike Sillinger appeared in his first game of the season, and first since February 2.

Other News: Sean Avery has been suspended for 6 games following his comments about Flames D Dion Phaneuf and his current girlfriend (Avery's ex), actress Elisha Cuthbert. The two games he missed during his time in limbo count towards the suspension... the Stars officially want nothing more to do with him, so they now have four games to decide what exactly they are going to do.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What I'm Thankful For- Islanders Style

-funny quotes.
- breakaway shots.
-glove saves.
-Joey MacDonald, the new cult hero.
- Scott Gordon's ties- can't deny the guy can dress.
- Doug Weight on the PP.
- Richard Park's PK.
- Andy Hilbert on pace to score 20 this year?!
- the shootout.
- Witt and Sutton, shot blockers extraordinaire.
- Ryan O'Byrne (LOL... juust kidding).
- Howie Rose and Billy Jaffe's broadcasts.
- the "Billy's Breakdown" segment- and him answering my email!
- Chris Campoli's OT winner (both of them).
- text messages with my co-blogger Christine, and having a partner-in-crime like her. Much love and thanks for being so awesome. Here's to the rest of the season!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lady Luck Grants Isles Two Points

Islanders 4: Canadiens 3 (SO)

Ryan O'Byrne definitely spent a sleepless night somewhere in Montreal, asking himself just why he made the mistake.

Anyone would have lost some shuteye after shooting the puck accidentally into their own net.

O'Byrne made the crucial error on a delayed penalty call, with goaltender Carey Price on the bench for the extra skater. With pressure mounting from Doug Weight, he inadvertently backhanded the puck toward the net, and scored a goal... for the other team.

That goal tied the game 3-3, carried it to overtime and then the shootout, where Richard Park and Bill Guerin capitalized, and stole two points for the Islanders (9-10-2), who seem to win lately even when they do everything wrong.

The Isles struck first blood on the power play, with Richard Park shooting a laser through traffic, but the Isles defense coughed it right back up 17 seconds later, with Begin storming through and getting the redirection. Then, Josh Georges scored his first as a Hab on the power play, putting Montreal up 2-1, at 9:58 of the first. To begin the second, another Montreal goal by Maxime Lapierre rendered the Isles- supposedly- down for the count, with the rowdy Canadiens faithful bearing witness. That was, until Trent Hunter scored another PP goal (his 8th), and then the fatal goal by Ryan O'Byrne (which was credited to first Bergenheim, and then Guerin). In the shootout, Carey Price wasn't fast enough for Park or Guerin, while Alex Tanguay and Andre Kostitsyn were both stoned by MacDonald, a proclaimed cult hero at this point, in his 11th straight start. And the nightmares for O'Byrne began, as he headed off the ice with his teammates, with his own team's fans chanting derisively, his name pounding in his ears.

Although the Islanders scored twice on the power play, they also committed tons of penalties, leading a stately parade to the penalty box that thankfully did not end in complete disaster. Joey MacDonald (23 saves) was as lucky as he was good, getting breaks from the post and some help from Doug Weight, who knocked the puck away with his stick as it bounced behind the goalie. Weight also had two assists on the night, extending his points streak and having earned 21 points in 21 games. All in all, as behind as they were, the fortune the Islanders had last night to earn two points instead of one, or none, is unbelievable, and they come home to face Pittsburgh tomorrow night having won five of their last six games.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Solid Rebound Vs. Sabres

Islanders 4: Sabres 2

Something must have gotten through on the plane ride to Buffalo.

One night after getting drubbed by the Devils, 4-2, the Islanders reversed the tables on the Sabres last night, winning by the same score and getting their fourth win in five games. Captain Bill Guerin, who earlier had lashed out about Mike Mottau's two-game suspension for hitting Frans Nielsen, scored the game-winner, and Mark Streit had an empty netter in the closing seconds, sending thousands of Sabres fans, no doubt hoping for another smackdown, home dejected.

The Islanders came out strong in the first, with Andy Hilbert scoring on a wrist shot at 14:20, but allowed a late goal by rookie Mark Mancari on a nice setup that Joey MacDonald (35 saves) had no chance on. Then in the second, Jon Sim scored his fifth on the power-play, on a tip-in assisted by Streit and Chris Campoli on what was the only goal of the period, although the Isles were outshot 18-2. Finally, Guerin put the Isles up for good, and although Derek Roy scored to cut the lead to 3-2, a Buffalo penalty squashed any chance of a man-up situation by way of pulling the goaltender, and the Isles pulled off the quality win.

Now, they look to Monday night, and the Montreal Canadiens, who have a raucous home crowd. As it was, they brought troops with them when they came to the Island, so if that is any implication of just how dedicated Habs fans are, the Isles should pack some earplugs.

Notes: Nielsen will be out for 8-12 weeks (leg)... the Isles are 3-0-0 in the back end of back-to-back games this year...Jeremy Colliton was recalled from Bridgeport to replace Nielsen, and led with five hits.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Islanders Become Devils' Advocate at the Rock

Islanders 2: Devils 3

Three is not the Isles' lucky number.

After a three-game winning streak and three days of no formal competition, they came upon the Rock hoping to start off their three-game, four-night road stint on the right foot. But the Devils had other plans, and steamrolled the Isles to win their third straight- by three goals.

Moreover, the Islanders have now lost another third of their "kid" line, if you will, with Frans Nielsen going down at the cheapshot of Mike Mottau, a hit that should be reviewed by Colin Campbell. Review or not, however, the fact remains that New York flatlined once again, for one reason or another. In the first period, they allowed two late goals ten seconds apart- one a redirection by David Clarkson, the other a tip-in by Travis Zajac. Although Joey MacDonald made some nice saves, including a beauty of a glove save on Dainius Zubrus, he would no doubt like to have had some more help in front of him, as the D got caught looking a ton, and therefore chasing the play more than actually staying with it. Meanwhile, Kevin Weekes was solid in his first start in nine days (a multiple of three!), despite being 1-3-0 previously this year. Even Brendan Witt's return to the lineup after missing 12 games (3 times 4?) due to injury couldn't save the Isles from themselves.

In the second period, Andy Hilbert scored a long-range goal that floated past Weekes and cut the lead in half, but Bryce Salvador got it back just as quickly, sending the packed Prudential Center into overdrive. Two more goals- one a perfectly-positioned rebound by Sean Bergenheim, and the other a crease-crasher credited to Brian Gionta- made the score 4-2 before the second closing horn sounded.

Then came the third, and the hit- Mottau went for Nielsen's head, catching him with his elbow and what looked like the butt-end of his stick, and as Nielsen fell back, his right skate caught in a rut in the ice, giving him a leg injury to go with the initial head injury. Trent Hunter jumped to defend his linemate, earning him a game misconduct for instigating, and a few minutes later, simultaneous Mark Streit and Chris Campoli penalties gave the Devils the cherry on top; although MacDonald made saves, he couldn't overcome both defensemen, Witt and Andy Sutton, losing their sticks, and Paul Martin capitalized.

This morning, NHL.com reported that Mottau received a two-game suspension for the elbow to Nielsen. We'll let you make of that what you will. For now, however, the Isles need to focus on their upcoming game tonight against the Buffalo Sabres, and not making this game a rematch of the 7-1 drubbing they received at home on Kids' Day earlier this season.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Isles Stop Canucks In Mid-Flight

Canucks 1: Islanders 2 (SO)

According to the Vancouver media, this was supposed to be a no-contest.

Well, let's hope no one placed a large sum of money on that assumption.

In truth, the Islanders brought plenty of their game over the second and third periods, defeating the Canucks 2-1 off a pretty backhander from Frans Nielsen in the shootout and making a statement to trounce all other statements last night.

Firefighter Appreciation Night saw Joey MacDonald douse the fire that is the Vancouver offense, which got things done the way they wanted to in the first, cycling the puck and getting plenty of chances. Pavol Demitra slapped the puck in from the point to make it 1-0 only 49 seconds in, but otherwise, MacDonald rebounded extremely well, once again doing all he could to keep the puck out of the net, as well as getting some help from the posts and his defense and penalty killers. The period ended 1-0, but the Islanders got things started well in the second, getting more of a presence in on the forecheck and cashing in on a power-play 3:54 in, thanks to Doug Weight (his 4th, and extending his point streak; Weight now has points in ten of the Isles' 13 PP goals).

There were a couple of flip-flops during the game; Sean Bergenheim displayed some very good defensive play, while Andy Sutton jumped in on offense with quite a bit of prowess. Also, Tim Jackman seems to be coming into his own now, crashing the net and getting a few chances against red-hot goaltender Roberto Luongo (34 saves last night), who has 5 shutouts on this season and had been 4-0-1 in his last five starts (.59 GAA, .979%). When the shootout arrived, Scott Gordon's choices clearly showed just how much focus he is giving young Josh Bailey, as he was the second shooter to face Luongo. First, however, was Nielsen, whose shootout goal in only his first NHL game lifted the Isles over the Toronto Maple Leafs last year; likewise, his was the only shot to get past Luongo, and it turned out to be enough, as Kyle Wellwood, Demitra, and Alex Burrows were all denied by MacDonald, who made 31 saves.

Surely by this moment, if not during overtime, the media up North was chewing on their pens with worry, and today had some explaining to do concerning their strong understatement of the Islanders, who now have a three-game winning streak.


Notes: Brendan Witt is inching closer to a return, but Kyle Okposo is out with an arm injury he sustained in last night's game. More info to follow...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Twice Is Nice Vs. Ottawa

Senators 2: Islanders 3

It seems as though the Isles may finally be waking from their stupor.

Though still at the bottom of the Atlantic Division (6-9-2, 14 pts), they have managed to pull off two convincing wins against Ottawa, who is seemingly not the team they were last year (also 6-9-2, 14). Last night, the Isles once again scored three goals, and Joey MacDonald once again was calm, cool and collected, as they held off the Senators 3-2 at Nassau Coliseum.

The game started with Darryl Strawberry dropping the puck for Autism Awareness Night, and the first period ended up scoreless, although the Senators dominated in shots and pushing on the forecheck, as would be expected after a chewing out by their GM and a three-game losing streak. MacDonald made some great saves, including a dandy glove save on (I believe) Dany Heatley and also a blocker save with traffic in front. Over the last few games he has displayed some very good positioning, playing at the top of his crease, attacking the puck, and also great ability to see the puck well through screens. Also, Josh Bailey, in his third NHL game, seems to be comfortable, especially playing with good friend Kyle Okposo and on the same line as another young player, Jeff Tambellini. Bailey handed off a nice feed to Okposo which would have been a goal, save for Alex Auld, who made 28 saves this game.

In the second period, the Isles scored twice, once early on a dirty goal by Sean Bergenheim, who stuffed in a rebound on a Doug Weight shot. Ottawa continued their penalty trend of last game, and the Isles capitalized once more, as Jon Sim crashed the net and threw the puck and himself into the net for a PP goal. The Isles showed some creativity with the puck- something that was missing from last year and the last few games, even- and executed some nice passing plays that were only thwarted by Auld. The Isles also were able to even up the shot total a little more with Ottawa, outshooting them by a wide margin in the second period.

In the third, the Islanders added to their lead with Chris Campoli's third of the season, a pretty placement shot above the glove of Auld which he never saw coming, because of a screen from his own players. However, the Sens would get closer as the Isles became increasingly undisciplined, with first Bill Guerin (his second penalty) and then Andy Sutton going in back to back, giving Dany Heatley his 10th goal on a snap shot in front of MacDonald, and then Jason Spezza his sixth of the year on assists from Heatley and Chris Kelly. However, that would be all for Ottawa, who dropped their fourth straight; meanwhile, the Isles swept their only home-and-home series of the season, and Joey Mac got the first star of the game on his 38-save performance. Tomorrow night, East and West clash again, as the red-hot Vancouver Canucks, fresh off a 4-2 win against Toronto, come to the Island. Expect there to be a shootout.

Notes: Doug Weight had his team leading 12th assist of the year on Bergenheim's goal and played 20+ minutes of ice time... Thomas Pock's suspension gave Radek Martinek plenty of room to skate in his first game back since injuring his shoulder, and he had a respectable 17:00 ice time.... Trent Hunter had six shots on goal... Also, Brendan Witt may be on his way back in a couple of games! Keep an eye out for number 32.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Joey Mac, PK the Ones to Beat In Ottawa

Islanders 3: Senators 1

With both recent and past history against them, one would expect the Islanders to have trouble against a team like the Ottawa Senators, who have faced some rough times as of late but have found the Isles easy to beat. However, much to fans' relief, it seems as though the Sens have bigger problems with themselves.

The Isles did what they needed to after losing to the Flyers 3-1, pelting backup goalie Alex Auld with shots and winning by the same score. Jason Spezza's scoring woes continued, as he tried doing too much to make plays and the Isles' D converged around him many a time, and for Ottawa as a whole, the transition process to a new coaching system continues, while the Isles despite their miserable record at Scotiabank Place (3-16-4) did everything right for the first time in days, making Scott Gordon a happy coach indeed.

The Isles did allow an early goal yet again in the first period, on a PP goal by Filip Kuba after a bad penalty taken by Sean Bergenheim. This came after a very good shift by the Isles in which they generated chances and took the first six shots of the game, all of them around the midsection of Auld. Then, two Ottawa penalties in a row caused the Isles to have two PP chances, and Kyle Okposo, yelling for the puck, made good on the second one, scoring his second career power play goal and second of the season, on which Josh Bailey got his first NHL point. Call it "poetic justice," as Howie Rose did- Okposo had drawn the penalty on Christoph Schubert in the first place. Also check out Bailey receiving more time on the PP- he seems to be comfortable playing on a line with Okposo.

Joey MacDonald hadn't been tested much in the first period, but he flashed the pads and showed his aggressive style of play later on, as the Senators started to cook. In the end, he made 29 saves, many of them spectacular, as he showed the consistent level of play that he has had since after his and the Isles' poor showing against the Buffalo Sabres in October. This kind of play has been exactly what the team has needed, especially with Rick DiPietro out with his injury. Although his record is 5-5-2, that doesn't necessarily underscore his ability in net; believe it or not, he is not the reason that the Isles have been inconsistent, but he has very much been one of the reasons why they won this game.

The penalty kill was also outstanding for the Islanders, not allowing many shots, and clearing fast and easily. A Spezza penalty for holding was called at 16:16, and Trent Hunter scored his team-leading 7th on the season on the power-play 1:15 afterward, unassisted. Although the Isles steadily became undisciplined, that wouldn't put an end to their chances: shorthanded, Sean Bergenheim and Richard Park came zipping down the left side on Auld, and Bergenheim's shot was saved. If Park had been on the right shot, he could've grabbed the rebound and smoked it past the goaltender.

An early goal by Bill Guerin on a nice feed from Doug Weight (who else?) put the Isles up 3-1 in the third, and head coach Craig Hartsburg couldn't have been happy with the way his team was playing or the amount of penalties they were committing. Moreover, the Isles chose this game to play well enough to preserve their usually precarious third-period lead; MacDonald was brilliant in net, and the penalty kill (Andy Sutton and Richard Park especially) made great moves and gave up the body. However, late in the third, Thomas Pock took a nasty and unnecessary penalty- a five-minute major for an elbow to the head of Ryan Shannon, that knocked Shannon out and left him with a concussion. NHL.com reports that upon his hearing and reviewing the play, Pock will be suspended for five games without pay for his actions. He will be able to return November 26 against Pittsburgh, leaving a roster spot open for an almost-ready-to-play Radek Martinek, recovered from his shoulder injury.

However, aside from that blemish, this was a good win for the Isles, one that they needed to snap their three-game skid, and one that may even carry over into Saturday's game on the Island. It will be interesting to see how Ottawa will respond to their loss, and especially after their uninspired play last night.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Power Play... or Mission Impossible?

Flyers 3: Islanders 1

Neither of these teams came for the opening faceoff this afternoon with brilliant records; the Islanders have only managed one point in 2 games that they could have won, whereas the Flyers had dropped three in a row. But the latter team had something the former did not: a goaltender who'd won 7 straight against them, and a sniper by the name of Daniel Briere.

Briere broke a virtual stalemate at 13:40 of the second period after four Philadelphia penalties- including two 5-on-3 chances- that the Isles failed to capitalize on. Then, despite four more power play chances for the Isles, and great saves by Joey MacDonald (29), Mike Richards scored shorthanded to put the Flyers up 2-0 in the third period. (Remember, the Isles are unfortunately not the only ones to score a lot of shorties this season- now the Flyers also have six on the year.) Although Trent Hunter cut the lead in half on a turnover late, key saves by Martin Biron (35) and an empty-netter by Kimmo Timonen sealed the deal, and the Isles are sent reeling, having gone winless in their last three games and clearly having let play slip from their hands into the capable hands of the Flyers, who have fared well against them in past matches.

Unfortunately, it doesn't get any easier for the Islanders on Saturday, where they face off against the Ottawa Senators. They manhandled the Flyers 4-1 in their last meeting, lost a close one to Carolina 2-1, and as of this posting were being skated all over by the Canadiens, 4-0, so clearly they are a team that can go either way in any given game- however, they have a good record against the Islanders, and with their potent offensive talent, the Isles would do well to keep out of the penalty box, shut down their offense completely, and generate a good forecheck of their own for good measure. And please- please- in these next few days, work on the power play! Aggressive forecheck and moving the puck well are key; don't make it easy for the opposition to read the play. The best plays have come seemingly out of thin air, so maybe that's a sign- don't think. Just play.

Notes: Josh Bailey made his NHL debut and saw around 7-8 minutes of ice time, including 3:09 of PP time... He took two penalties but also won 64% of faceoffs, which have been a sore spot for the Isles in the absence of veteran center Mike Sillinger. His presence comes with another absence from the Isles roster, as Mike Comrie is out with a hip injury.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Tale of the Tape? Not Quite

Penguins 4: Islanders 3 (SO)

How many times can one write the same idea over and over without sounding redundant?

That is the question we, as bloggers, face now, as we have watched yet another two-goal lead slip out of the Islanders' fingers. The same mistakes have been made, and the same trends are displayed, prompting me to wonder what exactly is not getting through to the team.

This time, the Penguins were the beneficiaries of the Isles' errors, cutting a 3-1 lead down over a period and a half, outshooting them 18-1 in the third period, and capitalizing on a Petr Sykora shootout goal and a no-goal call on Trent Hunter's chance, which got buried in goalie Dany Sabourin's pads, to lift them to a 4-3 win that once again should have been a 3-1, or maybe even 4-1, Isles win.

Once more, the goals didn't matter. Neither Tim Jackman's first of the year (this after just being called up from Bridgeport with Nate Thompson injured), nor Doug Weight's change-up from the left side, nor even Andy Hilbert's pretty little backhand shovel past Sabourin, could help. In the end, it was the defense's job to ensure this lead would not slip away- and unfortunately, all of the aggression they needed to display was not there, and so Tyler Kennedy scored twice, and Jordan Staal once, to tie it up, all at the expense of Joey MacDonald (29 saves), seemingly the only one who knew what he was doing out on the ice in the third period.

Not much more can be said, other than the fact that these Islanders have had four games now that they could have won handily- one against Montreal (lost), one against Columbus (won the hard way in OT), one against Atlanta (lost), and now this one against Pittsburgh, in which they only salvage a point. And even if the refs are to blame to a point, it is the Islanders who should be looking within themselves for answers; if they had taken care of business in the first place, the shootout never would have been needed.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Another Drop In the Frustration Bucket

Islanders 3: Thrashers 4

Up front, the Thrashers are much in the same boat as the Islanders have been for the start of this season: losing games, dwelling around the Eastern Conference cellar, and unsure of just what to do to remedy it.

But the one thing the Thrashers can do that the Isles have not done very well is play in the third period- and play they did, scoring three third-period goals to rally past New York, 4-3- you guessed it- after the Isles had a lead going into the final 20 minutes of play.

It didn't matter that backup goaltender Ondrej Pavelec allowed six goals in his previous start. Against the Isles he had a rough go for 40 minutes, allowing one goal in the first five minutes by Jon Sim, and then, while tied at 1, allowing two goals in 17 seconds, one by Frans Nielsen on what was almost a botched play, and then one by Trent Hunter on a pretty setup by Nielsen, in the second period. Atlanta has been outscored 23-6 in second periods this season.

However, the Isles have been outscored by about 30-11 in third periods, and that stat didn't change in this game. Slava Kozlov scored his second of the game and eighth of the year, Jason Williams scored on the PP, and then Tobias Enstrom put the Thrashers in the lead, and a frustrated Scott Gordon said after the game that the Isles "just stopped skating."

Another lead eliminated. Another mark in the "loss" column. Another game in which the Islanders just did not have the winning formula in the third period, the kind of game that ensures a win. And it's back to the drawing board when it comes to holding a lead.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Joey Mac, Isles Parade on Election Night

Islanders 2: Rangers 1

Barack Obama won the election, but the Islanders won the War of the Garden this time around.

Joey MacDonald was the story of the night, practically stating a case for himself to be President (at least for Isles fans) in a stellar performance that shut out the Rangers until the last five minutes of the game. On top of that, two shorthanded goals in the third period after a parade to the sin bin lifted the Isles to a 2-1 victory over their cross-town rivals, the Rangers, who have the biggest amount of points coming into this game.

The first period was, in sharp contrast to earlier games between these teams, a feeling-out period, with the Rangers tentative and the Isles almost lethargic, perhaps from the drain of the previous night's win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Although scoreless and largely uneventful, the Rangers took the majority of shots, and that carried over into the second period, where at one point the shot total was 25-10, Blueshirts. That speaks volumes about both the quality of shots they were taking and the play of MacDonald, whose best save of the night was a glove snap on Michal Roszival in the second. Overall, however, save for his heroics, this was a rare game in which nothing happened, and compared to election coverage, hockey in New York was actually boring.

Then the Isles- the Isles!- broke out finally in the third, on a rush by Frans Nielsen and Nate Thompson. Nielsen took the initial shot, which a solid Henrik Lundqvist stopped, but as he went down and the puck remained in the air, Thompson, displaying great hand-eye coordination, swatted the puck in out of midair. Five minutes later, Richard Park, the PK specialist, drove it home to score the Islanders' 6th shortie of the year, and his second. Play got feisty late into it as the Rangers turned on the after-burners, and would get a goal to cut the lead to 2-1, a dribbler off the stick of Markus Naslund. But a tough PK and impenetrable defense shut the door, and the Isles left MSG with a 2-game win streak. They look to carry the strong play over to tomorrow night's game at Atlanta, where the Thrashers are in dire straits, although coming off a strong win against Florida 5-3.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Campoli's Two Help Avoid Unlucky Seven

Blue Jackets 3: Islanders 4 (OT)

One year ago last night, the Islanders won Al Arbour's 1,500th game for him in dramatic fashion against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Last night, with Arbour no longer present behind the bench, they did so once more- with a little too much drama than a fan would hope for.

Indeed, Isles fans likely thought they were stuck with the worst possible case of deja vu ever reported- yet another game only played for 40 minutes, and yet another 3-goal lead squandered over the third period. But the Isles of last night learned their lesson, and found a way to deny the Columbus Blue Jackets another point- and that way came in the form of Chris Campoli.

The first period was uneventful, but that was just the way Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock wanted it to be- methodical, almost lethargic, as to lull the Isles into a false sense of security and then break out and catch them by surprise. However, that never happened over the first 40 minutes of the game. The Jackets maintained puck possession and faceoffs in the first, outshooting the Isles 13-7 and winning twice the amount of draws (12-6). However, they failed to knock one past Joey MacDonald, who looked well-rested and pretty much on his game.

The Isles took over and poured it on in the second period. First came the hardworking Richard Park, who stuffed it past Fredrik Norrena (25 saves) for his first of the year, which made me and Christine very happy. (After all, Park is one of the Isles we cheer on often.) The Isles took penalty after penalty, but the Jackets, falling flat fast, were unable to score; in fact, the most blatant sign of their frustration early on came when Fredrik Modin missed a wide-open net, shooting the puck wide. Bill Guerin took what was perhaps the most frustrating penalty midway through, but made up for it about three seconds after coming out of the box, as Joey Mac headmanned a great play to Richard Park, who banked it up the left side and hit Guerin on the breakaway. Norrena couldn't stay patient, diving right for the two-pad stack, and Guerin went left, slipping it right past for the 2-0 lead. Then Campoli got going shorthanded, with a scrum in front resulting in the puck bouncing onto his stick, and then into the net. 3-0, Isles. 20 minutes left to play. Sounded easy to any other team.

But nothing comes easy for either the Isles or their fans lately, and after what was probably a very sound tongue-lashing on the Jackets by Hitchcock, they came out ready to play, as the Isles' skates seemingly got stuck on the ice-again. Marc Methot scored a wrap-around goal to cut the lead to 3-1. Then, 1:12 later, new Jacket R.J. Umberger tipped it in on the power-play, after six solid penalty kills for the Isles (which still needs to be remedied- why so many penalties??). Another Umberger goal tied the score at 3 and had Isles fans' heads spinning. The Jackets continued to outshoot the Isles all game, not to mention throughout the third period (at one point, they were outshooting New York 8-3), and they stole one point after a game pretty much dominated by the Isles, at least in the second.

Overtime came, and with that the calm, collected play of Joey Mac, as coach Scott Gordon noted that his play was key to keeping the Isles on top. He kept good positioning all game, made clean glove saves, and also had some noteworthy stops that the crowd was too happy to acknowledge. And then finally, Mike Comrie broke out with the puck. He hung onto it perhaps for too long, and lost it, but Bruno Gervais picked it up and shot for a Norrena save, and the rebound came right to Campoli, whose first shot bounced out of the net but was apparently a goal. For good measure, after a short celebration, Campoli picked it up once more and shot another bullseye, this time for the OT win- one a bit delayed in coming, but a win all the same, and a reason for Gordon to breathe a sigh of relief.

Tonight, the Isles look to carry the momentum over to the Garden for their first road matchup with the Rangers on Election Night. No saying who the players would vote for, and for good measure, we choose to keep sports and politics apart *wink*. It should be a spirited game tonight, as it always is between city rivals in the Battle of New York.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Monumental Breakdown

Canadiens 5: Islanders 4

It was the classic example of counting your chickens, and it turned into a nightmare worthy of Freddie Kruger for Islanders fans at the Coliseum last night. They watched in horror as a 4-1 lead turned into a 5-4 deficit in the third period, and as the team let two points slip from their fingers. Instead of their first win in weeks, it turned into their worst start to date- 2-7-1. All of this after the best 40 minutes of Isles hockey you could ask for.
What went wrong?

The game started with an early Montreal goal by Alexei Kovalev, just 2:03 in. 22 seconds later, an Andrei Markov penalty allowed the Isles to answer fast, off the stick of former Habs D Mark Streit, to the chagrin of the many Habs fans having traveled from the north to occupy the Coliseum's most expensive seats. Then, the Isles would take their first lead since October 16, as goaltender Carey Price got caught daydreaming and let a softie slip past for Jon Sim to celebrate over. At the other end, goaltender Yann Danis, in his first start of the season, recovered well from the early hiccup, making 10 saves, including a breakway pad stop on Saku Koivu.

Then, in the second, the floodgates opened.
Alex Tanguay took a penalty 57 seconds in to give the Isles a power-play, and one of the nicest plays to date ensued- Trent Hunter to Doug Weight to Bill Guerin, who redirected the puck past Price for a 3-1 lead. A toe-to-toe bout between Georges Laraque and newcomer, 6'8'' Mitch Fritz would not swing the momentum in the Habs' favor, and Frans Nielsen scored his first of the year on a pretty backhand over a committed Price before the closing horn. Only one penalty was taken by the Isles to this point, and the PK made sure Montreal didn't capitalize and come to life. The Islanders were rolling now, winning nearly three-fourths of faceoffs and playing their best, most complete game yet.

And then, somehow, they simply strayed from the game plan. And kept taking draws in their own zone. And let Montreal take shot after shot, and faceoff after faceoff, and every loose puck, seemingly. And then Tomas Plekanec scored twice in 2:07. The Isles D started to scramble, and got lost in their own zone, as Chris Higgins scored to tie the score at 4. And then, as the rowdy Habs fans screamed themselves hoarse, Alexei Kovalev scored his second. And made the score 5-4. The Isles would manage a couple of shots on goal before the end, but Carey Price somehow became Henrik Lundqvist, and stopped everything. And the Isles, after 40 minutes of brilliance, of outshooting, outskating, and outscoring, unraveled before everyone's eyes. The look on Scott Gordon's face said it all- what in the world can be done?

5-4. 2-7-1. All numbers, but they lower the boom on what is a very young and brutal season for the Islanders thus far. It'll take more than words to take the bad taste out of their mouths after this one.

Friday, October 31, 2008


At first Maddy decided to go as Michael Phelps for Halloween but after some thought she opted to go as her favorite Islander Brendan Witt.

Resemblance? You be the judge.

(no animals were harmed during picture taking however many treats were given as compensation for the cats pointing and laughing)

New Third Jersey

Before the Isles v. Rangers game I was invited to join my friend Dom for the Islanders Business Club's revealing of the third jersey. A guy I met at the event stated the Isles changed the color to navy blue to make it more marketable. However as my next door neighbor at the games, Tom pointed out that the navy blue looks like black on the ice, which makes the players look more like Flyers than Islanders. I would think Tom's point trumps marketability.

Too bad this guy doesn't have a pulse, we could use him on D.

Bobby Nystrom and Clark Gillies. Bobby Nystrom was (and still is) my favorite Islander. As a young kid I couldn't tell who was who on the ice but Nystrom was easy to follow because his blonde hair stuck out of his helmet. I wore #23 for almost all of my athletic days...playing R/L wing to boot.

Strides Made, But One Point's All They Get

Islanders 2 : Flyers 3 (OT)

The desperation level was high going into last night's game at the Wachovia Center, and the Isles responded uneasily at first, and then well as time went by. Losers for four straight prior to this game, they worked hard and played well, pressuring on the forecheck and killing every penalty they took.

Until the very last.

Jeff Carter snakebit the Isles for two goals, including the game-winner in overtime, as the Flyers got past the Isles 3-2 in front of a huge crowd still giddy over the previous night's World Series win for the Phillies. The Islanders, at the bottom of the NHL standings with only 5 points, are steadily finding their way to the net and ways to at least prolong a game and make it possible for them to win, but somehow that is not happening.

It started perhaps right off the opening faceoff, as the Flyers attempted to stuff the puck past Joey MacDonald straightaway. Then a series of lost draws by the Isles led to the first goal, a pretty passing play finished by Mike Knuble at 7:45. After that, the Isles had the chance to regroup and play hard, evening the score on the power play on a rocket of a shot by Bill Guerin after Scottie Upshall went into the box for hooking.

From then on, the Isles and Flyers played pretty much on a par with one another, which is a little surprising once you consider the situations of both teams- the Isles losing games, the Flyers on a winning streak. The defense and penalty killing was solid, especially on plays by Nate Thompson and Sutton (who made his presence felt in his season debut, much to the relief of Isles fans). On offense, chances were again generated, especially by the Weight line on the forecheck and also by Kyle Okposo and Trent Hunter. Richard Park also showed off his speed and smart play in some instances. Shortly after the Guerin goal, however, the Isles found themselves once again chasing for a tie after Carter's first goal, on a well-done redirection.

The second period yielded no scoring, but the Isles were definitely more comfortable and found more ways to get to the net, although Martin Biron (34 saves) was very solid. MacDonald, who made 25 saves of his own and who had gotten tweaked in the side after Sutton pushed Scott Hartnell into the crease, also escaped a much more severe injury in the second, thanks to his throat guard- a stray skate blade nearly slashed him across the neck. Thankfully, he was all right, and played extremely well, also getting help from the posts.

In the third, the Isles really started to move, keeping the Flyers in their own zone and constantly winning back the puck. Then, finally, Andy Hilbert scored late, as the puck bounced off of Ossi Vaananen, to tie it up (2nd goal of the season), and the underdogs- and seemingly, upstarts- pushed the game into OT. There, they got a pristine chance on a penalty by Kimmo Timonen to put the game away, but couldn't, on a couple of flubs by Guerin and the rest of the forward line. Then, Frans Nielsen inexplicably reached out and grabbed a Flyer, putting him in the box and putting the Isles on the PK once more. There, although they won a key faceoff and killed much of the time, with less than a minute to go before a shootout Thompson attempted a soft backhand clear that landed on a Philly stick, and gave them a chance to regroup, where Carter scored his second of the game, eighth on the season, and the game winner, making the Isles losers of five straight but snapping their four-game pointless streak.

Now, it's all about coming back home to face the high-flying Montreal Canadiens (7-1-1), who have proved hard to beat in the past no matter their record, against the Isles. They played well in this game despite the outcome; they need to find a way to carry that play over to home ice, minus the penalties and missed chances. Skate, shoot, and score- that's the name of the game.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Effort, Check. Entertaining, Check. Win?...Win?...

Rangers 4 : Islanders 2

The worst part of a loss like this is that, despite the huge effort by the Isles over two and a half periods, and despite the penalty-riddled but respectable game they played, their fans still didn't find it in them to stay the course, as the score climbed late in a game between two very different-looking teams. The Rangers, now 9-2-1, skated off the ice to the sounds of the cheers of their own fans, still in the enemy's building. The Islanders, at 2-6-0, skated away to the opposing crowd's jeering.

The Rangers extended the Isles' losing streak to 4, scoring two third-period goals to make the final score 4-2. In the first minute, Chris Drury was credited with a fluky goal from behind the net in which Bill Guerin accidentally flicked the puck toward Joey MacDonald (in net again for the injured-again- Rick DiPietro) and MacDonald kicked it in. However, he rebounded nicely, stopping every shot afterward, and Kyle Okposo's hard work was finally rewarded in the last minute of the first period, as he scored his first goal of the season to tie things up at 1.

By the second, the pace was established, and the game took on a spirit of its own. Not much physical play ensued, although Aaron Voros and Nate Thompson did get into a lively scrum midway through, and both goaltenders- MacDonald (39 saves) and Henrik Lundqvist (30 saves)-and teams overall played very well, heightening the entertainment level as the game progressed. The Isles generated good chances, not only by Okposo, who had what was easily his best game to date last night, but by Frans Nielsen and recently returned defenseman Chris Campoli, who had nice defensive plays and offensive presence. But nothing came out of it, and soon enough, Ryan Callahan was able to capitalize by getting in between two Isles in front and slipping the puck through to make it 2-1.

The third period saw the Isles lose a step, then two, then tire out completely, as the Rangers rallied and put them away for good, first on a Gomez goal (his third) at 6:52, then Drury's second of the year and the game at 12:34. Mark Streit would cut their lead to 2 with the Isles' third shorthanded goal of the season (although otherwise, penalties were again a big part of the problem), but the Isles had nothing left. Thus, the Rangers are riding high, while the Isles look to start over on Thursday at Philadelphia.

Notes: Okposo had 7 shots on goal... DiPietro is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed lower body injury, unrelated to previous injuries, while D Brendan Witt will miss 3-4 weeks with a lower body injury as well... Andy Sutton is set to make his season debut on Thursday at Philadelphia, while Jack Hillen will be sent to Bridgeport... D Freddy Meyer also sustained an abdominal injury and is listed as day-to-day... Brett Skinner was called up from Bridgeport.

To Disclose or Not to Disclose Injuries

Much to do is going on about the Isles resistance to disclose player injuries. If the intention is strategy I’m all for it. If your opponent knows you hurt your shoulder where do you think he is going to purposefully make contact with your body? Doubt it would be your hip. From what I’ve read and heard there seems to be the attitude, by some, that they have a right to know. No you don’t. Anything revealed that would create player vulnerability doesn’t belong out in the public. Goalie hurt his left knee? Shoot em’ down low. It would be just plain silly to give an opponent this kind of advantage, an advantage they would be silly not to capitalize on.