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.


Thursday, January 31, 2008

Five Islanders Miss Practice With Flu

It happened to the Hurricanes, and now it's seemingly happening on the Island...

"Trent Hunter jokingly suggested wearing masks.

Captain Bill Guerin thought bottles of hand sanitizer might help.

Flu season is in full bloom, and it has hit the Islanders hard."

link- http://www.newsday.com/sports/hockey/islanders/ny-spisles0131,0,2061823.story?track=rss

What Not to Do With a Dust Pan

My new found Isles mate Marc and I arrived late into the 1st period to find Ottawa leading 2-0. After watching the Isles play for a while I asked Marc who on our team would score, he replied, "DiPietro". Considering that Marc seems to know the Isle’s playing patterns very well, his sarcasm was not a good sign. But we kept the faith and along with a scarce crowd, rallied behind the Isle’s surges against Ottawa. In the end the Isles came close to tying the game but could not get the puck in the net. What more can be said that hasn’t already been said…the Isles made the kind of mistakes that the Sens. were able to capitalize on. Ottawa did not outplay the Isles, they outscored them.

Beyond recent injuries and the flu bug biting a few players, the Isles have appeared out of sorts since returning from their long road trip. The image that comes to mind is a bag still circling the airport baggage claim carousel with their team cohesion in it. The pace in which the Isles were flowing at has slowed – what seemed like a group of guys connecting the dots has turned into too much individual effort – a separateness that makes their playing look and feel awkward. In addition, DP’s searching for where the puck went has escalated, and although Angie thinks DP has been defending the net consistently, I continue to think that his agility and timing seem off kilter. Overall something other than the flu has infected the Isles - a remedy is needed to unite the team and restore their confidence. A home game win against the Kings might be one such remedy. And if you see someone decked out in orange and blue attempting to sage the Coliseum, that would be me.

As for what not to do with a dust pan…DO NOT put a plastic dust pan on top of a lamp with exposed light bulbs.

Q: Hmmm…what’s that smell??
A: A cleaning mistake I made that a light bulb was able to capitalize on.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Break's Over... Someone Let Them Know

Islanders 2 : Senators 5

The rest that came with the All-Star Break seemed to have carried over into the first period at Nassau Coliseum, as the Islanders committed several crucial mistakes and ended up paying dearly against an Ottawa team without Dany Heatley (recovering quickly from a shoulder injury), but with plenty of talent. They went down, 5-2, in front of a meager crowd of 9, 546 at Nassau Coliseum.

The Senators got off to a relatively quick start, scoring first midway through the first period on the power play, on a shot by Andrej Meszaros, who continued to be a threat to the Isles despite being a defenseman. Then, 35 seconds later, Chris Phillips capitalized, to build a 2-0 lead. After that, the Isles seemed to wake up a tiny bit, pressuring more, and in the second, after a Dean McAmmond goal (his seventh), Sean Bergenheim broke through the brick wall that was Martin Gerber (23 svs), scoring with four minutes left. Later, in the third, Bryan Berard broke out of his slump with a power-play goal to make it 3-2, and the Isles had life- that was, until Mike Fisher put the final nail in the coffin with his 19th goal of the season. Jason Spezza would add an empty-net goal, but it wouldn't matter- the Isles remained winless at home for the month of January and the year 2008. Rick DiPietro struggled a bit early on (21 saves), but had some gems, such as a late robbing of Spezza before the Fisher goal.

There were plenty of opportunities for the Isles to equalize- such as the Richard Park breakaway in which he might have wanted to hold onto the puck a bit longer, to pick a better spot- instead, he tried beating Gerber low and ended up shooting it into his pads. Also, plenty of chances- by Blake Comeau (who had a strong game- plenty of drive and good setups), by Berard, by Miro Satan- chances that went wide or just couldn't be finished, instead left for an Ottawa defender to pick up. Overall, the Isles played a decent game, but just couldn't pull even with a team they have actually played well against this season, having won two of their four games against them. Next up is a home game against the Los Angeles Kings, a team near the bottom of the Western Conference, and one that the Isles could make their first home win of 2008- if they just stay focused and don't make mistakes.

Some notes on the Ottawa front, seeing as this was a hot topic last night during the pregame: Ray Emery, struggling goaltender for the Sens, was late to practice and ordered out of the practice rink by John Paddock, the Senators' head coach. Emery's story is that he thought practice was at the Coliseum, but this, plus numerous other incidents- including a scrap with enforcer Brian McGrattan during a different practice- may have the Sens' organization thinking about a trade or a waive.
links- http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/sports/story.html?id=42882be3-2f45-442a-a708-778bdbc4ac4f&k=17308

Ottawa Citizen-

Sun Media

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Digressions Over Production... An Issue Arising?

As far as the Islanders fan can see, there is a disproportion in production of our players, which is becoming more evident as time goes on. The Peeve, a poster on Islander Mania (the team's official message board) made these great observations:

"If the play continues and player output continues as it has been:

1. Mike Sillinger is soon to score more goals than Mike Comrie.
2. Andy Hilbert will soon have more goals than Trent Hunter (he is only 2 g's behind Hunter).
3. MAB will soon score more goals than Ruslan Fedotenko. (they are currently tied).
4. Richard Park will soon surpass Joey Vas and Satan.

Bill Guerin 49 18 10 28 -7 46 6 5 0 0 139 12.95%
Mike Comrie 50 14 22 36 -13 53 2 13 0 0 129 10.85%
Mike Sillinger 49 14 12 26 -8 28 3 3 2 0 94 14.89%
Miroslav Satan 49 11 16 27 -1 22 4 4 0 0 104 10.58%
Josef Vasicek 50 11 8 19 0 20 0 2 2 0 67 16.42%
Richard Park 50 9 12 21 1 12 1 1 2 1 80 11.25%
Marc-Andre Bergeron 35 8 9 17 -7 8 7 6 0 0 75 10.67%
Ruslan Fedotenko 48 8 15 23 -7 30 4 1 0 2 74 10.81%
Trent Hunter 50 7 19 26 -11 29 2 5 0 2 138 5.07%
Andy Hilbert 50 5 5 10 -1 16 0 0 0 0 87 5.75%
Chris Campoli 46 4 14 18 -1 16 2 9 1 0 68 5.88%"

These are obviously issues to consider. Our "big guns", Vasicek, Satan and Comrie, are certainly not scoring enough to help the team out, not to mention improving their own stats, and as a result, players like Park and Bergeron, who aren't regularly relied on to score, have only a little ways to go before they surpass the Big Three on the depth chart. As far as Hunter goes, he's been working hard and plays a lot on the PK, which may factor into his scoring drought, but has had some chances on goal that have gone wide or otherwise not been finished. Satan, a sniper in the shootout but otherwise not overwhelmingly effective on offense, has heard it from quite a few fans on the message board. Vasicek, who scored for the first time in a month a couple of games ago against Philadelphia, has disappeared greatly over the past few months, as has Comrie, who many believe is not the #1 center that the Islanders organization wants him to be. Indeed, he has been practically invisible, while players like Mike Sillinger and Bill Guerin have caught fire recently, scoring the bulk of the Isles' goals. Guerin is the team's leading goalscorer, with 18 goals, while Vasicek and Satan have 11, and Comrie has been stuck at 14 goals, while still recording the greatest amount of points with 36. The Islanders, now entering the playoff push after the All-Star break is over, will need at least most, if not all of their goalscorers to pull their weight if they wish to make the playoffs this year. Rick DiPietro has been solid, but he can't score goals, and this team cannot rely on him, the defense and the PK to get them into the playoffs and succeed. The best defense is a good offense, after all.

All-Star Weekend... Somewhat of a Distraction

Islanders 1 : Bruins 4

Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was recently named an All Star with Martin Brodeur's decision to skip the game due to family commitments. Rick DiPietro had known for weeks that he was going to Atlanta to represent the Islanders in the All-Star Game.

From the looks of it, the latter was more distracted than the former. Ironic, no?

The Bruins beat the Isles 4-1, snapping the Isles' four-game road winning streak at 4 and jumping over them by one point in the Eastern Conference standings. No doubt this was one that the Isles had to win to stay in seventh or maybe even creep up to sixth, with the Bruins hot on their heels. However, that was not the case, as the Bruins came out strong and scored first midway through the first period, adding another one in just 52 seconds, and in the second, they took the game completely.

Mike Sillinger would score to keep it from being a shutout, but other than that, it was plain as day to see that the Isles were not focused in this game; rather, they were likely going over what the weekend would bring. Not exactly the best attitude to have, boys. After the break is Ottawa once more, to end the season series, and the Isles have the chance to beat Ottawa and make the series 3-1, for the first time ever (at least, as long as I have been a fan). Let's hope the lack of focus only goes so far as the weekend and then does not become a factor, because after the break, there comes the playoff push, and we can ill afford to become sloppy now. This game is done... let's move on.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Home-and-Home Half-Sweet, Half-Sour

The Isles got three out of a possible four points against the Carolina Hurricanes in their home and home this past Tuesday and Wednesday, with a frustrating 3-2 overtime loss at home and then a resounding 6-3 win on the road. The Isles, prior to tonight's game in Boston, have been 4-0-0 on the road lately and outscored opponents 17-9.

The Isles went into the home part of the back-to-back and started out strong with a 2-0 lead after 2 periods. However, they fell apart in the third, allowing Carolina to come back with goals by Mike Commodore and Niclas Wallin (both of whom have only four goals between them), and going into overtime, Andy Sutton was called for a cross-check, after hardly a whistle was blown in the entire game, and soon after, Carolina had put the game away on a second-chance goal by Cory Stillman. The officiating was what killed the game, as Carolina had quite a few non-calls against them, including a too-many-men and a cross-check of their own.

However, the Isles kept their wits about them heading to Raleigh and the RBC Center, and they held this one all the way despite the threat of another comeback by the Canes. First was Sillinger, shorthanded, the first of two for him and of three shorthanded goals, which has set a team record. In between Sillinger's goals, Richard Park also scored a shortie. Then came the mounting retaliation by Carolina, scoring shortly after Sillinger's first on a shot by Eric Staal, followed by goals from Commodore and Matt Cullen. But rather than fold, the Isles kept pushing. Sean Bergenheim scored a great goal as he was pulled down by a Hurricane, and then Brendan Witt (Brendan Witt!!!) scored one to put it away for the Isles. Blake Comeau also added an empty-netter. Wade Dubielewicz, in relief for Rick DiPietro, made 44 saves, some of them extremely good, and despite taking 8 penalties, perhaps being in the penalty box was actually beneficial for the Isles last night.

Some bad news: Chris Campoli's dislocated shoulder has rendered him down and out for the season, as he has undergone surgery in Cleveland to repair the injury. He had 17 points on the season.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Where Did the Isles Go? Mexico with Tony Romo?

There is no team I want to see the Isles beat more than the Flyers. Having lived in Philly amongst Flyer fans…enough said. Because my work takes me out of town each week (I’ll give ya one guess as to where) I am often going to the Isle’s home games last minute, sometimes seeking out single tickets on Islander Mania. This time around, I found a ticket and sat with Marc, a fellow NYC Isle’s fan who has been a season ticket holder since the very same year I started going to the games – 1973. We drove out to the game together and it was great talking about all things Isles over the past 34 years! Even though he posted where the seat was, I totally spaced out on that until walking down the stairs, stopping at seats 6 rows back behind the Flyer’s bench. Not exactly the view desired but watching the game from where you can feel the chill of the ice with an Isle's fan who knows his stuff was well worth enduring the immediate view of black and orange.

Even though the Isles ended the 1st period ahead 3-1 (Park, Vasicek & Guerin), I had an unnerving feeling about the game because a sold out Isle’s crowd seemed way too quiet - even Loudville seemed to not be doing their 'job'. Heading into the 2nd period, it seemed like the Isles had a few choices – score some more goals to widen their lead and lessen the chance for a Flyer’s comeback, or hold the flyers down to one goal and end the game 3-1. The answer was…neither of the above.

The 2nd period seemed to be where the game was lost, with the Flyers scoring two goals (Downie & Hartnell) to tie the game; the Isles turning out only 4 shots on goal compared to the Flyer’s 13; and let us not forget the Isles taking 5 penalties, 4 of them being Flyer power plays (Hatcher & Hunter both served 5 minute majors for fighting @ 4:41). Although the Isles upped their shots on goal to 12 (Flyers 13), the 3rd period served as a gloomy conclusion to the game, with the Flyers scoring two goals (Hartnell & Richards) and me pulling my hat over my eyes to avoid watching them celebrate on the bench.

Marc’s reason for the loss – the Isles failing to score on a 4 minute power play while Upshall sat in the sin bin for tripping and unsportsmanlike conduct at the end of the 1st period (18:23). After the power play ended, Marc predicted an uphill climb for the Isles and I went into what wound up to be denial, telling him it wasn’t so, that the Isles could get back into the game regardless if they didn’t score on the power play. At that point the Isles HAD to win so I could torture Marc on the ride back to the city. Unfortunately that didn’t happen so instead I told Marc that he jinxed the team with his prediction, thus it was his fault the Isles lost.

Where the Isles went after the 1st period is anyone’s guess. They just couldn’t seem to find each other on the ice. The fact that the Flyer’s tying (Hartnell @ 13:00 in the 2nd period) and winning (Hartnell @:54 in the 3rd period) goals were scored while two of our guys were taking a breather in the penalty box is yet another reason for Ted Nolan to implement the dish washing/lap running policy suggested many blog entry moons ago. And as Angie pointed out in her post, the Isles served up power plays to the best PP in the league. Rubber gloves and running shoes are in order here Ted. Wait…scratch the rubber gloves…maybe some dishpan hands are in order as well.

As for Mr. Scottie with an ie Upshall…unless my eyes deceived me, I believe you shot an ‘in your face’ look my way after Hartnell scored in the 3rd period. What other reason would cause me to wish I could inhabit Witt’s body on February 12th? With that said, you have inspired me to create my very first sign to bring to that game as I sit 6 rows behind you…


on a related note…

In August, 1993 I moved into Philly to attend Graduate School. My mom, dad and sister were along to help with the move to 11th and Pine. We decided to break for lunch and upon my mom’s suggestion, walked over to the S. Philly Market a few blocks away to get some pizza. While ordering the pizza at the counter I felt a little weird, actually then paranoid that the staff seemed standoffish, looking at me like I had two heads. As the counter guy turned around, my father looked at me and pointed upward towards my head. Clueless as to what his gesture meant, I grabbed at my head only to realize that I was wearing my white Isles baseball cap! Not only were we in Flyer’s country, but also in a pizzeria with Flyer’s posters all over the walls! Individual turned into family paranoia as we watched every second of the pizza making process...just kidding...sort of kidding...we did. That was one of the longest meals of my life. Truth be told, I enjoyed every Isles hat wearing pizza eating minute of it. The only thing missing was a black Sharpie so that a few go-tees and devil’s horns could be drawn.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Score Doesn't Tell the Whole Story

Islanders 3 : Flyers 5

The score at the end of one period told the perfect story for Islanders fans. It was 3-1, on goals from Richard Park, Josef Vasicek (his first in a month) and then the captain, Bill Guerin, with a goal by Scott Hartnell thrown in between. It seemed as though the Isles had the game in their hands and the two points firmly in check, and all they had to do was hold the lead.

Turns out they couldn't even do that.

By the time two periods were over, Hartnell had scored his second on a crazy carom with Rick DiPietro behind the net, and Steve Downie scored to tie the game at 3. The Isles had seemingly fallen asleep, taking penalties and giving the league's best PP prime chances to get back into it. Trent Hunter had gotten his first career major for fighting with Derian Hatcher (and not landing anything, unfortunately), and the Isles had given up their lead, stirring echoes of the game they played in Calgary which resulted in a 5-4 SO win, but could have been a regulation win for the Isles had they not given up a 3-1 lead yet again.

By the third, it all unraveled.

Hartnell ended the game with a hat trick, Mike Richards tacked on a goal, and the Isles were buried just like that, in a 5-3 loss at the Coliseum. The careless play that the Isles executed allowed the Flyers to pull even and then ahead, and resulted in a lot of heads shaking and tongues wagging after the fact. Not only that, but some chances were wasted- Hunter and Mike Comrie both generated chances and could not finish them up with the score still close, so that by the time the Flyers pulled away the Isles were regretting their lackadaisical playmaking.

On a brighter note... Radek Martinek and Brendan Witt, both out with injuries for the past few games (Martinek for the last month), will play in the Isles' game against the Hurricanes tomorrow afternoon. Martinek had eight points and 67 blocked shots before his injury, whereas Witt has been in the top 10 in shot blocking with 109. Together, the top two will definitely provide energy, leadership, and more toughness to the defense. Also, Wade Dubielewicz has returned to the Island after a two-game conditioning stint in Bridgeport, and will perhaps look to start a game for the Isles this week, giving Rick DiPietro a rest.
link for more details- http://islanders.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=350650

Friday, January 18, 2008

Oh Caption My Caption

Party on Wang! Party on Garth!

(thanks to MrsDP from Islander Mania for this caption)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Good Job Isles... Now Let's Backtrack

What made last night's win so good for the Islanders?

Consider beforehand that the night before, at home, they were outshot and outskated once again by the Montreal Canadiens, who have given them trouble in the past, in a 3-1 loss. Despite good effort by shining defenseman Freddy Meyer, who's been getting quite a lot of ice time and has made every minute of it with Brendan Witt and Radek Martinek out of the lineup, the Isles ended up being victimized on a couple of defensive mistakes, such as Bruno Gervais' breakout attempt that turned into a giveaway, ending in the Habs' first goal, one of two by Plekanec. Offensively on our side, only one shot was managed in the entire first period, and while Rick DiPietro tried his best, outwaiting Saku Koivu on perhaps his best save of the game in the first period shortly after Plekanec's first goal, ultimately we could not generate what was needed and test Cristobal Huet in a game that recorded an overall low number of shots (22-19 Montreal). Kovalev sealed it with an empty netter. DiPietro, who made 19 saves, had been 1-2-3 since his comeback from a knee injury, but that doesn't mean he hasn't been playing well- more often than not it was the play in front that led to losses.

The bad vibes stopped at the entrance to the Prudential Center, however, as a listless loss became a pointed win over the Devils, who are the best in the Atlantic and second-best in the Eastern Conference. In the Isles' last three games, their two wins have been against the top teams in the conference- the other being against the Ottawa Senators, who have rebounded spectacularly from their lackluster start to the season and more recent seven-game loss streak, but have been hit by injuries.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Heavenly Win Against the Devils

Islanders 3 : Devils 1

Tonight’s game seemed to start off slow but one sign that the Isles could pull off a 5th win this season against the Devils was that despite key players out with injuries, they played as if they were at full strength. The Isles seemed to pep up in the 1st period when Colin White (interference) and Mike Mottau (slashing) were given simultaneous penalties, a 5 on 3 opportunity that led to Bill Guerin scoring the first goal of the game (15:09), his 16th of the season. Guerin would later score his 17th on an empty net (19:00) in the 3rd period. Sandwiched between Guerin’s goals was a sweet goal by Mike Sillinger (4:17), his 11th of the season, in the 2nd period - a sweet goal because of teamwork defining assists from Fedotenko and Hunter. The Devils were able to get past Rick ‘Mr. Fabulous’ DiPietro with a tip-in goal by Travis Zajac (7:11) in the 3rd period. Speaking of Mr. Fabulous…DP racked up 37 saves, some were just downright incredible. When he follows the puck and not the body like he did tonight, anything and I mean ANYTHING is not only possible but probable for him in his career. Thank hockey god he’s on our side.

As for the Devils, they didn’t play poorly – it seemed they just lacked the spunk to follow through with positioning, especially on the 4 power plays served up by the Isles in the 2nd period. Although I continue to take issue with the Isle’s plethora (one of the few words I remember from the SATs) of penalties, no issue can be taken with the Isle’s penalty killing this time around…although I still held my notebook half way up in front of my eyes for way too long fellas!

Overall the Isles put forth a great effort, especially Freddy Meyer who continues to pleasantly surprise us all with his growth spurt in ability. Many players came through tonight - the shinning star of the team was Mike Sillinger, for something he did at the end of the game as the Isles lined up and made their way towards DP. Sillinger, who was behind Dubie, smiled and patted Dubie on the head. In body language terms, Sillinger’s gesture was a genuine expression of care and appreciation for his teammate, who I think has the hardest job on the team – spending a lot of time watching everyone else play. Winning is great, but it’s moments like that when I am most proud to be an Isles fan.

-In addition to Witt and Martinek being out of the line-up due to injury, Chris Campoli left during the 1st period with a shoulder injury and did not return to the game. The NYI website reported that he will be re-evaluated tomorrow.

-Team elders Guerin and Sillinger continue to prove that age is only a number.

-Donning a fashion risk snazzy tie, Ted Nolan won the best tie contest vs. Brent Sutter. Butch Goring is still in the lead for best dressed of the season…I continue to wonder if he puts together those fly suit and tie combos himself.

-New rule: Howie Rose and Billy Jaffe are allowed only one ‘rock’ reference when at the Prudential Center. Howie: “Brodeur is the rock inside of the rock.” Somebody warn paper and scissors.

Next up for the Isles is a home game against the Flyers this Saturday night. If you are going to the game or know someone that is, please consider taking part in the winter coat drive that is being sponsored by the Isles and the Interfaith Nutrition Network. More information can be found on the NYI website. This is a great opportunity to clear some energy from your closet and turn it into new energy for someone in need. Also, the sale at Old Navy (all stores) may still be going on, many items were 75% off as of last weekend, with some coats on sale for as low as $10.00.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Getting Back on Track vs. The Best in the East

Islanders 3 : Senators 1

No Radek Martinek. No Brendan Witt. No problem.

The defense stood tall over 60 minutes of play despite the absences of their top two defensemen, which could have proved disastrous otherwise, in a 3-1 win over the Senators at the Scotiabank Place in Ottawa. Despite a strong showing and letting only one goal past him, Rick DiPietro (31 saves), aside from nearly scoring a goal but missing the empty net by mere inches, wasn't the biggest factor in the win.

What was? Marc-Andre Bergeron.

Perhaps he could be called the enigma of his team, with his inconsistency and consequential struggles on the PP. But last night, the good MAB showed up and scored two PP goals- one a whack from close in on Martin Gerber (28 svs), the other his trademark blast from the point- to help him team achieve a pointed win against a tough team to beat. Mike Comrie added a goal on an amazing rush that completely stupefied defenseman Wade Redden and found its way past Gerber in the third. After that, it was up to the defense of Freddy Meyer, Bruno Gervais and the like, and some solid saves by DiPietro, to seal the door shut.

Granted, this may have been easier than usual for the Islanders to achieve, seeing as the Senators came onto the ice without All-Star Dany Heatley (who will not be going to Atlanta, having suffered a shoulder separation) and then lost another star, Jason Spezza, early on in the game to the check of Meyer. Daniel Alfredsson was gutsy and effective as usual throughout, but the Isles were keeping up, skating hard and playing well, if a bit boring to watch. They were also able to cajole the Sens to take a few penalties out of frustration- big, versatile defenseman Christoph Schubert, for one, took six minutes in the box over the last two periods of the game. But what struck me as very impressive from the Isles was how they kept even with the Senators, who are still a good team despite Heatley and Spezza's absences. Shots were only 32-31 Senators, and even that doesn't tell the whole story- you'd have to had watched the game to see what I mean. The Isles had a game in hand on three out of the other four teams in the Atlantic Division- Pittsburgh, the Rangers, and the Devils, who don't play until Wednesday night against us at the Rock), and were able to win this one, pulling up within the standings to within one point of the fifth seed in the East. This was also the Isles' first win in Ottawa since March 15, 2003.

With the road trip ending on a high note, the Isles come back home tomorrow to face Montreal (for the TV viewers, this will be on VERSUS, not FSN), another hard-skating team that recently faced an uninspired loss to the Rangers, 4-1. There may be a bit of a stumble here in our first home game after a lengthy road stint, but given a win and also a Rangers win, we can pull even higher in the standings to the 4th and 5th spots.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Not a Nice-Looking Win, But We'll Take You

Islanders 5 : Flames 4 (SO)

Upon learning that he would be going to Atlanta at the end of the month as an All-Star, Rick DiPietro responded with one of the weaker performances of the season, albeit a 38-save game in which Jarome Iginla had nine shots on goal.

But it was still a win.

Mike Sillinger and Richard Park (GWG) scored in the shootout for the Isles, who are 1-1-2 on the road trip to date. Sillinger also scored twice in regulation, and Trent Hunter and Ruslan Fedotenko added to that score over three periods, building a 3-1 lead only to have it eliminated in the second by Owen Nolan (2 goals) and Craig Conroy. Then they had to battle back from a 4-3 lead when Dustin Boyd scored a garbage goal from in close on Rick DiPietro and Bryan Berard, neither of whom could find the puck as it went in after a few whacks.

But then Ruslan Fedotenko deflected a Marc-Andre Bergeron shot past Miikka Kiprusoff, who had a shaky night (21 svs), to make it 4-4 and bring it to overtime, where nothing happened even with an Isles power play. One thing about the power play is its inconsistency, largely because of the play of Bryan Berard and Bergeron, who are supposed to be power-play quarterbacks and lead the play, but who have sometimes struggled- Berard, who has played less games, more so than Bergeron, who seems to be having a bit of an easier time of it.

The main thing about Bergeron is his tendency to be unpredictable- when he is on his game, he is smart, fast, and that monster shot of his can do some serious damage. But when he's not playing well, at best he looks like a minor-leaguer thrust into "the show" too soon. And on any given night, either side of him could show up unannounced. It's no doubt frustrating for him, as well as for the coaching staff and the fans who watch him. As for Berard, he hasn't played much, and has not lived up to the promise he showed in his first couple of games for us, in which he scored quite a few goals and made the PP look that much more dangerous. As these two players go, so goes the PP, which is sorely needing a consistent leader.

Either way, the Isles walked out of Calgary with a win in a shootout, but they also left with another injury- Brendan Witt, who was reported to have a sprained ankle after being checked by a Calgary player in the first period and did not return to play. Miroslav Satan also did not dress due to a strained knee, hence Berard's return to the ice. Bruno Gervais and Freddy Meyer took the bulk of the ice time, especially Gervais, with a team-high 25:10, and one assist. Meyer also had six blocked shots, Gervais and Berard with three, in the absence of the gritty shot-blocker Witt.

The second period could have been the killer for the Isles, who gave up two goals less than two minutes into the second period. But true to form, they worked hard and got the game to go to OT, and their shootout win thanks to Park, who as usual played hard and effectively, especially on the penalty kill. Next up is against Ottawa on Sunday, and their top line of Spezza, Alfredsson and Heatley. When DiPietro played them, the Isles prevailed, 4-3 in a shootout; when Wade Dubielewicz was in-between the pipes, the Sens trounced the Isles, 5-2. Now that Ricky is back, we'll see how he fares against the "Pizza" line, and how the defense will look with perhaps the two top defensemen (Witt and also Martinek, who is still out with a bruised leg) out of the lineup.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The All-Star Roster... And Look Who's On It!


Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning
Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators
Scott Gomez, New York Rangers
Dany Heatley, Senators
Marian Hossa, Atlanta Thrashers
Ilya Kovulchuk, Thrashers
Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (interesting story with him too)
Mike Richards, Philadelphia Flyers
Jason Spezza, Senators
Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes
Martin St. Louis, Lightning

Defense: Andrei Markov, Montreal Canadiens
Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins
Brian Campbell, Buffalo Sabres
Sergei Gonchar, Penguins
Tomas Kaberle, Toronto Maple Leafs
Kimmo Timonen, Flyers

Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils
Rick DiPietro, New York Islanders
Tomas Vokoun, Florida Panthers

After a strong showing this season, especially as of late (even in losses), Rick DiPietro is going to Atlanta to play in the All-Star Game, which he deserves completely after keeping this team in a tight race. Some believed that goaltenders Ryan Miller of the Sabres or Henrik Lundqvist of the Rangers would get the pick over him, but as Lundqvist has faded considerably since the start of the season and Miller hasn't been exceptional either, DiPietro and Tomas Vokoun (a surprising choice) fill in the Nos. 2 and 3 spots behind Martin Brodeur. Look for tonight's game against Calgary to be one full of confidence from DiPietro, who has held a sturdy .912 save percentage despite the four-game losing streak the Islanders are on, not to mention fighting for his due from the New York media, who have kept him considerably under the radar to date. It's a world of difference between him and Lundqvist, who has been shaky during the Rangers' own four-game loss streak. Some fans are saying the main reason DiPietro has been chosen over Lundqvist and Miller is because of the desire of the NHL to have all 30 teams represented. To that, I say... who cares? It's the All-Star Game, and it's DiPietro being recognized as one of the best, if not THE best, player on his team. No matter how he got it, he deserves the honor, and our fans should be happy that, if that is indeed what happened, the league chose to acknowledge the Isles.

Western Conference All-Stars

Forwards: Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings
Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings
Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames
Jason Arnott, Nashville Predators
Marian Gaborik, Minnesota Wild
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
Shawn Horcoff, Edmonton Oilers
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings
Rick Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets
Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
Paul Stasny, Colorado Avalanche
Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks

Defense: Nicklas Lidstrom, Red Wings
Dion Phaneuf, Flames
Ed Jovanovski, Phoenix Coyotes
Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks
Chris Pronger, Ducks
Sergei Zubov, Dallas Stars

Goaltenders: Manny Legace, St, Louis Blues
Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose Sharks
Chris Osgood, Red Wings

Most notable, I suppose, would be the absence of Roberto Luongo, who has decided to abstain from playing in the All-Star Game to be with his wife, Gina, who is expecting their first child in April (congrats to them!).
link- http://www.nhl.com/nhl/app?articleid=349379&page=NewsPage&service=page

Also interesting: Despite the subpar records of the Coyotes and the Kings (the latter of whom have the worst record in the league), players from those teams have been chosen to play the All-Star Game, perhaps putting to rest the assumption that teams' records have much to do with how players are chosen- not that it doesn't count, of course, but also on the Eastern side, despite the Lightning's bottom-of-the-division standing, Lecavalier and St. Louis were both chosen, likely because of their fan base and their considerable All-Star appeal, as well as their consistently good play.

Some news on Ovechkin's part: As you have already found out most likely, the high-octane Caps forward has gotten a 13-year, $124 million deal with the Caps, the first of its kind in the NHL, though not unheard of in other leagues (the MLB, for starters). As I have heard, he's negotiated his deal himself, having fired his agent over the summer, which proves the old saying "If you want something done right, do it yourself."

link- http://www.nhl.com/nhl/app?articleid=349618&page=NewsPage&service=page

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Taking Note of the Double Standard

To make up for not watching the Isles-Vancouver game completely (3-2 VAN loss, SO, Rick DiPietro with 43 great saves), I shall turn attention to something that has been bothering me for a while... and which really shouldn't.

Apparently the media doesn't think we're worth much time, because I flipped on the TV this morning to find that "MSG, NY" spent time on the Rangers, and on the Devils, but unless I missed some small segment of the show I didn't see anything pertaining to the Islanders, and the game they played last night. I opened up the paper to find a small column by AP about the game, next to one about the Devils game, right under a relatively bigger article about the Rangers' loss to Tampa Bay.

This has been for the better part of the season now. And it's distressing to Islanders fans who would like to see a little more coverage of their team. If the Islanders won, it would be the same thing. My question is- why in the world does our team not deserve the same amount of coverage that the Rangers do?

The fact is, the Knicks losing constantly get more exposure than our hot streaks and our goaltending success. We have a rising star goaltender, and despite our four-game losing streak, we have the drive and the potential, in my opinion, to go farther than we've gone in the last few years. And where is that? The Rangers, being put on a pedestal for scoring the two biggest names in the FA pool in the offseason, haven't fared much better than we have with our relatively cheaper players, and they still get a bigger part of the newsprint than we do.

I suppose we'll have to deal with it until we win another Stanley Cup.

However, that could be the sweetest part of the deal... seeing the amount of coverage we would get had we won New York's first Stanley Cup since 1994. After all, whenever people talk about who will win a major sports championship first, the Islanders aren't even mentioned in the same breath.

That, plus the lack of coverage, will perhaps make it easier for us to fly high... under the radar.

But when that happens, it better change.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Headaches Abound, and Not Just Because of the Result

Islanders 0 : Oilers 4

Some teams have their streaky scorers. Some may even have lines that have their moments. However, for the Islanders, they can maybe say they have a streaky offense, period.

Miro Satan. Ruslan Fedotenko. Bill Guerin. Mike Comrie. Josef Vasicek. Richard Park. Trent Hunter. Need I say more? Granted, the latter two aren't expected to get the bulk of the scoring job done for us, but even so, they looked to be getting something done a few games ago. The offense as a whole had seemed to be clicking during their hot streak, the power play in particular.

However, now, the offense is colder than the heater in my bedroom, having scored one goal in two games, the latest one being a debacle against Edmonton, losing 4-0. Four former Oilers- Guerin (one shot, -2), Satan, Comrie, and Marc-Andre Bergeron (four shots, 19 minutes ice time)- played last night, and none of them were extremely effective before the hostile crowd that especially spurned Comrie (six shots, -2), booing at him every time he touched the puck. Ales Hemsky started the scoring with a softie 1:11 into the second period, and then fed a terrific play to Shawn Horcoff five minutes later to make it 2-0, Horcoff's 100th NHL goal. Six minutes after, Marty Reasoner made it 3-0. In the third they would add an insurance goal on the power-play to seal the deal for the Isles, who honestly didn't need any help burying themselves, as far as I could tell over two and a half periods (I turned off the TV finally at 11:15 p.m. last night and turned in due to a terrific headache, both because of the game and the fact that I like putting my hair up way too tight).

Rick DiPietro made 29 saves, but it wouldn't be enough, as not enough high-quality shots (though plenty of them in general) were being thrown at his Edmonton counterpart, Mathieu Garon (34 saves, approx.) to make up the difference. Two fights between Tim Jackman and two different Oilers (one of them captain Ethan Moreau) couldn't bring life to the Isles, who have now dropped three straight, this being their first in regulation in a while. This game wasn't very undisciplined from what I saw of it, although we of course took more penalties than the Oilers (or perhaps they did, but we couldn't capitalize- I wouldn't rule it out in the last eight minutes that I missed of the game). Overall, last night= forgettable experience. On to Vancouver.

Interesting side note going with the usual overblown goaltending matchup between Roberto Luongo and Rick DiPietro: Luongo, though of course one of the elite, has only a 4-9-2 record in 15 games against the Isles (those coming as goaltender for the Panthers), thought his save percentage is a .920. When asked about meeting his old team again, he said: "I've played them a bunch of times already so that feeling is gone." So perhaps that won't be so much of a storyline after all. This will, however, be a big game for the Islanders, who, after two clunkers in the West, have a chance to rebound and prove themselves against one of the best teams in the Western Conference. Can they get their lines woken up, and get offense clicking and defense physical once again by tonight? Time will tell.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Overtime Not the Charm Any Longer for the Islanders

Islanders 1 : Avalanche 2 (OT)

The Islanders started off the road trip with a bit of a whimper instead of a bang. Save for the heroics of the white-padded Rick DiPietro, an unintelligent and sloppy showing led to another point lost to the battered Avs at the Pepsi Center.

An overtime goal by Marek Svatos (his 16th on the season) sealed it for the Avs, who were without Joe Sakic (sports hernia- out 8-12 wks) and Ryan Smyth (broken ankle- out 8 wks) but who had some skill to spare. The Islanders scored first despite being outshot by a wide margin in the first period, on a good shot by Tim Jackman that went past Jose Theodore's shoulder at 3:18 of the first. That, however, would be all she wrote for the Isles, whose offense got some great chances but ultimately would not finish. Mike Comrie's 5-game points scoring streak was snapped, and to add insult to that, a couple of point-blank chances for him went wide or were blocked. His ineffectiveness, as well as that of Miro Satan, Josef Vasicek and Ruslan Fedotenko (who, by the way, has only scored one goal in the last twenty games), put the Isles in a bad offensive situation; meanwhile, the defense wasn't their usual physical and stingy self, often leaving it up to DiPietro (37 saves) to make some great plays, especially with the left pad. With his new (and shall I say, very sharp) pads, he has only allowed two goals in four-plus periods. Not to say he completely outdid Theodore (23 saves), who made some brilliant saves to keep the score tied, but if not for a garbage goal late in the second by Jordan Leopold, which banked off of him and through DP's pads, DiPietro would have stolen two points for the Isles, instead of one.The Isles continue to record points in seven of their last eight games, mainly on the play of DiPietro as well as a rejuvenated offense that stumbled a bit last night.

Al Trautwig and Stan Fischler, meanwhile, finally made it clear that they see DiPietro as one of the elite goaltenders in the NHL, something that they insist they saw all along. However, I don't believe the latter one bit; every time I hear them talking about goaltenders, Henrik Lundqvist's name comes out of their mouths. Not to say anything negative about the Rangers goaltender, who obviously has been effective for the last two years he's been playing, earning two straight Vezina nominations, but you cannot say as of late that he has been as consistent or as much of a factor for the Rangers as DiPietro has been for the Islanders. Lundqvist has flip-flopped between looking lost and paving the way to greatness in his last few starts. His record is 18-14-4, and he has a 2.26 GAA, but that doesn't seem to show exactly how the goaltending situation is on the Rangers' side- Stephen Valiquette, the Rangers' backup, is 2-3-1 with a 2.73 GAA, and both of these goaltenders have failed as of late to hold the fort for their team. From the way the two in the "Hockey Condo" talk about him, however, you'd think Lundqvist was better than what he's been showing. DiPietro (16-13-4, 2.50 GAA), along with Wade Dubielewicz (who seems to be shaping up considerably), has consistently done that, barring injury and fatigue, of course- but he has been the anchor of his team, and when he does well, the team usually flourshes. This, unfortunately, was a game in which the team failed to follow DiPietro's example. Seeing as DiPietro's and Lundqvist's stats look somewhat similar, perhaps the guys on the show should talk about him as much as they talk about Lundqvist.

PS, while I'm talking about the Rangers... Ryan Hollweg receives a major misconduct for checking from behind, this time against an Edmonton player, finally... never mind he's been doing it all season. Now, let's see how long it'll take Colin Campbell to refuse a suspension and rescind the penalty, as you know he'll never let it happen. This has me thinking Chris Simon did right by the idiot (Hollweg, that is).

Now, on to yesterday... and the radio show interview with Alex and Steve on Hockey Night on Long Island, which went well. Alex and Steve asked great questions about out blog, about the Western Conference trip, and we talked also about the differences between Wade Dubielewicz and Rick DiPietro. Overall the guys were great, and it was a pleasure to talk with them about hockey. Granted, I was a little nervous, so I sounded like a dummy for just a few minutes... but for my first interview, it went all right. Hopefully we'll have the archive up on our site in a little bit. Thanks again for inviting me, guys!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

OnTheNYIslesScene Coming to the Airwaves for One Afternoon

We're pleased to inform you that we have been invited to be interviewed on an online radio show, Hockey Night on Long Island. Alex and Steve will be interviewing us on the latest happenings on the ice. Tune in today at 3:30 EST to hear the interview, and we will try our best to get the media player on the site as well.

Link to Hockey Night on Long Island site- http://hockeynightonlongisland.blogspot.com/

Friday, January 4, 2008

League Calls "Safe" on DiPietro's Pads

It looks as though Rick DiPietro was right about his pads. TSN reports that the NHL has declared them "legal" and claims a miscommunication occurred. So no suspensions or fines will be in order.


A Point Lost, A Point Won vs. Panthers

Islanders 3 : Panthers 4 (OT)

In no way are the Panthers an exceptionally good team, in my opinion; they are part of a relatively weak Southwest division led by the Carolina Hurricanes, whom the Islanders dominated, 4-1 on New Year's Eve. However, whenever they face off against the Isles, they seem to be a hard team to beat; they had trumped the Isles 8-3 earlier in the season, and even when losing to us often manage to salvage a point.

As it was, the Isles, looking for their 6th win in seven games and with a newly resuscitated power play, had to fight to even come back against the Panthers and their sneaky offense, including Nathan Horton, who is perhaps their most dangerous weapon against us, scoring two goals last night. Rick DiPietro, who returned after a three-game absence, showed a bit of rust, as well as perhaps a distraction after the first period, when he had to change his pads after told that the ones he wore in the first had not met NHL standards. Afterward, Rick appeared calm and patient as he answered question after question (or the same question five times) about what had happened. He seemed sincere in saying that he hadn't wanted to sneak anything by the league, and that right after he found out the team called the NHL regarding the incident. Nothing more will be said about it until GM Garth Snow makes a statement about it, and the issue is now being looked over by Colin Campbell... and personally, I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry about it, seeing as suspensions by him are SO well thought-out. (Yes, that was sarcasm.)

AP says this about suspensions for illegal equipment: "A goalie's equipment must be inspected and approved by the NHL before it can be used in a game. Using illegal or uninspected equipment results in an automatic two-game suspension for the player, a $25,000 fine for his team, and $1,000 for the team's equipment manager."

The Isles did manage to come back in the third period after 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 deficits, off of goals by Mike Sillinger, Mike Comrie and Bill Guerin- two of them on the PP, which shows that they are keeping the consistency in that respect; however, they couldn't fend off the Panthers, as after taking penalties that he obviously didn't agree with, Jassen Cullimore showed his offense with a shot that blasted past DiPietro's shoulder for the OT winner. This, after Trent Hunter had perhaps the game on his stick late in the third and couldn't send it home to put the game away in regulation. Unfortunately, that is the way it is.

Next up is Colorado tomorrow night, against a team that is without Joe Sakic (sports hernia) and now one-time Isle Ryan Smyth (broken ankle). If DiPietro is suspended, Wade Dubielewicz and the defense should be up to the task of handling the Avs. This game kicks off a road trip to the West, in which the Isles play Edmonton and Vancouver after the Avalanche game. Although the first two seem like they could be wins, Vancouver and once-Isles goalie Roberto Luongo look to be tougher. Should DP be suspended, he will be back in time for that game, and perhaps set off another goaltending duel between the two.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Ringing In the New Year In Style

Islanders 4 : Hurricanes 1


A win last night would make it even sweeter for the Islanders and their fans (certainly sweeter than my first ever taste of champagne at midnight, yuck), and they followed through beautifully, scoring three power play goals and an even-strength goal in the second period to lift them to a 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh.

Marc-Andre Bergeron scored twice, Ruslan Fedotenko got his first in quite a few games, and Bill Guerin continued scoring for the Isles, whose power play woke up incredibly against the worst penalty kill in the league. Wade Dubielewicz, still in relief for the injured Rick DiPietro, made 28 saves, a few of them tremendous, including one robbery of Andrew Ladd in the second period, and Ben Walter (up for Mike Sillinger, who also didn't make the trip due to injury) played a solid game, as well as Andy Hilbert and Josef Vasicek making up for the loss of their top faceoff player. As for the defense, they did their part, especially Freddy Meyer and Brendan Witt with some great blocked shots on a Carolina offense that has steadily lost confidence, as well as a couple of players. Matt Cullen, victim to a vicious hit by Colton Orr on December 26, dressed for the first time since then, but left in the second due to "illness" and did not return, sparking new concern that he did sustain a concussion during the hit.

Some nice little things about this game:

-Howie Rose gave a great quote during the FSN broadcast, which I watched this morning: Among saying other things about the Isles, he remarked that "This is probably the best group of people in the locker room in the 13 years that I have been here [covering the Islanders]." It shows a lot about the players that have been brought in over the past couple of years, such as Brendan Witt, Mike Sillinger, Andy Hilbert, Richard Park, and the newer guys- Bill Guerin, Mike Comrie, and Ruslan Fedotenko. It may also say something about the reasoning behind why some players were gotten rid of, or how certain players who have left may have given the Isles a better situation.

- Near the end of the third period, Mike Comrie, Sean Bergenheim, Bill Guerin and coach Ted Nolan were seen talking and having a quick laugh on the bench, showing how comfortable and confident they were not only with the win, but with each other, and their coach. Great thing to see.

So now, with the new year upon us, the Isles look to start off strong against the Panthers on Thursday night, and perhaps some familiar faces will be back in the lineup- namely, Rick DiPietro and Radek Martinek, both still looking to make their way back as they nurse injuries. Either way, with the way Dubielewicz is playing, and the effective pairing of Witt and Bruno Gervais, the Isles, with revived offense and renewed confidence, may be on the better end of this one as well.