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.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

It's the Philadelphia Blues For Isles

Flyers 4: Islanders 3 (SO)

If any adjective in the English language could be used to describe last night's loss at Nassau Coliseum, it would be one that the formal journalist- or even the respectable blogger, for that matter- would not use in context.

As it is, a more appropriate word couldn't be found to match the feeling that no doubt came over Isles fans as they watched Isle-killer Daniel Briere slip the puck past Wade Dubielewicz in crunch time of the shootout to give the Philadelphia Flyers the win they'd needed like a model needs a manicure; a 4-3 win that kept them in the final playoff spot and red-hot Washington at bay on the outside of the playoff picture.

The Isles had plenty of fight despite being largely dominated in this game; in the first period, they maintained puck possession while being outhit by the Flyers, and took a 1-0 lead on a shot by Richard Park, who gladly put away a bad puckhandling attempt by goaltender Antero Niittymaki. Chance after chance was given to the Isles- Steve Regier, Sean Bergenheim, Blake Comeau, and Kyle Okposo each had lucrative shots at putting the puck in- but other than the Park goal, that was all for the first.

The second was by and large the Wade Dubielewicz show, which would go on throughout the rest of the game; the Flyers had the first eight shots of the period, all of which he would stop, some of them spectacularly. Then came Blake Comeau, the youngster, who capped off a beautiful passing play with a goal at 7:43 (his first goal at the Coliseum, eighth overall). Richard Park had an assist on that goal, and a strong night overall, which very well suited the winner of the Bob Nystrom Award.

But the Flyers wouldn't quit. Late in the second, Daniel Briere scored on the PP (a lazy hook by Bryan Berard, who got outskated for the puck), and then early in the third, Joffrey Lupul would score his first in nine games since coming back from his ankle sprain, to tie the game up. The Flyers were swarming and shooting with abandon, firing 54 shots at Dubielewicz, who stopped 51 in an outstanding showing. However, his defense was sub-par on the last two Philly goals- the Lupul one, and then, with a Frans Nielsen rocket putting the Isles up 3-2, on a Mike Richards net-crasher at 15:38 of the third. Richards, who is Philly's Mr. Clutch and the incumbent captain of the squad, had two assists plus the tying goal.

Overtime turned from the Dubie show to the Okposo show- the winger tried valiantly to produce the game-winner for the Islanders, as he snagged rebound after rebound and tried to will them past Niittymaki, who stood tall, as well as receiving defensive support. The PP that the Isles received went nowhere, as the Isles passed it away and had prime shooting opportunities wasted, until Okposo tried crashing the net.

The shootout ensued, and Ted Nolan's shooting choices raised this blogger's eyebrows, as he chose two youngsters- Nielsen and Okposo- as well as Park. You gotta love the coach for looking at his youngers players, but with a point up for grabs, perhaps it would have been more prudent to put more seasoned shooters in to win it. As it was, none of the shooters scored for the Islanders, and Dubielewicz was almost perfect, stopping Richards and Jeff Carter before Briere, appropriately, won it for the Flyers. 15,223 fans went home, most of them disappointed- unless you discount Flyers fans, or perhaps even the ones who are looking forward to the 2008 Draft.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Islanders Frustrate Pens Early, But Not For Long

Islanders 1: Penguins 3

Wade Dubielewicz, in his Monday start against Pittsburgh at home, looked like a man in control of himself in his 28-save performance, a 4-1 effort by the Isles. Last night, the opposite happened.

Although he made 26 saves, Dubielewicz played further away from the zone of confidence he'd found on Monday as the game progressed. The offense and penalties taken didn't help, and when all was said and done, a 1-1 tie turned into a 3-1 loss for the Isles, their seventh in ten games.

It started with Evgeni Malkin, who is tailing Ovechkin for the highest point total in the league. He stated his case early, with his 45th of the season, which put the Pens up 1-0. On that play was a blatant non-call- interference by Georges Laraque on Aaron Johnson. However, the referees weren't the sharpest this time around- and the feistiness was on full display.

As the cameras rolled, we saw quite a few tussles throughout the 60 minutes. Miro Satan and Petr Sykora got into a wrestling match, and quite a few hits created scrums along the boards, including a Maxime Talbot cruncher on Tim Jackman. Josef Vasicek tied the score up with his 15th on the season, and the Isles carried a portion of the play from there, but in this game they were largely outworked despite managing the tie. It's an understandable fact- they are missing tons of starters (only seven players on the opening night roster for October 5 are currently in the lineup) and they are not playing for a playoff berth any longer. However, these cannot be excuses forever.

First mistake the Isles made? Well, it has a name, and it's Jarkko Ruutu. You can perhaps call him the European Sean Avery- he's a yapping Chihuahua in a Pens jersey, and he was on last night. After Ruutu took a terrible dive in the third, Aaron Johnson lost his cool and dropped the gloves, going after him. Ruutu was at his most annoying, but also at his smartest- he stood and grinned like a joker while Johnson made his way to the box. That could have been the opportunity for the Isles to get a PP, had Johnson simply explained the matter to the linesman instead of trying to intimidate a pest who won't be so dumb. Ruutu had a goal and two assists last night, and the ire of likely the whole Islanders team.

Second, they had chances that no one finished on- all on a goaltender (Marc-Andre Fleury) who tends to overplay the puck. Next to Dubielewicz last night, Fleury looked like an All-Star simply because no one was there to crash the net and overwhelm him. Conversely, the defense was beat early, and by two fourth liners (Ruutu and Laraque, who got past Bryan Berard and flipped the puck past a very jumpy Dubielewicz) as well as Malkin. Also a problem, but one that will likely not be resolved any time soon, was the penalties, which I've mentioned all the time- just don't take them.

The best forward on the ice for the Isles was Sean Bergenheim. With no less than 7 shots on goal, he was his usual hardworking, energetic self, and it showed on a team that just couldn't get anything done offensively save for the backhand goal from Vasicek. Bergenheim would also get a roughing penalty after accidentally running into an oblivious Marian Hossa, who suffered a knee tweak as a result (FSN's Final Score would later, very incorrectly report this as a hit from behind, which it was not- hits are intentional, collisions are accidents). Brooks Orpik should also have gotten a penalty for charging at Bergenheim.

Sidney Crosby, in the lineup for the first time in two months, wasn't much of a factor. But then again, he didn't have to be. Malkin has become hot in his absence, and his offense, as well as the pesky fourth-liners', was enough for the Pens to pull out the much-needed win.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Versus Makes Good Points on Icing, Misses With Ovechkin

Hockey Central, take note.

The VS crew took over the telecast, and overall it was good. Aside from some commentary about the game, they discussed other happenings in the NHL, among them no-touch icing and the potential winners of the Hart trophy. Icing was a good debate- with the fractured femur of Minnesota's Kurtis Foster came a frenzy of talk about perhaps adopting the rule for next year in the NHL, as they already have in Europe. I for one agree with the rule- yes, some great plays are made out of icings, especially when negated, and one of my favorite forwards, Sean Bergenheim, has negated quite a few icings with his hustle, creating good scoring chances. But if this happens again, I would expect and want the NHL to consider no-touch, because even one injury on the play can be excessive, and if it becomes a habit, then something has to be done to stop it. It's not worth a player's well-being.

One point, however, that I didn't like, was on the topic of the Hart Trophy. This year, two Russian players- Pitt's Evgeni Malkin and Washington's Alexander Ovechkin- are vying for the prize, among a flurry of interest. Last I knew, Ovechkin had the narrow edge in points, and yet some of the broadcasters were saying that perhaps Malkin would get the trophy, because if the Capitals do not make it into the playoffs, Ovechkin will not get votes. This, I find, is not true, because one man does not make a team. The Capitals have not made the playoffs since Ovechkin came to the NHL, and he won the Calder in 05-06 and also was in the running for a scoring title last year, although he had somewhat tailed off from his dynamic rookie campaign. Although more of a do-it-yourself player, he is not enough for the Capitals to muster a playoff push- they need every player to give their top effort.

So it really is all down to the best man winning the title, and personally I am pulling for Ovechkin- an exciting, wildly creative player who upon joining the 60-goal club this season, has re-captured my attention quite recently. But whatever the case may be, the scoring title belongs to the player, not the team- and the best player deserves the prize, simple as that.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dubie, Isles Put the Pens on Ice

Penguins 1: Islanders 4

The Islanders, following Sunday night's loss to the Flyers, have been eliminated from playoff contention. With a game the following night against Pittsburgh- a feisty, talented team that is at the top of the Atlantic Division- they could ill afford to weep over the revelation.

And thankfully for Isles fans, they didn't.

Watching the game last night, I was amazed by the way the Isles came out blazing, while the Penguins were lethargic without Sidney Crosby, despite their record (now 15-8-4 without him). This wasn't the friendliest meeting between teams- Blake Comeau got walloped on a hit by Maxime Talbot, who had caught Comeau with his head down, and that, and the scuffle that ensued, set the tone for the game. A string of penalties also hit the Isles as well as the Pens- and the first penalty, predictably on the Isles' behalf, gave way to the game's first goal, a shorthanded goal by Richard Park on a partial breakaway 3:22 into the first period. Kyle Okposo got the assist (3 points in 4 games- tell me this kid's not going to be something special).

Petr Sykora would score on the same PP 36 seconds later, on a crossbar shot that went under brief review but ultimately counted, and the Pens looked like they had some life. But all that went down the tubes in the second, as penalty after penalty cost them puck possession, and Wade Dubielewicz (28 saves) robbed them of solid opportunities. Then the captain, Bill Guerin, after hitting a crossbar, hit yet another one to put the puck into the net for his 23rd.

Crashing the net was something the Isles also did, as Sean Bergenheim did so on the PP, knocking in a rebound by Guerin at 14:53 of the second period for his first power play goal of the year (10th overall). Ty Conklin, who had made 50 saves in the Pens' last meeting against the Isles, was pretty much helpless in this one (32 saves), although he made some decent saves to keep the game from being a complete blowout. Unfortunately, the D wasn't as apt- and in the third, having almost knocked it into their own net, it was safe at that point to determine exactly what level of confidence they were at. A Trent Hunter goal as insurance made the score 4-1- and broke a 5-game home losing streak for the Isles, and kept Pittsburgh from reaching the top of the conference.

Notes: Mike Comrie missed last night's game (flu)... Tim Jackman was called up from Bridgeport... The Isles outshot the Pens 36-29... Fun Fact: Bill Guerin has now played 1,102 games in his career with last night's match.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

NY Islanders - A Team of Who’s Who

Isles 1 : Silladelphia 4

Foreshadowing to how the game was going to go tonight - two Flyers fans gave me and my friend Robin the thumbs down on our way into the Wachovia Center parking lot. For the rest of the game, Flyers fans continued to reinforce the fact that they are the worst part about the Flyer’s organization. Granted not all Flyers fans are fans of the jackass kind but too many are. The only consolation is that the Flyers will not go far in the post season – this was my response to one of the jackass kind Flyer fans who felt the need to yell at us from a distance as we were walking out of the game. Other comments said to us were met with a reply that started with an F and ended with you, you all, you and your team, and off. This seems to startle opposing fans - hearing a woman spew a curse word or two while being looked dead in the eye for impact (fight instead of flight response)...an approach that has been effective in maintaining a 'one stupid comment' limit with most fans - heck some even go the submission route and apologize. Not every female fan wears heels to the games.

Alrighty then, 10 minutes gone by...sooooo here I sit wondering how long I can avoid writing about the outcome of this game. Dogs have been fed and walked…hmmm…cat liter box cleaned…ummmm…email checked…guess there is no avoiding writing about the Isles securing their out of the playoffs spot tonight with their loss to the Flyers 4-1. Many Isles fans saw this coming, including Angie and my Isles mate Marc but of course I was in denial because as an athlete my work ethic was to never say die and play to the end no matter what the standings were or score was. I hated to lose but worse than that was giving up in the loss – that attitude can wreck an athlete and a team beyond the game because there is a difference between losing and being defeated.

Tonight the Isles were defeated AND self-defeating, both for the same reasons – the Isles thought taking penalties a) against a 2nd ranked penalty killing team and b) with Joey MacDonald in the Isle’s net for the first time (his 16th NHL game) would work out well for them. If you detected sarcasm just now, you are correct.

Three of the four Flyer’s goals were on the PP. In the 1st period Vaclav Prospal sailed the puck past MacDonald into the upper right hand corner of the net (12:01) while Josef Vasicek (cross checking) and Matthew Spiller (tripping) were in the sin bin. In the 2nd period Braydon Coburn drilled a shot off of a pass from Jaroslav Modry (9:36) while Sean Bergenheim was in the sin bin (hooking). In the 3rd period Daniel Briere’s wrist shot (5:34) pushed the Flyers ahead 3-1 while Jeremy Colliton sat in the sin bin (hi-sticking). Scott Hartnell scored the final Flyers goal at even strength (7:59), tipping the puck in after being fed a nice pass from Vaclav Prospal later followed by Miroslav Satan scoring the only Isle’s goal (15:33), his 15th of the season. Satan’s goal happened during one of the 7 power plays served up by the Flyers and about 2 minutes after I stated to my friend Robin how Satan has not nearly tapped into his talent this season. Guess Satan has good hearing or ESP.

Since the Isles vs. Rangers game on March 6th it has become more clear which Islander wants to be an Islander and which Islander responds to his overall responsibility to his organization and team starting with an F and ending with you, you all, you and your team, and off. All I ask is that the Isle’s organization figure out who's who when going forward into next season. For now other teams will be going to the playoffs…but fellas please don’t let them go without a fight.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Isles Fan + Duct Tape =

While at the Isles vs. Devils game I stalked an Isles fan walking with his brother in the corridor between periods. Nick and Mike are from Hillsdale, NJ. Their dad had been an Isles fan until the Devils came to town a.k.a their Dad went over to the dark side. Nick tapped into his creativity to show support for Kyle Okposo via duct tape and a black marker. When asked why he did so, Nick replied that he thinks Okposo is the future of the team – the best prospect since DP. Great to see Nick and Mike have remained with the force of the Isle’s side.

Thanks to Nick and Mike for the interview and to my Isles mate Marc for taking the picture.

And now for my commentary about the game - WE WON!!


The Kids Are More Than All Right vs. Devils

Isles 3 : Devils 1

The Devils, although vying for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, have not found much success against their division and city rivals, the Rangers and the Islanders. The Isles, having fallen on hard times as of late, were coming into Newark off of a hapless 3-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, one that upset coach Ted Nolan greatly. He responded with a brutal practice the following day- and it woke the team up. Big time.

The Islanders responded with a pointed 3-1 win over their rivals at the Prudential Center. With Wade Dubielewicz starting the last few games of this season in Rick DiPietro's stead, they came out strong, and the younger players that have made up the majority of the roster came up big after working hard and earning their ice time.

First was Blake Comeau, on a great play in the first period that took his defenseman wide and handed off to Kyle Okposo, the touted rookie playing his first road game. Okposo got it back to Comeau, who buried it with Richard Park screening in front, for his seventh of the year. (Fun Fact: All seven of Comeau's goals have been on the road.) That slowed the Devils' obvious momentum, as they were faster, but the Islanders were overall playing smarter.

Then came the power play, and there were many of them in this game overall- the second period alone was a parade to the sin bin, with 5-on-4, 4-on-4, 4-on-3 and (for a brief moment) even some pond hockey, 3-on-3 action on the ice, The Devils scored what would be their only goal on the PP, as Travis Zajac (who had drawn the penalty) picked up a messy rebound and slipped it just past the pads of Dubielewicz to tie it a 1. After that, the Devils ran off with the puck, slamming 34 shots at Dubielewicz to the Isles' 16. However, Dubie would stand up tall in this game, as would the offense late in the game.

Luck was a huge factor in the second, as the Isles committed penalty after penalty, and were briefly down 2-1 on a Sergei Brylin stuff-in- but thankfully, the net had come off of its moorings as the puck went in, and the goal was disallowed. That didn't stop the flirtation with the penalty box- and the penalty kill, and Dubie, were stellar.

Also, there was some feistiness in this one, mainly due to frustration- Bill Guerin got into it with New Jersey's David Clarkson in the second period to wake his teammates up and get them going. The third period saw three more fights, involving Arron Asham, Matthew Spiller, Josef Vasicek, David Pelley, Rob Davison and another Devil, that fortunately had no effect on the outcome.

What did?

A young man by the name of Kyle Okposo, who'd already tallied his first NHL point, an assist on Comeau's goal. However, he wasn't satisfied- he scored his own, the game-winner on the power play to put the Isles up 2-1 at 17:25 of the third. Dubielewicz would stonewall the Devils, and Trent Hunter added an empty-netter to make it official- finally, the Isles had reason to smile, and smile big, because of the triumph of their hopeful future star. With that, the Isles aren't playing for much other than pride, but the message that Nolan sent to his players had sunk in- don't give up.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Back to the Drawing Board... Again

Maple Leafs 3: Islanders 1

The Islanders finally scored a goal. They had jump. They had life. They had the crowd at Nassau Coliseum cheering. But what they didn't get rid of was penalties- and consequently, what they didn't keep was the lead. Again.

Three third-period Toronto goals carried the Leafs over the Isles, 3-1, after two periods of a 1-0 lead which, if kept, would have given them their first win in six games. Instead, the Isles are sent further into their tailspin, with their losing streak now at six. Vesa Toskala made 24 saves, shaking off a major miscue that led to the Islander shorthanded goal- a 188-foot cruiser that eluded his glove and was eventually credited to Rob Davison (his first goal as an Islander). On the other side, with Rick DiPietro out reportedly for the rest of the season (hip- more on that later) Wade Dubielewicz was in net, and was strong with 26 saves, but he couldn't overcome the penalties his teammates were taking- last night, the game-winner by Pavel Kubina was a power-play goal. Kyle Wellwood also scored and had an assist, and Alexei Ponikarovsky had the empty-netter and an assist on Wellwood's goal.

Kyle Okposo's NHL debut went well- one thing I noticed was the power he has on his skates. He's a strong skater, and he definitely like to shoot the puck- he even had a wraparound attempt after Wellwood's goal in the third. He still has some work to do, no doubt- but of course it's only his first game; he has a while to work on it, especially considering the Islanders don't need to worry about the playoffs anymore.

As for Rick DiPietro, he's now added to the ever-growing list of injuries, as his hip troubles have cost him the season (as per TSN: http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/news_story/?ID=232336&hubname=nhl ). He has undergone an MRI; the broadcasters at MSG Plus report that he will be re-evaluated Wednesday, but TSN says that surgery may be performed on Wednesday as well. Either way, Dubielewicz is the starter from here on out, with Joey MacDonald up from Bridgeport as backup.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Time For a New Mentality

"There is an important difference between giving up and letting go."
- Jessica Hatchigan

Nine games remain in the NHL season, and the Islanders can very well lose every single one of them. The playoffs at this moment seem like a distant, lovely dream, yet this team continues to scratch, claw and cling to the thought that they have a chance- while they stand in 13th place, last in their division with 71 points, nine out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. And although nothing is set in stone, it seems highly unlikely that this team will get anywhere close.

It's partly because of self-inflicted wounds- games they could have won and lost, game they had in hand and dropped, flubbed comebacks, squandered leads, an overall sense of giving up later on. But it's not only that. The list of injuries to this team is staggering at the moment:
Jon Sim (knee, only played 2-3 games)
Chris Campoli (shoulder- surgery, out for season)
Mike Sillinger (hip- surgery, out for season)
Andy Sutton (hamstring)
Bruno Gervais (concussion/thigh contusion)
Andy Hilbert (ankle)
Ruslan Fedotenko (shoulder, likely out for season)
Brendan Witt (knee, no longer able to play effectively- likely out for season)

Four of the injured are the top four defensemen on the team, which is the reason why the defense has been very shaky as of late. A top penalty killer, two shot blockers, the top faceoff player, an effective offensive defenseman- these are all damaging losses, and the players brought in, no matter who, can't make up for them.

As for the replacements, they have made this team very much resemble the team in 2005-06- full of Bridgeport callups. Steve Regier, Ben Walter, Blake Comeau, Jeff Tambellini, Tim Jackman. And now, most recently, Kyle Okposo, making his NHL debut tonight against Toronto. The best thing now would be to get these guys a lot of ice-time, seeing as they deserve the look- last game, many of these guys were playing their hardest (Tambellini, Comeau and Sean Bergenheim in particular) and have been sharp.

Most of all, the whole team has to change their mentality. It's not about giving up, and losing the rest of the season for some draft pick- hopefully Ted Nolan and the boys have a lot more pride than that. It's about letting go- throwing off the pressure and just having fun. These guys did, after all, fall in love with hockey that way, no? Christine puts it best: "They need to [in effect] die and be reborn." Let go of the rest of the season. Play like you've already got what you want, and not like you still think you can get it. Have fun out there. And next season, come out strong, sure, and confident- and watch what happens.

Jessica Hatchigan knew what she was talking about in that quote- besides, letting go sounds a lot more dignified.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Where Is the Justice?

With Chris Pronger's 8-game suspension for stepping on the leg of Vancouver's Ryan Kesler this past Wednesday comes, hopefully, a flurry of furor and question over the time.


Well, first off, Islanders fans especially will want to know why on earth this guy didn't get 30 games like Chris Simon did, as it was essentially the same action (although perhaps decidedly more dangerous). Coach Ted Nolan ponders that, as told to Newsday's Greg Logan: "Yeah, a crime's a crime whether it's the first time or not. A crime's a crime."

That it is. And how convenient, that the punishment for this crime just happens to end in time for Pronger to come back for the postseason.

Conspiracy? Don't think so. Double-standard? Absolutely. Pronger has had eight suspensions in his 14-year career. By now I would say he is due for a lengthy time away from the ice- at the absolute least, 15 games. But of course, good old Colin Campbell fell very short of the standard he so pompously set in December when he suspended Simon for his incident with Jarkko Ruutu. He failed to make it a strike, as I had hoped for when Colton Orr had concussed Matt Cullen in late December as well. Instead, he'd dropped the ball completely.

With this, the NHL has shown its bias, in all its grotesque colors.

Greg Logan - http://weblogs.newsday.com/sports/hockey/islanders/blog/2008/03/nolan_same_crime_same_time.html

Sports Illustrated- http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/hockey/nhl/wires/03/15/2040.ap.hkn.ducks.pronger.suspended.1st.ld.writethru.0296/index.html

Even With the Effort, Isles Blanked Again

Islanders 0 : Canadiens 3

After the final siren at Montreal's Bell Centre sounded, Jaroslav Halak found himself mobbed by his happy and proud teammates. With his 30-save performance and support from his fast-skating offense, he had plenty of reason to be happy; last night's game resulted in his first shutout of the season. Roman Hamrlik, Alexei Kovalev and Guillaume Latendresse scored the goals for the Habs, who now trail New Jersey by one point for first in the Eastern Conference.

The team on the other end of the ice, the Islanders, only skated off the ice quietly and retired to their visiting team dressing room. They hadn't scored a goal, had made the effort, but only met red jerseys and the flashy pads of Halak. Rick DiPietro, having now lost four straight starts, made 26 saves, but let in three goals too many, and the Islanders can only look ahead to their next game, at home against Toronto on Tuesday.

The most exciting thing that the Isles have to look up to is the NHL debut of the proclaimed future of the New York Islanders, winger Kyle Okposo. In Bridgeport, Okposo had 24 points (8 goals, 16 assists) for the Sound Tigers, and recorded an assist in their win over the Philadelphia Phantoms last night. This will be the first time many Isles fan will get a look at the touted forward.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

One Step Closer...?

Islanders 2 : Panthers 4

One shot. That was all Blake Comeau needed. A shot by Park on Tomas Vokoun kicked out... the puck on his stick... empty net on the other end... Vokoun down, net gaping at him. As quickly as he could, he flipped a backhand shot...

And missed.

That was the last chance the Isles got, as just a moment later, Brett McLean calmly pushed in an empty-net goal to seal the deal for the Panthers, who have won five straight and are making a serious playoff push. Meanwhile, the sputtering Isles, who have lost four straight now, have to only focus on what was right for the team, which was more than in the previous two games combined.

The young guys were great in this one, as Comeau scored a goal and also did everything right, including taking that chance that just wasn't meant to be. Jeff Tambellini also had a strong game, with plenty of sharp plays. The Isles actually scored first in this game, which was another plus- a five-hole shot by Bill Guerin early in the second on a good play initiated by Tambellini. However, Florida got it back quickly on Kamil Kreps' goal. Stephen Weiss would make it 2-1 1:05 into the third, but- who else?- Comeau would score his fourth of the season on the power play. Rick DiPietro was quietly effective, making good saves and staying in the net more (28 saves), but he just let in one too many, 1:58 after Comeau's goal, on a shot by Skrastins unassisted.

So what now? The Isles remain further away from the playoff picture, but thanks to some well-timed vulnerability by the Philadelphia Flyers, teams who are further out of it may well be able to steal a spot if they can up the ante and get their game together.

Notes: Brendan Witt sat out this game with his knee sprain, and Andy Hilbert (ankle) missed his second straight... also, Jeremy Colliton (illness) and Ruslan Fedotenko were out. Fedotenko has a shoulder injury and may well miss the rest of the season... Steve Regier, Tim Jackman, and Matthew Spiller were recalled from Bridgeport.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

DiPietro, Isles' Foundation Crumbling As East's Worst Team Dominates

Islanders 4 : Lightning 8

It seemed easy to start.

Prior to last night, the Islanders had beaten Tampa Bay three times. They had outscored the Lightning 8-2. Rick DiPietro, in prime form, had an incredible .065 GAA and a .969 save percentage. Two of the three shutouts he'd had were against the Lightning, which has been the worst team in the East with 60 points before yesterday.

Easy feat to beat them, right?

Well, nothing has come easy for the Islanders in a long time, perhaps since before the All-Star Break, which was coincidentally the evident end of DiPietro's stellar play. He made 36 saves on 44 shots, which was nowhere near the play the Isles need out of him if they want to make the playoffs at all. Not only that, but he seems to be at odds with his coach, Ted Nolan, in regards to leaving the net to play the puck. On at least one occasion, he had allowed a goal last night after coming out to play the puck and getting into trouble. In net, conversely, he was unfocused and extremely shaky.

A 2-0 Tampa lead became a 2-2 tie over the end of the first and beginning of the second period, thanks to a rocket by Bill Guerin and a low-angle shot by Ruslan Fedotenko. But the Lightning, although their playoff hopes are over, still had some fight in them, and were only too happy to thwart the team that had seemingly solved them this year. Support of excitable goalie Kari Ramo by the defense and an aggressive offensive forecheck helped the Lightning keep the Islanders away from the net, and the timid Isles' offense was nowhere near in front of the net for much of the game. Moreover, this team once again spiraled away from their game, committing too many penalties, defensive zone breakdowns, and sloppy play as a whole.

In short, they looked like they didn't want to be on the ice.

The worst sign of this was late in the third. A 5-3 lead for Tampa became an incredible 8-3 lead, in the stunning span of 42 seconds. Vincent Lecavalier completed his hat trick, Michel Ouellet got his second of the game, and Jason Ward scored a goal, as DiPietro remained helpless and done for. The team had seemingly just given up, as Christine said when she heard what had happened. When all was said and done, a Mike Comrie goal had made it 8-4. Game, set, match, Tampa. Game over, Isles... not mathematically, as their playoff eligibility is still possible, but emotionally and psychologically, they're on the golf course already.

Notes: Andy Hilbert did not play (ankle injured during warmups), and Josef Vasicek was scratched with the flu. Ben Walter was called up on an emergency basis, and Blake Comeau played center in Hilbert's place...Ben Walter scored his first NHL goal last night on a deflection of a shot by Comeau... Bruno Gervais may return to the ice against Florida from his thigh contusion/concussion.
Greg Logan- http://www.newsday.com/sports/hockey/islanders/ny-spinotes125610651mar12,0,4746341.story

Another Greg Logan article, detailing the possible friction between DiPietro and Nolan- http://www.newsday.com/sports/hockey/islanders/ny-sbisles125610667mar12,0,1306254.story
Best I can say for you, Ted, is that you have to be harder on your players. You would do well to take a page out of Brent Sutter's book (his Devils aren't in the top two of the Eastern Conference for nothing). As for you, Rick, you would do well to listen to your coach, so that you would have more to say than, "Whatever," to reporters' questions.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What Happens Now?

The state of the Islanders going into tonight's game against Tampa Bay is one of desperation- at least, for those who still think a shot at making the playoffs is possible. The listless efforts over the past two games- in the back end of the home-and-home against the Rangers and against the Philadelphia Flyers, both chances to pull closer to the eighth spot- don't give much hope to anyone who will be watching tonight at 7:30. As Christine said in the previous post, the team on the ice on Saturday looked largely like a team neither of us recognized, and the effort was just not there, save for that of a few players who shall remain nameless (simply because the culprits aren't mentioned either).

Tampa Bay, at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, has been relatively easy to play against, with the Isles beating them in their last few meetings. However, if the team keeps playing as though the playoffs to them are a distant memory, we may well lose our third straight. Hopefully this team isn't looking too far ahead to the future, if you get my drift... no matter how meaningless this game may look to the fans, the players are the ones who are on the ice, and they should still try to win. A string of straight losses will top effort is better than game played without effort.

Other news: Brendan Witt is the Isles' nominee for the Masterton Trophy, for his solid effort and play despite the pain and struggle of dealing with a sprained right knee, because after all, there is still some hope. Way to go, Witter.
Greg Logan- http://www.newsday.com/sports/hockey/islanders/ny-spisles0311,0,2192895.story?track=rss

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Humor Was the Only Remedy

Isles 1 : Silladelphia Flyers 4

If it weren't for the 'laugh so hard I can’t breathe' antics of my best friend Robin and I, the game last night would have been a waste of time and money. There were only a few Isles who I recognized out on the ice. The rest were like strangers from another planet - quite possibly the planet give up. Right now I'm out of town and dealing with a yucky cold so upon arriving back home Tuesday I'll finish this post in an effort to provide some type of closure to the nightmare I witnessed in Philly.

to be continued…

Friday, March 7, 2008

Hit By Witt

The only kind of attention Avery should get from the Isles

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Home Un-sweetened Home

Isles 1 : Rangers 4

Something didn’t seem right about the energy in the Coliseum from the moment my friend Dom and I walked into the building. Greeting us at the top of the aisle were Ranger fans celebrating Brendan Shanahan’s breakaway goal (1:29) that happened during a delayed Isle’s penalty. After the goal the Rangers continued to puff up their feathers, as they often do, which seemed to work for them tonight as compared to Tuesday night. Instead of playing past the Rangers until their chaotic out of the gate playing style leveled off, and then going on the hunt for a goal, the Isles looked like they were playing a game of tag – with the Isles being ‘it’ for most of the period. More troubling than the Rangers scoring the first goal so early in the game was hearing Ranger fans out chant and out cheer Isles fans which continued to happen throughout the game. Not a lot of good stuff happened for the Isles this period – Shanahan served two minutes for hooking (10:06), Sean Avery scored (13:25) by deflecting a pass from Marek Malik past Wade Dubielewicz who was starting his third straight game, and Aaron Johnson served two minutes for hooking (17:32). Add all of it together and it’s no wonder why the energy felt claustrophobic.

“Whatever was said in the locker room must have sunk in”. That is the comment I made to Dom as the Isles showed signs of asserting the better parts of their playing style during the 2nd period. Dubie had some nice saves and the Isles seemed more cohesive. Although the Isles tallied 14 shots on goal and kept the Rangers down to 5 shots on goal in the period, a much needed scoring opportunity was missed when Malik (holding @ 6:35) and Michal Rozsival (delay of game – puck over glass @ 7:45) both sat in the sin bin, giving the Isles 50 seconds to score on a two man advantage. 5-on-3, then 5-on-4 did not help the Isles get on the scoreboard. A favorable change in the scoreboard did come when Sean Bergenheim’s wrist shot (10:34) deflected off of Malik and Rozsival eventually making it past Henrik Lundqvist, who Angie described via text as ‘impenetrable’ sometime into the 1st period. Allowing one goal on 27 shots made Lundqvist almost impenetrable when all was said and done. The period continued with Avery serving two minutes for hi-sticking (14:32), Rob Davsion serving two minutes for tripping (19:08), followed by the period ending with the Rangers ahead 2-1.

In the 3rd period the Isles reverted back to a game of tag but this time around they seemed to spend less time being ‘it’. It looked like a game of air hockey (the way the puck moved around on the ice) right before Marc Staal’s shot ricocheted off of Scott Gomez, then Davison and into the net (1:12), giving the Rangers a two goal lead. In between a lot of back an forth hockey Josef Vasicek served two minutes for slashing (5:57), Richard ‘zippy’ Park continued to zip around the ice undaunted by the score, Trent Hunter hit Avery with a nice check, and despite Aaron Johnson’s attempt to take him down, Avery scored the final Ranger goal, short handed on the empty net (19:02). In the seconds following Avery’s goal, Shanahan was sent to the sin bin (roughing @ 19:34) for retaliating against Johnson with a few shots to his face. The Isles produced only 3 shots on goal in the period. Game over.

The ‘star’ of the game? Sean Avery. Yes you read that correctly and no I haven't been hitting the sauce. Avery was successful in being a pest tonight and too many Isles allowed themselves to be sucked right into his distracting behavior - quite possibly an effective psychological strategy considering how much Isle’s energy was wasted on acknowledging him…although the words Sean Avery and effective psychological strategy do not seem to go together in any sentence. What Ted Nolan should have done was told his players to knock it off and pay more attention to the game that they were losing. Ruslan Fedotenko should have taken the energy he used to blow Avery a kiss in the 3rd period and put it towards scoring a goal. This pseudo affectionate gesture might have been funny if the score was reversed but tonight it didn't seem funny at all, especially since Avery then turned around and scored on the empty net. With an antagonistic type of player that Avery is, the best response to his attention seeking behavior is to ignore him. The more someone dismisses him, the more frustrated he will become. Furthermore, and most importantly the more frustrated Avery becomes the more inward he will turn which is exactly where the Isles want him to be – up inside his own head trying to figure out what else he can do to get attention. As my mentor once taught me, silence is the best form of manipulation.

Some post game debating went on at Islander Mania - some fans stated that the game would have went more in the Isle’s favor if Rick DiPietro had been in goal. Staying within the hypothetical realm…beyond his having to stop every shot on goal, I don’t think DP would have helped his team score more than one goal unless he scored them himself. Despite the four goals scored Dubie still held his ground, making 24 saves and allowing fewer rebounds than he did on Tuesday night. As for his body language, Dubie seemed less at ease tonight and since I did not see his stance in goal until after Shanahan scored, I am only guessing that it’s possible the all too soon breakaway goal might have tightened his muscles up a bit.

Compartmentalizing a loss and quickly moving past it is usually the way to go but this time around it may be more appropriate for all of us to figure out why the Rangers and their fans were permitted to set the pace of the game on our turf, with the goal of resolving this issue by April 3rd.


BEAT those silly Flyers on Saturday. I’ll be there as a witness to the win!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Dubie Once Again Steps Up With Confidence

Isles 4 : Rangers 3 (SO)

Have you seen this goalie?

He was last seen tonight stopping 27 out of 30 shots on goal, stopping 5 out of 6 shots in a SO, and earning his 6th win of the season. If you happen to see this goalie standing in front of a hockey net please call 555-1212 and warn the opponent.

Dubie Dubie do and did.

At first my Isles mate Mark and I thought we were nuts for the bucks we spent on tickets to the game - turns out it was worth every penny. Not only did we have great seats, but we also got to watch Butch ‘fly suit and tie’ Goring pass by during the intermissions. Add to that Isles fans in the seats to the right, left and in front of us. I don't think I've ever high 5'd so many fellow fans at an away game. All the Isles fans at the game were awesome tonight, loud and proud. What more could we ask for?



At the start of the game the Rangers looked like they were outpacing the Isles, who seemed a bit choppy. Shortly into the 1st period, Brandon Dubinsky provided a close call when his shot banked off the crossbar behind Dubie. Close but not close enough for a goal. Phew! As the period progressed, the Isles appeared to be trying to gain their composure against a team that was doing their best to out run them – and for a while there, it seemed like the Rangers were succeeding - it wasn’t until 13:21 that the Isles posted their first shot on goal. Eventually the Ranger’s start up energy leveled out. Blake Comeau turned the energy tide with a wrist shot goal (18:43) (and yes we’ll take the ‘lucky’ bounces) that led to the 1st period ending with the Isles in the lead 1-0. Considering the ebb and flow of the 1st period, I figured either the Rangers would come out fighting to steal the lead or the Isles would come out fighting to maintain the lead and whoever fought the hardest would win the game.

The 2nd period was first marked by Radek Martinek serving 2 minutes for tripping (1:47) and wouldn’t you know it…Nigel Dawes tying the game 1-1 with a wrist shot goal on the power play (2:29). Unnecessary Isle’s penalties could not happen in any way, shape or form. The Isles would already be too busy trying to defend and offensively overcome the Ranger’s chaotic playing style to then have to do so short handed. Not to worry though because 41 seconds after Dawes’s goal, Sean Bergenheim fired a wrist shot past Henrik Lindqvist (3:10) and the Isles took the lead again 2-1. But wait…there’s more! Exactly two minutes after Bergenheim’s goal, Trent Hunter brought the Isles to a 2 goal lead with a goal (5:10) that was originally credited to Ruslan Fedotenko. Adding more drama to the drama, Chris Drury whizzed a slap shot past Dubie (7:14) bringing the score to 3-2. Ping pong hockey at its finest. What happened for the rest of the 2nd period was a barely successful attempt by the Rangers to take their greatest defensive threat (besides Dubie), Brendan Witt, off his game. Jaromir Jagr was called for tripping (12:36) followed by Sean Avery getting too close for comfort with Witt who rightfully so, responded in kind. Both Avery and Witt served 2 minutes for roughing (12:36) which still left the Isles on the power play, but nothing came of it for the Isles.

The 3rd period was just as much of a nail biting experience as the first two periods. This now was mainly a psychological game of cat and mouse hockey – the hunter and the hunted. The Isles appeared to figure out how to play at an even pace with the Rangers, who overall seemed to be playing like the expression ‘throw stuff against the wall and see if anything sticks’, without giving up their own game. Shortly into the period Jeremy Colliton served 2 minutes for holding (3:08). Soon after Jaromir Jagr served 2 minutes for holding (5:31) which could have provided the Isles with a chance to secure another two goal lead but to the shock of hopeful Isles fans it went the opposite way, with Ryan Callahan’s backhanded SHG on the rebound (5:47). The game ended 3-3, OT came and went scoreless, and a standing-room-only shootout began.

Ya gotta love Bill Geurin. The only way to describe how he looked as he approached his shot during the 2nd SO round was ‘dudes I’ve got this one’. His on ice demeanor at times continues to crack me up (in a good way). Nigel Dawes also scored in the 2nd round. And so we pressed onward in our cheering for Dubie and for one Islander after another. Little did we know Jeff Tambellini had some of his destiny to fulfill in the 6th round - a high wrist shot past Lundqvist that sent Isles fans into a blissful tizzy and sent Rangers fans home with a loss.

and now say hello to a fellow Isles fan who sat next to me at the game…

Frank grew up and still lives in Massapequa. He started going to Isle’s games with his dad, as season ticket holders in 1981. Frank now holds season tickets of his own, “section 323, row B, dead center”. Frank loves sports and loves the Isles. His all time favorite Islander is Mike Bossy who he described as a “scoring machine”. Frank has passed his love of the Isles down to his kids who are Isles fans too. Nothin’ like being home in 15 minutes after an Isle’s game eh Frank? Convenience is a luxury that those of us in NYC do not get to enjoy but the Isles are always worth the hellish ride on the LIE!

The countdown to an Isle’s win on Thursday night begins…


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Along With DiPietro, Intensity and Goals Missing From Isles' Game

Islanders 0 : Panthers 1

Don't let this title fool you.

In relief, Wade Dubielewicz put forward a solid effort with 29 saves, but the only one he allowed would be all the Panthers needed, as yet again, the Islanders would come up short, even though they would take 53 shots on goal, all of which the goalie on the other end, Florida's Craig Anderson, would stop, in an anticlimactic ending to a great afternoon for the Isles.

Today was the Core of the Four ceremony, and after the 17 men who were part of the dynasty came forth yet again to embrace the crowd, the current Islanders skated out for warmups wearing their numbers- Richard Park in Lorne Henning's #10 (identical to his own), Wade Dubielewicz in Billy Smith's #31 jersey, and recently returned Brendan Witt representing #91, Butch Goring. Here's a picture link- http://islanders.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=MediaGalleryPlayer&galleryId=5162 to see the awesome show of respect by the current team.

As for the on-ice product, even with the emotion of the simple ceremony, there was chance, but hardly any intensity to be seen out of the team, as they threw a barrage of shots over the three periods, and had good chances, especially some by the Kid Line of Tambellini, Jeremy Colliton, and Blake Comeau. However, it became clear by the end of the game that there were plenty of starts, and yet not enough finishes to get the Isles a goal. Billy Jaffe made a point afterward that was very evident; "There is not a pure-goal scorer on this team... a player who can finish the play."

Christine and I have had a couple of debates on this subject, and I am of the same opinion as Mr. Jaffe on this point- the Isles have drive and they have the determination to power them past a lot of teams. However, they lack the talent- the sufficiency of a player who can finish a play, or make a lot out of nothing, or produce a consistent string of goals. Last year, you might have been able to give that label to Jason Blake, who had 40 goals for the Isles; now, it's not clear who our goalscorer can be. The leading scorer, Mike Comrie, has come very close, but he needs to be simply a little more consistent. It is true that the Isles have come far with the limited supply of talent they have, and that is because they have relied on a defense-first, teamwork-oriented system that demands hard work ethic and relentless pressure. However, when that system fails, as it has recently, it wouldn't hurt to have something to make up for all of it. And yes, perhaps it wouldn't help as much as everyone thinks it would- as we all know, you can't rely on one thing to be your saving grace- but as far as I and Billy Jaffe can tell, it can only help the Islanders' cause to have a little more talent on the team.

Notes: Bruno Gervais was injured in the first period after a nasty hit by Branislav Mezei, and upon going to the locker room, was reported to have suffered a concussion and thigh contusion... Brendan Witt, in only his second game back from injury, looked to have suffered another when he slammed his right foot into the boards near the end of the first, and although he looked uncomfortable, he stuck it out and finished the game.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Isles Trivia

Bill Guerin scored his 20th goal during the Isles vs. Flyers game today, making him the 2nd player in the NHL to score 20 goals in a season for six different teams...

Q: Which 5 other teams did Bill Guerin score 20 goals in a season?

Q: Who was the first NHL player to accomplish the same? On which 6 teams?

Q: Who are the 17 Islanders in the Core of the Four?

tick tock

tick tock

tick tock


A: New Jersey, Edmonton, Dallas, Boston, St. Louis

A: Ray Sheppard, Buffalo, NY Rangers, Detroit, San Jose, Florida, Carolina

A: Mike Bossy, Bob Bourne, Clark Gillies, Butch Goring, Lorne Henning, Anders Kallur, Gord Lane, Dave Langevin, Wayne Merrick, Ken Morrow, Bob Nystrom, Stefan Persson, Denis Potvin, Billy Smith, Duane Sutter, John Tonelli, Bryan Trottier

*Let us not forget Bill Torrey and Al Arbour. Trainer Ron Waske and equipment manager Jim Pickard were also with the team for all four Stanley Cups.

Isle’s Glass is Still Half Full

Isles 1 : Silladelphia Flyers 4

It was fan appreciation day at the Coliseum…fans who would have appreciated a win against the Flyers. As a result of this game, the Flyers secured the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference – now 2 points ahead of the Sabres and 4 points ahead of the Isles. Sometime during the 3rd period the image of Muppet Don Music came to mind.

Although bearing no resemblance and unable to play the piano – banging my head on a piano just seemed to fit my frustration level. Of all the teams to lose to fellas, did it have to be the Flyers?

The game started out on a great note with Al Albour, Bill Torrey and my all time favorite player Bobby Nystrom participating in a ceremonial puck drop - add to that seeing Brendan Witt back on the ice after missing 8 games due to a knee injury. At first glance, the Isles appeared evenly paced with the Flyers – at second glance the Isles looked like a tightly knit team out there on the ice. So then what happened?

The 1st period yielded a snap shot goal by Flyer Jeff Carter (13:59) and da da da! no Isle’s penalties! In the 2nd period Bill Guerin’s wrist shot PPG (8:30) tied the game and although the Isles were able to hold the tie for a while, in came the dreaded Isle's penalty with Bruno Gervais serving 2 minutes for cross checking (13:17). While Gervais was in the sin bin, Flyer Braydon Coburn scored with a mean slap shot (14:24) that found what appeared to be an open right side pocket of DP’s net. The 3rd period provided a turning point to the game when Miroslav Satan took a shot on goal into a wall of hockey players (Mike Knuble blocked the shot), then lost a battle for the puck to Jeff Carter who then banked a rebound off of Knuble to put the Flyers ahead 3-1 with the short handed goal (9:31). Scottie ‘with an ie’ Upshall scored on the empty net (19:33) ending the game 4-1. Beyond being outscored, the loss today seemed to be due to the underpinnings of passing and shooting inaccuracy.

Three highlights of the game…

-Andy Hilbert threw his entire life force into blocking a shot on goal in the 2nd period.

-Bill Guerin scored his 20th goal today, making him the 2nd player in the NHL to score 20 goals in a season for six different teams.

-Rick DiPietro made a sweet break away move and pass as he headed for the bench in the last minute of the game.

No doubt that the Isles put forth a great effort today, however momentum without execution seems to be an issue that the Isles need to overcome to win the games necessary for a playoff spot. Some Isles fans are now declaring the season over. Nope. The Isle’s glass is still half full.

Tomorrow brings the Core of the Four Celebration and the Florida Panthers. There is only one Muppet who can symbolize the effort the Isles will have put forth from here on out…


Four-legged Hockey Fans

While out of town last week I stopped at a Starbucks in Marlton, NJ only to turn around in line to find an adorable puppy being held in his mamma’s coat. The typical fawning over a puppy conversation was about to take place…little did I know we’d have more in common than a love of our dogs.

Christine: “What is your name?”

Ashley: “His name is Puck”

Christine: “Puck you must be a hockey fan”


Turns out Ashley comes from a hockey family. Her dad and brother play(ed) hockey and as a kid Ashley wanted to play but there were no teams for girls. Originally hailing from Buffalo and now residing in Southern NJ, Ashley and her family are die-hard Sabres fans. At one point while living in Buffalo, Ashley’s next door neighbor was Pat LaFontaine, who also happens to be one of her favorite players. Ashley wanted to name Puck ‘taine’ as a tribute to LaFontaine but her family would not go for it so Puck he became. Puck is a flat coated retriever, a mix of a Golden Retriever and a Newfoundland bred for hunting (Hey Puck! I heard it’s open season on Flyers!). When asked to comment about his mamma having to endure Flyer fans’ comments when she goes to the Wachovia Center to see her team play wearing her Sabre’s jersey, Puck replied, “Sabres RULE, Flyers DROOL!”

Thanks to Ashley for sending Puck’s picture along and sharing your love of dogs and hockey….hmmm dogs and hockey…now there’s a great promotion…bring your dog to the game.