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

Islanders 2014-15 Season Mantra

Try not. Do...or do not.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Schremp, Roloson Stave Off Blue Jackets

Blue Jackets 1: Islanders 2 (SO)

So it took a shootout, but the Islanders managed to make their final home game of the first decade of the 2000s a win. It came at the artistic hands of Rob Schremp and the pads of Dwayne Roloson, who stood tall in the skills competition to win the two points for the Isles.

Over the years, I've grown to like, then dread, then detest the shootout, for different reasons. I now see the point of the purists who argue that it's nothing more than a gimmick designed to pull in fans, and while it does its job, I can't help but think that it doesn't do much for the game. I think it might also give teams a bit of an excuse not to push as hard in the preceding five-minute overtime, as they figure they'll just send out their snipers to strut their stuff against each goalie and be done with it. That shouldn't be the attitude, but sometimes I feel as though it is.

That said, the shootout does do a service to some teams, particularly if they- like the Isles- give up leads frequently, and if they- like the Isles- have a guy like Schremp in their lineup, who has a shootout bag o' tricks, if you will. On this night, he opted to hesitate until the very last minute and made goalie Steve Mason move first, then roofed the puck neatly over the sprawled netminder for the only shootout goal. Then Roloson took defenseman Fedor Tyutin wide and cemented the win for the Isles. All of this after only one goal by the Isles' Josh Bailey (or Kyle Okposo- kept going back and forth) and one by the Blue Jackets' R.J. Umberger, the Jacket with perhaps the most presence on the ice tonight.

This was a needlessly hard-fought win for the Isles, yet hardly unexpected. When you give away the puck, miss the net, and flub passes this much, it's bound to happen. And after a lucky bounce that turned into Bailey's goal, the tying goal at the beginning of the third period was scored thanks to the mass of Islanders blocking Roloson's sight of the puck. Nothing new. Slowly they allowed the Blue Jackets more time on offense and stayed hemmed in their own zone, trying and failing to get the puck out along the boards. The defense did all it could just to get to OT afterward, and then played well through the five-minute period- yet on offense, the best they could muster was a Josh Bailey post and a Mark Streit elbow- no, not an actual elbow; he hit the spot in the net where the crossbar and post meet, needless to say, not breaking his now 21-game goal-less streak. Shame.

A win's a win, however, and the Isles will gladly take this last one at home for the year 2009, traveling next to Ottawa to take on the Senators for New Year's Eve. Let's hope we ring in 2010 with another two points!


Notes: Nate Thompson will be out 1-2 weeks with a shoulder injury; Jeff Tambellini has replaced him in the lineup... John Tavares has had 1 goal in his last 10 games- that hurts our offensive output... CBJ goalie Mason had come into this matchup with nearly a 4.oo goals-against average on the road; he allowed only one in regulation tonight, as well as Schremp's shootout winner...the penalty kill for the Isles has allowed no goals in four games, after allowing practically 2 a game.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

So Much for Getting a Streak Going

Islanders 1: Flyers 2

Okay, so the score was tight. And yeah, when you compare it with the 6-2 beating the Islanders got the last time they squared off against the Flyers, it looks somewhat respectable. But this is the 13th straight time that Philadelphia's beaten them. What gives?

Okay, so Mike Richards is quite good, and Daniel Briere's not incredibly easy to beat. And Jeff Carter's a certified Islander killer no matter what his recent stats are. But are the Flyers really that tough of a team to play against, for crying out loud? This is bordering on the absurd. And quite frankly, it was not for lack of trying tonight- the Isles managed to get a few good chances on offense; it was unfortunate mistakes leading to odd-man rushes and the continued spottiness of one Martin Biron in net that made this loss possible. Penalties didn't help, either.

In the end, only Jon Sim was able to get anything past Michael Leighton, the goalie picked up on waivers by Philly after Ray Emery went down with injury and Brian Boucher, I suppose, proved to be unreliable. In any case, Leighton made 28 saves on 29 shots and outplayed Biron.

There's not much more I can say about this game, except that after an emotional and well-deserved win over the Rangers on Saturday, this is definitely a deflating loss. It wasn't a problem with effort, just with execution in some places, and unfortunately the Isles could not rebound. So it goes.

Next game against the Blue Jackets, on the 29th, which is Tuesday.

Okposo Breaks Slump, Trounces Rangers

Islanders 3: Rangers 2 (OT)

Considering the 2-0 lead the Islanders had going into the third period of the game last night against the Rangers, you would think that the win would have been an easy one. How many times I've typed that sentence regarding an Isles game, I've lost count of. But this is our lot in life when we're fans of easily one of the most topsy-turvy teams in the league.

At any rate, the Rangers turned on in the third and scored two goals to pull themselves even with their cross-town rivals, but it was recently-struggling right wing Kyle Okposo who finally broke his slump and had a hand in each of the Isles' goals, including his own game-winner in OT.

Frans Nielsen struck first for the Islanders, as Josh Bailey recovered nicely from a missed breakaway opportunity and passed Okposo the puck. Nielsen went to the net and received a pretty behind-the-back pass from Kyle, shot, and got past Lundqvist for the tally. That was perhaps the only real highlight in a dull first period that only saw five shots for each team.

The second period commenced, and at 14:21 the penalty kill for the Isles- which had struggled as of late- woke up and not only killed the penalty, but scored a shorthanded goal. Once again, Okposo got the assist with a play in which he escaped a hit from one Ranger (Michael Del Zotto), stayed balanced on one skate, kept going and passed to a streaking Blake Comeau while absorbing another hit. Comeau finished the play and scored his first career shorthanded goal. That great play compensated for the glaring lack of cohesion on the power play.

In the third period, however, the Isles started to get a bit sloppy, losing a good amount of faceoffs and allowing the Rangers to get more time in their zone. It was here that Dwayne Roloson was sharp, saving everything until 6:07 of the third, where Brandon Dubinsky was able to get to the front of the net and beat his left pad as Comeau was entering the play from the penalty box. Then, late in the third, a bad too many men call on the Isles led to the second goal being scored by Dubinsky once more. Penalties definitely hurt the Isles in this period, and they allowed the Rangers (and their boisterous home crowd) back into the game in a huge way.

However, Okposo wasn't done yet. There was a focus to his game that was hugely visible, almost palpable, and it showed in his two assists and constant presence whenever he was on the ice. He nearly scored at least once in regulation, and definitely did score in overtime for the Isles- finally!- after going almost 20 games without a goal. He received a pass from Frans Nielsen along the Rangers' blue line and fired a shot that deflected off of defenseman Marc Staal, then the post and past Lundqvist. I couldn't imagine a guy who deserves it more, after working so hard and being frustrated so constantly by missed shots, posts and great saves by opposing goalies. Now, though, with some hard work (and a bit of luck), it all paid off. He got the first star of the game for an overall excellent performance.

The Isles have no time to relish this win, however, as they face off against the Flyers this evening at 5 p.m. back at the Coliseum. No matter where the Flyers are in the standings, somehow they always manage to find their legs and the win against the Isles, so our boys will have to stay focused and not get suckered into bad situations. No telling who will be in net- I imagine Rollie might get the night off (he's started three straight already), but who knows.


Notes: Timmy's back! Tim Jackman returned to the lineup after being sidelined with a hip injury, and Jon Sim was moved up to the third line to make room for him on the fourth line, while Jesse Joensuu returned to Bridgeport... the Isles are now 3-1-0 against the Rangers this season... Roloson made 36 saves, as the Rangers outshot the Isles 38-22.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Isles Hold Off Leafs, Snap Losing Streak

Maple Leafs 1: Islanders 3

Well... the Isles won!

That's one thing Islanders fans have to cheer them up if they wake up this morning and find themselves stressed, depressed or distressed; after losing four straight, three at home, this should bring a bit of happiness during this holiday season.

Though it took the Isles a while to break open the scoring, they executed wonderful defensive play (particularly Andy Sutton) and were able to hold off the Maple Leafs, 2-1, thanks to Sutton's and other players' shot blocks and some key late saves by Dwayne Roloson. The forwards in this game- Matt Moulson and Blake Comeau, to name a few- also did well on D, as well as getting some good chances on net that were just not enough to get past Jonas Gustavsson. However, they stayed calm, stayed disciplined for the most part, and finally got the payoff they were looking for.

At the end of the first period, Butch Goring mentioned that he saw the team working quite hard out there; however, he could tell they were struggling with some fatigue and dragging as they got off the ice. No doubt this win was welcome, as will be the break that follows until Saturday.

Nevertheless, many of the guys went all out and provided some great play for the Islanders. Both goals were scored in the second period; first, Trent Hunter pulled off a nice toe drag and beat Gustavsson on the far side to put the Isles up 1-0. Then, after a non-goal by the Leafs was deemed so (a Leaf batted the puck in with an obvious high stick) Blake Comeau dragged Gustavsson out of position, leaving the net open for Tavares to put it away. The Isles did a great job over two periods minimizing the Leafs' chances and especially taking away the impact of both Phil Kessel and Jason Blake. They allowed only 13 shots by the Leafs over the first 40 minutes of play.

The third period, however, wasn't the same. Niklas Hagman put the Leafs on the board within the first three minutes, and all of a sudden the Leafs were the ones dominating play and making the Isles scramble to keep up. At one point they were outshooting the Isles 10-2; but players such as Sutton, Nate Thompson (who was fortunate to still be playing- I'll tell you why later) and of course Roloson stepped up and staved them off. Rollie had an incredible save late in the third, after Alexei Ponikarovsky missed a wide-open net and another Leaf tried to keep the play alive. Then, in a weird series of events and with Gustavsson on the bench for an extra skater, Blake Comeau charged toward the open net for a goal and was taken down, hurtling into the net himself. The rule is that if there are grounds for a penalty shot, but there is no goalie in net, a goal is immediately awarded. That is probably the easiest goal Comeau will ever get, and that made it 3-1.

This was a well-played game defensively, and though the Isles allowed a goal and bent ever so slightly, they didn't lose their heads completely. Full marks to Sutton for a brilliant defensive performance; it's a shame he didn't get a star for the night because he was just that good, and has been all month. Comeau also had an excellent game; he's been playing very well as of late, and in my opinion might become a great defensive forward. There are still some things that could be changed, such as the power play (I'm sure everyone knows Mark Streit's going to be carrying the puck up the ice by now; change it up, why not put a guy like Jack Hillen up there, he's a good puck-moving D) but overall, considering the level of fatigue that these guys are no doubt experiencing, this was a game well-played. Next game will be on Saturday night against the Rangers- the Isles' third meeting with them this month, and already their fourth of six this season.


Notes: The Isles outshot Toronto 27-22... Nate Thompson very nearly had his eye cut out in the second period, as he barreled over Mike Komisarek along the boards. Komisarek's right skate nicked him on the cheekbone just under his left eye; Nate did return, however, and played a good game... Jeff Tambellini and Freddy Meyer remained healthy scratches.

P.S. Christine and I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!!! Enjoy, and be safe!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Speak of the Devil!

Here's the situation: Christine and I are on the phone. Christine has been talking for the past five minutes, it seems, about captain Doug Weight being MIA for the past month or so with his shoulder injury, and I'm here wondering myself where he's been, when...

Holy Moly! Chris Botta tweets about Doug Weight wanting to come back to the Isles and do whatever he can to contribute. Freaky, much?

Here's the link:


It's gotta be some kinda psychic vibes Christine is giving off or something...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Isles Lose Two Straight At Home: Some Things to Ponder

Rangers 5: Islanders 2
Canadiens 3: Islanders 0

Yep, in the span of two games the Islanders have only mustered two goals. Some may argue that it isn't for lack of trying and just for lack of opportunities, but at least in the Habs game, I can argue that it was for lack of concentration.

It really is something that these guys have allowed five PP goals these past two games. One of the guys who's been taking an awful lot of penalties lately, surprisingly, is Mark Streit, and thanks to him Ryan Callahan scored one of his two PP goals, and Andrei Markov one of his as well. I wasn't able to see the entire Isles-Rangers game, but I saw plenty of the Habs game, and all I can say is perhaps it would be best for Scott Gordon to scratch the defenseman for a couple of games. He's still got plenty of ice time, but it's become evident that he, as well as plenty of Isles players, is slowly getting burnt out and needs some rest, among other things. Yes, Gordon trusts him and all, but even the best of players needs some time to sit back and watch things for a bit, and I think Streit's time has come.

But it's so much more than that. Everyone in general has to stop taking penalties; passes need to be crisper, people need to stop shooting right at the goalie and making them look much better than they are (because yes, Jaroslav Halak is a very good goalie, but shooting right to the jersey adds unnecessary saves to his total, don't you think, Josh Bailey and Nate Thompson?), and overall the team just needs to find something to get them going again. I don't think that you can blame it so much on "bad bounces" as much as just not executing a play well enough, or trying to do so much you end up doing nothing at all.

And did I mention the fans? Not ours, but theirs- Rangers and Canadiens fans once again taking over our building and making it theirs. There's nothing quite as embarrassing or angering to me as something like that happening, and if not in number, certainly in voice, opposing fans always seem to drown us out. I understand it sucks that we're struggling right now, and the snowstorm last night probably drove many away from going to Nassau Coliseum. However, this has been the norm for quite a while, and I'm kind of getting sick of it. It doesn't matter to many teams' fans whether their boys win or lose- they show up to support, regardless. You could make the argument that some of those teams are in areas where hockey's much more popular, and maybe it is... but still, consider that a full house could perhaps give our boys the confidence they need. If Habs fans can make it through the snow and over hundreds of miles to cheer their team on, then we certainly can as well. Enough of the excuse, "Well, they're crazy," and try to make the effort. Not saying everyone's at fault here, but... come on, guys.

Anyway... there isn't much of a focus in this post, and perhaps it's better that way. There isn't one thing that the Isles can really focus on in terms of their play, either- it's a mix of too many penalties, missed opportunities, and some vets who could use a sitting. Overall, not looking too good on the Island.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Islanders Disturb Ranger's Naptime

Islanders 2 : Rangers 1

On paper it appeared to be an even match up last night, on ice though a different story. The Islanders showed up to play, the Rangers looked like someone disturbed their nap, Ranger fans sounded like they were taking a nap, and in the post game interview, Ranger coach John Tortorella sounded like a truck driver…bleepity bleep bleep bleep.

The first of the Isle’s two goals was scored by Jon Sim or more accurately, Jon Sim’s shin @14:25 in the 1st period. Jack Hillen picked up the puck and took it behind Henrik Lundqvist while being chased by Ranger forward Christopher Higgins. Higgins chose to give up the chase and headed for the front of the net which left Hillen open (no one picked him up on the other side) for a backhand that bounced off of Sim’s shin and passed Lundqvist. Isles fans seemed to agree on Twitter- ‘lucky but we’ll take it’. As nice as Sim scoring was the decent number of Isles fans seen jumping up to celebrate in the seats behind Lundqvist. By the end of the 1st period, the Isles had outshot the Rangers 10-3 and in general the Rangers looked like they were going to lose IF the Isles could keep their energy at an even keel like they had in this period.

What Islander/Ranger game would be complete without the antics of Sean ‘if you can’t beat them, annoy them’ Avery?  Hillen gave him some attention resulting in both of them serving two minutes for roughing 27 seconds into the 2nd period. A few minutes later came a couple of scoring chances for both teams followed by a pile up involving Dwayne Roloson and Avery. Seems Avery got too close to Roloson who reacted by whacking Avery’s left leg, from my view Roloson’s reaction looked like a fight or flight reaction – a reflex. Avery then pushed Roloson to the ice and had to be pulled off of him by the ref. After watching the replay a few times with my Nephew TJ who plays goalie (whoo hoo!), it is clear that Roloson made a glove save high up on left yet even though Avery could see the play was dead, rather than retract his stick, he made contact on Roloson, jabbing his stick into Roloson’s left knee. It’s one thing to dig into a goalie’s space with the excuse of ‘just doing my job’ but it’s another to push a goalie down when he is at a considerable disadvantage in many ways due to the weight and bulk of goalie gear. I think it’s one of the lowest things a player can do on ice, to any goalie. 

Despite Avery clearly being a tool, the Rangers wound up on the power play – Matt Moulson and Jon Sim serving two minutes for Roloson for slashing and roughing and Avery serving two minutes for roughing. At this point it was wait and see if Isles were going to allow Avery’s toolness to shake em’ up or shake Avery off like the flea he is. Thank you fellas for going with the latter…the Isles killed the penalty and continued to play at an even keel for the rest of this scoreless period and throughout the 3rd where Blake ‘no scratch for you’ Comeau scored his second goal of the season with about 3 minutes left to go in the game, a rebound off Moulson’s slapshot, a gift from Lundqvist’s pads to Comeau. The Isles almost left MSG with a shutout had it not been for a puck getting through between Roloson’s pads, then tipped in by Enver Lisin with only 55 seconds left to go in the game.

Overall the Islanders did so much right in this game, one that I consider to be their best played so far. Early on the Isle’s lackluster passing game was put to the test due to the Rangers playing loose, leaving pockets of ice for the Isles to utilize, which they did…and at times did REALLY well. Even though those efforts did not yield more goals scored…we’ll take it. 

In about an hour the Islanders host the Rangers for part two of this home-on-home gig. No doubt the Rangers are going to be raring to go this time around so it’s up to the Isles to maintain a lot of last night’s effort and effectively channel the extra ‘kick’ of energy felt on home ice against this team. Can the Isles do it? Sure they can.

Even keel grasshoppers. 


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Flyers, Leafs, Bruins and Panthers Oh My!

Last week I listed three potential outcomes for the Islanders when they played in Philadelphia Tuesday night. The Isles chose option two -

2. Get sucked into Flyers drama, lose the game and potentially someone gets hurt. 

Islanders 2 : Flyers 6

Isles quickly got sucked into Flyers drama, they L-O-S-T and Tim Jackman left the game in the 1st period with a boo-boo and did not return. So my thought is now that if I keep going to Isles games in Philly sooner or later they will win at the Wachovia…or not. It is amazing how regressed the Isles look when playing Philly. A win for Biron would have been nice being back at his old stomping grounds for the first time since leaving Philly but he looked out of it most of the game, culminating in the 3rd period when he was knocked down during a gloves off pile up where Flyers defenseman Matt Carle landed on Biron. Where do you go from there? The club box bar or home I guess…beer it was since the only superstition I have about watching the Isles (since being a kid) is leaving the game before it’s over. 

The Isles did rally in the second period. John Tavares scored two power play goals and as an added bonus said goodbye to part of a tooth, wonder if the tooth fairy gives partial payment. Kyle Okposo busted quite a few moves this game, he just never let up which made other Isles look “lazy” as one Flyers fan put it. Why Blake Comeau was not in this game, against this team is beyond me. But that’s why I’m the fan and Scott Gordon is the coach.

Islanders 2 : Leafs 3

Didn’t get to see the Isles in Toronto but seemed to mirror some aspects of the Flyers game, coming back from behind with two goals from Tavares, except the gap in score was smaller in Toronto, 2-0 before Tavares’s goals compared to 4-0 in Philly. On a side note, don’t know if I’ve ever witnessed a scoring pattern like Philly had, Mike Richards with two in the 1st period, Jeff Carter with two in the 2nd, and Claude Giroux with two in the 3rd. Freaky deaky. 

Bruins 2 : Islanders 3 (OT)

Then came a big win against Boston which Angie has recapped, a fine recap at that, so I’ll just add some notes. Howie Rose stated this was Blake Comeau’s best game this season and it appears many Isles fans agree. Isles fan comments also seemed to relay that this was a team win, as Angie pointed out – who didn’t play well? Although I was thrilled to see the Isles prevail against a solid opponent, something about the way goals were celebrated by some players, including the pile-on when Frans Nielsen scored in OT for the win was bittersweet. On one hand it was great to see what looked like shear infectious joy and on the other I thought to myself…dudes it’s not the playoffs, it’s one game of many, with many more to go. Reactions like these are always hard to put in writing so I’ll sum it up this way – I love this team, always will but let’s not look like the Bad News Bears of hockey and hockey fandom. And yes Howie, Billy and d’lovely Angie…the team is ‘young’ – I get it…learning curve and all. Last note - saw the post game interview with Bruin’s coach Claude Julien where he made a few references to Dwayne Roloson keeping the Isles in the game…er…what game were you watching? Come on coach, give credit where credit is due – the T-E-A-M d’Isles outplayed your team. 

And then there’s Maude…

For those who are not from in and around my generation – and then there’s the Panthers game.

Panthers 7 : Islanders 1

O to the U to the C to the H. The return of Andy Sutton didn’t seem to make a dent and as it was with the team win vs. Boston, this was a team loss, so much seemed to go wrong for individual players and the team as a unit. Beyond that, Roloson looked as exposed this game as Biron did in Philly on Tuesday. The play-by-play wasn’t pretty as you probably saw or read by now and bleh that the Isles have to head into a home ice exchange with the Rangers so soon after. Since this NY rivalry is as much a mental one as it is physical, let’s see if the Isles can do what Mark Streit suggested in an interview after the game, “…Every player needs to do some soul searching and go home and think about what happened” (1). Along with that I’d like to add ‘go home and get some rest’ which will be the topic of a blogpost follow up to this one regarding what I think is the Isle’s biggest challenge, the ability to rest and rejuvenate between games. Athletes, especially hockey players, must either know how or learn how…and that’s ‘must’ as in, if they want to.

And with that I should take my own advice at 4:30am, exhausted and one too many Swedish Fish eaten. Goodnight.


(1) quote from www.nhl.com

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

DiPietro Statement Released... And Wouldn't You Know It, Bad News (of sorts)

Embattled Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro released a statement shortly after missing the final game of his rehab stint in Bridgeport with soreness.


The link here can tell you more. Honestly, Islanders fans should figure as much by now... unfortunately this has gotten to the point where you just have to sympathize. No doubt he's itching to play, but judging by the current state of things, I wouldn't call it right to say he'll be back on the ice for the Islanders anytime soon.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Nielsen Nets One In OT

Bruins 2: Islanders 3

I'd almost forgotten what Nassau Coliseum looks like on TV when I turned on MSG Plus last night. Indeed, the Islanders had played only 3 of their last 17 games on home ice, so the sight of Long Island was no doubt a welcome one for them, as well as for their fans.

The road hasn't exactly been kind to them, even when you consider their faceoff percentages. But little of that mattered last night, as they took on the Boston Bruins in a tightly-played, quite entertaining game that ended with Frans Nielsen's beautiful OT game-winner.

But the best place to start is at the beginning, so that's where we'll go. At 3:58 of the first period, after good chances on both sides, Rob Schremp broke the scoring open with his first NHL goal, on the power play. Matt Moulson was at the front of the net and deflected a shot Kyle Okposo took. While Bruins goalie Tim Thomas had his hands full and lost the puck, Schremp was able to bank it off of him and into the back of the net. Gotta love the effort- and the celebration, as he pumped his fist emphatically and leaped into Mark Streit's arms afterward.

The lead didn't last till the first intermission, however, as Michael Ryder fired a nice high shot right over the glove of Dwayne Roloson to tie it at 1. Both teams played a great game on both sides of the puck, creating chances as well as taking the other team's away. Both goaltenders- Roloson and Thomas- were quite good also.

The Bruins had a goal disallowed late in the first that would have given them a 2-1 lead earlier, as the referees ruled that Marco Sturm had hit the puck into the net while his stick was well above the crossbar. The Bruins took the lead anyway in the second period, on David Krejci's fifth goal of the year. The puck had bounced badly over Blake Comeau's stick as the Isles attempted to clear, and the Bruins jumped on the opportunity. Vladimir Sobotka passed it to Ryder in front, who got it over to Krejci for the goal.

With about five minutes to go in the period, Matt Moulson tied it up once more. It started with a great play by Kyle Okposo on the wall. He saw John Tavares behind the net and passed to him with a man on, and Tavares caught Moulson in front of the net. Moulson was then able to get just enough on the puck to lift it over Thomas and into the net.

In the third period, the Bruins were oh-so-close to running away with the game, were it not for-once again- the play of Roloson. He made 17 saves as the Isles were drastically outshot and ended up taking some penalties as well, and was perhaps the best player on the ice in that time frame. Bailed out by his saves, all the Isles had to do was score one goal, and Tavares almost did- but at the last second, Dennis Wideman made a desperate (and awesome, gotta admit) leg save to help out Thomas and force the game to OT.

However, we can't overlook the great play of everyone involved, particularly the two-way play of one Blake Comeau. Last night was a coming-out of sorts for him- he had some great hits and some great plays to force the puck the other way. The biggest one of all was in overtime. Boston turned over the puck in the Isles zone, he got ahold of it and sprung Frans Nielsen on a breakaway. As Thomas sprawled out in his crease, Nielsen lifted the puck over him and went down into the boards as he scored, thankfully unhurt and joyous. The three on the ice with him leaped onto him and celebrated a great win for the Isles.

Just to clarify, I did call an OT win, though I thought it would be 4-3. The Bruins fan I was watching it with said 5-3 Boston. Typical Boston fan- arrogantly assuming his team would dominate. :) It was a fun game to watch, though, and one where everyone played their game and brought all they had to the table. Honestly, I don't think there was one player would had an off game, and that is a wonderful thing. Let's hope that continues!


Notes: Jack Hillen went down in the first period with an ankle/foot injury after taking a hard shot there... he attempted to come back later on in the game, but ultimately went back to the locker room for the night... in his place, Mark Streit logged around 29 minutes of ice time, sheesh... Okposo had two assists on the night... Michael Ryder, Rob Schremp and Nielsen were the three stars of last night's game.

Friday, December 11, 2009

What's Wrong With These Pictures?

I'm pre-empting the Isles-Leafs recap to comment upon the alarming photo spread of Alexander Ovechkin in Men's Journal. Now, I understand that this is a men's magazine and all, but this is beyond absurd.


Here's the link to his interview and some pictures of him and, as the magazine puts it, "the season's best... um, accessories." Hmm, what does that mean? you wonder, and then you see what the author means when you click on the first picture.

Enter the single most obnoxious and offensive... object (pardon my language, but that's exactly what she's being treated as)... in the spread. That is a very lithe, attractive blonde who happens to be naked in three of the shots, including the first two where the only thing she's wearing are some strategically placed soap bubbles, as she preens for Ovechkin in the bathtub. The third shows her pressed against him, (thankfully) wearing clothes, although not many- practically just glorified underwear- and a vacant, not-looking-at-the-camera-well-kind-of expression complete with hair over her face to appear sultry. The next two aren't that harmful (though who on Earth plays air hockey in suit, little red dress and heels? Jeans and sweatshirts, please!), but the last two unnerve and, quite frankly, piss me off: Alex sitting on the edge of the bed, something in his hand (phone? Wallet?). And the woman in bed, biting her finger suggestively while she attempts to cover her naked body with the comforter. The next picture depicts her naked once more save for his jersey.

What's wrong with this picture? Hmm, I don't know, maybe EVERYTHING?

I'm not trying to force you to think the same. I'm only saying that this is the epitome of everything I despise- the typical macho hockey player, assuming a position of power and masculinity (wonder why he's fully clothed in all the pictures save for his shoes?), while a woman is there for not much more than to entertain him and to gratify him sexually. You would think that we weren't in the twenty-first century, judging by the magazine's apparent indifference to it all. And why on Earth would anyone want to think that there was such thing as "feminism" or "gender equality"? Why, when women provide us with such pretty toys to play with?

I can't even begin to tell you how disappointed and angry I am right now. Shame on everyone involved here for perpetuating the incorrect assumption that women are only to be used as sexual objects. This spread would have been enjoyable were it not for the blatant misogyny depicted- the Q&A, which I got to once I was able to calm my fury at the photos, was quite entertaining. But cutesy words don't take away the sting of watching a fellow woman be used like this. I expected better... but perhaps I shouldn't have.

P.S. This is off-topic, but a very happy birthday to Isles D Mark Streit! He was born Dec. 11, 1977. :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

2 Hours Until Isles @ Flyers

It's been a check the clock a lot day here in South Jersey. I'm taking my sister to the Isles game tonight for her birthday. She called me this morning  - "what time do you want to leave?""no later than 5:30 I guess""you have your hat?", "I bought a sweatshirt for you", "I'll probably wear either the hat or the sweatshirt","why wouldn't you wear both?","sometimes I don't like wearing a hat".

Alrighty then. Well wait, not yet...I drove home to NYC last night just to get my Islander hat - about 1 hr & 40 minutes each way. Ok now...

Alrighty then. 

This ain't no ordinary game - it's post John Stevens being fired game, it's Flyers getting spanked 8-2 game...it's so much more than those two things, so much more. Like the Eagles, the Flyers are uber desperate to win a championship, how dare those Phillies!  Boo hoo. Flyers made the playoffs last season, lost to a team that was better than them and the org's response to that was to pick apart a close knit team? (actually Upshall's teary exit was before the playoffs) a team their fan base was totally behind? I was at the game they lost the series to vs. Pens, Flyers fans actually clapped and cheered their team after the horn sounded, and meant it. Wowee. So a team that needed to step up a few levels to advance has been taken down a few pegs by its own management. More levels to climb now regardless of who the coach is. Hey don't get me wrong, this is all good news to me. The team needed a new "voice"? said the GM quite a few times a I recall. Wha? Should have hired Hillary Clinton who found her voice, I believe in New Hampshire. Wonder how long it took Upshall's rep to call Philly? 'Can Scottie with an 'ie' come home now?'

All I know is this is my kind of ice hockey - psychological drama drama drama. Yummy!! 

Ok so it's reported Brendan Witt got hit by SUV in Philly today - seems he's ok and will play tonight. Energetic translation? That was a warning.  Individually Mr. Witt might want to watch it with blocking shots tonight. Team-wise Islanders have two choices as I see it -

1. Stick with their game, slice through energy and get the hell out of Philly, Sage the bus.

2. Get sucked into Flyers drama, lose the game and potentially someone gets hurt.

and for whatever reason a 3rd scenario just came to mind

3. The mood will be mellow at the Wachovia...apathy in the air. Uneventful game, one team wins, one team loses and both teams move on.

Biron better be in net tonight. That would be good strateegery.

John Stevens being fired before Winter Classic. That has got to suckith bigtime.

The four police officers slain in Washington are being laid to rest today and the news breaks to an update on the condition of Tiger Wood's mother-in-law. Yay humans! 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DONNA! Go with the hat. I'll bring the Sage.  : )


Preview: Isles @ Flyers, 7 p.m. 12/8/09, Wachovia Center

Haven't done one of these in a while, but I figured since Versus is conveniently not aired on my dorm room cable it would be good to at least give you this.

Well, well, well, it looks as though there's a storyline even before the morning skate. Brendan Witt was hit by a car this morning on his way to get his morning Starbucks, as reported by Newsday Isles beat writer Katie Strang. As a crowd gathered, he got up, dusted himself off and said he was okay, and was at the rink practicing only a few hours later. Now THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is toughness.

On to tonight's matchup against Philadelphia. The Flyers are in a slump of their own, but for some reason can always manage to break that losing streak against our Isles. That will not be the case tonight, the hockey gods willing, but it's up to the Islanders to stay focused and on their game. I see them take the bait and get into fights too often with these neo-Broad Street Bullies, and after that they end up losing it completely. The key to tonight's game: Don't do the same thing again. Focus on getting to the front of the net and getting a garbage goal or two. Some players to keep your eye on: Witt (let's see if he's really okay) and Kyle Okposo, who's been dying to score one but hasn't yet had the bounces go his way. Also, we'll see who's in net tonight. Something tells me it may be Marty Biron. Who knows, though?


Friday, December 4, 2009

Who Knew Text Could Make My Night

Flyer fan Ashley: Dude! We have ur old coach now! Crazy!

Christine: Wha??? Nolan?

Flyer fan Ashley: No, Laviolette. 

Christine: hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha
Christine: watch Stevens pull a Guerin and win a cup!

Flyer fan Ashley: : (

Christine:  : )

Flyers Fire John Stevens

Now there's a shocker...well not really. 

"Biron was a good goalie, he just couldn't take us to the next level" touted Flyers fans...now Stevens...I'm sure the same thing will be said for him as well. Guess the imbalanced O to D and other hindering team stuff is like the ketchup bottle in the fridge that you can't seem to find, right in front of yer' face but overlooked.

I'll be at the game on Tuesday...toughening up of skin has commenced.


It's a Hatty for Matty as Isles Trounce Thrashers

Islanders 4: Thrashers 1

I almost wish that John Tavares hadn't scored the empty-netter so I could say "Matt Moulson 3: Thrashers 1", but we'll just go with this.

Yes, it WAS a natural hat trick for Moulson. Although the Thrashers scored first (and they hadn't lost a game after scoring first all this season), the Isles were able to bounce back and hold momentum, mainly on the shoulders of the left wing who has taken the Island by storm.

Slava Kozlov was the only goalscorer for the Thrashers, who fell flat shortly after Moulson scored his first to tie it up. Dwayne Roloson saw the rubber quite a bit and made some good saves, but the play mostly went back and forth without a lot of promise until #26 got going. Not much else went on, to be completely honest with you- I could take you through each Moulson goal, but after reading the Isles website and going on YouTube and all, it could get a little repetitive. So I'll just tell you this: Moulson, in my honest opinion, is exactly what the Isles need. He's a grinder with talent, a hard worker who finishes his chances much of the time, and the perfect complement to a guy like John Tavares, apparently, since their tandem has been wildly successful for much of the season to date. I've already spoken volumes about him in other posts, so I'll wrap up by saying "Congratulations!" to Matt for the hat trick, and may many more be scored.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Roloson Emerging as Bona Fide #1 Goalie

Looking at Dwayne Roloson in net, you would think the guy is a spring chicken.

Certainly he's acted as such in the past few games he's started. Though shaky in the Isles' 4-1 loss to St. Louis, he's been very good in net in the month of November, and stole the show last night with a 58-save performance in the Islanders' 4-3 overtime win over the Maple Leafs. Facing a team known for throwing plenty of frozen rubber at opposing goalies, he made save after acrobatic save, keeping his team in the game in the beginning and somehow salvaging a point when they lost grip in the end. Sure, Josh Bailey scored the game-winner with about a minute left, but it was Roloson who kept them from being humiliated in regulation. It was only by the grace of the hockey gods and a couple of weird bounces that the Isles had even gotten out to a 3-0 lead in the first place; if you look at the shot totals and the faceoff win percentages of the respective teams, there should have been no way New York could even come close. Watching the actual game made it even more mind-boggling, but it all goes back to the man in between the pipes.

Of course, this all built up over time. Fans had been wondering when we would be seeing this Dwayne Roloson, after he struggled a bit (particularly in shootouts- but then again, who is as good at them on this team as Rick DiPietro?) but he's seemed to find his groove somehow, as the Isles go up and down as far as wins and losses. One thing they do need, other than a reliable defense, is a steady presence in net, and Roli has started to become that. His five-hole still needs a little bit of work, but overall his angles are great and his athleticism is astounding. (I'd say "for a man his age," but a. there aren't many other guys who I know can do that and b. Christine might yell at me... lol.) Though Martin Biron has been good, he hasn't been able to have the same luck on the Island so far (either that or he just can't play with this D). This might be why we're seeing Roloson get slightly more starts now, and in my opinion it's well-deserved.

Kudos to Roli for last night's performance. Keep it up!


Read This Now.

Perhaps more relevant now than it ever will be... read this article from John Buccigross of ESPN about Brendan Burke, Toronto GM Brian Burke's now-openly gay son, and think of how it might put the wheels of change ever so slowly into motion.


All Hail Dwayne Roloson. 40 & Fabulous.

Islanders 4 : Maple Leafs 3 (OT)

Tonight’s matchup brought about the final game of the Isle’s 7 game road trip and a chance to redeem themselves from their unfortunate outcomes versus the Wild and Blues. On the other bench…Toronto possibly flying a bit higher having just beat #8 and the other dudes on that team on Saturday night in a shoot out. 

Kyle Okposo was called for hooking 39 seconds into the 1st period, not much came of it. Okposo’s second penalty for tripping (@5:30) opened a door to more intense hockey with the Isles mustering up a few chances at a short-handed goal. Once again at even strength we saw a couple of pile-ups in front of Vesa Toskala and some steady pressure applied by the Isles including a Trent Hunter – Matt Moulson – John Tavares combo ending with Moulson spinning around to shoot on goal, denied by Toskala but a nice effort and for Moulson, foreshadowing. The rest of this period brought about some ping-pong hockey, Jack Hillen in the sin bin for holding the stick of John Mitchell (@11:36), Alexei Ponikarovsky denied on a one-on-one with Dwayne Roloson, Trent Hunter’s shot that sounded like it hit the cross bar, and Mitchell trying to put a hit on Okposo which only seemed to cause discomfort for himself. Towards the end of the period Toronto was getting too close to Roloson for comfort, however little did anyone know that Roloson was in a zone that would define this game whether the Isles won or lost.

I was able to get back to watching the game seconds before the Isles first goal in the 2nd period. Ian White took a shot on goal, Mark Streit retrieved the puck off the rebound and sent it up to Jeff Tambellini who was already headed in the right direction at center ice - he continued to boogie down, Toronto’s defense MIA, then shoots one-on-one up high past Toskala (@ 11:04). About a minute or so later Hunter brings the puck out of a race for the puck match with Luke Schenn, sends it cross ice (a hold yer’ breath moment waiting to get past the potential interception/breakaway a cross ice pass can bring) to Hillen who sent it in towards the net only to be tipped in by Moulson (@12:23), his 11th goal of the season. In about as much time between the back-to-back goals Sean Bergenheim scored a short handed goal while Andy Sutton was serving two minutes for holding (@12:43). It was like Bergenheim had a quarterback split second moment, deciding whether to pass the ball or run with it – instead of clearing the puck Bergenheim chose to skate with it, cross ice (L to R) into an open pocket (rt. circle) that gave him enough space to send a wrist shot past Toskala (@14:17). It was at this point when Toskala left the game with what was later reported as a groin injury. The hope that the Isles would head into the locker room with a three goal lead was thwarted starting with Brendan Witt knocking Matt Stajan’s stick down on the ice behind the Isle’s net – puck rounds the boards leading to a four man dig between Freddy Meyer, Ponikarovsky, Tambellini and last into the mix Tomas Kaberle - his dig at the puck popped it out across the net, picked up by Stajan who had turned back to retrieve his stick and then came around the net wide open to give a short pass to Phil Kessel (two-on-one with Brendan Witt) who then scored and made it a 3-1 game.

Ending with a goal in the 2nd period must have lit a fire under the Leafs, they brought back their momentum seen in the 1st period which seemed to drop quickly after Tambellini’s goal. A few minutes into the 3rd period Wayne Primeau scored (@2:10) shortly followed by Streit in the sin bin for holding (@4:10). Even though the Isles were up by 1, at this point, the game outcome was anybody’s guess - with Toronto driving at the net, Isles doing too much chasing, Roloson exhibiting super powers but for how long?  Ugh…Toronto scores and ties the game – Stajan passes to Niklas Hagman who blows past Meyer and then Roloson (@9:18). Camera pans to Coach Gordon who looked pissed. Who wouldn’t be? One last Isles penalty on Nate Thompson for holding (@17:04) before the period ended, into OT they went.

Roloson came up with a spectacular glove save on a shot by Hagman and Josh Bailey came up with a spectacular winning goal (@4:17) assisted by Bergenheim’s spectacular pass…BUT before the pass and goal happened was Bruno Gervais coming up behind Kessler and sending the puck in on net. The way he surged, the right timing, the right place is what I’ll remember most about this game.

So in the end Roloson kicks NHL butt at age 40 with a career high of 58 saves, Tavares and Moulson get a win with added bonus of Moulson’s goal, in front of their hometown family and friends, Josh Bailey shows up yet once again and Coach Gordon’s head did not explode…all is well.

Next up – Flyers come to town on Wednesday. As fate would have it, I will be at an event in Philly that night which means talking trash with Flyers fans and hunting for a TV.  Oh joy.

Now that Tambellini and Bailey are off ‘code red playing less than capable’ radar…

Attention Blake Comeau - sooner or later you are going to have to decide whether it’s more important to be right or play great hockey. It’s not often that I walk into the Coliseum, watch a game and ask…WHO is that new guy? Top draft picks are great, so are raw pieces of clay.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Unlucky Number 2?

It was bound to happen. I knew it would. Every time I get someone's shirt or jersey, they end up having a hard time on the Island.

It happened when I got Brendan Witt's #32 jersey. I loved the guy's candor, work ethic, and unorthodox leadership. When I started donning the #32, he started to tail off a bit. Now, fans have gone from loving the guy to speculating (maybe even hoping) he'll be put on the trade block.

Now, it seems to be happening again... to Mark Streit.

The guy had a wonderful year last year (granted, on a sub-par team), capped off by an All-Star nod and being among the top-scoring defensemen in the NHL. He also factored heavily in the late-season development of Bruno Gervais. I got his T-shirt when I went to the NHL Store in August with Christine, hoping for more of the same, but although he has 11 points for the Isles and remains their top defenseman (save for the surge of Andy Sutton), he hardly seems the same Mark Streit as last season. His skating seems to be off, he's taking many more penalties than usual, and he's making mistakes that just don't seem, well, Streit-like.

What gives? Injury? Exhaustion, maybe, seeing as he's hardly had a break? He did go from playing for the Isles to playing for Switzerland in the World Cup, back to logging huge amounts of ice time for Scott Gordon this year. Is it that he can't handle it? Could he be suffering still from the groin injury he sustained during last season? Who knows?

Whatever the case, he's certainly not telling, but his play is. And after I walked around Manhattan- blue-blooded Ranger country- proudly wearing my Streit tee, I hope he gets it together fast. He's our top D and we need him to be on his A game. If that means cutting his ice time, or giving him a night or two off, then maybe Scott Gordon should look into that and be proactive about it; something tells me Streit won't be the guy to ask for it himself.

All I can say is, I hope my Tavares shirt isn't jinxed either, or we may be in trouble on the Island.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Isles' Weekend Not What They Hoped For

Islanders 2: Wild 3
Islanders 1: Blues 4

The Islanders got off to quick starts in both games.

Josh Bailey scored two goals, one in each game. The goaltenders did all they could. Even Jon Sim woke up and helped out, with a goal and an assist against the Wild on Friday night.

But all in all, it wouldn't be enough, as they got shocked by the Wild and drubbed by St. Louis in back-to-back games in the West.

It started with a heartbreaker in Minnesota. As Kyle Okposo and Jack Hillen's families and friends shared a luxury suite in the Xcel Energy Center and watched, the Islanders allowed the first goal, as Owen Nolan got lucky and was able to bounce the puck off of someone in front past Martin Biron. The Isles got that one back in the second, however, on hard work by Trent Hunter and Jon Sim. As the Wild converged on Hunter, he caught Sim heading into the zone on the right wing, and Sim took a shot that went right by Niklas Backstrom for the tie.

Sim wasn't done yet, though. Heading into the offensive zone, he went to the back of the net with a Wild defenseman on him, grabbed the puck and went to the left post, hitting Josh Bailey with a great pass that Bailey let go of quickly to give the Isles the lead.

However, penalties were the killer, and the Islanders took plenty of them, enabling the Wild to put their power play onto the ice. Mikko Koivu tied up the score on a man-advantage, and then with 1:07 left in the game, the Isles made a huge mistake.

Blake Comeau made to clear the puck along the boards, which was erroneous because he had two Wild players there to block the attempt. Not only that, but what was even worse was as Comeau went to do that, both defensemen- Mark Streit and Bruno Gervais- were on their way out of the zone, leaving Owen Nolan all alone in front of Biron. Eric Belanger, therefore, only had to chip the puck over to Nolan for the goal. That sealed the deal for the Wild, and left the Isles without even an overtime point.

That disappointment must have carried over to last night in St. Louis, for although the Isles had had the early lead on a Josh Bailey goal (the only bright spot), the Blues took over from there. Dwayne Roloson was in net this time, and by the looks of the highlights on NHL Network, he may want to work a little bit on his five-hole. Eric Perron scored two goals (including one that might have Mark Streit scratching his head for a while), former Isle Eric Brewer scored one, and Patrik Berglund scored as well for the Blues. I'm not sure whether or not I was glad to have missed this one, spending time with my family in New Jersey, but I can say this for sure: the Isles will have to step it up again. This road trip can't be easy for them, but it's almost over, and they'll need at least another two points just to pick up their confidence. Next game is against the Maple Leafs, and if they lose that one... let's just say, Isles fans will be particularly offended.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Moulson's Two Goals, Roloson's Many Saves Trounce Bruins

Islanders 4: Bruins 1

You can call him Mighty Matt.

At least, that's the term of affection those on the social networking website Twitter have come to adopt for the young winger, who has come from relative anonymity to stun as the top goalscorer on the Islanders. No one would think this guy would even make a dent, and here he is, sinking holes-and scoring goals- nearly every game.

Last night, as the game went underway, the popular hashtag among Isles fans on Twitter was #MightyMattMoulson. A hashtagged phrase is when a user, any user, puts the # symbol before a phrase in hopes that others will start using it, thus creating a "trending topic." All tweeting lessons aside, #MightyMattMoulson caught relative fire, and for good reason. He scored twice last night, and almost scored another for the hat trick were it not for a subtle redirection by John Tavares. Trent Hunter also scored an empty-netter, while Dwayne Roloson was nothing short of incredible last night with 28 saves, only allowing a goal by Daniel Paille. He was also superb on the penalty kill, making several amazing stops to keep the Bruins off the board. To tell you the truth, I don't know who was bigger last night, him or Moulson. Either way, incredible effort by the both of them to get the Islanders a win. They definitely wrote the story last night.

Tuukka Rask for the Bruins, meanwhile, was good but not as good as he needed to be, making 17 saves of 20 shots against the Isles. Though the Bruins pressured a lot on their forecheck and got some good opportunities, they couldn't thwart Roloson completely. The defense also stepped up, with some great individual efforts coming from Freddy Meyer, Bruno Gervais, Andy Sutton and call-up Andrew MacDonald (in for Brendan Witt, who left the team for personal reasons). If the Isles did take a few more penalties than they should have, then they were extremely lucky the PK was able to hold up like it did, mainly on the shoulders (and pads, and glove) of Roloson. Also a shoutout to Richard Park- the guy had assists on three of the four goals scored last night, making me think that maybe having him on this line with Moulson and Tavares is beneficial.

Overall, though it got kind of sloppy in spots, this was a well-deserved win for the Isles without the second-period breakdowns that had become so common in the last three or four games. The fans on Twitter were certainly loving it, and so was I. Now it's off to Minnesota on Friday night, leaving us without the Isles for a few days (but hey, at least it's not a Wednesday night game... *shudders*). On a side note, here's to hoping all is well with Witter, whatever his personal reasons may be.


P.S. Credit goes to Dee- @7thWoman and an Isles blogger- and Matt Clausen, @mattclausen on Twitter, for the coining of "Mighty Matt Moulson." I'm not exactly sure who came up with it originally, but I'll just let you both share. :D

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Isles Lead, Trail, Come Back and Fall Short in Shootout

Islanders 4: Panthers 5 (SO)

The second period is the new third period for the Islanders.

Or so it seems. As I watched last night I felt an overwhelming sense of deja vu upon seeing yet another early lead- this time a 2-0 lead- evaporate in the second period. There were, of course, some slight variations.

First off, you have to admit right off the bat that games between these two teams- just like games against the Caps and Penguins- are entertaining. No matter the record, games between the Isles and Panthers always end up kind of close, or one team doing worse in the standings somehow gets the better of the other. Either way, it's a toss-up, and this time it came out in the Cats' favor.

In the first period, Tim Jackman and Trent Hunter got the Isles off to an early start, and then allowed four Florida goals in a row. The defense was all over the place, predictably, and though Dwayne Roloson did all he could to keep it close, he couldn't keep everything out. Tomas Vokoun, meanwhile, played wonderfully and kept the Isles off the board after the 2-0 deficit, up until the third period when some costly penalties paid off for New York.

In the third, John Tavares and Kyle Okposo (were you expecting other names?) tied up the score at 4 on two PP goals and forced an overtime period, which went by with no score. The resulting shootout was a surefire nailbiter, as the Panthers have become steadily better at them since going 3-8 in the 08-09 season. With Jeff Tambellini and Rob Schremp (two SO specialists) not in the lineup, Scott Gordon turned to Frans Nielsen, Tavares, Okposo and Sean Bergenheim to try their hand at it. Of the four, only Nielsen could get past Vokoun. Meanwhile, Steven Reinprecht and Nathan Horton both put the puck past Roloson, and as the fourth round closed, Vokoun handily stopped Bergenheim to preserve the second point in a solid win for the Panthers, who fought to come back, lost their own lead and then held on to make it count. As fror the Islanders, they will try again in Boston Monday night.

K.O. KOs Flu, 'Canes in OT

Islanders 4: Hurricanes 3

Put yourself in this situation: You're a young hockey player. You've been mostly bedridden for the past few days from the H1N1 virus, and just recently you've rejoined your team as they continue with their November road trip. What do you do?

If you're Kyle Okposo, you score the game-winning goal in overtime.

In yet another topsy-turvy- and at times, frustrating- matchup in which the Islanders took a 3-0 lead early and couldn't sustain it, Okposo was the difference-maker. He ripped a shot past Manny Legace with 15 seconds left in the OT session, securing the second point for his squad, which really the Isles should have had all along.

However, this team has gone from having certain problems in certain periods to having new problems in different periods. Lately, the trend has been getting out to an early start and then losing it in the second period. Why, exactly, no one knows for sure. But it was the case in Raleigh, as the Isles mounted a quick 3-0 lead.

John Tavares dominated the first, scoring two goals on Legace (one a power-play goal). Mark Streit also scored on one of the many PP opportunities the Isles had thanks to very undisciplined play by the Hurricanes on the ice, and the Isles headed out of the first and into the second feeling pretty good about themselves. And then the Canes took over.

For their part, the Isles did end up taking some silly penalties, leading to Carolina flexing its muscles on special teams. Tuomo Ruutu converted early in the second, and then Ray Whitney got in front of the net and cut the lead to 3-2. Suddenly, all of the momentum was in their hands as they evened the shot total and put tons of pressure on Martin Biron and the defense (which is still working out some kinks- or has to, anyway).

The tying goal the Canes were looking for came late in the third period, as Tim Gleason blasted a shot past Biron to make it 3-3. The RBC Center went from sounding like a library to like a riot, and the Isles found themselves going to a place where they have definitely been before- overtime.

That's where our man Kyle comes in. Though Carolina had been dictating the game to this point, he seized an opportunity when they failed on a clearing attempt and he got the puck. Heading in on a 2-on-1, he took the shot when he saw the pass was unavailable, and I'm sure he's glad he did- the shot went right past Legace, and the game ended, 4-3 Isles. Way to make a comeback, in every sense of the word.

Afterward, yes, everyone was making some jokes about Kyle and the flu, many of which were actually pretty funny. But this was also reinforced: having the younger guys- Okposo, Tavares- contributing on the ice shows a lot about the direction the Isles are going in for the future. These guys are doing very well very early in their careers, and they've got a long way to go yet. It's definitely going to be exciting to see them as they develop even more from this point on.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thank You, Veterans

Take the time to thank a veteran today, someone you may know or even someone you might not. Without them, our country would not be.


And thanks also to those serving in the armed forces today. We are indebted to you.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Isles Split Down Middle In Back-to-Back Games

Islanders 1: Devils 2
Thrashers 3: Islanders 6

A couple of injuries- one for the long-term- perhaps made the difference between these two games, sadly enough. The Islanders paid dearly in their 2-1 loss to New Jersey at the Rock on Friday night, losing defenseman Radek Martinek yet again to injury. This time, it was an ACL tear, leaving him out for the rest of the season. They also lost captain Doug Weight again, this time for a week with an upper body injury.

As for the actual hockey, I tried hard to follow this game by listening to it online. The trick with radio is that you have to visualize how the game looks in your head. Though you get the same broadcasters (Howie Rose and Billy Jaffe), it's difficult to follow because you have no picture to go on. Thus, you have to rely solely on your listening skills, which is difficult. Biologically and psychologically speaking, humans are not exactly creatures built specifically for listening. At any rate, I tried hard but ultimately lost the feed anyway, thanks to my lovely Internet which hates me.

At any rate, it was a loss, and with former Isles goalie Yann Danis in net. Frans Nielsen got the Islanders scoring first, taking and burying a feed from Sean Bergenheim, but other than that the Isles couldn't get anything started against their Metro-area rival. Cory Murphy, a recent call-up from Lowell, and Brian Rolston got the Devils' goals, and Danis made 23 saves to preserve the win. It was a game full of penalties and overall somewhat flat play by the Isles.

With injuries sustained both on the blueline and on the wing, Scott Gordon tweaked the lineup to allow for them, putting in Blake Comeau once more who had been a scratch these past couple of weeks, as well as Freddy Meyer. Both had significant impact in last night's game, which turned out to be a topsy-turvy 6-3 win over the Atlanta Thrashers. Kyle Okposo was moved onto a line with Nielsen and Bergenheim, while Richard Park skated alongside John Tavares and Matt Moulson (perhaps with the hope that the hard-working grinder would be able to complement the flashier players). Right off the bat, the Isles had energy and threw shots at Ondrej Pavelec. Andy Sutton made good at 9:11 of the first with a beautiful goal on an equally pretty setup by Tavares. He stopped short, drew Pavelec down enough to expose the top half of the net, and backhanded it right past the goalie's left shoulder.

Atlanta got it right back, however, as Zach Bogosian sprang free while Tavares tried to cover for a pinching Bruno Gervais. However, 38 seconds later, a one-goal lead would once again be implemented. The goalscorer? Sean Bergenheim, who finally got his first goal of the season by getting to the loose puck in front. You gotta love it when a guy who works so hard but can't get anything started, finally gets his first. Unfortunately, Jon Sim couldn't say the same; though he forechecked effectively and worked hard, even getting some chances, he just couldn't will one past Pavelec or his replacement in the third, Johan Hedberg.

There were plenty more first goals in this game- those of Jack Hillen (a rocket that blew past Pavelec during 4-on-4 play) and Blake Comeau only :22 into the second period (a shot that Pavelec merely swatted at, giving up far too much of the net once more; give Comeau credit for using Pavel Kubina as a screen on the rush). Matt Moulson scored on a beautiful shot through traffic (with Tavares once more getting the first assist) and Josh Bailey would cap things off for the Isles with his third of the season on a sweet wrist shot.

Kubina and former Senator Christoph Schubert were the Thrashers' two other goalscorers, which made it somewhat close, but there were holes in Atlanta's game that couldn't be patched up in time, such as their lack of physicality in the first and second periods, particularly by their defense. The Isles were winning nearly every battle for the puck, allowing them to run up the shot tally and keep the Thrashers off the board for the most part.

Also, when the Thrashers finally started outplaying the Isles in the third period, Kubina ended up ended up taking a hooking penalty, then making it worse by slamming his stick on the pipe of the goalie net, adding two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. That allowed for Bailey's power-play goal, and for the Isles to secure the win.

Overall, this made for a good win for the Isles in their last home game until around Thanksgiving. Their next game will be against the Capitals (again? sheesh) at the Verizon Center on Wednesday. Another late class for me, unfortunately. Such is life. But at least I can still say...


(P.S. Every Islander except for Nate Thompson and Brendan Witt recorded at least one shot on goal; Moulson and Bergenheim both led with six... Attendance was reported at 14,119... Roloson and Pavelec each had 31 saves, and Hedberg had eight... Sean Bergenheim played in his 200th NHL game and scored, good for him!... Rob Schremp was the only healthy scratch last night.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What a Jackass

When an organization refuses to fully deal with and resolve an issue, the issue will usually be forced to the surface so that it must be dealt with - first comes the ping pong ball, then comes the nerf ball, then comes the brick. When the brick comes, and it will, try explaining to grieving parents that their son should have kept his head up and that it was a clean hit. 

Clean hit or not, head up or down, the sadistic smirk on the jackass's face as he skates to the penalty box says it all...lack of a conscious and lack of an effective skill set...aka the worst kind of hockey player.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Yankees Win

It was great to be back in NYC even if only for the day. After 11 years living in the City I’m still like a tourist upon returning home from out of town, taking pictures like this one while in the Holland Tunnel on Wednesday.

City life never grows old or more importantly, comfortable. It was also great to finally watch an Islanders game on TV, albeit flipping back and forth with the Yankees/Phillies game. After deliberating as a Mets fan between rooting for the Yankees or Phillies, in the end being a New Yorker won out over rivalry with my sister Donna who was at the game Wednesday night. As much as I don’t like the Yankees, walking out of my apartment building after the game to hear an apartment across the street blaring the TV and the song New York, New York while what sounded like a stadium full of people cheering – well it was a hundred times more wonderful than the complete silence in Philly on Thursday thus definitely worth rooting for the Yankees…temporarily.

Donna’s recap -

“Yankee Stadium rocked Wednesday night--even in the upper deck the fan base was relatively mild mannered for a. my bringing a Phillies fan who wore Victorino jersey and Phillies hat and b. their mega beer drinking. Thank you to the Yankees for going ahead early and staying ahead...the tensions that could have been--never really reached a panicked nor frenzied state---fans were celebrating in the 6th and egging Ryan Howard on with the antagonistic cheer of "O-VER RaTeD" to which I said out loud, "Why, Why Why" and with that Mr. Howard clobbered a home run. Both hot hitting teams could easily score 4 runs in any given inning but the Yankee fan swagger was in full force with nothing but a VICTORY on their minds while the few scattered Phillies fans relinquished themselves to standing behind the row of seats conceding so early...so with the impending Yankees win the electricity was a little lackluster--not loud enough to be contained within the confines of the new Yankee Stadium (enough with the doing it for the boss already) and it didn't come close to the exuberation and exhilaration of the Islanders winning their first cup in 1980--the ringing in my ears from that experience is still louder than the ringing that could have been in my ears from Wednesday night's victory because a. ice hockey stadiums are enclosed and hence all the noise is contained (14,400 fans in an air tight container sound louder than 54,000 in an open air arena) and b. the Yankees didn't win in walk off fashion, spontaneous pandemonium can only happen in a spontaneous situation like sudden death OT.”

Ok sis, so we agree on an ice hockey team, disagree on a baseball team BUT have a tie-breaker that forever tips us over into common ground…



Sabres Rebound from Shutout with Their Own

Islanders 0 : Sabres 3

The recap of this game could probably not be stated better than Butch ‘fly suit and tie’ Goring’s post game analysis. This was one of those games where even if you possess only basic hockey knowledge, it would not be hard to understand why the Isles lost. Penalties without purpose, shots on goal and face-offs won. Oh and Ryan Miller was his own fortress. Now that I can finally root for my favorite NHL goalie, props given to Martin Biron for stopping 34, almost all healthy, shots on goal.

What stuck out most was the Isles defensive positioning on the first two goals of the game. More specifically, Brendan Witt and Bruno Gervais’s positioning on Derek Roy’s power play goal (1st period @ 8:27)…

…and then Gervais’s positioning on Thomas Vanek’s power play goal (2nd period @ 17:13).

The third goal was a matter of Paul Gaustad picking up the puck from the boards and winning a dig match versus Mark Streit and Biron @ 16:19 in the 3rd period. The ref’s call on this was ‘no goal’ until reversed by formal review.

Beyond the Islander’s contributions to the outcome of the game was most likely the Sabre’s intention to not get spanked again by the Isles like they did on Halloween.  Simply put, they had to win - anyone who ever had to compete knows how strong the drive is to avoid getting shut out…again…by a team you think you’re better than.

Next up – Isles @ Devils tonight, 7pm.

Josh Bailey – you’re still up. Don’t get lost between 21 and 91. Better yet, Coach Gordon don’t let that happen.

Let’s Go Islanders!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Drawing the Line

I don't mean to be all preachy twice in a row, but this came to my attention this morning as I scoured Twitter for hockey news. Puck Daddy, a blog on Yahoo, is a site I check out fairly often, and it provides humor as well as information. There was nothing that humorous about the topic of one of its posts, however: a column written by Justin Bourne, the son of legendary Islander Bob Bourne. In it, Bourne writes about the use of gay slurs in hockey culture, and how they must be stifled. "It's time to acknowledge we've been unfair to the gay community, that the culture of our sport can be misogynistic, homophobic, and cruel," he wrote. (link:http://www.usatoday.com/sports/hockey/columnist/bourne/2009-11-02-hockey-culture_N.htm )

Puck Daddy's editor, Greg Wyshynski, opened a forum for discussion on his blog by asking readers whether or not the issue of gay slurs in hockey should be addressed. Many said yes: many others, however, further proved Bourne's point that the culture of hockey needs to be modified. (link: http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/Gay-slurs-and-hockey-banter-Time-to-take-a-stan?urn=nhl,199909 )

Let's make this loud and clear:

This is not about "growing a thicker skin." It is not about toughening up, or simply dealing with the "alpha male" mentality of these players. It is not an issue of words and free speech, either. Free speech does not mean you have the right to completely alienate an entire group of people. Nor is the whole "stick and stones" line going to be accepted anymore. Words do hurt, particularly when the intention to hurt is made clear- anyone who has any concept of feelings understands this. But more than that, it is an issue of acceptance of others- and let's face it, the "f" word describing gay men doesn't exactly convey an air of tolerance here.

As a matter of fact, let's think about that for a second. If a white player were to call a black player the "n"-word, we all know what would happen- groups would get up in arms and call for the white player's head, so to speak, and for good reason. It's a gross word. But athletes in any sport- even the guys I joked around with in high school- throw the "f"-word around like a lacrosse ball and no one bats an eye. Is there something wrong with this picture?

Things have to change, and yes, it's up to us to change them.

Wyshynski does make a good point that it will take time and patience for complete tolerance to spread throughout the NHL as well as other sports leagues; sociologists have proven that younger generations have become more accepting of alternative lifestyles than their older counterparts. Still, the underlying hockey culture- or any sports culture which promotes violence, aggression and a traditional "masculine" atmosphere- could stand to be changed a bit. Not only for the betterment of gay people, but for women, the players themselves, etc. It's just not a great environment to grow up in. Read the book "Crossing the Line" by Laura Robinson, and you'll see just how twisted hockey culture can be- and that's only in Canadian major-junior leagues. If somehow, we find a way to change it, as Bourne hopes, young players will be able to mature as tolerant, respectful men who can still have a good scrap on the ice or score a great goal. And P.S. Though it may be "human nature" to question one another's masculinity, boys, rest assured that it shouldn't be. If you have all the parts necessary to be a man, then quite frankly, you are one.

Another point he makes is that, unfortunately, someone or few may have to come out of the closet and show everyone that yes, Virginia, there are gay players in the NHL. Maybe it'll sink in for players, coaches, and fans alike that there are actual people they are hurting with their "so-and-so likes it up the..." chants and other anti-gay insults. It'll definitely take some time to end the ridicule; however, it can and should happen.

There is no reason why someone's sexual orientation should be an issue for anyone involved with hockey, as long as they can put the puck into the net. As a supporter of gay rights myself, I hope that one day a gay player can feel comfortable around his teammates and not have to worry about these ridiculous comments.

Like Crosby or Not...Nice Save

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Let's All Calm Down For A Hot Minute

The events of this past weekend have definitely been a whirlwind, particularly on Twitter where a good deal of drama (unnecessarily) occurs. In a way, it's understandable- you read only a small line, get the idea of what the person who wrote it means, and you may or may not like what you read. Tempers may flare, insults may arise, all because of technology. It's sad but true, and I've been privy to it myself. But I usually think I know where to draw the line.

Unfortunately, some people let their emotions get into the way, and it sparked a bit of a tiff over a tried-and-true question: the definition of a puck bunny. As readers may know, I detest the term and all that it implies, and yes, I have my own ideas of what constitutes puck bunnyism. But what set off this most recent explosion of feminism and questioning is basically a misunderstanding, as far as I can tell.

I've spoken to both parties involved, and right now I honestly have respect for both of them as well. They both blog about the game, just in different ways- one in the traditional method of stats, analysis, and overall recap and looking ahead, and the other focusing more on the culture involved, and how the people in the world of hockey act. Both are interesting and informative in their own ways, and as far as I'm concerned, now that I know both sides of the story I don't think I'm at liberty to judge either side, either for being too harsh or too fluffy. We all have our ways of covering the game we all love, and I don't think anyone should really judge the methods, as long as they're not all about how hot someone's rear end looks in hockey pants.

More than that, there's just no point in tearing each other down, especially as women. I have done my fair share of criticizing females' behavior when it comes to male hockey players, and I'll own up to it, but it really disturbed me to find that quite a few female fans said they faced the majority of "puck bunny" criticism from female fans, not male. So this really isn't so much an issue of how we present ourselves to the men who watch this sport (though I'm sure there are those jerks out there, or those who really don't care either way). So why are women so focused on the images of other women? I understand the obvious- you don't want them to give you a bad name- but as long as you are secure in yourself and you know who you are, who cares what anyone else has to say? That was the point the accused party made in this case, and to tell you the truth, it's a good one.

Though I still cast aside the pink jerseys and "Hockey and Heels" promotions as unnecessary gimmicks meant to attract far more of a casual crowd, to say the least... there's no reason for me to attack my fellow female hockey fans. It's just pointless. I would rather explain the game to a girl who doesn't know than point a pious finger at her. It'll save me frustration and a lot of apologies.

Bottom line? Let's just stop the blind accusations. And let's all try to support one another. We all have one thing in common, after all, and that is the love of the game.