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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.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Isles Win Over Ducks Brought to You by the Letter ‘D’ for Defense and Danis

Ducks 1 : Islanders 2

Arrived at my mom’s house in South Jersey, sat down on the couch to write this ‘a tad bit overdue’ post about the Isles vs. Ducks game Wednesday night and what just popped up while channel surfing? The AHL All-Star Classic skills competition! I wasn’t able to catch any of the NHL All-Star festivities but as good timing would have it – the rosters for both AHL teams are being announced right now so this will more than serve as a hockey fix since the Isle’s next home game isn’t until they play the Panthers on the 31st.

You probably know this already but the Isles beat the Ducks 2-1.

So it’s Planet USA and Team Canada being hosted by the Worcester Sharks up in Massachusetts. Hey I recognize that jersey – that’s Bridgeport’s Mike Iggulden…and Andrew MacDonald on Team Canada. Niiiiccceee. Whoa what’s with those humungous advertising patches on their jerseys? As they go from one player to another on camera there is no doubt that sponsor patches CANNOT happen in the NHL – and if taking a seam ripper to the AHL jerseys wasn’t such an impossible goal to have, well good lord they are intrusive…there’s a shocker…advertising being intrusive in the sports world. Mike Brodeur from the Rochester Americans – wonder what it must be like to have that last name AND play goalie? Wow Ron Hextall is Honorary Captain of Team Canada…former Islander and now Assistant GM for the LA Kings.

Islanders…only 1 shot on goal in the 3rd period against the Ducks! I kept waiting for the number to change from 13 to 14 to the point that I asked Tom (sitting next to) for lack of scoreboard change confirmation – one of those ‘is it me or…’ kind of things. Hah at least this time it was the ‘or’.

Andrew MacDonald’s hard shot was 93.1 mph. The hardest shot in AHL All-Star history was in 2008 by Mark Mancari at 102.8mph. It was so fast a police officer showed up and gave him a ticket...with that said it has just become clear to me that slaphappy tiredness has set in. Looks like Worcester’s Derek Joslin has won this event with a shot clocked at 98.6mph.

Well there’s a first for everything – the online dating site eharmony.com has a commercial about how a couple who met on the site and later married – the guy is in hockey gear and of course the gal is on the other side of the glass. How about both guy and gal in hockey gear skating in ‘holy cow I met and then married someone who loves hockey enough to play it’ shared bliss?

Some AHL All-Star FYI:

-the All-Star game returned from a 35 year absence in 1995.
-the AHL has expanded from 14 to 29 teams.
-84% of AHL players move on up to the NHL.
-and from theahl.com, of all the 455 All-Star players since 1995, more than 94% have gone on to compete in the NHL including Rick ‘guess which body part I hurt this time’ DiPietro.

So I arrived at the game right after the singing of the National Anthem. As I made a Bugs Bunny ‘excuse me pardon me excuse me pardon me’ way through the row and checking out who was on the ice, sorta double vision occurred which led to a tennis kind of back and forth until realizing Anaheim’s Jean-Sebastien Giguere was wearing the same goalie pads as Yann ‘one vowel short of being a new age musician’ Danis. Seeing as how I heard the Isles supposedly had come to a point of Garth Snow being an emergency back up goalie - with the Isles this season...anything is possible.

Ewww being about 15 miles from Philadelphia it was bound to happen…Flyers commercial…ya ya ya ‘as they battle for eastern conference supremacy’ blah blah blah…and like their sports brethren the Eagles in the end the Flyers will choke like they always do aka…the curse of Philadelphia sports teams, well except for the Phillies but them I like…but never more than the Mets. Yankees suckith! (I am the only Mets fan in my family).

Ok so at this point the AHL All-Star competition is over, Planet USA won 18-12, think I heard this is the 6th year in a row they’ve beat Canada. Uber nice is how they wove in both the youth of hockey, including teenage ‘future All-Stars’ hockey players into some of the competition and former NHL players like Honorable Captains Gerry Cheevers and Ron Hextall.

As for the Isles vs. Ducks game in summary…

The Islanders started off at a fast pace, Bruno Gervais looked sharper than I’ve seen him in a while. Shortly into the period Anaheim’s Steve Montador provided the Isles with their only power play for hooking (1:16) which Kyle Okposo turned into a ‘don’t mind if I do’ opportunity that started with a pass from Mark Streit and ended as Okposo (2:38) one-timed the puck between the post and what looked like Giguere’s bicep area…the kind of shot where aim comes from the subconscious…a near impossible shot to stop and Okposo’s 7th of the season. It was right after this goal that the Isles defense caught my eye – whatever ‘formation’ they went into as the Duck’s approached the net…can you all do that more often? The best way I know how to explain it – like the notion of stars all being in alignment but in this case the players making up the constellation or some of the puzzle pieces fitting together into place. Beyond the obvious 40 to 14 shots on goal in Anaheim’s favor, the Isles defensive efforts won this game.

Also clearly contributing to the Isles win was Kurtis McLean scoring his 1st NHL goal (14:35) while playing in his 2nd NHL game. It’s always great to witness these kinds of milestones considering the competition to make it to the NHL. Almost following directly up on Okposo’s aim, McLean one-timed a pass from Frans Nielsen that flew by Giguere but the diagram I drew of where he shot from and where it went in now looks like a Rocshach ink blot so may I suggest checking out both these goals over at the Isle’s website if you would like to see aim from the subconscious in action. After McLean put the Isles ahead 2-0, Anaheim opted to switch up goalies, Jonas Hiller in for Giguere.

Along with scoring his 1st NHL goal McLean was given an opportunity to further experience what it’s like to be an Islander via a 2 minute trip to the sin bin on behalf of the team for too many men on the ice (11:46) in the 2nd period, one of the 5 penalties the Isles had to kill during the game. During this period also began a series of ‘gifts’ (as my Isles neighbor Tom called them) for the Isles and maybe more accurately Yann Danis. Not only did the back up to the back up goalie stop 39 shots on goal overall, he also had pucks fly near and past that hit the post, got lost, or missed the net by too close for comfort distance. Too close for comfort also applied to the game score at one point in this period. While Jon Sim was on time out (16:22) for interference, Bobby Ryan scored a goal (16:45) I did not see because I was writing notes and flaked out on watching the replay as well.

Around 10:50 to go in the 3rd period McLean continued to build upon his NHL experience by sliding into Anaheim’s net - sort of like the slide your kid into the net on a saucer contest they do in between periods…but without the saucer. Fans were not thrilled with Richard Park getting a tripping penalty (14:57) but hey it’s always a relief at least that Isles fans are booing the refs and not their own team. The vibe in the Coliseum by this time seemed to be reeeaaally wanting to get to 0:00… end of game, Isles win secured, and many a car honking of “Let’s Go Islanders” in the parking lot. It’s been too quiet in the parking lot lately so here’s hoping that by the time Dom and I arrive at Starbucks, order, trash-talk with the Ranger fan employees and come out the door – horns will still be sounding beep-beep-beep-beep-beep! Win or lose that really is a most excellent vibe to head back to the city with.


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