Welcome to the NYIslesScene!

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

Islanders 2014-15 Season Mantra

Try not. Do...or do not.


Tuesday, 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.

One Win Becomes Four As Things Look Up

What is THIS?

The Islanders have turned one win into four- three of them in regulation. It started with a matchup against those old foes, the New York Rangers... then gathered speed as the Isles foiled the Capitals in a 4-3 overtime thriller... then hit full throttle as they stumbled a bit out of the gate, but ultimately trounced Buffalo 5-0 for Martin Biron's 200th career win... and finally stuck with them last night, as they got two goals from, of all people, Brendan Witt, to beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-1.

This is nothing like the easily fatigued, demoralized Islanders we saw losing game after game in overtime, in shootouts, and then in regulation. This team has woken up and gained confidence, blowing the myth of the "Ranger hangover" to bits in the process, and climbing above .500 for the first time this season if you discount the OT losses (5-4-5, 15 pts). Though they still show flashes of uncertainty in moving the puck and in defensive strategy, these Isles are playing hard, and certain players are definitely waking up and getting it now.

First off, Jeff Tambellini has been nothing short of incredible lately. Though he didn't score in last night's game against the Oilers, he went from being practically invisible to scoring almost every night. First it was one goal a game, then two, and finally against the Sabres, he scored his first career hat trick- with his father, Oilers GM Steve Tambellini, in the audience. The goals were all scored differently, but all showed his burgeoning confidence- he's not afraid to get to the front of the net and score a dirty goal, and it's been paying off for him. He's also taking more shots (he led the Isles in the Sabres game with five shots), and though he didn't score last night, I don't think we've heard the last of him. He now leads the Isles in goals with six, along with Matt Moulson.

Andy Sutton has also stepped up wonderfully on what can be considered a sub-par defense. He's been blocking shots and throwing his body around a lot more than I can remember in his past seasons with the Isles, and he's even contributed on offense a bit. It's just what we need from the 6'6 defenseman, and on top of that, he hasn't been injured! (Knock on wood.)

Josh Bailey is still getting there, but he's made some strides. I think having former linemate Kyle Okposo moved onto a line with John Tavares, though it's done wonders for the JT line, has hurt Bailey a bit; he hasn't exactly found his niche alongside Tambellini and Doug Weight (a natural center who's been moved to the right wing to make room for Tavares). Still, he's taking more shots now and doing the best he can. He scored a goal in the Sabres game; maybe it'll jumpstart him a bit.

Richard Park has also woken up, not so much goalscoring-wise as in the faceoff circle. The guy is approaching 70 percent on faceoffs, and his work ethic can only be admired. He's not so much a natural goalscorer, but when he does score, it's on tremendous individual effort. He's also somewhat of a streaky scorer, so maybe we'll see another goal or so out of him after Saturday night's game.

Lastly, in goal, Dwayne Roloson has finally done what so many expected of him as a goaltender: he stole us a game. The Capitals always play hard, and their dangerous offense is enough to make any goalie and defense cringe. But Rollie stood his ground in a shooting gallery, after the score kept yo-yoing back and forth, first in New York's favor, then in Washington's. The way Roloson kept his cool and pushed the game to overtime is exactly what you expect of a true #1 goaltender. Though Biron has also been very good, and both of these guys have been coping with numerous defensive breakdowns and doing the best they can, Rollie has proven himself very well, and did so again last night, making 22 saves. However, Brendan Witt stole his thunder with his two goals, and though he says he could care less, was definitely trying to get a hat trick with an open net gaping at the other end of the ice in the last two minutes. It's all right, Witter- love seeing some goals out of you, though!

Next post, seeing as I'm missing the next two games once again (damn you, Wednesday night class and MSG Plus 2), I'll focus on some people I'd like to see a little bit more out of.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Scared the Bejesus out of my Dogs, Witt to Blame

Oilers 1 : Islanders 3

About ½ hour before scaring the bejesus out of my dogs, I took this picture of Lily and Maddy. We’ve been at my mom’s while Lily recuperates from fracturing her L6 for which I am to blame – tripping over her as we were on our way out the door last week. Even though Maddy (11) is younger than Lily (14), like a Boxer she is protective over those she loves and has been by Lily’s side 24/7 – nurse Maddy as we now call her. So there they were fast asleep as I was doing this and that for work with NHL on the Fly in the background. On came the recap of the Isles/Oilers game, the outcome of the game not known prior to the recap - Ethan Moreau scores…John Tavares scores…Brendan Witt scores…


look up at TV for the replay

type type type on laptop type type type

Brendan Witt scores again…


The loudness of WHAT? = Maddy jumping up to her feet and Lily jumping up to her shoulders…both looking at me as if to say “Where’s the fire?”. Would have texted Angie as she had probably already been celebrating aka tweeting about one of her favorite Isle’s accomplishment but was too busy wiping up the tea I spilled when standing up to reassure the dogs I hadn’t lost it completely – so Mr. Witt is to blame for the spill as well. If he would have gotten the hat trick quite possibly that would have warranted assigning him blame for the US economy.

Because we bloggers are of the opinion that Witt can do no wrong, rather than assign pseudo blame a Fu Man Chu is awarded instead.

As for the team, whatever is fueling ya’ll, make sure you take it with you as you shuffle off to Buffalo. Shuffle all over Buffalo.

Josh Bailey…you’re up.


Post blog note: it was pointed out to me this morning that Lily and Maddy's position sorta looks like the letter W, obviously they are fans of Witt. Yes it does, yes they are, dude you need more hobbies. : )