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.


Friday, January 30, 2009

Isles Hang On in Atlanta Thriller

Islanders 5: Thrashers 4

If you're anything like me, you probably scratched your head a little at the line changes reported on the Islanders roster in last night's pregame. Mike Comrie on wing with Weight and Guerin? And what's more- Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey, the two youngsters, together on the same line? Was this going to work?

Answer- yes and yes.

Comrie didn't get on the scoresheet, but he provided some great energy on the wing as well as effective backchecking, and as for the kids, Bailey and Okposo connected for two goals (both by KO), as the Islanders hung on for dear life against the Atlanta Thrashers, 5-4. I say hung on because this turned from a 4-0 cakewalk into a 4-3 dogfight, and it didn't get any easier for Yann Danis or the rest of the Isles in the closing minutes.

The Islanders burst out of the gates in perhaps the best first period of their season, scoring four goals- first newly-returned Trent Hunter 55 seconds in (that cut hand seems to be all better now), then Okposo's first, then a lucky one by Tim Jackman that goaltender Kari Lehtonen let completely escape him, and finally a goal by another returned player, Doug Weight. Weight's eighth of the year signaled the end of the night for a seriously embattled Lehtonen, and Johan Hedberg replaced him. Hedberg did significantly better, only allowing one goal for the rest of the night.

As good as the Isles were in that period, that was how bad the Atlanta Thrashers were, particularly on defense and in goal. Although he certainly wasn't getting any help from the D, which was very sluggish on the backcheck, Lehtonen himself was not in tip-top shape in his first start of the season against New York- he was playing very loose, lost position quite a few times, and had trouble tracking the puck as well as handling it. Thus, he had an early goodnight.

The second period saw no scoring, but a parade to the penalty box, as there was plenty of clutching, roughing and interference. Jackman had seven PIM total, including five for fighting with Chris Thorburn. The Islanders maintained their lead and their dominance, however, keeping pressure off of Yann Danis, although he did make some good saves. The Thrashers also made it very easy for the Isles to clear the puck and move back into the offensive zone. Their offense didn't show up until the third period, in which youngster Zach Bogosian started off 26 seconds in to cut the lead to 4-1. Then a bad penalty by Bill Guerin put the Thrashers on the power play, and go figure! The PP that had gone scoreless in five games struck paydirt here, as Rich Peverley, only recently picked up to center Ilya Kovalchuk, cut the lead in half. Before anyone knew it, 8:36 had gone by, and what had been a 4-0 lead was now 4-3, with a flukey goal by Marty Reasoner. The momentum had clearly shifted in favor of the home team, and no doubt Isles fans were cringing at the thought of another complete collapse in the final minutes. But luck and hard work prevailed.

A miss by Peverley on the next shot (thank Radek Martinek for getting just enough to deflect the puck) sent the Isles on the rush, and wonderful work by the Comeau-Bailey-Okposo line resulted in Okposo's second of the game and ninth of the year. (You have to love how good the future looked last night.) It was KO's first multi-goal game of his career, and his goal became the game-winner after Kovalchuk scored his 21st with about 90 seconds to go. The win snapped the Isles' 14-game road losing streak and gave them their second win in a row (they have been 2-0-1 in three games).

A relief? Perhaps, if you're not one of the many people who believe too many wins in a row will shatter their hopes of getting John Tavares in the 2009 NHL Draft. As it is, the Isles have a shot of winning their next three as well- against Florida at home, Tampa, and then Florida again on the road. Nothing is certain, but there is a chance of February looking a little brighter for the Islanders.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Streit's Night a Good One in Montreal

If you excuse an embarrassing fall during the Skills Competition, you could say Mark Streit's All-Star experience was a rousing success.

Streit ran into one of the signs shortly after Tim Thomas stopped his shot attempt in the Elimination Shootout, but laughed it off, and then had a strong showing Sunday night in the All-Star Game- he led the Eastern Conference team in ice time throughout regulation, had two assists and a shot on goal, as well as two blocked shots and three takeaways. Not too shabby, Mark!

If you haven't already, shoot by Chris Botta's blog and read Streit's reactions to the weekend:




Overall, the Skills Competition remains my favorite part of the weekend. It gives fans a chance to see the players in a more relaxed atmosphere, where they just have fun with the game (and become very creative- see Alexander Ovechkin's Canadian-tourist look during the Breakaway Challenge). The All-Star Game itself does this too, but the lull in the third period kept me uninterested until the last five minutes. Plus, the players themselves show more of their personality, which is always fun, especially if they're like Alex the Great. And of course, you can't count out the amazing tradition that Montreal was able to reflect upon, on their 100th year in the league. (100 years, can you believe it?)

The Islanders don't have a game until Thursday in Atlanta, which means you all have plenty of time to do other stuff- and I have time to finish my poetry project for AP English (good god, another paper? haha). Signing off with a little anecdote... my coach caught up to me yesterday and told me that he was sitting next to Kyle Okposo on the plane flight back from Minneapolis. Isn't that awesome, considering he's one of my favorite players?! If only he'd had the heart to ask for an autograph. Ah, well, there's always the future (no pun intended).


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.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Isles Get a Point... Now For Two...

Capitals 2: Islanders 1 (OT)

Thank goodness for score alerts.

My teachers must think a three-day weekend means they can bombard me with as much work as is humanly possible, seeing as I've managed to have to hand in two projects on the same day. (Thanks very much, guys.) So instead of watching a great game, I was stuck in front of my computer typing up a three-page AP English paper on Crime and Punishment. (Ever read that book? Yeah, don't.)

I was able to see part of the first period- Alexander Ovechkin's 30th goal of the year (honestly, it's amazing how good he is), on the PP with Brendan Witt in the box. Then it was off to the PC for an afternoon of typing, looking up information (shh, we weren't supposed to do that), tearing my newly-cut hair out, and more typing. I finally finished at 5:20 p.m., with the Isles score still fresh in my mind.

The obvious good thing about today's outcome was that the Islanders were able to hold the Caps to just one goal over three periods of play, and that they made the necessary effort to push the game to OT, off the stick of Kyle Okposo in the third period. (Have I mentioned how much I love this guy? Night in and night out, he brings it to the ice.) Overtime, however, hasn't been very kind to the Islanders, and the man who had won it for the Caps in a previous OT game against New York- Ovechkin, who else?- won it once more, once again on the PP (with Brendan Witt in the box again- deja vu, much?). So goes another loss, but this time just an overtime one, and for their hard work the Isles are able to get a point in a game that I unfortunately missed because of AP English. Next game, they will hopefully get their first win of the year 2009.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Effort Wanes, Devils Roll At Coliseum

Devils 3: Islanders 1

If two strong games against two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference can be counted as steps forward, last night's lethargic showing against the New Jersey Devils is a huge step back.

The Devils skated all over the Islanders, 3-1, just hours after the Isles lost yet another goaltender, Wade Dubielewicz, this time to procedural waivers. Perhaps that had a little something to do with the Isles' obvious lack of awareness on the ice, particularly in the first period; nearly every play became a turnover in favor of New Jersey, and every one-on-one battle and loose puck was won by the Devils. Yann Danis had a big hand in the first New Jersey goal at 6:06 of the first, as he completely froze behind the net while attempting to handle the puck and gave it up to Zach Parise, who eventually got it to Travis Zajac for the goal on an empty net. All of that happened on an Islanders power play, by the way, and on their second and final PP they wouldn't get much better- they allowed a breakaway by Zajac, which was thankfully and spectacularly gloved by Danis. That didn't spark the Isles, however, who spent too much time in their own zone, too much time chasing the play, and who were extremely lucky to escape the period with only a one-goal deficit.

At :57 of the second period, though, it became 2-0, as Parise cashed in on a bad rebound by Danis in front, with Nate Thompson serving two minutes for boarding. Then, at 4:58, Danis allowed one he should have had, as David Clarkson took a pass from John Madden and fired over Danis' shoulder for the go-ahead goal. Danis never even moved. A fight between Tim Jackman and Bryce Salvador galvanized the Isles into more physical action, but it ended up to be too little, too late.

Blake Comeau scored his fourth of the year in the third to at least end hopes of a shutout for Scott Clemmensen, who has been tremendous in his effort to fill in for the injured Martin Brodeur (32 saves). In that period, the Isles upped the ante and made the shot total more even (final tally 36-33 NJ), but they took way too long to get started, as Danis pointed out in the postgame interviews, and they end up with another loss (their seventh straight), while Parise, Zajac and the high-flying Devils won their third straight, and 5 of their last 6 meetings against their Tri-State Area rivals.

Notes: Bill Guerin and Doug Weight were honored at the beginning of the game, Guerin for his 400th point and Weight for reaching 1,000 points (the fourth to do so as an Islander)... Brendan Witt and Blake Comeau led the team in hits with four... Sean Bergenheim missed his second straight game with a side strain.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Dubie Off to Columbus on Waiver Technicality

Chris Botta reports that, although goalie Wade Dubielewicz had signed a contract here, he will be heading off to the Columbus Blue Jackets' next game.

Why? Ask whoever came up with the rule in the CBA that allowed the Jackets to pick off the contract. Because he's re-entering the NHL from Russia, he had to clear waivers after signing, and thus the Jackets (in sore need of a backup after Pascal Leclaire's umpteenth injury) were able to claim him despite his turning them down earlier.


So now the Islanders are stuck inbetween a rock and a very hard place, and have to hunt around for another goaltender after this. Tonight's game will feature Yann Danis in net once again, and Peter Mannino as the backup.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Once More, A Goal Behind... and Rumors Abound

Bruins 2: Islanders 1

It all comes down to the question of just what the Islanders have to do to put pucks in net and get two points, and the answer is this- keep it completely simple.

The Islanders threw everything but the kitchen sink at Tim Thomas, tallying 41 shots total, but only one eluded the All-Star goalie as the Islanders dropped their sixth straight in January, 2-1. Not much was expected against the best team in the East, a group of players as scarily good as San Jose in the Western Conference, but the Isles kept up with and even outplayed them for much of the game, in every facet except the score.

Hits were the big factor in the first period. Brendan Witt, who's becoming more like his old self, threw a beautiful open-ice cruncher on Martin St. Pierre, who was caught with his head down. Forwards Jeff Tambellini and Kyle Okposo also threw around the body, as did Josh Bailey. The Isles also overtook the Bruins in shots 17-7, keeping immense pressure off of Yann Danis who made his third start of the season. Despite all of the chances generated by New York, they just could not finish anything. Near the end of the first, Kyle Okposo had to leave the ice due to being hit with the puck on a clearing attempt by Radek Martinek. He was very wobbly leaving the ice, but returned for the second sporting a face mask and a nice lump on the right side of his face.

From the final minutes of the first through the second period, Boston began to pressure the Isles, and their persistence paid off, as Marc Savard broke through with a tricky shot that went past Danis' arm at 3:30 of the second. The Isles fought to regain the edge then, even by fighting (which Tim Jackman gladly did, tussling with Shawn Thornton), but couldn't keep the plays simple- they simply did too much, still trying to make the perfect play rather than throwing shots to net. The David Krejci line in particular put tremendous pressure after the Savard goal, although the hotshot himself- Krejci- was pretty quiet all game. No matter: the reason Boston is so good is because of their nearly endless depth. Where Krejci was quiet, Savard and St.Pierre gladly picked up the slack. Despite pioneering efforts by Blake Comeau on the forecheck (four hits total for him as well), shots kept going wide, hitting the sides, or just shanked.

The third period saw more of the same, and then Boston scored their second goal- St. Pierre, whose stick is practically longer than he is, backhanded it past Danis for his 2nd of the year. Boston held that 2-0 lead until 19:06, where Thomas' shutout bid was spoiled by Bill Guerin who finally hit net on a deflection in front. The Isles worked hard with Danis on the bench for the extra skater, but ran out of time... as usual.

In other news...

- Wade Dubielewicz is back! Dubie agreed to terms with the Isles and may be available as early as tomorrow, depending on how long the process to clear waivers takes. With Joey MacDonald out indefinitely with a groin injury, and Rick DiPietro still dealing with his knee, it's likely Dubie will get the starting role once he gets to the Island. Dubie had been playing in the KHL but reportedly had been bought out by his team.

- Rumors are starting around the news that an exhibition game may be played by the Isles in Kansas City... the question arising from this was, are the Isles set to move to KC if the Lighthouse deal isn't agreed on? From the ruckus created around this piece of "information", the conclusion drawn indicated as much. Howie Rose and Billy Jaffe said this: if the Lighthouse isn't agreed on, chances are good that they will move off of the Island. As far as I'm concerned, this is all a very elaborate way to ensure that this multi-million dollar deal is put through, maximizing Charles Wang's chances of increasing revenue rather than simply renovating the Coliseum. But we shall see.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

One Goal Short of the Finish vs. Rivals

Rangers 2: Islanders 1

I suppose some solace could be found in the the fact that the Islanders put in some solid effort against one of the best teams in the East, at least for parts of the first and second periods. After all, expecting a thorough game after a five-day layoff is a bit much.

Not only that, but the interim number one goaltender- Joey MacDonald- is now out with a quite apparent injury, causing the Isles to scramble in order to find a new backup with Yann Danis now between the pipes.

Mike Dunham, the goaltending coach, was emergency backup in the Isles' 2-1 loss to the Rangers on home ice last night, which was won on a second period flurry by the Blueshirts- two goals, nothing more or less needed. Although the Islanders protected Danis well, the speed and talent of the Rangers prevailed on what wasn't the prettiest of games.

In the first, the Rangers came out hard and fast, pelting MacDonald and leading 7-1 in shots at one point. When the Islanders did come out with the puck, they did so focusing too much on attempting the perfect play and not as much on hitting Henrik Lundqvist with shot after shot. Then, midway through, MacDonald appeared slow to scramble back up in the crease after sprawling to stop the puck. A couple of minutes later, he motioned for the trainer to come for him, leaving lumps in the throats and pits in the stomachs of all the Isles fans watching, both in Nassau Coliseum and at home in front of their TV screens.

Shortly afterward, the Isles played about ten minutes of purely inspired hockey, and kept the puck away from Danis completely. They took 11 of the last 12 shots in the period, making the shot total 12-8 in their favor, and finally capitalized on a rocket of a shot by Chris Campoli, who found the net over Lundqvist's shoulder and scored his fifth of the season at 18:50. With the momentum entirely in their favor now, the Isles continued to pressure and get in front of the Rangers' goal, with no payoff.

The Rangers came out ready in the second, however, and picked apart the careful defense. Captain Chris Drury snatched the puck out of the air after a clearing attempt by Campoli didn't go high enough. Then, a Frans Nielsen penalty turned into a 2-on-1 power play goal by Nigel Dawes, his eighth of the season and the game-winner. Despite some great opportunities for the Isles, in this case, persistence didn't pay off, not in the remainder of the second nor in the third, and the Rangers got their third win of the year over the Isles.

Notes: Brendan Witt had five shots on goal last night! He led the team... MacDonald is sidelined with a "groin strain" and didn't return to the game... the Isles may be speaking with ex-backup Wade Dubielewicz once more. Dubie went to Russia but was bought out of his contract, according to Howie Rose.

P.S. Garth Snow also spoke to Billy Jaffe prior to last night's matchup. He basically said what we've heard for a while now; among other things regarding the bright spots on this team, including Mark Streit and Doug Weight, he assessed that "We'll go through tough stretches, but we won't deviate from [our] plan," namely the youth movement that has served well players like Kyle Okposo and Nielsen. Regarding Rick DiPietro, who hasn't had much of a season, he said, "Everything we've done has been with the mindset of being cautious... We're all concerned when our franchise goaltender hasn't played a lot of games, and I understand the fans' concern." Time will tell what happens with DP, as well as with this youth movement as it continues.

Friday, January 9, 2009

What's In A Name?

Here's a cute hockey anecdote from a friend of ours, Gina aka MrsDP from Islander Mania. Many thanks to her for sharing the humor!

* * *

My best friend and season ticket holder partner, Theresa, has a brother that lives in Arkansas. Her 6 year old nephew, Davey, visits up in New York for a few weeks every year around Christmas and New Year's Eve. We thought it would be fun to take him to an Islanders game, since they don't have much hockey in Arkansas. I doubt he had even seen it on TV.

When we got to the arena, I told him that I was going to buy him an Islanders shirt so I could send him back home representing the Islanders. I brought him to the merchandise stand and told him to pick a number. He picked #81 (at the time Miro Satan). I was wary of his choice because the part of Arkansas that he lived in was in the Bible Belt down south. They were God-fearing Christians and I didn't think it would go over well with his mother. I tried to convince him to pick another number by saying "Don't you like 14? or maybe 39?" But his mind was set on 81. He had an absolute blast at the game cheering every time Satan was on the ice, yelling, "There he is! There's my guy! 81!"

Satan wound up scoring the game-winning goal, and Davey was positively thrilled. He ran through the parking lot screaming "Let's Go New York Islanders!" while we were going back to the car. He came home telling his grandma how much fun he had, and I made sure to explain to her that Satan was Czech and did not mean satan but was pronounced SHAH TAN.

A few months later while I was at Theresa's house, her mother told me that Davey had gotten sent home from school for wearing his Islanders shirt. The teacher called up his mom and said she would not allow him wearing anything that said Satan in her classroom. His mom tried explaining to her how it was really pronounced, and that he was a professional hockey player and he had gotten the shirt at a game when he visited New York, but she was simply not having it. She made his mom come pick him up and she had to promise he would never wear it to school again. Davey was so mad. This was his Islanders shirt that he got at a real hockey game that he loved to wear.

Mark Streit an All Star

Defenseman Mark Streit, the PP quarterback who's done that and more for the Isles, has made the All Star Eastern Conference roster as a reserve, and is going back to Montreal for the game.

Streit leads all NHL defensemen with 33 points, as well as leading the team, and has tied a career-high this season with seven PP goals. He also regularly leads the Isles in ice time, and has developed his defensive game quite a bit more since signing with the Isles in the summer. He has become the first Swiss player to go to the All Star Game.

Congratulations Mark! It's an honor well-deserved.


Isles Go 0-4 on Road Trip

Islanders 2: Flames 5

West Coast road trips can really be hard on players.

Not only on them, but the fans as well. I spent the past week staying up late watching as much of the games as I could before collapsing, then waking up at 5:40 the next morning to get ready for school. Last night, it finally put me under. I went to sleep at around 10:30, with the Flames holding the lead, and woke up to find they'd kept it once more. Imagine my reaction.

Three unanswered goals put the Islanders down for the count last night, as they lost at Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary, 5-2. A second-period rally by the Isles couldn't help them steal the two points, as Calgary proved to be too fast, too aggressive, and too good.

The scoring started at 6:55 of the first period, as Mike Cammalleri scored on a power-play all alone in front of Joey MacDonald. The first ended somewhat uneventfully- unless you count an incredible play by MacDonald shortly after the goal, in which he stopped a breakway by dashing all the way out of the crease and practically halfway down the ice to slide into the puck. Thankfully, it worked largely without a hitch, and the Isles escaped the first only down by one.

Early in the second, Rene Bourque made the score 2-0, off a pass from Daymond Langkow from the blueline and shooting through Brendan Witt's legs past MacDonald. 4:39 later, though, Mark Streit got the offense going, sending Tim Jackman into the offensive zone. Jackman shot from the boards to Miikka Kiprusoff, who saved it but couldn't hold onto the rebound, and a driving Trevor Smith put it past Kipper for his first career NHL goal. After three straight penalty kills by the Isles, Jeff Tambellini and Josh Bailey streaked down the ice on a 2-on-1, and Tambellini wristed a terrific shot for his second of the year and the tying goal. That tie didn't last long; Langkow, who'd already had two assists, put the Flames back up with a goal as well.

That closed out the scoring for the second period, and in the third, the Isles apparently could get nothing going against the tight defense and careful puck tracking of Kiprusoff. Curtis Glencross and Adam Pardy (who also scored his first career goal) padded the lead for the Flames, and Kipper made 24 saves. On the other end, MacDonald made 36 saves, but the Isles couldn't get back the brief momentum they'd gained battling back from 2-0 in the second.

Notes: Radek Martinek is back! He skated for the first time in 17 games with Freddy Meyer out (groin)... Doug Weight was still out with his groin injury, and Rick DiPietro reportedly has swelling around his surgically repaired knee and didn't dress. Danis was the backup.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Day of "So What?"

Yesterday I wore an Islanders jersey to school, and knew what was going to happen. The Isles were fresh off a loss to Edmonton, their 13th consecutive road loss, and I knew what that would mean to people who knew anything about hockey. A rite of passage for them to point and laugh, to wrinkle their noses. My father even saw me in it before I left and asked, "You're actually going to wear that in public?"

My snappy answer, "You still wear your Jets jersey, don't you?"

The fact is, people think that I haven't heard it all before- that is, the snide remarks and quick quips that they've probably heard out of the mouth of Larry Brooks first. When I was younger, a raw rookie fan, I wasn't used to the barbs, but now, I've created some of my own. Sometimes I'll let the heat of the moment burn me, but more often than not I realize something: I don't care much at all.

And I didn't, not even when one of the deans came up to me and said, "I'm an Islander fan, and they suck." I didn't bat an eye- only said, "Same script, different actor- I've heard it already," and walked past him. At the field for practice, as I walked past the guys, they shouted putdowns,to which I simply smiled and walked on, wearing my blue Brendan Witt jersey proudly. And why not? I know their record. I know their stats- I should after all, writing for this blog. I know exactly what my boys on the Island are made of, so whoever thinks they're doing me a service by telling me this is sadly mistaken.

The truth is, I could care less. I'm an Islander through and through. Perhaps I didn't know what I was doing when I chose them over the Rangers, but the point is, I made that choice on my own, and I'll stand by it, because over time I've come to love this team despite their record, and despite their stats. There are some who will never comprehend that... and quite frankly, my dear, I don't give a you-know-what.

My name is Angie, and I am an Islander. Plain and simple.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Isles Provide Start, Oilers the Finish in Edmonton

Islanders 2: Oilers 3

The youngsters provided some great offense and helped the Isles reach a lead quickly in Rexall Place. Would they finally hold it, would be the question.

Answer? No.

Try as they might, the Isles squandered yet another 2-0 lead over two periods, and the Oilers came from behind to steal the two points, 3-2. Pretty impressive, considering they showed hardly any signs of life in the opening period. At 4:02, after some good pressure by the Isles, Kyle Okposo took advantage of a giveaway by Shawn Horcoff and beat Dwayne Roloson high on the glove side. They preserved that lead well, taking away any offensive opportunity Edmonton tried to create, and Joey MacDonald stood up very well, particularly during a penalty to Chris Campoli. On a Edmonton penalty, however, the Isles made them pay. Campoli made a pretty tape-to-tape pass to Josh Bailey, who in turn made an equally nice pass to Blake Comeau for the power play goal low on the blocker side, putting the Isles up 2-0.

Whatever Craig MacTavish, the Oilers' head coach, screamed at them during the first intermission must have paid off, however; the Oilers stormed the offensive zone, shooting from practically everywhere and putting bodies in front of the net. At 10:55, it paid off. Kyle Brodziak shot the puck to the crease, where it redirected off of Brendan Witt's skate and past MacDonald to halve the lead. Over three minutes later, Jason Strudwick scored one that would be reviewed to make sure the dreaded "distinct kicking motion" was not made. If only it were; the goal stood, 2-all.

The third period was one in which the Oilers took the lead and the game, off of the stick of Andrew Cogliano. Cogliano passed to Marc-Antoine Pouliot, who shot and was stopped by Joey Mac, but once again the rebound killed him- Cogliano snagged it and scored his 12th of the year. After that, the Islanders couldn't find the wherewithal to get past Roloson once more. Unfortunately, as my eyes were sagging by the beginning of the third, I couldn't find the strength to keep awake for the entire game, so when I saw the Isles couldn't make a comeback, I felt my heart sink, and it will stay that way likely until next game, at Calgary.

Notes: Mark Streit snapped his five-game points streak... Doug Weight sat out this game with a leg injury, and was congratulated warmly by the fans in Edmonton. In nine seasons, he scored more than half of his 1,000 points there (577)... The Isles have gone 21-for-21 in penalty kills dating back to their Dec. 27th match at Buffalo.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Another Close One, But No Two Points

Islanders 3: Sharks 5

The Sharks are scarily good.

That doesn't sound like a professional assessment, but this blogger speaks the truth. Undefeated this season (18-0-2) and outscoring opponents 77-39 at home coming into this game, you would have expected a thorough skateover against the Islanders, the team with the lowest point total in the league. They didn't expect a late comeback, one that the Islanders seem to be making a habit.

After two full periods of San Jose domination, the Isles scored two quick goals before getting buried by an empty-netter, losing 5-3 to the best team in the league and dropping their 12th straight on the road. The Sharks got away from their game plan late, and didn't get the pretty win they'd want, but ultimately got the victory anyway off of Mike Grier's two goals and 21 saves by Evgeni Nabokov.

Ryan Clowe started off the scoring with his 16th goal of the year after eleven minutes, twenty seconds of San Jose's offensive prowess- incredible aggression, shooting the puck from anywhere and everywhere, and testing Joey MacDonald very often. They utilize all five skaters very well on offense with passing from low in the zone back up to the point, and making the D chase the play. Meanwhile, the Isles were in their zone for much of the first two periods, and when they did get an offensive breakout, they were spread out too far to get anything really going. The period was also pretty feisty- both Tim Jackman and Doug Weight got into the mix with Alexei Semenov and Christian Ehrhoff, respectively. Grier also got his first of the night late in the period, on a flukey shot that went off Blake Comeau and past MacDonald on the inside post.

The Sharks carried their lead over into the second period and added to it at 7:51, as Dan Boyle scored his 12th of the year (32 points, 2nd in points for all NHL defensemen). The offense started to show for the Islanders bit by bit, with great work by Kyle Okposo, Sean Bergenheim and Jackman. Finally, Richard Park (who also had a good night) put the puck past Nabokov (no easy feat) for his third goal in two games. Streit assisted, stretching his points streak to five games and maintaining his lead in the league among all defensemen. (Imagine that!) Doug Weight would have tied it at two were it not for the stick of Nabokov, who stuck his arm out at the last second to stop the puck and clear it out for the amazing save.

The third period saw more great goalie stuff on both ends- MacDonald showed as much athleticism as Nabby did, although he allowed more goals (on more shots- 47 total to the Isles 24, and he would tie his career high with 42 saves). He kept better control of his rebounds and stayed equal to the monumental task laid out for him in dealing with a hungry San Jose offense. However, Grier scored again at 12:22 after a breakaway attempt for the Islanders, Hunter to Park, was suspiciously called offside. With the score 4-1, things looked grim once more, until Jackman sped down the wing and scored shorthanded on a Brendan Witt penalty. Then Thomas Pock, who's showed good offense lately, scored his first to pull the score to 4-3 with 1:03 left, and you began to get that feeling again- that "Are they going to do it again???!!!" feeling. But with MacDonald on the bench, San Jose managed, on their third try, to score the empty netter off of the stick of Patrick Marleau, and the Sharks kept their record intact.

Truth be told, you would hope that the Isles would have at least gotten a point after their hard work late in the third, capitalizing on some lazy plays by the Sharks. But in the end, you have to remember that working from behind is tough stuff, and this is no easy team to beat, as their record, of course, suggests. So all that is left is to look forward to Edmonton on Monday night. Rick DiPietro was backup for last night's game; he may play tomorrow. Only the pregame will tell.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Bailey's First, Weight's 1000th Overshadowed by 23rd Loss

Islanders 4: Coyotes 5

It was a flip-flop game to the very end, and one that both Josh Bailey and Doug Weight undoubtedly wished could have turned out differently.

Even so, both the rookie and the veteran had personal accomplishments to smile over.

Bailey scored his first career goal, and Weight his 1000th (and 1001st) points in the Isles' 5-4 loss to Phoenix, one that neither the Coyotes nor the Isles controlled fully for 60 minutes. Defensive breakdowns gave Phoenix the offensive edge they needed over New York, and they mounted a lead early on Rick DiPietro (back in net after missing two straight games). Viktor Tikhonov scored unassisted on the backhand 1:46 in, capitalizing on the Coyotes' aggressive forechecking style. That forecheck kept the Isles away from goaltender Mikael Tellqvist until Sean Bergenheim broke through and scored his second in two games to tie it, looking better than ever since being scratched. (2 goals, 5 shots, +1 in two games back) The same could not be said for defenseman Chris Campoli, who had two minor penalties in the game, one of which neutralized an Isles PP and led to a 4-on-4 goal by Zbynek Michalek, who fired it past DiPietro for the 2-1 lead with ten seconds to go in the period.

In the second period, Shane Doan made the score 3-1, and in the third, former Isle Olli Jokinen made it 4-1, putting the game seemingly out of reach for the Islanders. But they staged a comeback which has become somewhat typical of them as of late, with Bailey scoring his milestone goal just 31 seconds after Jokinen on a one-timer set up by Bill Guerin and Jeff Tambellini. Joakim Lindstrom made the game 5-2 on a breakaway, and then Richard Park scored two quick goals, both of them assisted by Weight, who got point number 1,000 on Park's first. Ever the good teammate, Park immediately grabbed the puck as Weight was mobbed by his teammates and congratulated by the crowd in Jobing.com Arena. Three minutes later, Park had scored again, making it just a one-goal lead that Phoenix would be lucky to hold on to.

At first, you would imagine that the two milestones reached by Bailey and Weight would be the main thing to focus on, and in a way, they are. These two players have earned all of the praise they receive, and they definitely bring something to the table. However, the fact remains that the Islanders could have had this game, and let Phoenix get too far ahead, not to mention too comfortable in the offensive zone. They have the potential to be just as aggressive offensively as the Coyotes were, and on several chances they tried too hard to make the perfect play, and didn't just shoot the puck. Plus, where Phoenix went in front of DP and made life difficult, Tellqvist was able to make many more clear-cut saves. Defensively, there were also some mistakes that led to either chances or goals. When they did get going, it was with too little time left on the clock, and even with a ton of time it would prove too exhausting to come back from a three-goal lead, emotional lift or no.

With that said, the Isles head off to San Jose today to play arguably the best team in the whole league, the Sharks, who are unbeaten at home in regulation. The Isles would do well to get this game to overtime at least to get a point out of this squad. No saying who's in net today; with DiPietro in net and still working back to form, I would expect Joey MacDonald to man the pipes tonight. Game on at 10:30, folks.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Isles Roll Over Panthers

Panthers 2: Islanders 4

With Sean Bergenheim back in and Mitch Fritz out on waivers, the Islanders looked to have some jump in their step in a New Year's Eve matinee, winning over the Florida Panthers 4-2.

Granted, this was a Florida team only one game over .500, and not playing well lately, although two points out of a playoff spot coming into this game. Meanwhile, the Isles had lost two straight (one in a shootout vs Buffalo) and were faced with their last chance to win in the month of December, and the year of 2008- and they made good on it.

In the first period, Florida had the first eight shots and arguably the first goal of the game. I say arguably because the Islanders did score first, off a shot by Richard Park, but a questionable goalie interference call on Jon Sim disallowed it. Sim was seen by the linesman who called it to have turned into Tomas Vokoun and "prevented" him from cleanly playing the puck. Why there wasn't a replay on this call, I will never know- on TV it clearly showed that Vokoun was at the top of the crease and skated up into Sim. Almost three minutes later, Brett McLean scored his second of the season on a redirection of a shot by Nick Boynton.

The second and third could have easily slipped away from the Islanders after that, but they kept their head and took advantage of the Panthers' weak defense and lack of aggression. Mike Comrie scored two of the three Isles goals in the second, the first of which went under review because of the question of whether he kicked it in or not. It was ruled good- he was jockeying for position with a Florida player and redirected Kyle Okposo's shot without the dreaded "distinct kicking motion." Credit Brendan Witt with a phantom assist for creating the transition with his stretch pass to Okposo in the neutral zone. Comrie's second goal came on the power play, on an assist from Doug Weight (that's point #999!). The two goals gave him four goals in three games, and further proved just how well he is playing alongside the youngsters, Okposo and Blake Comeau.

With 23 seconds to go in the second, Bergenheim broke into the offensive zone with a bank pass to himself and then a nifty little move that chipped the puck off the post, but went in when Vokoun whacked at it with his glove. After being scratched last game against the Rangers because of his penchant for taking penalties, Bergenheim was on his best behavior, and played a very good game. His goal put the Isles up 3-1 going into the third.

The third saw a couple more senseless penalties by the Islanders, which put them into a bit of a sticky situation with a two-goal lead and a history of squandering them late in games, but thankfully the PK was sharp, and so was Joey Mac, who made 27 saves altogether. Mark Streit made the Panthers pay on yet another penalty, capping off a nice passing play with a blast from the point to score his eighth of the year. Nathan Horton cut the lead to 4-2 in garbage time, but it didn't dampen the Isles' win, only their second of December, but one that will hopefully help them start the New Year off right.

Notes: Trevor Smith made his NHL debut in this game, filling in for Mike Sillinger (hip). He looked very solid, blocking two shots and also driving to net often... Comrie had his 18th two-goal game of his career. He has never had a hat trick... Trent Hunter has made the trip to Phoenix for Jan. 2's game, but did not play this game due to general body soreness after his scary collision with a door in the boards at MSG on Monday night.