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

Islanders 2014-15 Season Mantra

Try not. Do...or do not.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Round 1: Sunday, April 26

Washington 5 : New York 3

Series tied 3-3
Wonder how the view was from up high for Coach Tortorella? Things are not looking good for the Rangers – the team seems freaked out and who knows if they can recover from their mindset taking a complete nosedive. The three Ranger’s wins were all by one goal, the three Capital’s wins were by 4,4,2 goals. In six games, Washington has scored 17 goals, Rangers 10. It would be easy to assert the advantage goes to Washington but the Rangers are now where they were at the beginning of the series – with nothing to lose therefore advantage goes to the Rangers, despite the thought that Washington would go farther in the playoffs than New York and that as a team, Ranger’s energy could be better spent undergoing a team overhaul rather than vying for a Cup they will not win this year…conserving energy now so that it can be expended at a later date. The worst thing we could see is the Caps taking an early lead and the Rangers completely imploding. But for now, more turnovers New York and stay the h-e double hockey sticks out of the sin bin.

New Jersey 0 : Carolina 4

Series tied 3-3
Wowee. Martin Brodeur and Henrik Lundqvist seemed to be playing on the same wavelength in their respective games today/tonight – regressive. Going into game 7 this series is incredibly close. Three wins by Carolina were by 1,1,4 goals – for New Jersey their 3 wins were by 3,1,1 goals. In 6 games New Jersey has scored 12 goals, Carolina 13. And both teams have each won 1 game overtime and have each won 2 games at home and 1 away. As much as I think Carolina has played better as a team, home ice performance may help the Devils eke out a win on Tuesday night. However, the biggest threat to Carolina is one dude in the net. Time to flip a coin.

Round 1: Saturday, April 25

Pittsburgh 5 : Philadelphia 3

Pittsburgh wins series 4-2
OH HAPPY DAY!! At first it was dreadful to hear the horn sound three times for the Flyers. I could not believe they could win this game so effortlessly so I spent the entire game pacing between my new found photog friends Tim and Tom and my sister who was also rooting for the Pens. After the 1st period the Flyers were up 2-0. The only thought I had about the Pens winning was that from my years of watching Flyers hockey, Philly does better when they either bully effectively or score the first goal within the first 10-12 minutes of the game which they did not do, the first goal (Mike Knuble) occurred with about 3 minutes to go in the 1st period. That was the good news going into the second, the bad news…Danny Briere scored #3 a few minutes into the 2nd. However, the second period turned out to be the game changer. The pens were able to get off 20 shots despite 13 penalty minutes whereas the Flyers has the same number of penalty minutes but only 9 shots. Two other game changing happenings in the 2nd period – after the third Philly goal Marc-Andre Fleury went into a zone and remained there and the Pens did what the Flyers did not do – diffuse the weight of winning the game among as many players as possible. In the 3rd period, Philly was too much on the defensive so 5 shots on goal was not going to bring them a come from behind win. Although considering that the Pen’s sixth goal was an empty netter by Sidney Crosby in the last minute of the period, tying the game was not out of reach for Philly. Surprisingly Flyer fans were not sore losers this time around, they seemed too disappointed to be obnoxious, or like some of the fans around us, too liquored up. It’s always hit or miss when going to the Wachovia Center but this time around I had a fabulous time – great view of the game, lots of laughs with staff and fans, edge of your seat hockey… all culminating in the Flyers going boo-bye. Here's a video of the last 10 seconds of the game:

Calgary 1 : Chicago 5
Chicago leads series 3-2

Anaheim 2 : San Jose 3 (OT)
Anaheim leads series 3-2

The Flyer/Pens game must have tired me out – after arriving back at my mom’s house I went to say hello to my cat Freddy Bear and conked out next to him. Zzzzz. So I missed the later games. In reading the recaps and watching highlights – advantage still stands for Chicago and Anaheim. Chicago is just getting started in playing their ‘better than’ hockey and with 48 shots on goal, San Jose better have won the game…yet they won by only 1 goal. The Ducks can figure out a strategy to win the series based on the last two games won by the Sharkypoos, who seem to have woken up but the question is, did they wake up in enough time.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Round 1: Friday, April 24

New York 0 – Capitals 4

New York leads series 3-2
When I saw that Sean Avery was pulled from the line up, I opted to take my dogs to the park rather than watch the Rangers lose. John Tortorella’s decision should lead to his not returning as coach next season. Coaching style of subjective but leadership is not. There’s a concept in group process that you don’t sacrifice the group for the sake of an individual. Funny how one might think the ‘individual’ would be Avery. I wrote at the beginning of this series that a test to the Rangers would be at the first sign of adversity – never thinking that the ego to turn against his team would be the coach’s. Being right was more important to John Tortorella than keeping his team in tact and winning the game. If Avery is not in the line up for Sunday’s game, I’ll be asking my dogs where they want to go this time…I suspect Petco for some treats.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Round 1 Continues: Thursday, April 23

Philadelphia 3 – Pittsburgh 0

Pittsburgh leads series 3-2
Great to see Martin Biron fly above radar this game which surely was a major factor in the game outcome. The Flyers distributed the weight of effort from line to line and came up with 3 even strength goals. The Penguins did not. I suppose commanding the Penguins to win wouldn’t be realistic so I’ll just have to root them on at the game and hope they bounce back like they did on Tuesday. The first 10 minutes of the game will say it all.

*Note to not all but too many Flyer fans going to the game…calling him Cindy Crosby is funny, calling him a pedophile is not.

Detroit 6 – Columbus 5

Detroit wins series 4-0
Overall this series was like Varsity scrimmaging JV. The Blue Jackets made history by their appearance in the playoffs and no one can say that they did not give their all in this round. Although it would have been wild to see the game go to OT, the end result would have been the same; Wings advancing to the 2nd round. Yes losing stinks however if you’re in it for the long haul, this is the way you want to lose – all out team effort and the standing ovation support of 18,889 fans.

Carolina 0 – New Jersey 1

New Jersey leads series 3-2
It was goalie against goalie this game and as predicted, Martin Brodeur composed himself and led his team to a shutout win…with only 1 goal…a deflection…on the power play. If Brodeur wasn’t in goal it could be a toss up but as long as he keeps his composure Carolina is going to have to come up with some serious strategy for getting the puck past him enough times to win 2 games.

San Jose 0 – Anaheim 4

Anaheim leads series 3-1
This is clearly a situation of Ducks impersonating Sharks. I suspect Anaheim is not going to give back the shark suits any time soon. San Jose seemed deflated since the beginning of this series and unable to gain any type of meaningful or lasting momentum. It must stink to work your butts off all season to rise to the top entering the playoffs only to fall down when taking the first playoff step…however the cool as cucumber attitudes I saw and heard in Shark interviews were a little baffling. Not that the players should have run around shouting ‘the sky is falling’, but some intensity in their words might have helped their internal process, which somewhere along the line broke down. Now it’s time to see if Anaheim knows how to cap off a series while in the underdog role.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Round 1 Continues: Wednesday, April 22

Boston 4 : Montreal 1

Boston wins series 4-0.
Montreal fans showed zero class towards their team at the end of this game. I hope that under his catch glove and blocker, Carey Price’s middle fingers were up. Perhaps not kicking a dog when it’s down does not translate in French. Here’s my high school French translation for Habs fans…vous tous sucez le temps grand.

Washington 1 : New York 2

New York leads series 3-1
Washington 39 shots on goal Rangers 21, Washington had 3 more chances on the power play (6) than the Rangers (3). Regardless of what the final score could have been, the Caps were able to put only 1 goal past Henrik Lundqvist with those stats. Not a good sign, plus with each game Ovechkin looks more and more like the only cactus left in the desert. Going into the 3rd period, the Rangers were up 2-0. What I noticed was that the Rangers seemed like they did not know how to win the game from that point - ‘we’re ahead so what do we do now?’. I think this will make them vulnerable to a come from behind Caps win on Friday night if they should pull ahead of Washington but not know how to yank the last piece of the band-aid off. However, as strange as this might sound (it seemed strange thinking it)…Sean Avery’s penalty with about 3 minutes left in the game was the best thing that could have happened to the Rangers. In those last 3 minutes what I saw was the Rangers digging down deep and Rangers fans standing up high. The game came alive. It was the perfect lead in to the next game and a perfect fan send off to help catapult the Rangers towards closing out the series. Advantage goes to the Rangers based on those 3 minutes, maybe this time the Rangers can dig down with Avery ON the ice.

Chicago 4 : Calgary 6

Series tied 2-2
As much as Calgary fought to win this game, they gave up a three goal lead in the second period. Without the empty net goal, the score would have been 5-4. Discounting power play goals and the empty netter, Calgary ‘won’ 4-2. I’m still going with Chicago for the series win however they are going to have to push Calgary back or else the Flames will bully them out of the series. Overall the game seemed flukey.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Round 1 Continues: Tuesday, April 21

Pittsburgh 3 : Philadelphia 1

Pittsburgh leads series 3-1
Let’s see…Pittsburgh scored ‘3’ goals. One goal Crosby’s body escorted into the net and another was an empty netter. Yes they count for the win but in my mind the Penguins head back home after having tied the Flyers 1-1. Marc-Andre Fleury was the primary reason the Penguins did not lose this game – second to his performance was the defense stepping up to protect their turf, and killing 8 penalties. Some risky behavior by the Pens and if they start racking up as many penalties on Thursday night, I don’t think they will be as fortunate as they were in this game. But then again, if they have more confidence in their goalie now, we might see less penalty minutes from Pittsburgh. As for the Flyers - where did their game go? Where was the substance? Beyond that, 8 power play opportunities and 46 shots on net produced 1 goal? This next game is hard to call. Fleury can run hot and cold, Martin Biron has been a little too quiet back there in net so far this series but after this game he might be inspired to kick it up a notch, he has to because it was not until this game that I noticed his presence in net – that isn’t good, well at least by my standards. Playoffs are not the games where a goalie can fly under the radar. I think the Penguins will win this series, and as much as I would like to see the Flyers go buh-bye, I’m not sure if game 5 will be the one to do it. On that note, advantage goes to the Flyers. On another note, I volunteer to be wrong.

Vancouver 3 : St. Louis 2

Vancouver wins series 4-0, their first playoff series sweep. The Canuck’s skill set won out over the Blues and no doubt Vancouver is a well conditioned team, physically. Although I was hoping the Blues could pull off a win on home ice, and for a moment there when the score was tied 2-2 it seemed possible – St. Louis had advantages of more power play minutes and shots on goal (49-36) but did not have the extra UMPH! to push on through to the win. It’s UMPH! that St. Louis will need to develop in order to spiral up next season and also, Chris Mason may benefit from Yoga and/or Pilates.

Detroit 4 : Columbus 1

Detroit leads series 3-0.
Ok so I just typed ‘Detroit leads series 3-1.’. AH HA! Foreshadowing to the Blue Jackets squeaking out a win on home ice? Hey it could happen. Columbus is looking frustrated because and obviously on the surface losing sucks, even if it was going to be quite a task for Columbus to beat the defending Champs. Columbus is a feisty team, a team you can feel play this series and empathize with – I’m still with the intention that they win one at home.

New Jersey 3 : Carolina 4

Series tied 2-2
What was Martin Brodeur really pissed at? The referees not calling goalie interference? Being tied in the series? That his own defense was a detriment by getting in his way? Carolina taking 46 shots and Brodeur having to deal with that? That maybe, just maybe after Jussi Jokinen ‘bumped’ him, Brodeur hesitated thinking it would be called and didn’t play the puck, thus ultimately was pissed at himself? I don’t know the answer to the question but I don’t think being pissed at the referees is why he threw his stick. Advantage goes to New Jersey for the next game due to Carolina blowing a three goal lead and that Brodeur is going to ‘correct’ the situation through his playing, he’s going to utilize the experience which is great but not as effective if team cohesion is lacking. This might be a good time for the Devils to squeeze in some off ice team building exercises before the game. Styrofoam cups, string…communication…group hug…whatever it takes or a speedy and cohesive team like Carolina is going to show the Devils how it’s done.

San Jose 4 : Anaheim 3

Anaheim leads series 2-1
It’s Duck season, no it’s Shark season, Duck season, Shark season blah blah blah. What a ping pong match this game was. Pretty thrilling hockey to watch. Although San Jose won, it was the Duck’s comeback goals that stood out and assigns them the advantage for Thursday night. What we’ve got here is a rock-paper-scissors kind of thing going on.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Round 1 Continues: Monday, April 20

Washington 3 : New York 0

New York leads series 2-1
By far this is the oddest thing in the playoffs so far – the Rangers and their fans showed up to play/cheer as if they were still in the regular season…9 minutes into the game they were going to lose. Was there anyone, Ranger or Ranger fan, who realized this was a playoff game? Yup. Sean Avery. 5 bucks Avery was more frustrated with his team than the Caps. 5 bucks Ranger fans (or majority of) think it’s beneath them to wear a colored t-shirt and swing from the rafters for their team. Avery’s acting out was understandable however being the tuning fork of the team takes away from his ability at times, this was one of those times. My hope is that he’s developed an off switch by now before he does something to mess up his career in a more permanent way. Overall, this is the kind of adversity I wrote about in an earlier blog post, and after seeing Ranger’s coach John Tortorella’s post game interview, advantage goes to Washington for the next game. Coach Tortorella…your team entered the playoffs seated 7th, up against 2nd seated team and beat them on their turf in the first two games therefore it was a little much that you were publically hostile towards your players. 2 minutes for uncoachmanlike conduct.

Boston 4 : Montreal 2

Boston leads series 3-0
Montreal accomplished two things this game – they scored first to give them their first lead in the series and even though the Habs lost, this time around they made Boston earn the win. Time to call this series for Boston, although I hope the Habs win on Wednesday for their fans and to tucker out Boston a bit for the next round. Both Boston and Detroit have had it a little too easy.

Chicago 2 : Calgary 4

Chicago leads series 2-1
The tug-of-war is alive and well between these two teams and with each game it intensifies. No doubt this will be a fight to the finish series, a lot more hockey equipment will be dropped to the ice. After watching this game, I’m going to go with Chicago for the series because their response to losing (while they are playing) errr how do I translate this…Calgary’s win didn’t seem like a win that would contribute to them coming back to take the series, it seemed like a bump in the road to Chicago moving ahead to round 2. Chicago’s drive is strong and their demeanor is sober, I’d be very surprised if they did not go far in the run for the Cup.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Round 1 Continues: Sunday, April 19

Pittsburgh 3 : Philadelphia 6

Pittsburgh leads series 2-1
I went to this game to see Bill Guerin play as a Penguin and to see the Flyers lose. About 10 minutes into the first period I knew that Philly was going to win this game, and win it big. Wasn’t ESP, just a familiar sight. Usually I am watching the Flyers trap the Isles into their style of play but this time it was Pittsburgh. The Flyers and their fans did everything right from the get-go, the team stunned their prey with swift and sudden effort in the 1st – the Penguins were too busy trying to keep up that they made many mistakes, and overall their puck handling was awful and the Flyers were given way too much room in front of Marc-Andre Fleury who appeared to struggle (mind-set) after the 1st Flyer goal and could not regain composure. In order to win this series the Penguins are going to have to accept that they cannot match the Flyers physical play and will exhaust their talent if they are stubborn about that. Pittsburgh will also have to evenly distribute the weight of effort among every player out on the ice. That’s also what the Flyers did right, and if they continue to play like they did this game, round two here they come. Ick.

*It was buzzing around at the game that John Stevens’s job could be in jeopardy depending on how the Flyers do. Unless Stevens is responsible for creating a team that is too top heavy (offense), that would be a boneheaded move by the Flyer’s organization this early (think it’s his 3rd season) in his coaching gig. Would be better to ask him what he thinks is missing for a Stanley Cup worthy team and fill the order.

Vancouver 3 : St. Louis 2

Vancouver leads series 3-0
Ah the difference power plays can make. Vancouver’s 3 goals were all on the power play (3 for 5) and St. Louis blew through 6 power plays coming up with el zippo. Lots of ping pong hockey and both teams seemed to step it up a notch overall. Let’s see if St. Louis can pull off a win on Tuesday and avoid being shut out of the series on home ice.

*Mats Sundin out this game with a groin injury.

New Jersey 3 : Carolina 2 (OT)

New Jersey leads series 2-1
I did not see this game but listened to it on NHL.com while watching the Canucks/Blues game while typing stuff…which means the game went in one ear and out the other.

*NJ Captain Jamie Langenbrunner out another game due to lower body injury.

Anaheim 3 : San Jose 2

Anaheim leads series 2-0
Attention San Jose players…the year is 2009, you are playing in the NHL quarter finals…ah ice hockey…that’s right…you are losing the series 2-0. Any of this getting through? The Ducks are very good opportunists – taking advantage of San Jose being in la la land. Either San Jose players come back into their bodies or the Duck’s quack won’t be bigger than their bite. San Jose seems numb – this would be a good time for every Shark to flush their sinuses with a TINY bit of Cayenne, then with Slippery Elm. No joke.

Cheechoo! Gesundheit!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Witness to a Tragedy : Penguins vs. Flyers

Ugh. What to say about the Penguins vs. Flyers game today. I was there, sitting up behind the Pens bench. Tragic. Maybe that's enough said for now.

St. Louis lost 3-2, and New Jersey tied with Carolina 2-2 in the third. Really looking forward to Ducks vs. Sharks later.

and this just in:
Double wammy - Boston's Milan Lucic suspended 1 game for wacking Montreal's Maxim Lapierre in the side of the face/head with his stick. Lucic followed his hit with stick with his fist. That had to hurt. Well deserved suspension.

Here are some pictures from the game. Click on picture to enlarge. Be back for games summary later on.

and my favorite! #13

Playoffs Preview: Sunday, April 19

Penguins @ Flyers: PIT leads 2-0

The Penguins are going strong right now, while the Flyers just look as though they want to stop playing. Perhaps a change of scenery will do them good though, especially in their home building where the fans are completely raucous. Biron's been hammered a bit by the potent Penguins offense, which is not only Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby (read: Guerin scored the OT winner in Game 2), but he might be able to feed off the energy in the Wachovia Center today.

Vancouver @ St. Louis: VAN leads 2-0

I saw the second game of this series, and although Chris Mason is doing everything he can to keep the puck out of the net, he is not getting much help. Meanwhile, the Canucks have a great amount of energy and a complete brick wall in net by the name of Roberto Luongo. Although traveling into enemy territory today, I would expect the Blues to have their work cut out for them right now.

New Jersey @ Carolina: series tied, 1-1

Okay, so I didn't expect Carolina to come back and tie the series. But there's still an awful lot for them to do now- and they will be happy to hear that captain Jamie Langenbrunner will not be on the ice for Games 3 and 4 due to a lower body injury. That will definitely throw off the chemistry a bit, not only on his line, but on the other lines as Brent Sutter now has to do some juggling. we'll see how that pans out.

Anaheim @ San Jose: ANA leads, 1-0

Yowza! Who saw that coming? Jonas Hiller must be a hell of a goalie- although I didn't see it, I can only judge from the recaps on nhl.com. But a 2-to-1 edge in shots for SJ, and you still manage to shut out the President's Trophy winners? That is pure amazement. Even so, don't expect the Sharks to take it lying down- they will find a way to battle back, and Anaheim must be ready.


Round 1 Continues: Saturday, April 18

Rangers 1 : Washington 0

Rangers lead series 2-0
Just because the Rangers were ranked 7th, doesn’t mean that they were going to play that way – same for the Capitals on the flip side. This season I’ve watched probably every team play in one game or another but I didn’t watch the Caps, something about the team repels me which means their energy is probably unbalanced or dark. I’m also not a big fan of #8, beyond recognizing him for the stand out player he is. Advantage goes to Washington for the next game despite the Rangers in the lead and playing on home ice. The Caps played way beneath their ability this game and yet look how much effort it took the Rangers to score 1 goal and keep the Caps to none. Sooner than later being ranked #2 with #8 on the team is going to surface, let’s see if Washington can recognize that moment and build on it. As for the Rangers an image for them to build upon would be a v-shaped flock of geese with Henrik Lundqvist as lead goose. Curious to see who will be in net for Washington.

Columbus 0 : Detroit 4

Detroit leads series 2-0
Anyone shocked about how this series is going? A meditation going out to Columbus in advance of the next game is that they win at least one game on home ice, not only for themselves but also for their fans.

Montreal 1 : Boston 5

Boston leads series 2-0
Kind of the same situation as Columbus/Detroit except the Bruins are gaining momentum that could serve them beyond this series.

Calgary 2 : Chicago 3

Chicago leads series 2-0
If Calgary can step up its defense and gain some traction on home ice, the tug-of-war between these teams will be awesome to watch.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Round 1 Continues: Friday, April 17

Philadelphia 2
Pittsburgh 3 (OT)

Pittsburgh leads series 2-0
Guerin scored! and then he scored AGAIN! for the OT win. The Penguins HAD to win this game – they would not have wanted to play on Flyer home turf with the series tied 1-1. Out of frustration the Flyers strayed from their game plan and lost sight of their coach’s guidance and/or influence which is dangerous for any team unless the coach is off his/her rocker thus a team must fend for itself. All the Penguins have to do is stick close to their game plan which will disarm the Flyers because well it’s like this – if the Flyers were in a maze and hit a brick wall, instead of turning around and trying another way, they’d stand there trying to figure out how to get through the brick wall or just keep walking into it. Worse case scenario, or as it is for me the best case scenario…Flyers show up on home ice, play horrible and their fair weather fans turn on them – then, let the unraveling begin. GO GUERIN GO!!!

Carolina 2 (OT)
New Jersey 1

Series tied 1-1
Looks like Carolina found their way around the Devil’s defense but can they keep up that kind of offensive pressure enough to win this series? It can only help that they get to head home with some added confidence although they may be without their Captain’s presence on ice as Jamie Langenbrunner left the game at the tail end of the 2nd period with what has been reported as a lower body injury. New Jersey definitely not at the top of their game this time around, appeared to play soft and lack communication, so the fact that Carolina did not seal the deal before OT puts the Devils at an advantage going into game 3. Whatever ‘chatter’ is drowning out effective communication while NJ is out on the ice will need to be cleared if they want to win on Sunday.

St. Louis 0
Vancouver 3

Vancouver leads series 2-0
Thought it looked this way last night but needed another game to confirm – for whatever reason the Canucks are glowing – energetic wise. Shots on goal were St. Louis 30, Vancouver 27 and Vancouver’s 3rd goal was an empty netter - so it’s another win for them but not a convincing one to believe they will win this series – but their glowing aura is a different story and with Roberto Luongo in net, well St. Louis…good luck with that. Home ice advantage, dusting off the frustration that was visible on the team and coach, and not remaining stagnant in front of Luongo might yield a different outcome for the Blues in game 3, and for what it’s worth – game 4 is echoing as significant.

Friday, April 17, 2009

NHL Teams Skating in Round 1 of Playoffs

Wednesday, April 15th

(7)Rangers 4
(2)Washington 3

The advantage goes to the Rangers because of who they are matched up with in the first round – they have nothing to lose. In order to ever advance further in their bid for the Stanley Cup, the Rangers will have to somehow reconcile with the notion that that a team has to earn its way to a Cup – step by step. Washington has done this and will most likely reap the rewards. If the Rangers can avoid player egos turning on each other at the first sign of adversity, which they can be sure will happen against the Caps, they just might have a chance to force Washington to say, “Phew that was a close call” at the end of this series.

(5)Philadelphia 1
(4)Pittsburgh 4

Although I am thrilled the Penguins beat the Flyers, it doesn’t mean much because the Flyers played sloppy and unless Philly completely falls apart, no doubt they will recover quickly from this loss and come out swinging Friday night. Don’t know if his leadership will be enough to break the Flyer’s habit of getting in their own way and choking when it comes to the post season but John Stevens is one clever coach – if the Pens drop their style of play for a second, the Flyers will seep into that space, however trading Scottie Upshall created vulnerability in the team chemistry so it’s an uphill climb for the Flyers to begin with, especially if any resentment is buzzing around the team towards management.

(6)Carolina 1
(3)New Jersey 3

New Jersey is a more seasoned team so let’s see if Carolina can regroup and utilize their speed and figure out a way around the Devil’s defense. Looking beyond the playoffs, Carolina is building nicely as a team. The outcome of this series will most likely be based on the Devils already being a nicely built team and if they were any more organized, it would be a team deficit.

(6) St. Louis 1
(3) Vancouver 2

Both teams are probably just glad to have made it over the playoff race finish line and compared to other teams, are in a playoff world of their own. This will be an interesting series to watch due to the skill set each team possesses. With both Chris Mason and Roberto Luongo in net, even more reason why this series will be interesting to watch.

Thursday, April 16

(7)Columbus 1
(2)Detroit 4

Columbus making their first appearance in the playoffs is a win all on its own. Having to play against the Red Wings is a great learning opportunity for Columbus, who will get to experience what’s ahead for them in future playoff years – what kind of effort it will take to be a Stanley Cup contender and what kind of force they will feel coming their way from an opponent should they make it that far – can’t say enough about how much can be learned from the force of resistance. Out of all the series, I am most curious to see what will happen between these two teams.

(5)Calgary 2
(4)Chicago 3 (OT)

Probably going to be to most ‘spirited’ series – as in it’s gonna get nasty out there. Anyone watching these games is in for quite a push and pull experience – which is some of the best hockey to watch.

(8)Montreal 2
(1)Boston 4

While watching Boston beat the Isles on Sunday I thought to myself – if Boston plays like this (lackluster) in the playoffs, they will get hammered. Don’t think Montreal has the endurance to chip away at Boston’s numero uno spot in the standings but they are capable of energy surges so the Bruins better make sure they recharge effectively between each game.

(8)Anaheim 2
(1)San Jose 0

San Jose has been the only team echoing in my mind in regards to the Stanley Cup. Either things are going to go really well or really bad for this team because of what and which teams they will have to endure to make it to the top of the NHL hill. This game, it appeared as though their bodies came out on the ice but their spirit did not. Probably a necessary loss for the Sharks, a bite on the butt from the Ducks as a reminder that there is no free lunch. My guess is the Sharks will bite back and chomp their way through this series.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Draft Lottery Tonight at 8 pm, VERSUS

Well... it's what we've all been waiting for.

The Draft Lottery has been set for tonight at 8 pm, on Versus (check channel listings at end of post if you'd like to tune in).

Under the weighted system of the draft, according to islanders.nhl.com, the team with the fewest points at the end of the season has the highest chance of winning the first overall pick in the draft. That team, fortunately (?), is your very own New York Islanders, who have taken care to lose the last four games of the season and preserve their place in the standings. That said, it would be very, very nice if we were to be rewarded with the top pick, and therefore choose either star forward John Tavares or solid defenseman Victor Hedman. I think that at this point, anyone else would be lesser than for Islanders fans.

Here's where you can find Versus on your cable provider:

Cablevision: 146/408
Cablevision HD: 719
Verizon FiOS: 90/590
DirecTV: 608
Dish Network: 151
Time Warner: 122
Time Warner HD: 794

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Better Effort, But No Two Points

Flyers 3: Islanders 2

Today I watched what might be my final televised Islanders game before I leave for college. You can perhaps say I had my hopes raised a bit too high considering the Isles had been outscored 15-1 prior to today's game. But it was all I could ask for, after a season with a few triumphs but more often full of disappointments and frustrations. Just one more win before I went would have sufficed.

Unfortunately, that didn't happen today, although the Isles put up a tremendous effort in the first period. Kyle Okposo was back in the lineup today, and his presence was felt fairly early. The Isles struck first, as Sean Bergenheim went to net and received a great pass from Doug Weight, tipping the puck past Martin Biron. The Isles had a lot of jump in them even after the goal, pushing hard and testing Biron up high on the forecheck, while at the same time covering Yann Danis well in front and preventing the Flyers from getting in too tight on him. They dictated most of the play in the first, and had tons of possession time.

Then the second opened, and Joffrey Lupul took advantage of a good flip pass from Braydon Coburn and moved around a badly committed Thomas Pock to put the puck past Danis, tying the score. After that, Kyle Okposo took a hooking penalty that the Flyers converted into a PP goal, thanks to hard work by Mike Knuble to stuff it in during a scrum in front of the net. After that, things got a bit sloppy on behalf of the Isles, but then Tim Jackman pulled them back even after a heads-up play by Andy Hilbert to put the puck in the Flyers' zone. No matter though; Simon Gagne got the lead back up to one in the blink of an eye, outgunning two Islanders to get to the puck.

In the third, the Isles had their work cut out for them- get their edge back against a Flyers team that steadily got better at keeping players back defensively in their zone to stifle the forecheck and also against a certified Islander killer- Martin Biron, who has a sterling record against this team. Although they tried their very best to do so, and also helped out Danis immensely- save for one moment where the Flyers almost went up 4-2 on an odd-man rush that Danis beautifully stymied), they couldn't get to overtime, and as such went down once more in what was a much better effort than in the previous two games... but couldn't get me very happy.

The Islanders' final game is tomorrow evening against Boston. I won't be watching, spending the day in New Jersey with family for Easter... but I hope they can give me something to smile about.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Another Good Start Leads to a Poor Finish As Isles Clinch 30th

Islanders 1: Penguins 6

There is something to be said for the beginning of this game: the Isles really fooled me into thinking they might pull this one off.

Starting out strong and pelting cold goalie Mathieu Garon with shots early, the Islanders looked like they had forgotten the mess of a game they had played just two nights earlier, which culminated in a terrible 9-0 loss to Carolina. Frans Nielsen eventually capitalized on the power play, off a deflected shot by Doug Weight, to put the Isles up 1-0.

Unfortunately, Pittsburgh wasn't deterred, and a slow start heated up slowly as the Pens got more shots on goal and Garon showed off some pretty amazing flexibility down low. The Islanders wasted two 5-on-3 power plays in this game while remaining relatively disciplined until the third period. Meanwhile, Philippe Boucher, Pascal Dupuis, Matt Cooke, Tyler Kennedy, Sergei Gonchar and ex-Islanders captain Bill Guerin all put the puck past recently embattled goalie Joey MacDonald for the win.

Granted, there are only two games left to the season now, and this is an Islanders club that has been fighting injuries all year- most recently Blake Comeau bowed out with a broken wrist (Mike Iggulden is playing in his place), and Kyle Okposo still isn't back in the lineup. Their energy is clearly missing from this club, which has lost 559 man-games due to injury. With this loss, they have clinched the worst record in the division, which heightens their chances of getting either the first or second overall pick in the draft, and we all know what they should do with either. However, it wouldn't hurt to still be competitive. I saw the difference in this team when they started skating in the first minute, and I knew they were still up to the challenge. What happened afterward isn't so clear-cut, but at any rate the last weekend of the regular season is upon us, and it provides no doubt a blessed end for both players and fans.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Isles Enter Home Stretch with a Win

Tampa Bay 1 : Islanders 3

Youth movement. Did the Islander powers that be really have a choice? Sorta. Management’s decision to focus on youth has become an organic process all on its own due to the number of Isles sidelined with injuries. According to my math skills here are some stats:

Average age of Isles main roster is 28
Average age of Isles stats roster is 26.63
Average age of Bridgeport players called up is 23.9

Five Bridgeport players were called upon to fill in the gaps against Tampa Bay; Mike Iggulden, Jesse Joensuu, Joel Rechlicz, Mitch Fritz and Jamie Fraser who made his debut in the NHL.

Richard Park wowed the crowd by scoring just 23 seconds into the game, his 14th goal of the season. After receiving a pass from Joensuu, Park spun around on the left side of the net and wrapped the puck past Mike McKenna. A few minutes later Mitch Fritz and David Koci went at it (4:55) resulting in both serving 5 minutes for fighting and Koci also serving a 10 minute misconduct. Radek Martinek joined Fritz after being called for hooking (5:38) and although Tampa Bay fired off a round of shots on Yann Danis, it was clear that Danis was back on track after Thursday night’s loss to Montreal and after TBs Ryan Malone crashed into him earlier in the period. Isles defense did a nice job at protecting their goalie who made 29 saves while maintaining his usual calm aura. The Isles also took their own round of shots midway into the 1st and then there was a loud ‘thud’, looked around to find the cause of the thud but nothing…until, like jack(s) in the box, Brendan Witt and Ryan Malone both popped up from below the boards – thud mystery solved. At 17:37 Adam Hall served two minutes for hooking while his team denied the Isles scoring chances. Park was called for off sides during the power play and with under a minute to go in the period, Blake Comeau lost his stick while taking a shot on goal.

Don’t know what was said to Tampa Bay players during the intermission but it was clear they redirected their play, drilling off some shots on Danis, some close calls about 5 minutes into the 2nd period. That was followed by some ping pong hockey surrounding two Tampa Bay penalties, Martins Karsums for hooking (6:21) and Paul Szczechura for hi-sticking (13:01). While Szczechura was in the box, Bruno Gervais faked a shot and then passed to Martinek who fired the puck over McKennas’s shoulder (14:52), putting the Isles up 2-0. Although Rechlicz exchanged words with Koci a few times this period, Rechlicz found a new fighting partner in Zenon Konopka - both served 5 minutes for fighting and Rechicz was also pegged with a two minute charging penalty that was served by Mike Iggulden (14:59). While on the power play, Tampa Bay scored their only goal of the game, Matt Pettinger with a backhand wrist shot (16:38). Jack Hillen was called for hi-sticking (17:26) and after the buzzer sounded players from both teams piled up in an unfriendly group hug against the boards before leaving the ice.

Shortly into the 3rd period it appeared as if both teams got their second wind. Another pile up occurred involving Martinek, Steve Stamkos, Witt and Ryan Malone but no penalties were called. While Matt Smaby was serving time for hooking (8:54), Comeau did what he does well (and needs to be utilized more for) – a sweet pass to Josh Bailey who scored his 7th goal of the season (9:14), Isles up 3-1. After Bailey’s goal, some people in my section started chanting “John Tavares”…alrighty then. Yet another pile up took place, this time involving Tim Jackman (ha ha I typed Hugh Jackman at first) Karsums and Witt. Witt served two minutes for roughing while Karsums was assigned 4 minutes, two of them served by Evgeny Artyukhin (13:52). After Tampa Bay pulled McKenna with a minute to go in the game and then called a time out, two things were broken - Richard Park’s stick and the Isles three game losing streak.

Granted playing with new teammates can take up a lot of energy/focus, but what I didn’t see during this game from the youngins’ were sparks of their individual style of play. There is a wide open space of opportunity for any Bridgeport player called up. Who knows how long the Isles roster will remain fragile soooo young grasshoppers, Carpe Diem or in this case Carpe Game!


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Brendan Witt Plays 200th Game as an Islander

On Thursday night against Montreal, Brendan Witt played his 200th game as an Islander. Last week on the HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher, Bill interviewed Bill Bradley, former US Senator-NJ and NBA Hall of Famer (NY Knicks). At the end of the interview Bill Maher half-jokingly asked him why the Knicks “suck”. Bradley stated:

“They make the same mistake that a lot of teams do, they draft stats and not character and you gotta draft character to put a team together.”

If character is a crucial ingredient to a team’s success then Brendan Witt is the foremost symbol of Islander success, regardless of their standing in the NHL. Whether Witt is a fan of the ‘system’ or not, his challenge is to figure out how to not stand out on the team in regards to the system while also not fit in. With his work ethic and warrior ways this shouldn’t be a problem for Witt. My hope is that Coach Gordon’s expectation of Witt will be a balance between player compliance and player authenticity, the latter being what I believe to be Witt’s greatest strength and why so many fans wear his number, including Angie who finally got her #32 jersey from Santa this past Christmas, despite being on the naughty list. : )


Friday, April 3, 2009

Isles Install Revolving Door on Penalty Box

Montreal 5 : Islanders 1

Some rewind…saw some of the worst Isles hockey against the Wild, saw what was probably the best Isles hockey against the Wings. And then came the Flyers…what the??? Angie I don’t know whether or not there is anyone who dislikes the Flyers as much as I do, but one thing is for sure – there is no other team that I detest the Isles losing to than the Flyers. My sister Donna was able to come to the game so…ah never mind…it was great to have her there but it didn’t make our team losing to Silladelphia any less suckier, especially after texts from Flyer fan friends started rolling in during the game. And just for the record - no S. Jersey and Philly people I will not say ‘park the car in the garage’ for your amusement. Eat your cheese steaks while watching your hockey team again and again choke in the end…and have a nice day. Oh and Angie – Witt in the shoot out - thought that was possibly a symbolic gesture that Coach Gordon and Witt have kissed and made up. Missed the Isles vs. Caps game…bleh the Isles lost.

I flaked out on who the Isles were playing last night until entering the Coliseum and hearing the shrieking noise Habs fans make which goes right through my spine. Although Freud might say I have fan envy because it would be great to hear Isles fans cheer as loud as Habs fans cheer, no matter if their team is winning or losing. This time around Habs fans cheered for their team as they scored, scored, scored, then scored, then scored again.

I arrived to the game at the beginning of the 2nd period, greeted by a scoreboard that read 2-0 Habs, Saku Koivu (13:03) and Mathieu Schneider (18:31) both scoring on the power play, and an Isles bench missing Kyle Okposo and Mark Streit due to injury and Dean McAmmond due to illness. Filling in the gaps were Bridgeport’s Trevor Smith and Sean Bentivoglio, playing in his first NHL game. Andy Hilbert left the game due to a rib injury.

Shortly into the 2nd, Alex Tanguary sent a wrist shot past Yann Danis (1:11) and a few minutes later while Tim Jackman was in the sin bin for slashing (2:44), Andrei Markov brought the score to 4-0 by building on a nice pass from Saku Koivu, a snap shot goal (3:12). Seconds later Joel Rechlicz and Georges Laraque dropped the gloves, both served 5 minutes for fighting. Psst…Joel…don’t let your opponent take the stance of ‘so are you going to fight or what?’ especially on home ice. At 9:05 in the period Jeff Tambellini scored his 7th goal of the season – a slap shot that sailed past Jaroslav Halak. Psst…Jeff…just keep on shedding that underachieving skin and all will be a-ok.

44 seconds into the 3rd period Mike Komisarek scored the Habs final goal with a slap shot that flew past Yann Danis. Although Danis appeared tired during this game, he rose to the occasion when stopping Tom Kostopoulos’s penalty shot, the shot was a result of Joe Callahan hooking Kostopoulos on a breakaway. A funny moment came with about 6:30 to go in the game when Habs fans attempted the wave – across the ice a young Isles fan stood up to continue the wave but was tugged down by another young Isles fan sitting next to him – who appeared to then explain to him that doing the wave with Habs fans was not cool. It was also at this time when Habs fans began singing ‘nah nah nah nah hey hey goodbye’ and Isles fans obliged with a mass exodus from the Coliseum.

The downside to this game beyond losing was the Isles racking up 10 penalties. The upsides to this game were watching what the Isles defense has been able to do well lately – clear the puck out of their zone. This is the kind of defensive momentum the Isles are in need of and if this effort stays alive and bridges over into next session, no doubt fewer goals will be scored against the Isles. Also, the Isles offense made some decent rushes on net and despite the score, didn’t play it safe. No risk no reward is the way to go next season for the offense and the team overall.

Next up is Isles vs. Tampa Bay on Saturday night.