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.


Saturday, January 30, 2010

Preview: Isles @ Panthers, 1.31.10 Bankatlantic Center

This is the fourth and final meeting of the regular season, with each of these team garnering a shootout win on home ice. And unfortunately for the Islanders, who suffered a hard defeat at the hands of the Flyers this afternoon, Florida will be getting back a big piece of their puzzle by the puck drop tomorrow.

David Booth is expected to return for Sunday's game. Booth hasn't played since October 24, when he suffered a concussion after being checked excessively hard by Mike Richards. With his return, the Panthers receive a boost to their offense that the Isles will have to deal with. Today, New York got (almost) back to form, playing hard and with a purpose. All that's left is to stop taking penalties and get more bodies to the front of the net, and the Isles should be back in tip-top shape. The bright spot to all of this is that, even with the addition of Booth, Nathan Horton is still out of the lineup with a broken left tibia. While unfortunate, of course, Horton does take it to the Isles every time he's on the ice, so this is an advantage.

Tomas Vokoun, however, is not. The red-hot Czech goalie allowed two or fewer goals in his last seven starts before allowing four in the Panthers' last game, against Washington. It'll be up the offense to crash the net and perhaps throw him off his game. Either way, this will be a good matchup- two teams who play each other relatively tight regardless of standings, but who just happen to be within a point of each other (Florida holding the upper hand).

So? We'll see if the hopeful ending the Isles provided this afternoon translates into two points tomorrow afternoon. Remember, 4 p.m. start, MSG Plus 2.


Isles Get Fired Up, But Win Not Found

Islanders 1: Flyers 2

The Isles are still having some issues with getting the puck into the back of the net. The good part about this for today is that the Flyers didn't do that much better.

What began as another frustrating showing by New York turned into an all-out, to-the-wire thriller at the Wachovia Center, ending with the Islanders coming up that short against Philadelphia. Daniel Briere scored his 18th of the season to start it off, and then Scott Hartnell scored on the power play to make it 2-0. Josh Bailey would score his own after a man-advantage (more on that in a moment) to cut the lead in half, but though the Isles eventually got the jump and life that they had had during earlier wins, they couldn't get the equalizer.

That said, they did come out strong after a bizarre turn of events. It had seemed as though Kimmo Timonen had gotten the Flyers a 3-0 lead, but after Dwayne Roloson had been interfered with and (furiously) protested, the goal was disallowed, and Hartnell made his way to the penalty box for goaltender interference. Seconds after Hartnell came out of the box, Rob Schremp led Kyle Okposo and Bailey down the ice and centered to Okposo, who got to Bailey at the back-post. 2-1 Flyers, tables (almost) completely turned. In the third, they really got things going with scrappy play and plenty of pressure, but Ray Emery proved to be too good. That, and the Islanders failed to elevate the puck on plenty of good chances where half the net was open. The penalties they took were of no help either. Emery finished as the number-one star of the game, though Roloson made some decent saves of his own, including a point-blank one on Jeff Carter who hovered at the doorstep.

Trevor Gillies was recalled from Bridgeport, and the 31-year-old played just over three minutes, with Blake Comeau being the healthy scratch. I'm consistently against these kinds of call-ups, because I feel as though it's unfair to both the call-up and the scratch. The scratch sits out while the call-up barely plays, and with Gillies in the role of an enforcer- well, you know exactly the only thing he was there for. As it was, he didnt' factor much into the game at all. Reminiscent a bit of Mitch Fritz last season. Scott Gordon would be better off getting a forward who will play more than just three minutes a game into that spot, if he doesn't like what Blake Comeau is doing. Just my two cents' worth, though; I'm only the blogger in the room.

Tomorrow afternoon, it's the Isles up against the Panthers at the Bankatlantic Center at 4:00 p.m. 3:30 pregame, of course, and the game can be seen on MSG Plus 2, NOT MSG Plus. Check your local listings.

Notes: Each team finished with 32 shots... The Isles went 0-4 on the power play, 5-6 on the penalty kill... The Flyers have now beaten the Isles for 14 straight games.

Islanders vs. Flyers 2nd Period Intermission/Post-game Report

Let me get this out of the way - Hartnell swings like a girl.

So as Angie mentioned, this is the first game in years I have missed in Philly when the Isles play. Since the Isles seem unable to get over their inferiority complex with this team, maybe not being at the game will somehow magically spell out a win for the Isles, one that I am watching on my computer. Although I would have liked to see Martin Biron in net today, Dwayne Roloson may be the Isle we thank for shaking things up and firing up his team. Just seeing the change in the Isles physical game during the 2nd period gives me hope that this may be the game when the Isles FINALLY stand up to their playground bully. 



Ok so they stood up to the Flyers but didn't win. Seems the 2nd period vibe was left somewhere in the locker room and not brought out on ice for the 3rd. It was nice to see the Isles begin to unravel the Flyers - I've been waiting to see that for many many years. So it's back to the games in Philly and come to think of it - there is no place I'd rather be WHEN the Isles finally beat the Flyers in Philly but sitting amongst Flyers fans loudly sporting Orange, White & Blue.

Josh Bailey - Thanks for stepping up this season and not getting lost between #91 and #21. Keep carving out your spot.

Blake Comeau being scratched against this team again continues as an annoying mystery.  

Preview: Isles @ Flyers, 1.30.10 Wachovia Center

While the Philadelphia Flyers have managed to get back to winning ways, the Islanders are somewhat on the skids after losing three in a row.

What's to blame?

Not youth, not inexperience, not Rick DiPietro or Dwayne Roloson or Scott Gordon. A simple failure to execute plays. Think about it. We have virtually the same lineup when we were winning six in a row at home, with the exception of Dustin Kohn. Andy Sutton gets suspended, he comes back, and all of a sudden the Isles are afraid to play their game. They stop finishing checks, they stop doing anything that works, and as such, they start losing games. Not good.

Maybe a bout with the Flyers- tough customers (sometimes dirty, but we won't get into that)- will help liven them up a bit. The key is to get physical without fighting, because fighting throws them off their game- just focus, sustain the forecheck, use the neutral zone better, get bodies in front of the opposing net and keep the Flyers away from your goalie- oh, and try not to get in the way yourself. Sounds like a lot, I know, but you were doing it so well before the Pittsburgh game.

Players to Watch: Jeff Carter- a known Isle-killer- and Daniel Carcillo, who has three goals in five games and will be only too happy to mix it up with someone given the chance. On the Isles, watch out for Kyle Okposo, who has nine points in 11 games, and Matt Moulson, who scored the only goal of the Hurricanes game the other night.

This is the first game at the Wachovia Center in years that Christine won't be at, so she figures the Isles are going to win, and that means she'll never be able to go to a game again. She also hopes no one's gotten hit by large objects this time. :)


P.S. Trevor Gillies is in the lineup as an enforcer. Blake Comeau is a healthy scratch. Last minute, sorry.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Isles Can't Find Winning Formula

Islanders 1: Hurricanes 4

When you're more interested in your hair than what's going on during the Isles game, you know it's a bad night for the Long Island boys.

Indeed, the Islanders could not get anything going against the Carolina Hurricanes and thus lost another one, 4-1, at the RBC Center last night. And I? I was busy getting rid of some split ends, which I hardly ever do during hockey. But that's how it was.

All feminine worries aside, the game last night was frustrating on many different levels. The 'Canes only needed two goals in the first period and two goals in the third to put it out of reach for New York: the second period came to naught but a defensive stalemate. The Isles fall to 23-23-8 and stay in 13th place in the conference, and have only scored 6 goals in the last 4 games.

It happened like this. First, on a Carolina power play, Eric Staal powered to the front of the net on a pass from Matt Cullen, got off one shot which Rick DiPietro stopped, then collected the rebound and put it home. DiPietro struggled with rebounds a bit in this match, and not even three minutes after Staal's goal he allowed a bit of a softie by Cullen at a bad angle. The one line that happened to show some signs of life in the first was the "BTO" line- Josh Bailey, John Tavares and Kyle Okposo- which worked hard and forechecked with vigor. Their only flaw was their failure to get the puck past Cam Ward, who made some good saves. The team played well 5-on-5; the only problem was, they kept taking penalties which broke up the flow of their game.

The second, as I stated before, was more of a defensive battle than anything. The Isles were once again letting the Hurricanes bowl them over (at the start of the period, Carolina led New York 8-2 in hits) and not getting bodies to the front of the net. The third opened with a bit more verve from the Isles- they outshot the 'Canes 7-2 at one point, and all looked good. But then a bad mistake on the PP led to the game being practically over.

Mark Streit lost the puck along the near boards, and Stephane Yelle picked it up in the neutral zone. Doug Weight was back covering the odd-man rush that resulted, and Streit wasn't quick enough to help out as Yelle blasted it past DiPietro to make it 3-0. After Matt Moulson scored to make it 3-1, Jussi Jokinen got an empty-netter to end the game.

Perhaps the only bright spot here was Moulson's goal, which is his 20th of the season. He is the first player to reach 20 goals this year for the Islanders. Not bad for a guy who came out of nowhere in the beginning of the season, is it?It'll be interesting to see if he can score 30 by the end of the season.

Well, it's back on the road for the Isles, as they take on Philadelphia in a matinee game at the Wachovia Center tomorrow afternoon. 1 p.m. start, 12:30 pregame on MSG Plus. Be there. Howie Rose will be back on the broadcast, after Kenny Albert (the Rangers' announcer? Really?) subbed for this game and the Washington game.

Notes: Dustin Kohn, newly recalled once more, paired with Freddy Meyer on the blueline, while Andy Sutton played alongside Andrew MacDonald and Mark Streit played with Bruno Gervais (that pairing did not have a good outing, by the way)... Cullen and Staal each scored a goal and an assist, while the top line of Staal, Whitney and Jokinen played quite well... DiPietro made 20 saves, while Ward made 26.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Preview: Isles @ Hurricanes, RBC Center 1.28.10

The Hurricanes are fresh off a 5-1 drubbing of the offense-starved New York Rangers. The Isles, not-so-fresh off of a 7-2 drubbing by the high-flying Washington Capitals.

This should be good.

"Good", as in interesting to see whether fatigue gets the better of the 'Canes, and whether the Isles will shake off the disappointment and take advantage.

The last time these two teams met was on November 13, 2009. Kyle Okposo had just come back from a bout with H1N1 and put the game away in overtime, proving that neither the flu nor Hurricanes can take him down. (Wink, wink.) This time, though, while the 'Canes have the worst record in the league (17-28-7, 41 points), they've won two in a row, both by scores of 5-1 (Bruins and Rangers, respectively). They also have quite a bit of offensive prowess in the form of Eric Staal, Ray Whitney and Jussi Jokinen, so the Isles will be wise to try and shut those guys down.

As far as goaltending goes, Cam Ward has been on point lately, it seems; the Isles would do wise to pressure and really test him early on, and not shoot to the chest like the Rangers were doing last night. It's also up to the defense to push the 'Canes to the outside and not let them crash the net on either Dwayne Roloson or Rick DiPietro. With Jack Hillen out for 6-8 weeks with a broken jaw, they will look to newly recalled (again) Dustin Kohn to help out in that respect.

The Isles have to get back on point somehow. They're a small team, but during their six-game home winning streak, they were putting on the body well, playing physically and aggressively. It can be done here; as is obvious, when they finish their checks, they win games. We'll see how that goes tonight.

Game time is 7:00 p.m.; pregame, 6:30. You can see this one, as usual, in HD on MSG Plus.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

In the Words of Gordon... A "Reality Check"

Capitals 7: Islanders 2

I don't think anyone was prepared for what was to transpire last night at Nassau Coliseum- least of all Jack Hillen.

The young defenseman took a shot by Alexander Ovechkin right to the mouth, went down in a heap and had to be taken to the hospital, bloody and likely missing more than a few teeth.

That moment, while scary and unsettling, provided the parallel for perhaps the whole game for the Isles- for them, playing the Capitals was like taking a puck to the teeth.

The Capitals capitalized on their strength, speed and talent and blitzed the Isles, 7-2, in a game that was incredibly uncharacteristic for the Isles as of late. Whereas Washington was flying high on an incredible 9-0-1 record in their last ten, the Isles couldn't catch a break and later looked as though they didn't even want one.

Jose Theodore and Dwayne Roloson started this game; Michal Neuvirth and Rick DiPietro ended it. Roloson allowed four goals on 12 shots in the first period- two by Alex Semin, one by Mike Knuble and one by Brendan Morrison- and didn't come back in the second. Theodore, on the other hand, only gave up two goals- one by Rob Schremp, the other by Kyle Okposo- but Neuvirth started the third period, raising concern about injury or illness for Theo. At any rate, Neuvirth didn't have much to do, and for that matter neither had Theodore- the Islanders were sluggish and unable to get much going offensively, though they hit a couple of posts. Ultimately I believe the problem was getting past the larger, stronger and aggressive defense. Not only that, but their reluctance to play physically also hurt them. When they're aggressive and on point and finish their checks, they keep up with and even outplay teams that may have more talent than them. That wasn't the case here; maybe it was because they were in awe of guys like Ovechkin and Semin, maybe because they knew they were outsized. Either way, not a good showing by the Isles.

Not seeming incredibly angry about the result, coach Scott Gordon saw it as a learning curve of sorts. Paraphrasing what I heard from him in last night's postgame, he said the Caps were in the same spot as the Isles a few years ago; now, they are arguably one of the best teams in the league, only a few pieces away from being a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. It's something the Isles can look forward to (perhaps) becoming; with the core of youth they have at this point, anything is possible. Either way, they are still a team to watch.

John Erskine, Jason Chimera, and Brooks Laich also scored for the Capitals; meanwhile, Ovechkin was held pointless for the ninth time this season. Little matter, though; everyone else clearly picked up the slack. They were 1-for-2 on the power play, and the Isles were 1-for-5.

UPDATE: Hillen will be out 6-8 weeks for the Islanders with a broken jaw and damaged teeth after taking Ovechkin's shot to the face. He had surgery last night. All the best to him, and we hope he recovers quickly.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Twenty Minutes Not Enough

Devils 3: Islanders 2

One would think, after playing the Canadiens last night, that fatigue would catch up to the New Jersey Devils, but that wasn't so. Not at all. In fact, they had just the start they were looking for. It was the home team, looking for their seventh straight win on their own ice, that was the one to worry about.

Kyle Okposo was visibly annoyed when he had his interview with Rob Carlin during the first intermission. "We didn't come to play tonight," he opined, and in many ways he was correct. The Devils had outshot the Isles, sustained more pressure in the offensive zone, and Jamie Langenbrunner had put the puck past Rick DiPietro to get the Devils to a 1-0 start. The Isles looked far from the dominant team that had taken the ice on Monday, and Okposo knew it.

So the team regrouped, and in the second, Colin White took a five-minute major for boarding Sean Bergenheim that turned everything around. First was Okposo, who gathered in the puck after John Tavares whiffed on it and put it right past Brodeur's left pad. Then Jack Hillen threw a shot from the point that Brodeur and Bryce Salvador accidentally knocked past the goal line. 2-1 Isles, and everything was looking good. The Isles held the Devils to only that one shot in the entire period.

But then noted Isles-killer Zach Parise got a break, putting the puck off of Freddy Meyer and into the back of the net in the final minute of the second to tie it, and somehow that got the Isles off-track again. They got Bergenheim back, swollen nose and all, but it didn't help. New Jersey started to buzz, and now it was the Isles who couldn't get shots on goal and who were flubbing passes. And then Salvador redeemed himself for the own goal, receiving the puck from Rob Niedermayer off the faceoff and burying it as the rest of the Devils screened DiPietro in front. Parise got a second goal, scoring on the empty net to seal it for New Jersey.

Not much else to say about this game, other than it was not the Isles' best. They have one more home game on Tuesday night against the Capitals before going on a rather lengthy road trip.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Shootout Win Keeps Isles in Eighth

Panthers 1: Islanders 2 (SO)

Okay, so, seeing as this game was somewhat boring until the final period, I think a nice round of "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly" will suffice.

The Good:

- Rob Schremp. How amazing is this guy in the shootout? I mean, the moves he pulls are incredible, and last night was no exception. No wonder they call him "Bob the Builder"; he can pretty much fix anything, even goalies!

- speaking of shootouts, Matt Moulson is 3-for-4 this season in them. I love his signature move- he fakes the goalies out by pretending to go backhand and then switches back to forehand to put it right over the shoulder. He sealed the deal for the Isles last night, had four shots, four hits, one blocked shot and one missed shot, and was great defensively.

- Dwayne Roloson. The guy was as sharp as he needed to be and was outstanding in OT and on the PK.

-on the other side, Tomas Vokoun in net for the Panthers. The guy is just as athletic as Roloson, and made some great saves, including a beauty of a glove save on Doug Weight to keep the score tied. No wonder he's on his way to the Olympics for the Czech Republic.

- Overtime in general. Blake Comeau takes a penalty, and the three remaining on the ice- Richard Park (I believe), Jack Hillen and Frans Nielsen bust their butts to keep the game going, even after Hillen breaks his stick. Also credit Mark Streit with a huge hit on a Panther that freed up the puck and got it out of the zone.

-Dustin Kohn in the lineup for Andy Sutton, and the defense overall. They played a great game even without their top 4 defenseman there, and Kohn was good. He had good positioning and presence on the ice, and even notched an assist on Blake Comeau's goal in regulation.

- the crowd. Wow, were they ever loud, and it wasn't even a sellout. They really were into it, and that's exactly how you want them to be. Nassau Coliseum isn't the best of arenas, but it was certainly jumping last night as the Isles got the shootout win.

The Bad:

- the Isles' start. They played well defensively, not letting Roloson get tested too much; however, their offense wasn't great. They weren't moving the puck well at all through the neutral zone, and as such could not establish a forecheck, which meant the puck went the other way all too often.

- some of the passing decisions. Um, not to the skates, to the stick. And not to where a bunch of Panthers are, but to one of your teammates. Please? Thanks.

The Ugly:

-Just one of these, and it was the officiating. I mean, come on. Kyle Okposo gets thrown down twice with a crosscheck, Kerry Fraser's standing right there... and he DOESN'T BLOW THE WHISTLE. No wonder Okposo was screaming at him as he stormed back to the bench without a stick. Not only that, but the call on Jon Sim for goalie interference? Really? Terrible. He was pushed into Tomas Vokoun. The crowd only got more emotional because of it.

At any rate, the Isles were able to pull out a win, and make up for a not-so-great first period. Next up: another matchup with the Devils on Saturday at home. I hope it's as good as the one on Monday was. (I also hear whispers that Rick DiPietro will start this game... who knows.)


Notes: Best of luck to Nate Thompson, who was picked up on waivers by Tampa Bay yesterday and did not play against Toronto last night... There were only four penalties in all called last night, all of them in the third period and overtime, three of them going to the Islanders and two of them to Jon Sim.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sutton Gets Two Games

Isles D Andy Sutton has received a two-game suspension for his hit on Pens forward Pascal Dupuis, as stated on Twitter by Chris Botta and Katie Strang. Much better than I expected, considering the inconsistency of Colin Campbell. Also, Nate Thompson has been put on waivers due to the suspension, so the Isles can make a roster move. Let's see how this goes.

Drumroll, Please...

So, I'm sure everyone has seen the hit by Andy Sutton on Pascal Dupuis by now, and they have their own opinions on it. If you haven't seen it, here's a link on YouTube.


Basically, near the end of the third period, Pascal Dupuis takes the puck in behind the Islanders' net, and Sutton plows him into the boards, knocking him out and drawing a substantial amount of blood. This was an awful hit, and Sutton knew it, expressing his concern for former teammate Dupuis and taking full responsibility for his actions. This, however, is definitely not enough to avoid a suspension from Colin Campbell.

Let's face it, this hit wasn't a great one. Sutton could have exercised a bit more restraint, and Dupuis definitely could have put himself into a better, less vulnerable position along the boards, and both of these together made for a bad situation. As Sutts, the Islanders, and fans wait for a verdict on a suspension from the league, I only hope that the Isles won't get too burned by not having him in the lineup; Sutton is a top 4 D on our team, after all. He gives our lineup much-needed size, can move the puck, and usually throws hits only when necessary and without drawing a penalty. This was somewhat out of character for him, but here's to hoping he's learned his lesson and won't hit when he sees the numbers right in front of him. And I don't think he will; he's not a dirty player. This was just a mistake on his part.

My verdict: Sutton gets around 3-5 games. Enough to alter the lineup for a while, but hopefully we won't miss him too much. Expect another post soon to follow up. And of course, all our concern goes to Pascal Dupuis for a quick recovery.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Day to Remember...

Devils 0: Islanders 4

So, where on Earth to begin with this post?

A week ago, a lovely person I know named Emily, aka vulcansmuse on Twitter, Facebook messaged me about perhaps making it to an NHL Tweetup, where hockey fans on Twitter get together and have a grand old time watching the game and talking about everything. I said, "Sure, let me see if Christine is up for it," and before I knew it, I was headed for my first ever NHL GAME, let alone the Tweetup.

So, Monday morning comes, and I wake up as excited as a kid on Christmas morning. I do everything I need to do, shower, pull on a gray long sleeved shirt and my blue Mark Streit tee, and hop on the L train to meet Christine. After a bit of walking around trying to find a Starbucks (that I honestly for the life of me COULD NOT FIND), we find each other and set off on our epic journey... to Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Let me just say right now, perhaps the best part of the entire trip was the GPS. It speaks to you in this robotic female British accent, and pronounces "Street" "S-T" when it's abbreviated. Not only that, but it got us confused more than once, throwing us first onto the LIE, then onto the Grand Central Parkway. I think it might have wanted us to get into an accident or something. Thankfully, however, we got to the barn in one piece, and once I got there, I was transfixed.

Okay, so the Coliseum needs a ton of work. That we know. But I had never been there. And after seeing it so many times on TV, I never in my life thought that one day I would actually be there. So in spite of the narrow concourse and steep stairs, and the packed parking lot that made us worry we wouldn't be able to get tickets, once we got into the actual arena, my heart leapt. I actually ran up to see what was going on before Christine told me we had to wait until the whistle. Still, I couldn't believe my eyes; Martin Brodeur was right there on our end of the ice, and the Moulson-Nielsen-Hunter line was forechecking with a vengeance. At this point, it was already 2-0, and Moulson had scored his first of the day, along with the player I was repping, Mark Streit.

The rest of the game was amazing. The Devils looked somewhat flat and uninspired, while the Isles really took it to them. Josh Bailey and Moulson (again) would score before it was over, and Rick DiPietro made 20 saves to pitch his first shutout of the season. It was a game that I can hardly believe I was at, even now, and one that I will relive in my head (and on my iPod- I have a 30-second piece of the game recorded, yay for new iPod nano!) for weeks. And during the second intermission I met up with Emily, Nick (LetThereBeLH) and Mike (tavarescountry), all cool people who I saw again at the Tweetup.

Best part of it all? Hearing people honking their horns to "Let's Go Islanders!" on their way out of the Coliseum. I love hearing fans celebrate like that, and it made me feel really happy- like I was a part of something big. That's a wonderful feeling.

On to the Tweetup we went after a quick Starbucks run, and we had a bit of a problem getting into the place at first- I tried going through a door that wasn't a door (don't ask). Once we got into the Main Event in Plainview, though, we met more great people- Doug (NYIsles10), Katrina (Katrina_Doell), Carlos (SpeakoftheDevs), Vanessa (hkygrl12), Colleen (ctull13), and of course Dani, the hostess (dani3boyz), among others. We had some great conversation and laughed a lot, and they made us feel right at home. Time pretty much flew by, and we left at almost 9 feeling content. And we had trouble leaving the place as well (the door just would not open!).

On the way home, we laughed once more at the GPS and cracked some silly jokes about hockey player names, both of us fairly tired and ready to just go to sleep like babies. I give Christine tons of credit and appreciation- she came out from New Jersey yesterday morning, to go out to Long Island with me for the day, to go back into the city and go home. That is a Brendan Witt type of resilience right there. Kudos and many thanks to my wonderful co-blogger for taking me on this crazy, awesome adventure, and here's to a few more! :D


Notes: The Isles outshot New Jersey 46-20 and went 1-4 on the PP... Moulson had 7 shots on goal and the first star of the game... P.S. The Isles have to do something about the display on the screen that winds around the top of the Coliseum after a goal. The players' eyes peeking up just over the edge? That looks kind of weird. No offense... Jeff Tambellini, Nate Thompson and Martin Biron were all healthy scratches for the Isles.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Billy Jaffe- A Great Mix of Color and Character

Five years ago, I became a lifelong Islanders fan. I watched as many games as I could, cried over bad times and smiled over the good, and grew to love Howie Rose and Joe Micheletti, the broadcast team for the Isles.

Then, one year after getting into the game, a guy came along named Billy Jaffe. I instantly didn't like him. I thought he was way too enthusiastic, and I couldn't get used to him after listening to Joe. But there was nothing I could do- unfortunately, I have nothing to do with Isles broadcasts, heh- and so I just sat back and listened.

Soon, however, I found myself getting used to, then liking, what I was hearing. I started to learn an incredible amount about the game, and with Jaffe's breakdowns I could follow the game even more than I could with Joe. He explains plays and sequences with great detail, and seems to really enjoy what he's doing. Not only that, but his chemistry with Howie Rose makes the broadcasts a great experience whether the Isles are up by 5 or down by 10. I'll find myself laughing even after the opposing team has scored on the power play, just because of some kind of gaffe or joke between the two of them.

Now, four years later, I have grown to love the pairing of Rose and Jaffe, and with Billy in the last year of his contract, I'm hoping to God MSG doesn't lose him or move him. As a color commentator, he's one of the best in the business, and I know that anyone who gets him on their broadcasts long-term will be as lucky as we are to have him as an Isles broadcaster. But I'd love for us to be lucky a little while longer. So, MSG, do whatever you can to keep this guy with us!! Anyone else coming in, even a great character guy, would definitely be a downgrade.

So here's to you, Billy!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Isles' Schremp Looking Better and Better

For the Isles' Robbie Schremp, it hasn't exactly been an easy start. Claimed off waivers in late September from Edmonton, he was scratched for quite a few games during the beginning of the season, and had trouble finding his groove. However, now that he's become a regular in the lineup once more, Schremp is showing just what he can do.

In the last five games, the center has tallied three goals and four assists, and he has long shown his prowess in the shootout with some decisive goals there. He credits the upswing in his play as a result of heightened confidence.

"I know what I'm capable of, and it's just a matter of getting confidence and building the trust and respect of the guys on the team and the coaches to get on the ice and do this stuff," he said in the recap on the Isles' website following last night's 6-0 shutout against the Detroit Red Wings, in which he had his first career two-goal game.

No doubt he's looked much more confident. He's been getting to the front of the net more, and has been able to show off not only his arsenal of shooting skills but his hand-eye coordination. Four games ago, against the Colorado Avalanche, he swatted home a rebound by Frans Nielsen in mid-air, just below the crossbar. It was one of the most incredible goals I think I've ever seen, and it's a testament to how skilled Schremp really is.

With 14 points now under his belt and a renewed spring in his step on the ice, Schremp is looking to show his teammates, coaches and the fans on Long Island that he belongs here. And if he keeps having games like the one last night, he'll prove it for sure.

Isles Take Care of Business

Red Wings 0: Islanders 6 (no, you don't have to adjust a thing)

Name a player who's won 6 of the last 8 Norris trophies and played over 1,300 NHL games.

Name another player who's won 2 Selke Awards for best defensive forward in the league, and 4 Lady Byng trophies for his gentlemanly play on the ice (though you wouldn't have guessed it last night)?

Hint: Both of them played for the other team.

Yet even with these illustrious achievements in their careers, neither Nicklas Lidstrom nor Pavel Datsyuk could help out the Red Wings, as the Islanders played what was perhaps their best, more complete effort this season- a full 60-minute game- to trounce Detroit, 6-0.

Rob Schremp with 2, Kyle Okposo, Mark Streit, Matt Moulson and Bruno Gervais all with one. These aren't names you hear all the time, not even Streit's, but no matter- they all played wonderfully, both individually and as a unit, and got two well-deserved points last night. It was both a shutout and a shootout, as the Isles outshot Detroit by a wide margin, and executed brilliant two-way play- sustaining a great forecheck and getting pucks past both Jimmy Howard and Chris Osgood (who took Howard's place after it became 3-0), but also getting all five men back in the defensive zone and covering with aggressive, smart plays, supporting each other to get the puck out of the zone and not allowing the Red Wings to pepper Dwayne Roloson with shots. The defense was also jumping into the play on the forecheck, evident by Gervais and Streit each with a goal and a primary assist. Freddy Meyer also had an assist on Gervais' goal.

Roloson didn't have much to do, though he did make several key stops late in the game, but he definitely deserves his 24th career shutout after providing the Isles with excellent play and much-needed veteran presence for much of the season. He automatically got the #1 star of the game for the shutout, with Streit and Schremp getting the #2 and #3, respectively. And the defense in front of him was superb: not only were players like Andy Sutton and Jack Hillen making great plays, but forwards came back and helped out, alleviating the pressure the much-bigger Red Wings may have put on the D. Granted, this Red Wings team has been battered by injuries and isn't at the same standard as in years past, but they are still somewhat formidable, even outside of the playoff race, and full credit goes to the Isles for keeping that in mind and bringing their A game.

All in all, this was a great win, and one that the Islanders needed to stay close to the playoff picture. Next up: we'll have to wait until Saturday for the Isles to get back onto the ice, against the Sabres on Saturday night at home once more. The Sabres are not the same team they were last year; they're looking much better, so the Isles are going to have to find the same magic they had last night and use it against an Eastern Conference foe.


Notes: Streit now has 2 power-play goals in two games... Okposo has extended his goalscoring streak to four games... Josh Bailey now has a seven-game pointscoring streak (how about all these streaks, man? Love it)... Sean Bergenheim returned to the lineup after missing 18 games with a rib injury. He played on the fourth line with Jon Sim and Doug Weight and had 12:58 TOI and one shot... to make room for Bergie, Brendan Witt has been placed on IR with a lower body injury, and Nate Thompson was a scratch.

(EDIT: Lidstrom, not Backstrom. My bad. Too many Nicklas' in the NHL. :))

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Just getting around to checking out game results for tonight -

Islanders beat Wings 6-0 and Tampa Bay beat Washington 7-4?

Thank you Islanders organization for getting rid of the blinding orange background on the NYI website - the blue is soooo much better.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Another Night, Another Shootout For Isles

Islanders 5: Coyotes 4 (SO)

It should be no surprise to us by now. The Islanders just don't like leads, apparently, because they give up plenty of them. Last night, it was the same old story, only if possible more outrageous.

It all started with an elbow.

No, seriously, an elbow. Ed Jovanovski received a five-minute major for catching John Tavares up high and got thrown out of the game while the Isles and Coyotes were tied at 1. The delayed penalty situation allowed Kyle Okposo to score a goal (his third in three games), and although the Isles did nothing on the ensuing power-play, a serious coaching error gave them a huge advantage.

Because Jovanovski (who had scored the Coyotes' only goal to date) had been thrown out of the game, and the penalty had come in the last minute of the period, Phoenix went back out for the second period needing to put another player into the penalty box. However, Dave Tippett and the coaching staff forgot all about it- and ended up paying dearly. Play didn't stop after the penalty ended for almost five minutes, partly thanks to the smarts of goalie Dwayne Roloson- noticing the Isles were still on a man-advantage, he kept playing the puck every time the Coyotes tried to ice it, keeping play going. It took a forced penalty to get a whistle, and the Islanders used the power play- and then 5-on-3, as the Coyotes kept taking silly penalties out of frustration- to their advantage. Mark Streit scored his first goal in about a month and a half on the 5-on-3, and then Josh Bailey added a goal to his two assists for his first career three-point night. That chased goalie Ilya Bryzgalov out of the game and brought in Jason LaBarbera.

Then, as quickly as momentum had shifted the Isles' way, a bad penalty call on Jack Hillen (really an offensive interference penalty by Shane Doan) turned things around for the Coyotes. They started pressuring Roloson, and then got lucky; a fluky goal went off his glove, and was credited to fourth-liner Paul Bissonnette. Then the Isles were the ones looking tired, chasing the play, and running all over the place, while the Coyotes used their size and strength to get to the front of the net and baffle Roli. Taylor Pyatt scored, then Peter Mueller, and just like that it was 4-4 and the Isles were headed to overtime. Again.

Overtime was shaky at best, and just like that, yet another shootout commenced. Frans Nielsen and Robert Lang scored in the first round, Rob Schremp and Peter Prucha both missed, and then Lauri Korpikoski gave the Coyotes the advantage. It was up to the hot hand, Josh Bailey, and he came through, keeping the Isles in it. Afterward, it was a battle of wits, as Radim Vrbata, Okposo, Mueller, Tavares and Doan all missed, and finally, Matt Moulson was able to fire it right through LaBarbera to give the Isles the much-needed second point. Still, they remain one point behind ninth-place Philadelphia, and with the way they're playing, it's going to take everything they have to catch up. All in all, this was a baffling game, and one that the Islanders were lucky to keep in hand after losing a commanding lead.

Next up is a game at home on Tuesday, against a very hot Detroit Red Wings team which, despite going 5-1-1 in their last seven, is still fighting for a playoff spot themselves. Who would have thought? Though it's East vs. West, this should be an interesting matchup- and one I'll be hoping to see the Isles win. Seeing as somehow they manage to show up against better teams every so often, maybe Tuesday night shall see some of the same.


Notes: Congrats to captain Doug Weight, who played in his 1200th game last night at Jobing.com arena. Last year, he'd scored his 1000th and 1001st points in the same building... Brendan Witt was a healthy scratch this game, making room for Freddy Meyer on the roster. Witt has been struggling all season and is a -18... Bailey now has points in six straight games.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

DiPietro In Net as Isles Fall Short

Islanders 3: Stars 4

Well, it wasn't a bad start. Wasn't a good one, either.

Filled to the brim with mistakes and missed calls, this matchup between the Stars and Isles at American Airlines Center was probably entertaining from a fan's perspective, if maddening for the respective coaches of each team. The one person everyone's eyes were on, though, no matter the score, was the goaltender in net for New York.

Rick DiPietro made his first start since January 2, 2009, and turned aside 24 of 28 shots as the Isles lost to the Stars, 4-3. The Islanders got goals from Josh Bailey, Kyle Okposo, and Frans Nielsen on bad turnovers by the Stars; however, Dallas prevailed, throwing all they had and then some on DiPietro and ultimately getting the edge.

Some highlights of the game:

- the biggest of all, DiPietro was okay, not spectacular in net, but I'd like to see you try getting into a net after a year of rehab and looking any better. His reaction time got better over the course of the game, and his lateral movements were all right. He did allow a bad rebound for Brad Richards' game-winning goal in the second period, but with Andy Sutton and Nate Thompson both right in front of him, you would think one of them would've seen it and cleared it. Not the case, and Richards gets a gimme for his 13th of the year. The D otherwise tried their best to help out, doing a good job in the beginning but getting steadily sloppier over time. Overall, not sharp, but expected. It's going to take a while to get there.

- talk about mistakes. Marty Turco, in net for the Stars, is likely not happy with his overall performance; though he did get the win (just scraped by), he definitely didn't handle the puck well and was shaky at best throughout the match. One rebound in the first ends up being Bailey's 10th of the year to tie it at three; he turns his back to the play and ends up not even seeing Kyle Okposo's goal go past him; then, he completely flubs a clearing attempt instead of freezing the puck, has Matt Moulson strip him and hit Nielsen with a pass for Nielsen's first goal in six games, and 7th of the year.

-I would have liked to see more sustained offensive pressure from the Isles based on Turco's performance; however, it didn't happen. The Isles had all sorts of trouble clearing the puck out of their own zone and allowed Dallas to maintain possession, and the Stars were only too happy to throw all they had and then some at a cold DP. The best offensive pressure all game, in my opinion, was in the last minute of the game with an extra skater on for New York. Jack Hillen just missed Turco's glove side, and then John Tavares hit the post on a backhand shot. Turco, meanwhile, apparently chose a good time to channel Marty Brodeur, making a couple of good saves to preserve the two points for his club. Too little, too late for the Isles.

- How well is Josh Bailey playing lately? One goal, one assist tonight, and a five-game points streak. Even Scott Gordon admits he looks stronger on the ice and is gaining confidence, now unafraid to go to the net and shoot. I also think it helps that he's playing more with Kyle Okposo- those two had good chemistry last season, and when Okposo got moved around on different lines, first with Tavares at center and then Nielsen, Bailey never really found his groove again. Here's to hoping it works out for Josh!

- let's not talk about the refs missing a fair few calls, now, shall we? Oy.

With all of that said, the Isles will try it again, this time likely with Martin Biron in net, in Phoenix at 6 pm. Pregame, 5:30. Be there.

Back to Basics for DiPietro

Ten years ago, the Islanders selected an energetic, talented young goaltender from Massachusetts as the first overall pick in the NHL Draft, and started to groom him as the face of the franchise.

Now, that same goalie, with some differences, made his first start in a year last night after yet another surgery and rehab.

If you're Rick DiPietro, no doubt you're relieved by now to once more get the chance to play in the NHL, after all you've been through. Indeed, DiPietro was shaping up as one of the elite goalies in the league during the 2007-08 season, complete with an All-Star nod, when he injured his hip during the skills competition. He made it through the weekend, but the damage was done, and later on in the season he bowed out and went for surgery. The season after, 2008-09, he played a grand total of five games, experienced complications with his surgery, and took more time off to get things straightened out.

To his admittance, it was rough going. Not only do you deal with the physical stress of rehab and therapy, you also have to take into account the emotional and mental duress one is under when his job (and his dream) is in jeopardy: the wonders of how long it will take, or if it will work, and of course... would he ever play again? DiPietro said to reporters yesterday before the game against Dallas that he did wonder about that, and the depression associated with those thoughts did get to him (as it would any player), but that he listened to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's words after his comeback from injury (he missed the entire of last football season and the Pats missed the playoffs) and learned to appreciate what he has as a professional athlete.

All in all, the experience makes for a more humbled, more mature (no doubt) and perhaps a more tentative goaltender in Rick DiPietro, who knows to make the smart play and not to do too much in his first few games back for the Islanders. Last night's game was of course not his best game as an Isle; he let up a bad rebound that cost the Isles the game, and he knew it as he got back up for the ensuing face-off. But no one said that this wouldn't be expected. It takes a lot for a player at any position, after so many injuries and surgeries, to get back up to scratch, and he's got his work cut out for him. It's clear that he and the coaching staff know that, and are ready to do whatever they have to in order to improve his game and help him become consistent.

Here's to hoping it all works out.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Tavares Supposedly in Slump, DP Supposedly in Net

Soooo while stopping by nhl.com I stumbled upon an article written by John Kreiser about John Tavares supposedly being in "the first prolonged slump of his brief NHL career". 

Really Mr. Kreiser? Are you in a writing slump? Seems to me that you are if you have to write about a prolonged (that word use slays me) slump of a 19 year old who has spent oh let's see...under three months in the NHL? Guess there would not be a slump to write about if he didn't score all those goals and if he wasn't, despite this awful PROLONGED slump, leading rookies in points and goals. 

One of the self-imposed guidelines I have for watching/writing about the Isles is that I don't focus a lot on/about team newbies.  Maybe it's a carry over from working with younger athletes as they transition from level to level in sports or watching poor transitions in the NHL (that drives me bonkers considering the resources available in professional sports). Rookies should be treated like the word is defined; mentored and nurtured (yeah even boys need to be nurtured people) and kept protected while they get their footing. It's a subtle process if an athlete is going for longevity in a sport and no matter what rookies expect of themselves, it's not worth burn out. Hey did you know that the change in sounds that surround a player while on ice can influence their performance? Everything matters, to what degree varies from athlete to athlete.  

In this article Tavares explains himself to a point, in my opinion that does more mindset harm than good, Scott Gordon addresses the issue, Kyle Okposo is quoted, good grief even Mike Bossy is quoted. Enough fellas. 

On an article side note - #91 & #21 if you keep calling something a 'grind', that is what it will remain...yeah that goes for you too #39. Try finding another word that authentically speaks to challenge, not pain.

As for Rick DiPietro returning to the net tonight in Dallas? Wait and see. If following his heart means he plays in the NHL, so be it. I would like to request that he stop publicly apologizing for getting hurt/being gone and am putting out an intention that he remains in his body while remaining in net. 

Cough you too cough cough #32 cough stay in body cough cough. 


Thursday, January 7, 2010

What. A. Game.

Islanders 3: Avalanche 2

That's all I have to say.

I don't think you could ask for a better matchup- two speedy teams with dynamic rookies. John Tavares in one corner, Matt Duchene in another. That was a storyline in itself: the tale of two youngsters in a heated race for the Calder Trophy, facing off against each other for the first time. I think it would've been a good one, had Dwayne Roloson and Rob Schremp not completely stolen the show.

The Avalanche struck first after Andy Sutton went to the penalty box for an interference call. Chris Stewart put a one-timer past Roloson at 2:48 of the first period. Toward the end of the period, Jon Sim got in front of Craig Anderson and whacked away at the puck, finally putting it past the Avs goalie for the tie at 18:10. It was a great, hard-working play, and closed out a solid period in which the Isles had to find their legs in the first few minutes, but were able to adjust and get their fair share of chances.

After that, things got interesting. Roli the Goalie came up big, stacking the pads on Duchene on one opportunity, and the offense started getting some good chances. After John-Michael Liles went to the box for holding the stick, Schremp showed his skills and collected a rebound from Frans Nielsen, batting it in- out of midair. The goal went under review, but slo-mo replay showed that Robbie had gotten his stick right under the crossbar, deeming it a good goal. Tell me this kid doesn't have amazing hand-eye coordination. Highlight-reel makers around the league must have been drooling.

After that, Jack Hillen took a silly penalty for tripping at 18:11 which killed the momentum a bit, but the penalty kill stood up tall and not only killed that one, but the subsequent one on Kyle Okposo at 1:34 of the third period. Roloson was nothing short of brilliant in this closing frame, making several key stops including a complete highway robbery of Duchene (again). After coughing up the puck along the boards (Bruno Gervais came in too close and couldn't get to it), Duchene got the pass in front of the back post, and Roli lunged over and grabbed the shot. Even though Matt Hendricks did get the tying goal midway through the period, Roloson was able to keep it just a tie, and then Kyle Okposo won it for the Isles with his seventh of the year late in the third, flying along the right side and firing it past Anderson's left shoulder.

This, of course, is the best I can do to explain the awesome game I saw on MSG Plus last night. You definitely had to be there or see it on TV to appreciate the way the Islanders played. It took them a while, but they were able to stay with the Avs and work hard for the win. And of course, it doesn't hurt having a brick wall like Roloson in net. He saved 30 shots in all, dazzling everyone. No doubt Rick DiPietro (!!!!!), who dressed as backup to Roli last night (and who's reported to be starting one of the two remaining games of this road trip- either Dallas or Phoenix), was watching closely. And now that he's back in the mix for the Islanders, expect a trade coming up soon... and unfortunately (though not unexpectedly) for Martin Biron, he may well be the odd goalie out.

We shall see how this turns out. For now, however, we gear up for any one of the three to be in net against Dallas on Friday.


Notes: Mark Streit had two assists... Jon Sim has scored goals in three straight games, and in four of his last five... Kyle Okposo has tied Matt Moulson and John Tavares in the team lead for points with 28, on 7 goals and 21 assists... call Billy Jaffe "Superman." The guy went from the Versus broadcast of Blackhawks vs. Wild in Chicago Tuesday night, straight to the airport in time to meet the team bus in Colorado for yesterday's pregame skate. Talk about tired!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Winning the Hard Way

Thrashers 5: Islanders 6 (SO)

So, all in all, one thing hasn't changed so far from 2009 to 2010- the Islanders' fantastic ability to induce heart attacks in their fans.

Somehow, the Thrashers always seem to push a game with us to overtime, and that was the case here. After coughing up a 3-0 lead and then a 5-3 one, the Islanders finally managed to dispose of them in the shootout, 6-5, on the goals of Jeff Tambellini and Frans Nielsen. Still, there never should have been need for a shootout in the first place.

This was yet another game that started out well for the Isles and then turned into one that the coaches no doubt were happy to see the end of. Dwayne Roloson was certainly not at his sharpest, with five goals allowed on 27 shots; then again, defense in general left much to be desired. Once again, I must call attention to one Mark Streit, who gave away the puck quite a few times last night, particularly on the power play. Scott Gordon has to change it up sometime, especially after that horrid excuse for a man-advantage in OT (the best chance for the Isles to put it away and avoid the shootout), and find someone other than Mark to quarterback the power play. I'm sure Jack Hillen, who's proven he has potential as an offensive defenseman, would be an okay choice to try out the PP, even if only for a couple of games. Something has to change, though, because even with captain Doug Weight back in the lineup, the PP looked anything but powerful against Atlanta.

As for the offense, it did very well, and it was heartening to see guys who haven't scored in a while- Josh Bailey, Trent Hunter and Richard Park, as well as Jon Sim and Matt Moulson- get the puck into the net. Aside from the atrocious power plays, the forecheck really tested the Thrashers D (which isn't known for aggression, granted) and did a good job with their passes, for the most part.

The officiating, however, was terrible. Honestly, the tying goal by Ilya Kovalchuk in the third period was on an easily debatable interference call on Jeff Tambellini. Not only that, but there were non-calls on both sides, leading me to wonder whether the refs secretly wanted a shootout or not... sheesh.

Still, a win's a win, and the Isles will definitely take this one. They face off next against Colorado on Wednesday, the 6th, on the first game of their Western Conference road trip.


Notes: The Isles are now 3-0 over the Thrashers in the 4-game season series... Rob Schremp, though he missed his chance in the shootout, was a perfect 6-6 in face-offs... Tim Jackman will miss a month with a broken orbital bone, shortly after returning to the lineup from a hip injury. That leaves us hard-pressed to find an enforcer within the lineup.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


All the Best to You in 2010

Angie & Christine

Friday, January 1, 2010

Team USA Announced

Here's the roster for the U.S. Men's Olympic Team, as feverishly copied down by me after the Winter Classic (Bruins won 2-1 in OT, awesome):

Forwards: David Backes;Dustin Brown; Ryan Callahan; Chris Drury; Patrick Kane; Ryan Kesler; Phil Kessel; Jamie Langenbrunner; Ryan Malone; Zach Parise; Joe Pavelski; Bobby Ryan; Paul Stasny

For Isles fans, notably, young RW Kyle Okposo was left off the list (which I won't comment on, seeing as that's a touchy subject for me =P); Chris Drury, however, in spite of his -7 and grand total of 14 points so far this season, will be headed to Vancouver, as will be Ryan Callahan with his 19 points and -11. Here's to hoping they, as well as the others on this list, will bring a lot to the table. Here's one thing I have to say: There is certainly youth and speed here. Zach Parise is a strong choice, as of course is Patrick Kane. We'll see how the offense turns out, I guess.

Defense: Eric Johnson; Jack Johnson; Mike Komisarek; Paul Martin; Brooks Orpik; Brian Rafalski; Ryan Suter

Komisarek's somewhat of a question mark, but I suppose you don't question Burke's methods.

Goal: Ryan Miller; Jonathan Quick; Tim Thomas

Best bet in goal? In my opinion, Ryan Miller. A well-deserved bid to the Olympics for him. Thomas is good when he doesn't let his temper get in the way; Quick, I don't know much about, but I'm not too sure. At any rate, congrats to everyone added.

P.S. With Okposo left off the roster, Mark Streit is our lone Islander headed to Vancouver for the Olympics. Congrats to him; that gives the other guys a chance to rest up a bit and regroup for the rest of the season.