Sunday, November 23, 2014

Isles Sweep Home & Home From Penguins

photo by zimbio

Tonight, our Islanders completed a home and home sweep of the Penguins by defeating them by a score of 4-1.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-Solid outing from Jaroslav Halak, good to see him continuing his solid play after his rough start.

-Nice tip by Lee on his goal which ended up being the game winner.

-Awesome crowd tonight, hopefully that continues for the rest of the month.

-With Grabner very close to returning, it is interesting that guys who hadn't scored yet are now scoring in bunches.

Well, if this doesn't send a message to the league, I don't know what will.  In a 4 game series against two of the top teams in the east, the Islanders went 3-1.  Can't ask for much better than that.  If the Islanders are able to run with this momentum, this could prove to be a turning point of their season.

Next Game: Monday @ home vs Philadelphia

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pre Game: Pens @ Islanders

Tonight, the Islanders and Penguins will finish their home and home with a tilt at the Coliseum.  Tonight the Islanders will also be honoring legendary goalie Billy Smith.  Season ticket holders and fans who purchased the special tradition on ice ticket package will receive a Billy Smith mini locker.

The goalie match up tonight features Thomas Greiss for the Penguins.  Meanwhile, Jaroslav Halak will be between the pipes for the Islanders.

The Islanders lineup will be the same as last nights 5-4 shootout victory over the Penguins.  Being able to sweep the home and home would be a huge confidence booster for the team and a statement to the league as well.  The team will have the support of the crowd as it is expected to be a sold out house tonight.

Isles Take Front End of Home & Home 5-4 in Shootout

photo by zimbio

Tonight, our Islanders kicked off a home and home with the Pittsburgh Penguins by defeating them by a score of 5-4 in a shootout.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-Another good game from Ryan Strome, it appears as though the kid is coming into his own right before our eyes and it is special to watch.

-Nice goal from Kulemin who isn't one who usually stick handles like that.

-Good to see Martin get on the board and a pretty solid overall effort from the 4th line tonight.

-The team was a little better with the play in their own zone but they still have to clean it up.  Penguins took advantage for a goal once and they were lucky to not be victimized more often.

-Lubomir Visnovsky has either regressed with age or is in a slump because he turns the puck over way more often than he should.  I feel like it is at least once or twice per period.  He needs to back to being the player the Islanders and Islander fans thought he was.

-Even with the positives to come out of tonight, one glaring negative is the play of Chad Johnson who yet again had a poor game.  I will not fault him on the first goal because of the tip or the third goal because of the poor play in front of him.  However, his positioning on the second goal was horrible.  Just in general, he doesn't give me a good feeling when teams take shots on him which is the opposite of what he was brought here to do.

Coming into the home and home I was hoping for at least a split of the games.  However, now with the victory tonight, the Islanders obviously have an advantage heading into tomorrow into what will likely be a sold out or close to sold out Nassau Coliseum which will be loud from the start til the end.  Being able to sweep this series will be a statement to the league and should be a huge confidence booster for the Islanders as well.

Next Game: Tomorrow, back end of the back to back vs Pittsburgh

Friday, November 21, 2014

Pre Game: Isles @ Penguins

photo by flickr

Tonight, our Islanders begin a home and home series with the Pittsburgh Penguins as they battle for first place in the division.

The goalie match up tonight features Chad Johnson for the Islanders.  Meanwhile, Marc Andre Fleury will be in net for the Penguins.

The Islanders will ice the same lineup as Tuesdays win against the Lightning.  Michael Grabner who has yet to play this season could return as soon as tomorrow.  He traveled with the team to Pittsburgh for tonights game.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Isles/Nets Exchange Jerseys

Photo by NYIslanders

Earlier tonight, these six Islanders traveled to Brooklyn to attend the Nets game at the Barclays Center.  Prior to the game, the players joined 6 Net players at center court as they exchanged jerseys with one another.  The Islanders will begin to call Barclays Center home in the 2015/2016 season.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Isles Exact Revenge on Lightning in 5-2 Victory

photo by zimbio

Tonight, our Islanders were able to get a little revenge on the Lightning after getting defeated by them on Saturday night.  The Islanders managed to come out on top in this one by a score of 5-2.  The Islanders win tonight moved them to 12-6 which is the best start the team has had since the 1987/1988 season, according to Eric Hornick.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-While Halak was solid tonight, he needs to work on his rebound control, that was a major issue for him in this one.

-The power play seemed better with the changes they made, however, it was still inconsistent.

-Great shot by Clutterbuck on his short handed goal.

-Good effort by Strome leading to his 3rd goal in 4 games.

-Fancy move from Cizikas to beat Nabokov for the Islanders final goal.

-With all the positives that came from tonights win, the team still needs to clean up their play in their own zone.  Far to often were they pinned in their own zone in part due to lazy play.

-Visnovsky and Hickey, particularly Visnovsky had some struggles tonight.  This isn't new for Visnovsky as I feel like he is a bit of a turnover machine at times always using his speed to get back and attempt to cover his mistakes.  Or relying on his partner to do so.

Although the first period wasn't their best, all in all tonight was a good showing from the team.  Also, a badly needed showing with the back to back with the Penguins looming this weekend.  With a sweep of the Penguins, the Islanders could find themselves in first place in the division by Sunday.

Next Game; Friday 7PM @ Pittsburgh

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Islanders Early Success Trickling Down the Organization

This post originally appeared on The Hockey Writers

Through 17 games, this season the Islanders are off to one of their best starts in franchise history sitting at 11-6.  The Islanders willingness to add payroll this off-season for the first time in over a half decade is a key reason the team is experiencing success.

The same can be said for the Islanders AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.  Previously, the Islanders simply didn't put the proper amount of funds into Bridgeport to give them the best ability to be successful which wasn't fair to the team or the fans.  However, this season, the team went out and signed guys like Harry Zolnierczyk and Kael Mouillierat to large AHL deals which have really paid off for the team.  Through 15 games, Bridgeport is off to arguably their best start in franchise history sitting at 10-4-0-1, good enough for the best record in the entire eastern conference.  With 60 goals scored as a team they also lead the entire AHL in goals for.  Were going to look at a couple of players who have been key contributors for the Sound Tigers early on this season, and then look at how similar elements have led to success for both the Islanders and Bridgeport.

Kevin Poulin

Kevin Poulin was a 5th round pick by the Islanders back in 2008 and at one point was viewed as a potential goalie of the future for the Islanders.  However, over the years that started to change as Poulin struggled in the Islanders system both in the AHL and the NHL.  His struggles got so bad that before Anders Nilsson announced that he would be going to Europe to play it was thought that the Islanders were going to cut Poulin and keep Nilsson.  Well, early on, Poulin is showing the Islanders may have been right to give him another chance as through 9 games Poulin has a 2.04 GAA and a .939 save percentage both of which would be the best numbers he has posted at any level in his career.  If he is able to continue this play throughout the season, that would certainly bode well for Bridgeport's success as well as his potential future with the Islanders.

Alan Quine

Quine was a 6th round pick by the Islanders just two years ago and is probably someone most fans haven't heard of.  If he manages to continue to play at the level he has been at though, it won't be long before everyone knows who he is.  Through 15 games this season, Quine leads the Tigers with 16 points and is on a 10 game point streak.  That is the highest point streak in the AHL thus far this season.  Quine is quickly emerging as a key player for the Sound Tigers moving forward.

Ryan Pulock

Pulock, a first round pick in 2013 seems to be developing nicely for the Islanders in his first professional season with the Sound Tigers.  Through 15 games this season, Pulock has dazzled fans in Bridgeport like he did in juniors for 4 years with his blistering shot already registering 6 goals and 10 points.  On top of the offensive contributions, Pulock has also been solid defensively posting a +8 +/- rating thus far which is always good to see from a defensive prospect.  Both the Islanders organization and Islander fans have high hopes for Pulock and if his early play is any indication the Islanders might have a gem here.

Harry Zolnierczyk

Zolnierczyk isn't someone who is new to the league as he has been around in the AHL since the 2010/2011 season.  In that time, he has also played 57 games in the NHL with the Flyers in a 4 liner/pest role and managed to put up 9 points and 83 penalty minutes.  Last season, he had a break out year in the AHL putting up 36 points in 57 games including 18 goals.  So far this season, he has proven that last season wasn't an admiration as he has put up 15 points in 15 games good for second on the Sound Tigers.  Zolnierczyk, as an older guy provides good leadership for the Tigers both now and going forward.

Similar Elements Contributing to Their Success

Although the Islanders play in the NHL and Bridgeport in the AHL, they are more alike than people realize.  Prior to this season, the Islanders brought in Jaroslav Halak and Chad Johnson to solidify the goal-tending, Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolay Kulemin to solidify the secondary scoring, and Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy on defense.  These guys, some more than others have been vital to the Islanders early season success.  Muck like the Islanders, Bridgeport seems to have solidified their goal-tending with the improved play of Kevin Poulin.  Harry Zolnierczyk improved the teams offense, and they are getting contributions form a new guy on defense in Ryan Pulock much in the way the Islanders are from Leddy and Boychuk.  You haven't been able to say this very often over the last 20+ years but it seems like it is a good time to be an Islanders fan.