Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Isles End 2013 On A High In Surprising 5-3 Win

 photo by TorontoSun

Tonight, our Islanders ended the 2013 calender year with a surprising 5-3 victory over the Boston Bruins.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-So this is what having a good power play feels like.  Now, I am not expecting them to keep up this pace for an extended period.  However, this should give them some confidence back moving forward.

-Kyle Okposo remains on fire!  At this rate I am going to be surprised if we don't hear his name announced for an invitation to Sochi tomorrow afternoon.  He has really carried over his late season/postseason play from last year to this season and its great to see.

-Tavares got the bounces tonight.  People may complain that he doesn't take a game over like Crosby or Ovechkin do.  While that's true, Tavares still has done his job quite well this currently placing 11th in the NHL in points at over one per game.

-Good to see Nielsen get back on the board after going cold for a couple games.

-Third goal wasn't one of Nabokov's finest but beyond that he was pretty solid tonight, especially in the third period he made some key saves.  He gave the Islanders every chance to win the game and that is all you can ask for from your goalie.

-Bad job by Hickey on Boston's third goal, he has to put more on it to get it around the boards.  Save for that though he has had a bit of an offensive explosion the last couple games like we've never seen so far in his time here.  It will be interesting to see if he can keep this up.

-It is immaterial now because we won but we actually had a sixth goal to that was scored in the first period but was wrongly disallowed.  Replays later in the game clearly showed the puck had crossed the line and was swept out of the net by a Bruins player before the official noticed.  If you missed it during the broadcast check it out below:

We couldn't have asked for a better way to end 2013.  The last two games we have shown some of the things that made this team successful last season.  If we can see more of the same at a consistent level then maybe those who have said we are still in the playoff race might be onto something.

Next Game: Thursday 1/2 @ Home Vs Chicago

Team USA Goes 3-1 In Preliminary Round Of WJC

 photo by unitedstatesofhockey

Today, team USA's World Junior team ended the preliminary round of the tournament with a 3-2 loss to Canada to bring their record to 3-1 thus far heading to the quarter finals.

If you are just beginning to pay attention to the team now some keys to look out for include:

1) The power play

Coming into their game today team USA had the top power play in the tournament having struck on over half of their power plays.  Today, they struggled in that department for the first time and it proved to be costly as Canada was able to get the winning goal on a power play of their own.

2) Grinder Line

The line of Hudson Fasching, Andrew Copp, and Devils prospect Stefan Matteau has been one of the teams most consistent lines.  They may not put up a lot of offense, but they have a ton of zone time on every shift and do their roles very well.

3) Leading by example

Team USA captain Riley Barber has managed to put up 4 goals in the four games thus far.  As one of the returning players from last years gold medal team, Barber hasn't let the pressure of being captain get to him.

Team USA has their quarterfinal game on Thursday morning at 6:00am on the NHL Network.  The game will be replayed later on in the day on the network if you miss the live broadcast.

Pre Game: Isles @ Bruins

 photo by Boston

Tonight, our Islanders look to end 2013 on a high note as they travel to Boston to take on Zdeno Chara and the Bruins.

The goalie match up tonight features Evgeni Nabokov for the Islanders and Tukka Rask for the Bruins.

The Bruins will welcome Zdeno Chara back to their lineup tonight.  He had been suffering from a back injury.  Bruins enforcer Shawn Thorton will not be in their lineup tonight though as he is serving a 15 game suspension as consequences for his actions against Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik that left him concussed.  They will also be without Loui Erickson who was injured in the same December 7th game as Orpik was.

For the Islanders, forward Josh Bailey will remain out of the lineup with an upper body injury tonight.  Joining him as the scratches are Eric Boulton and Aaron Ness.  Based off that, I would take it to mean that Michael Grabner is feeling better and will be in the lineup tonight after being scratched Sunday because he was sick.

Stadium Series Logo To Be Seen A lot More In Coming Seasons

Twitter was sent abuzz today after Chris Botta tweeted that we should expect to see the Islanders chromed NY stadium series logo more often in coming seasons.
He later tempered some of the fans questions by saying that either it or something similar will be the Islanders third jersey by 2015.  That would make a lot of sense because there have been talk of them getting rid of the current one for a while now.  Additionally, it will appeal to the new market of fans they are trying to attract in Brooklyn.
While I am not surprised by this I am not thrilled with it either.  The logo on the jersey as I said when it was released just looks unfinished to me.  Hopefully, as I see the jersey more I will warm up to it.

Monday, December 30, 2013

In Comeback Fashion Isles Defeat Wild 5-4

 photo by thescore

Tonight, our Islanders did something that they hadn't done in almost 20 years.  After being down 3-0 early in the second period our Islanders came back and defeated the Minnesota Wild by a score of 5-4.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-The first half of tonight's game was pretty ugly.  Like Capuano said postgame, the team was really just watching the game early on which was evidenced by the Wild's shot advantage through 20 minutes of play.  When they got their legs going this turned into a game and they showed great heart and resilience.

-How about Kyle Okposo?  The guy is having the breakout season we have all been dying for him to have and is sure making a strong case for himself to be on team USA in Sochi in a little over a month.

-Heck of a game for Hickey to!

-Good to see Strome and Nelson get on the score sheet.

-Nice tip by Clutterbuck on his goal, that was a great shift that resulted in that goal.

-Boulton didn't have a terrible game, however, his weak attempted clear in period one led to the Wild's first goal.

-Nice to see McDonald get involved with the fight.  Being someone who doesn't do that really at all I thought he held his own pretty well.

You couldn't have asked for a better way then this to begin this brief road trip.  In a lot of ways with the heart and determination the team showed this was reminiscent of a game we would've seen through the streak last year.  If they can bring the same heart and determination to Boston they could end 2013 on a high note.

Next Game: Tuesday 12/31 @ Boston

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pre Game: Isles @ Wild

 photo by architectureabout

Tonight, our Islanders begin a 2 game road trip to close off the 2013 calender year.  The first of these two games take them to Minnesota to take on Mikko Koivu and the Wild.

The goalie match up tonight features Kevin Poulin getting his first start since December 12th for the Islanders.  Meanwhile, Josh Harding will get the start in net for the Wild.

Tonight marks Cal Clutterbucks return to Minnesota after the summer trade that sent him here along with a third round pick in exchange for disgruntled forward Nino Niederreiter.  Early reports indicate that Niederreiter will be on the Wild's top line tonight because their coaching staff is trying to spark him against his former team because he has been struggling recently.

The Islanders line up will once again look a bit different tonight as injuries and illness are playing a major role.  John Tavares will return to the line up tonight after missing last nights game with a lower body injury.  However, both Josh Bailey (upper body) and Michael Grabner (illness) will not be in the line up for the Islanders tonight.  Removing them from the line up means that Peter Regin will remain in the line up and Eric Boulton will get to skate alongside Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin.

With Bailey and Grabner out, I hope they will move Strome into a top 6 role.  However, I can very easily see them leaving him as the third line center which I think would be completely the wrong way to go because how is he supposed to be successful when he is playing with Peter Regin and Colin McDonald?

Also, be sure to check out the pregame show to see Butch Goring interview Garth Snow about the team.

Isles Continue Home Struggles In 2-1 Loss To Devils

Tonight, our Islanders came out of their holiday break on a sour note with a 2-1 loss to the rival Devils.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-Nabokov had another solid outing continuing his stellar play since his return to the line up.

-Feels like I have said this already but the power play just isn't good.

-The offensive as our coach would say battle level wasn't there tonight.

-Ryan Strome is supposed to be put in a position to succeed at this level by coaches and management.  How in the world is he supposed to do that when Peter Regin is one of his linemates?

-All things considered the defense was alright.

-Given that the Devils were on the back end of a back to back the effort was disappointing.

-The first line was a totally different line without Tavares.  The decrease in chances were abundant.

Considering the momentum the team had accumulated before the break the game tonight was disappointing.  The loss tonight doesn't put us in a good place for the back end of the back to back with Minnesota who were off today.

Next Game: Tomorrow Night 8:00PM @ Minnesota

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Pre Game: Devils @ Islanders

Tonight, our Islanders return from the holiday break to play host to Cory Schneider and the division rival Devils.

The goalie match up tonight features Cory Schneider for the Devils and Evgeni Nabokov for the Islanders.

For the Devils, they will get their captain Bryce Salvador back in the lineup tonight.  Salvador has missed the Devils last 30 games.  The Devils also got Ryan Clowe back from injury last night and he will dress for them again tonight.  Clowe had missed 32 games with a concussion and will be suiting up on the Devils fourth line to start.

There is one major roster change for the Islanders tonight and that is the absence of John Tavares.  Tavares was ruled out of the lineup tonight suffering from a lower body injury.  It is unknown how Tavares got this injury but it is believed to have been done at the hands of Tampa Bay defenseman Radko Gudas in the teams contest a couple weeks back.  This will break Tavares consecutive games played streak as he hasn't missed a game since 10/15/10.  Peter Regin will be active tonight with Brock Nelson hopping up a few lines to take Tavares spot as first line center.  Meanwhile, on the back end Matt Carkner will start in place of Aaron Ness.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Visnovsky Still Not Close

According to Newsday, defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky still has yet to be cleared to resume off ice activities.

Visnovsky has been out since suffering a concussion on October 19th against Carolina.  The injury to Visnovsky has really thrown the Islanders defense into disarray not only at even strength but on the power play as well.  Going into next season if Visnovsky is still around they need to make it so they don't have such a heavy reliance on him because now after having one concussion he is more apt to get another one.

Visnovsky being able to return would do wonders for the team as they seek to get back to winning after trending downward for the better part of the last two months.  Unfortunately, that doesn't seem like it will happen anytime soon.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Christmas Miracle In Detroit As Isles Shutout Wings

 photo by NY Daily News

If you remember, the last time the Islanders met the Red Wings it wasn't a pretty game for the Islanders.  Well, tonight the Islanders were able to get some revenge on them as they defeated the Wings by a score of 3-0.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-Evgeni Nabokov continues to impress as he was solid yet again tonight.  I'm beginning to think that Nabokov may have been hurt already before he actually went on IR because he seems like a new person since he got back.

-Another great game for the first line.  They have chances seemingly on every shift and it is a pleasure to watch them play night in and night out.

-Great game from the fourth line tonight.  Casey's goal tonight was reminiscent of a shift the line would've had during the streak last season.  Hopefully, we will see more of that from them.

-Good to see Bailey and Grabner continuing to get points.  Hopefully, Bailey will be the next one to get off the snide when it comes to scoring.

Well, they couldn't have asked for a better way to go into the holiday recess then with a game like this.  As Howie Rose said tonight, the team is 3-2-2 in their last seven.  Maybe, they are beginning to trend upwards after trending further and further down since the second week of the season.

Next Game: Saturday 12/28 @ Home Vs The Devils

Monday, December 23, 2013

Pre Game: Isles @ Red Wings

 photo by wikimedia

Tonight, our Islanders travel to Detroit for their last game before their brief holiday break to take on Pavel Datsyuk and the Detroit Red Wings.

The goalie match up tonight features Evgeni Nabokov between the pipes once again for the Islanders.  Meanwhile, Jonas Gustavsson will get the start for Detroit while Jimmy Howard is on IR recovering from an injury.

The Islanders are making a couple lineup changes tonight after they blew yet another third period lead on Saturday against the Ducks.  Forward Colin McDonald will return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch the last couple games.  Defenseman Aaron Ness will also return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the teams loss on Saturday.  To make room for them in the lineup both Matt Carkner and Eric Boulton will join Peter Regin as the teams healthy scratches.  When Capuano was asked about the lineup he told Newsday, "Listen, we're in last place so no one should be arguing about who's in and who's out at this particular time."

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Islanders Making A Serious Run At Max Pacioretty?

 photo by ESPN

According to Larry Brooks from the New York Post, the Islanders and Flyers are making a serious run at acquiring forward Max Pacioretty from the Montreal Canadians.

Pacioretty, 25, had 65 points including 33 goals in the 11/12 NHL season.  Pacioretty is also signed to a nice long term deal that pays him 4.5 million through the 2018/2019 season.  This season, Pacioretty has registered 15 goals and 19 points in 29 games.  Pacioretty is also a Connecticut native so he would be right at home here.

With that said, it is pretty surprising that Montreal would entertain moving such a player.  Their reasoning for entertaining trading Pacioretty, according to reports, is that he isn't a favorite of their head coach.

Given the money and term he is signed for I would be pretty surprised if the Islanders acquired Pacioretty.  If they did acquire him though it would tell me two things.  One, that Brooklyn is playing a larger role then we have been led to believe.  Secondly, that maybe they started to get the sense that their chances of resigning Thomas Vanek weren't very high so they wanted to try and add talent around him to try and encourage him to stay.

Isles Fall 5-3 To Ducks In Familiar Movie

 photo by theproducersperspective

Tonight was an oh so familiar game for our Islanders.  The team held a 3-1 lead heading to the third period only to blow that lead by giving up 4 third period goals and being defeated by a score of 5-3 by the Ducks.  A recent piece from the Wall Street Journal had a stat that the Islanders are the only team in the NHL to have a losing record when taking a lead into the third period or acquiring the lead in the third period.  If that doesn't tell you all you need to know about this years Islanders team I don't know what will.  Here are some of my notes from tonight's game:

-The teams defense on the Ducks second goal was pretty bad.  They all converged on the middle and yet nobody could clear the puck.  The third goal was a mixture of defense and officials.  The Islanders should've been on a power play at the time as Kyle Okposo had just been high sticked roughly a minute prior to the goal right in front of the official with no call being made.  However, the Ducks forward was able to get by our defense pretty easily on the way to scoring the goal.

-I was skeptical of starting Nabokov in the back to back but he surprised me.  He wasn't perfect, obviously, but he played well enough for the Islanders to win which is all you can expect from him.

-Calvin de Haan continues to impress

-Good to see Vanek have another good game tonight after getting the winner last night.

-One week in and Ryan Strome is looking just fine at this level.  He hasn't been able to get his first goal yet but he has gotten a few chances so it will come.

Through two periods tonight's game looked pretty promising.  However, a familiar thing happened tonight with the blown third period lead.  That took what was a promising game and turned it into yet another disappointing defeat.  The win over the Rangers was nice but winning a game every week to ten days which is what the team is pretty much doing right now won't get them anywhere in the long run.  If they want to save their hopes of a possible playoff run, they need to remember how to play winning hockey like they did at the end of last season, or this will be chalked up as yet another lost season for the Islanders.

Next Game: Monday 12/23 7:30 @ Detroit

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Pre Game: Ducks @ Islanders

Tonight, the Anaheim Ducks travel to the old barn in Hempstead to take on John Tavares and our Islanders.

The goalie match up tonight features presumably Frederik Andersen for the Ducks after Jonas Hiller played last night against the Devils.  For the Islanders, Evgeni Nabokov will return to the crease tonight fresh off the teams 5-3 win over the Rangers last night.

The Islanders lineup will see no changes tonight.

Isles Defeat Rangers 5-3 For First Regulation Win In 16 Games

 photo by gannett-cdn

Tonight, for the first time in over a month our Islanders got a win in regulation.  They were victorious by a margin of 5-3 over the rival Rangers.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-Great to see Grabner finally put some to the back of the net.  Hopefully, he can get on a roll now after struggling for so long.

-Solid game by Clutterbuck!  I know a lot of people are saying the hooking call that resulted in a penalty shot was a suspect call but I disagree.  The stick was parallel to the ice and got around his hands.  In this day and age that is a penalty.

-Nice tip by Vanek for the winner!  I wonder if people will start to warm up to him or if the ill will, will continue.

-With the amount of penalties we took tonight the penalty kill was actually pretty good.

-Thomas Hickey had a bad night tonight, simply didn't have his "A" game tonight.

-Calvin de Haan on the other hand did and seems like he is settling in just fine at this level which is great to see.

-Congrats to Ryan Strome on his first NHL point

-When was the last time we scored a goal 5 different ways in one game like we did tonight?

With the Ducks coming in tomorrow and our well documented recent stretch this is a game we needed to have.  The fact that we were able to come in and take it is finally a good sign from this team.  The team needs to massage this into a streak now because even with their terrible play for the better part of the last month or so they are still within striking distance of the playoff race.

Next Game: Tomorrow Night Vs The Ducks

Friday, December 20, 2013

Pre Game: Isles @ Rangers

 photo by tickpick

Tonight, our Islanders look to right their ship as they travel to NYC to take on the rival Rangers.

The goalie match up tonight features Evgeni Nabokov for the Islanders and Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers.

The Rangers will have a new addition to the lineup tonight as they recalled forward JT Miller from Hartford after there shootout loss against the Penguins the other night.  They returned defenseman Dylan Mcilrath and former Islander Aaron Asham to Hartford.  Miller will serve as the teams third line center tonight.

The Islanders lineup will look a bit different tonight as Peter Regin and Aaron Ness will join Colin McDonald as the teams healthy scratches tonight.  Replacing them in the lineup are Casey Cizikas and Matt Carkner.  This will be Casey's first game in over a week after suffering a jaw injury attempting a hit in the Islanders loss against the Coyotes last week.  McDonald not being in the lineup means that Eric Boulton will be in the lineup for the Islanders.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Isles Struggles Continue In 3-2 Shootout Loss

Tonight, our Islanders fell 3-2 in a shootout to the Lightning.  Tonight's loss marked the Islanders 16th straight game without a regulation win.  Here are some of my notes:

-Can't blame any of the goals on Nabokov tonight who looked pretty sharp once again.  The first goal was on Nielsen with the horrific turnover and the second one the team just couldn't clear the puck.  Nabby didn't look to good in the shootout though.  He summed up the end of the game well post game:

 (h/t to Keith from Lighthouse Hockey for the video)

-Josh Bailey continues to be lost on the ice.  I have never seen a guy get two breakaways in one period and not get a shot on net on either one.  I don't know what the coaches need to do to him but they have to do something because it is amateur hour with him right now.

-Grabner actually had one of his better games in a while tonight.  Hopefully, this can be the start of something for him because he could sure use it after this dreadful stretch he has been on.

-Thomas Hickey had a real up and down game.  There were a few times where he made some nice plays including a huge hit.  However, there were other times we he just got burned.

-Good to see the team score a rare power play goal!

This loss was a predictable one for the Islanders as we have seen this movie many times before.  Not only this season, but the last few seasons.  I don't know what they have to do but some how they need to learn how to finish games.

Next Game: Friday @ MSG vs the Rangers

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Pre Game: Lightning @ Islanders

Tonight, on yet another snowy night on Long Island our Islanders are set to play host to Martin St Louis and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The goalie match up tonight features Ben Bishop for the Lightning and Evgeni Nabokov for the Islanders.

The Islanders will be icing the same lineup tonight as Saturdays OT loss to Montreal.  That means, Matt Carkner, Colin McDonald, and Casey Cizikas will serve as the teams scratches tonight.  Cizikas returned to practice yesterday after suffering a jaw injury in the Islanders loss to the Coyotes last week.  His date to return to the lineup is unknown as of now.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Isles Fall 1-0 In OT Thriller

Embedded image permalink

Tonight, on their return home our Islanders lost a thriller 1-0 to Montreal in overtime.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-To start with, Ryan Strome had a pretty good first NHL game.  He didn't blow me away which is fine.  The main thing is that he didn't look out of place or over matched.

-Considering he hadn't played in around a month, Evgeni Nabokov looked sharp tonight.  It was good to see and he of course earned himself another start in my mind at least.

-Another solid game by Eric Boulton tonight.  I mean he isn't the most responsible forward out there, but in the offensive zone he just takes it to the net.  That's how hes had his production in his limited games this year and how he created a scoring chance or two tonight.  Of course then there was his fight with George Parros early in the first period.

We hope that Parros is ok after suffering from concussion issues earlier this season.

-The power play's struggles continue!  Hopefully, adding Strome to the mix will be able to help things out in that area.

-Bad job by Hickey and Ness on the Montreal winner.  They have to play better defense there then they did.

-Terrible job by the refs calling Tavares for a penalty in the second period after he got cross checked in the head seconds earlier and they let it go uncalled.  I guess Tavares hasn't earned that respect yet.  After seeing the hit by Lars Eller on Tavares later on in the game it appeared to me to be a clean hit.  Although it was clean it was still a penalty and something that I feel gets called 9 times out of 10.

After playing the game they did, this was a tough loss for the Islanders.  Hopefully, unlike the Sharks game earlier this week this will be something they can build on and help them get on a little bit of a stretch here because they could surely use one.

Next Game: Tuesday 12/17 Vs Tampa Bay

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Pre Game: Montreal @ Islanders! Ryan Strome Set To Make NHL Debut

Tonight, our Islanders return home after their rough road trip to play host to Carey Price and the Montreal Canadians.

The goalie match up tonight features Carey Price for Montreal and Evgeni Nabokov for the Islanders.  This is Nabokov's first start since November 16th.

All the talk leading into tonight though is about top prospect Ryan Strome making his NHL debut.  The Islanders officially called Strome up earlier this week after sending Pierre Marc Bouchard to Bridgeport through waivers.  Prior to his call up, Strome had accumulated 33 points in 23 games including 17 in his final 9.  He also won back to back player of the week awards in the AHL becoming only the third player since the award began in 1994 to win it in back to back weeks.  Tonight, he will be on a line with Brock Nelson and Cal Clutterbuck.  Strome played on a line with Nelson while the pair were in Bridgeport late last season. Coach Jack Capuano said that Strome will also see time on the power play.

After suffering an injury the other night Casey Cizikas will not be in the lineup for the Islanders tonight.  It is yet to be determined how long he will be out.  Taking his spot in the lineup will be Peter Regin who had been scratched for a couple games in a row.

Projected Forward Lines according to Newsday:





Friday, December 13, 2013

Defensive Lapses Cost Islanders In Loss

Tonight, our Islanders finished their road trip getting defeated 6-3 by the Coyotes.  Of a possible 10 points on this 5 game road trip the Islanders managed to get just two.  Here are some of my notes from tonights game:

-The defense just wasn't up to par tonight!  It's tough to even pick out one guy specifically, the entire unit just wasn't good tonight.

-Tonight wasn't Poulin's finest game either but as said above he can't do much when his defense doesn't show up.

-Eric Boulton is making a case to be a more regular fixture in the Islanders lineup.  Given his lack of games played and small amount of ice time he's gotten in said games he has certainly made the most of it.  Great tip by him tonight on his goal.

-The power play continues to struggle.  I know Doug Weight supposedly has a ton of plays drawn up in a book of his.  Maybe it's time that Weight throw out his current book and start over because the stuff he has been trying with the units as a hole don't seem to be working that well.

-Great hand eyed coordination by Okposo to be able to tip home the Islanders third goal tonight from his stomach.

After Tuesdays game, tonight was certainly one you didn't want to see.  The Islanders need to leave this play on the road and come home and attempt to build a streak as even with their recent bad play they only sit 10 points out of the final playoff spot.

Next Game: Saturday @ Home Versus Montreal

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pre Game: Isles @ Coyotes

 photo by itinerantfan

Tonight, our Islanders look to build on Tuesdays shootout win as they travel to Phoenix to finish their 5 game road trip taking on Mike Smith and the Coyotes.

The goalie match up tonight features Kevin Poulin for the Islanders and Mike Smith between the pipes for the Coyotes.  Evgeni Nabokov will serve as the Islanders backup goalie tonight after missing the last 11 games with a groin injury.

The Coyotes will be missing their captain Shane Doan tonight who is out with an injury.  Doan leads the Coyotes in goals with 12 and is second on the team in points with 23 behind Radim Vrbata who has 24.

The Islanders lineup will see a defensive change tonight as Brian Strait will go right into the teams lineup after being activated off IR earlier today.  Strait had been out since October 22nd with an upper body injury.  To make room for him Matt Carkner will be a healthy scratch tonight along with Peter Regin and Ryan Strome.  Strome is being held out tonight because the team was weary of playing him without him getting practices in first.

Isles Activate Strait/Nabakov From IR

Earlier today, the Islanders activated both goalie Evgeni Nabokov and defenseman Brian Strait off injured reserve.  To make room for Nabakov the Islanders sent goalie Anders Nilsson to Bridgeport.

Nabokov has been out for nearly a month after suffering a groin injury in the Islanders 5-4 shootout win against the Red Wings last month.  Meanwhile, Brian Strait has been out for around six weeks suffering from an upper body injury.  This is Strait's second major injury in consecutive seasons.

With the return of these two, another Islander player found his way to IR.  The Islanders placed defensemen Radek Martinek on IR today with a back injury.

I can't understand why people continue to talk up Strait and Nabokov as guys will come back and miraculously cause us to play better.  While Strait might be better then someone like Carkner, it really isn't saying much given Carkner's obvious defensive deficiencies and his inability to log a respectable amount of ice time for a defenseman.  With Nabokov, his pre injury numbers are on the same level that Poulin has been.  While Nabakov does have the potential to be better as we saw at the end of last season.  To expect that out of him given his age and other mitigating factors is expecting a lot.  While it is good to be hopeful, people need to think back to the pre injury play of both of these players because doing anything else is just setting themselves up for disappointment.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Snow Has Full Confidence In Jack Capuano

According to Islanderspointblank, on insider trading on TSN last night, analyst Darren Dreger said that the Islanders are willing to be patient with coach Jack Capuano amid the teams struggles.  He went on to say that Garth Snow is taking more of a responsibility for the teams recent lackluster play.  If you recall earlier this month Dreger said that Snow told him that he had no plans of making a coaching change.

I think it is pretty interesting that we were reading things about Capuano's job not being on steady terms and him possibly not having much time left.  However, now after the team finally gets a win, a shootout win mind you everything is fine and Capuano is safe.  I am not sure I buy this as executives give their coaches a vote of confidence all the time in sports.  Sometimes these are a pre cursor to the coach being let go if the play doesn't improve.  I have to imagine that this is what is going on here because even though I don't necessarily agree with a coaching change with all we read I would be floored if one wasn't made unless the teams play improves drastically.  

Islanders Snap Streak At 10

 photo by hockeysfuture

Kevin Poulin was the story last night as the Islanders finally snapped their 10 game losing streak in a 3-2 shootout win over the Sharks.  Poulin came up with 46 saves in this game including 18 in the first period alone.  Poulin's work in the first period really kept the Islanders in the game and gave the a chance to win it in like they did.

It is good to see the first line continuing to produce with a couple more goals again tonight by Vanek and Okposo.  However, the team really needs to start getting secondary scoring.  It is pretty much impossible to have any sustained success without any secondary scoring with the last month of games being evidence of that.

Calvin de Haan seems to be fitting in well on the blue line.  It is still early on for him but after all those injuries he had to endure it looks like he may have just figured things out which is great to see.  Coach Jack Capuano seems to be noticing de Haan's capability to as he was given over 25 minutes of ice time last night.  Not bad for a guy in his 7th NHL game.

Overall, I was quite impressed with the effort the Islanders put forth in this game.  To be out shot as badly as they were and not only come away with a point but a victory really says a lot, especially about the play of the goalie in this case Poulin.  Hopefully, this can be the start of something for the team because they really need it.

Next Game: Tomorrow 9PM @ Phoenix

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fans And Media React To The Islanders Calling Up Ryan Strome

Islanders Frustration Boils Over In 10th Straight Loss

Tonight, our Islanders dropped their 10th game in a row by a score of 5-2 to the Ducks.  Frustrations for the team really boiled over late in the third period.  At that point, defensemen Matt Carkner was being escorted off the ice after a scrum with Ducks forward Saku Koivu.  On his way down the tunnel, Carkner can be seen on camera exchanging words with a Ducks fan.

Overall, tonight was very much like the Kings game a couple nights ago.  The team came out and played well for a portion of the game early on.  However, as the game went on that play just went away and the Ducks this time just took control.  It was good to see the first line put up a couple goals at least tonight.

Next Game: Tomorrow Night 10:30 @ San Jose

Monday, December 9, 2013

Pre Game: Isles @ Ducks

 photo by Wikipedia

Tonight, our Islanders travel to Anaheim looking for their first points on this road trip to take on Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks.  This won't be any easy test for the Islanders though as Anaheim sits at first in their division and second in the western conference with 45 points which is more then double the amount the Islanders have.  The Ducks will look to expose the Islanders lack of size on defense with their big forwards most notably the line of Getzlaf centering Corey Perry and Dustin Penner.

The goalie match up tonight features Anders Nilsson for the Islanders and Jonas Hiller for the Ducks.

After being put on waivers this afternoon, Pierre Marc Bouchard will not be in the lineup for the Islanders tonight.  Below is the projected Islanders forward line for tonight, according to Newsday.





Isles Place Bouchard On Waivers, Strome On His Way!

 photo by hockeydb

According to reports, the Islanders have placed forward Pierre Marc Bouchard on waivers.  Forward Ryan Strome will be coming up from Bridgeport to take Bouchards spot.  Strome, the current AHL leader in points has accumulated 33 points in 23 games thus far this season.

Thus far this season, Bouchard has put up 9 points in 28 games for the Islanders while shuffling between the second and third lines.  Bouchard was bought in, in the off season on paper as the Islanders latest replacement for the right wing on the John Tavares line.  While it wasn't given much of a chance to work it was clear that Bouchard wasn't up to the task.  By putting Bouchard on waivers, Garth Snow is admitting that his big signing this past off season was a failure which is refreshing to see instead of the guy being given 2/3+ of the season to try and find his game at this level which has been done in the past.  According to Newsday, before being waived Bouchard was offered around the league but there were no takers.

I think it is interesting that they decided to waive Bouchard instead of someone like Peter Regin.  Strome, who will reportedly join the team tomorrow for their game against the Sharks will not only be taking Bouchard's spot on the roster but his spot in the lineup to as he will slot right in as a top 6 forward and be on the power play as well like Bouchard had been doing.

While I was one who was supportive of Strome getting time in the AHL, given his recent play there in the last 2-3 weeks I think he has earned a look at this level and am very excited to see what he brings.  Strome has managed 10 points in his last four games in the AHL and 17 points in his last 9. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Strang: "I Can't Imagine Why Garth Snow Still Has His Job"

This past Thursday, former Islanders Newsday beat writer and current ESPN hockey writer Katie Strang was a guest on the Marek vs Wyshynski podcast that airs live everyday between 2:00PM and 3:00PM.

During one of the segments of her interview while on the she when speaking of the Islanders she said, "I can't imagine why Garth Snow still has his job."  She followed that up with points about how he seems to have carte blanche to make a lot of debatable decisions.

Something else she mentioned that I found interesting was that not firing Jack Capuano would be an indictment on the franchise that they aren't willing to spend the money to win.  This is something Larry Brooks touched on in his latest column in the NY Post.  If you have followed Brooks columns, you know that he is someone that isn't shy when it comes to speaking ill of the Islanders front office.

To hear more of Katie's interview with them  including thoughts on Jack Capuano and the guys that actually play, check out the link below.  You can follow Katie on twitter here.


I thought this was great stuff from her.  It is about time a member of the media with some sort of notoriety called out the Islanders front office for their wrong doings beside Larry Brooks.  I have been screaming about the second point made above of the team not willing to spend the money to win for a while.  For speaking like this I wasn't well received by some and my opinion was glossed over by others as they saw me as just a crazy fan incapable of seeing any other side of things but my own.  Hopefully, with Strang opening the flood gates the Islanders front office will no longer be a taboo topic to talk about among people other then fans.

Isles Shutout For 9th Straight Loss

Tonight, our Islanders dropped their 9th straight game to the Kings being shutout 3-0 by their third string goalie Martin Jones.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-There wasn't many positives to take from this game, but one of the few was the play of Calvin de Haan who looked very good tonight.

-First half of the game was a solid effort by us but the team just can't buy a goal right now.  After how successful we were earlier in the year scoring this lack of scoring has come out of no where.

-Poulin didn't do bad tonight he did what you ask of your goalie.

-The defense wasn't the main reason we lost tonight which is good.

-Brock Nelson was pretty good in his return to the lineup tonight and should continue to play over Regin who had no points in his last 17 games coming into tonight.

Next Game: Monday @ Anaheim 10PM

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Pre Game: Isles @ Kings

 photo by aegworldwide

Tonight, our Islanders look to snap their 8 game losing streak as they travel to LA to take on Dustin Brown and the Kings.

The goalie match up tonight features Kevin Poulin for the Islanders.  Meanwhile, the Kings goalie has yet to be announced as Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones both left the ice at roughly the same time for the Kings at their morning skate earlier today.

The Islanders lineup is yet to be confirmed, however, Brock Nelson will return to the lineup tonight after being a healthy scratch the last couple games.  He will take Peter Regin's spot in the lineup.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Botta: Laviolette A Top Candidate Should Isles Make A Coaching Change

According to Chris Botta, should the Islanders make a coaching change former Islanders and Flyers coach Peter Laviolette would be a top candidate to take over coaching the team.

Laviolette was the coach of the Islanders for two seasons 01/02 and 03/04 before he was let go by the team.  He led the Islanders to the playoffs during both of those seasons.  Following being let go by the team he joined the Carolina Hurricanes where he won a Stanley Cup in 2006.  That year he also coached the mens Olympic team in Italy.  A year after being fired by the Hurricanes, Laviolette was named head coach of the Flyers.  In 2010 Laviolette led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Blackhawks and later lost in 6 games.

I think Laviolette would be a great choice for this team.  As I said in my post earlier this afternoon, in an instance like this I would absolutely be behind a coaching change.  I hope it gets done, and Laviolette makes a return to Uniondale.  I wonder if it would be weird for him to work under one of his former players?

Islanders Failing To Meet Expectations

Last season was the Islanders best season in a long time as they made the playoffs for the first time since 06/07.  So naturally, coming into this year expectations had rose to a point that they haven’t been at in a really long time.

Early on, it seemed like that the Islanders would meet those expectations as they started the season 2-0-1.  However, after that, it quickly became apparent that the teams flaws were worse than they anticipated as they started to fall and have struggled to recover.

The biggest shortfalls for the team have been on defense and in goal.  Following the summer loss of captain Mark Streit, GM Garth Snow did nothing to replace him except promote rookie Matt Donovan from Bridgeport.  This was viewed as suspicious by some fans because it didn’t seem wise to expect a rookie to step right in and replace Streit’s offensive production on the back end.  What has compounded this even more is the October 19th injury to Lubomir Visnovsky.  During that game, Visnovsky suffered a concussion and is just now beginning to resume any sort of activity.  The loss of Visnovsky has really hurt the team’s power play, and at even strength to.  His loss has caused guys like Andrew MacDonald to get increased ice time which has hurt his productivity and effectiveness.  Fans have been screaming for the team to acquire a defenseman not realizing that there really isn’t one out there to acquire that would fill the need the team has.

Another issue for the team has been in goal.  Over the summer, after a few attempts at acquiring goalies like Cory Schneider who was traded to the Devils and Jonathan Bernier who was traded to the Maple Leafs failed the Islanders resigned goalie Evgeni Nabokov to a one year contract.  Last season, Nabokov really struggled in the playoffs after being one of the key players in the Islanders getting there.  Compounding his struggles with his age caused some to be weary of the Islanders bringing him back.  Thus far this season, those who were fearful of bringing him back have been proven right because even though the defense hasn't exactly been up to par his play hasn't either.  Before getting injured, Nabokov had registered a 3.30 GAA and a .892 save percentage thus far this season.  Those numbers rank among the lowest in the NHL for starting goalies.  Meanwhile, Kevin Poulin has proven to not really be any better than Nabokov putting up a 3.24 GAA and a .887 save percentage in 13 games this season.  Then there is Anders Nilsson who was  called up after Nabokov went down has seen limited action so far only starting 3 games and replacing Poulin in one.  In his limited action, Nilsson has looked pretty good but it is still to small a sample size to cast any sort of judgement.

Some fans believe coaching is another central issue for the Islanders.  While there might be some merit to that not only with head coach Jack Capuano and his sometimes questionable decisions.  Also, with Doug Weight and Brent Thompson given the extreme struggles both the power play and penalty kill have suffered through thus far this season.  Some think we should fire Jack Capuano.  While I understand that rationale, I don't think it makes any sense.  If they were going to bring in a coach from the outside to replace him I would be more inclined to agree with those people.  However, the fact is that if Capuano is fired, Doug Weight will likely become the teams new coach.  Given the fact that Weight is already heavily involved with the team I don't think making him coach would lead to the desired change everyone is seeking.

If the Islanders want to meet the expectations they and their fans alike had for them coming into the season, they need to get to work because the season is only so long.  You think you have all this time left so you take your time and before you know it, its the trade deadline and there is only one month left.

Isles Drop 8th In A Row To Blues

Tonight, our Islanders dropped their 8th game in a row and 9th in their last 11 by a score of 5-1 to the Blues.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-It would've been nice if the penalty kill showed up tonight.  It was atrocious!

-The defense on the Blues third and fourth goal specifically was just amateur.  The team has numbers down low and they let the Blues win the battle leading to the third goal.  The fourth goal Hickey goes down in the corner and loses his stick and nobody notices that and picks up his man for him.  That leaves Hickey's man wide open in front of the net to put home the goal.  These are things that seem so simple and yet the team just fails to do them.

-While Anders Nilsson didn't have his finest night, how could you put a ton of blame on him when most of his team didn't show up to play after the first period?

-It was nice to actually get a power play goal!

Well, this is just the start of what has the potential to be a very ugly road trip.  Of course, the Islanders have the potential to do alright.  However, with the way they have been playing I am not expecting much.

Next Game: Saturday 10:30PM @ LA

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Pre Game: Isles @ Blues

 photo by hockey.ballparks

Tonight, our Islanders open their 5 game west coast road trip traveling to St Louis to take on David Backes and the Blues.

The goalie match up tonight features Anders Nilsson making his third consecutive start for the Islanders.  Meanwhile, Jaroslav Halak will start in net for the Blues.  Halak is 5-1-1 in his career against the Islanders with a 1.41 GAA and a .955 save percentage.

The Islanders are looking for their first road win tonight since November 1st.  On that night the Islanders defeated the Ottawa Senators by a score of 5-4 in a shootout.  Since then, the Islanders have lost 7 straight games in regulation on the road.  That is one more then the team lost in regulation during last years shortened season.

The Islanders will be dressing the same lineup tonight as Tuesdays OT loss to the Penguins.  That means, Brock Nelson along with Eric Boulton and Radek Martinek will be the teams healthy scratches.  The coaching staff is starting to receive criticism by people for failing to play Nelson who looked promising in his last stint of games over guys like Regin and Bouchard who have done very little to contribute and will likely not be with the team past this season.  This seems to fly in the face of the rebuilding mantra that has been pushed on fans for the last 6+ years.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Isles Active In Trade Discussions/Not Ready To Ship Off Vets

According to Darren Dreger from TSN, the Islanders along with the Canucks and Oilers are the most active teams in the league in trade discussions.

Dreger says that the Islanders are looking to add depth in goal and a defenseman.  Earlier tonight, Arthur Staple from Newsday released a piece with some potential Islanders trade targets for the Islanders which flew in the face of what Dreger is saying a little bit.

In that piece Staple said, "I started with goaltenders because I believe that is where Garth Snow is focusing his limited assets to make a deal."  He also speculates that a deal for a goalie in some sort is on the horizon.  While they are both saying they are looking for defensemen and goalies, they are on opposite ends of the spectrum so to speak on the kind of player the team is looking to acquire at each position.

Isles Aren't Sellers...Yet

Chris Botta reported earlier today that GM's had began to check in with Snow regarding our veterans like Thomas Vanek, Andrew MacDonald, and Evgeni Nabokov who are all in the final year of their contracts respectively.  Apparently, none of them are available as of yet as Snow is looking to add pieces to the team not take them away.

No matter who is saying what, I think it is pretty clear our Islanders are attempting to make moves to try and get the team back on track after this recent nearly 5 weeks skid they have been on.  This is a refreshing change from years past where instead of looking to add people we would have started dealing them by Christmas.  (See the James Wisniewski trade)

Refs Hand Isles 7th Straight Loss

Tonight our Islanders dropped their 7th game in a row to the officials Penguins by a score of 3-2 in overtime.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-The refs were absolutely horrendous tonight!  There were five instances off the top of my head where the Pens committed obvious penalties but play was allowed to continue.  The most notable of these was during the Islanders powerplay late in the game when Thomas Vanek was in front of the net he got mugged and assaulted not once but twice by Penguins players without a call.  So in frustration he goes and gives Matt Niskanen a tap on the leg and the ref gives him a penalty for slashing.  The referees must've thought they were in 1975 for a minute because the way Vanek was treated in front of the net isn't allowed anymore and was more custom back in that time.  Another clear case of buffoonery on the part of the officials was the cross checking call on Tavares late in the second period.  Tavares hardly hit him with the check and if the other teams captain did the same thing it would be looked over.  It happened earlier in that period when Crosby clear as day tripped someone deep in the Islanders offensive zone and there was no call.  While there was plenty more to say about the officials ill go onto the rest of the game.

-Awful defense by Hamonic and de Haan on Crosby's winner.  How do you just let him go by you and not do anything but some stick checks?  Why not take the body?  You will probably take a penalty because of who your defending against (just ask Brian Strait) but its better then giving up the goal there and something the Islanders defense as a hole doesn't do near enough.

-Nilsson looked pretty solid for a second consecutive start.  Until he starts to show otherwise with his play I think Anders Nilsson should continue starting in goal.

-Hickey had a rough game.  He was flat out skated around more then once which is very concerning for a defenseman.  Not only that but he was banged around with a couple big hits to.  It was nice to see him stand up for Nilsson in the third landing that nasty slash on Malkin.

-If someone did to Crosby what Malkin did to Tavares they probably would've gotten kicked out of the game, especially if it was someone like Boulton and gotten fined.  However, with Malkin it was only a two minute penalty and probably won't be looked at again.  After tonight I will severely question people who don't believe Howie Rose that a double standard exists in the NHL separating elite teams and everyone else.  It isn't right, it is just the way of the land so to speak.

-Good to see Okposo get back on the board after cooling off from his hot start.

-The Islanders need more secondary scoring.  Sure they are getting a lot of scoring from the top line but the rest of the lineup needs to put up solid shifts in both zones.

Next Game: Thursday 8PM @ St Louis

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pre Game: Penguins @ Islanders

Tonight, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins pay a visit to the old barn in Hempstead to take on John Tavares and our struggling Islanders.  This is the Penguins first visit to the Coliseum since the two teams squared off in their playoff series this past May.

The goalie match up tonight features Marc-Andre Fleury for the Penguins and Anders Nilsson making his second consecutive start for the Islanders.

Penguins forward lines:





The Islanders lineup tonight will be the same as it was for Saturdays overtime loss Washington.  That means that Radek Martinek, Eric Boulton, and Brock Nelson will serve as the teams healthy scratches tonight.

Reinhart/Pelech Invited To Canadian WJC Selection Camp

Yesterday, team Canada named 25 players to their world junior selection camp.  The camp will be held from December 12th until December 15th.  The roster needs to be trimmed from 25 to 22 by Christmas day.  The tournament will be held from December 26 until January 5th in Sweden.

Two Islanders prospects, 2012 first round pick Griffin Reinhart and 2012 third round pick Adam Pelech were among the 25 players invited to camp.

There was some wonder if Reinhart would be invited because he is currently serving a 4 game suspension for a high stick in last years tournament.  Of the 4 games he has only served 1 meaning that he would have to miss the first three games of this years tournament.  This year, his second as captain of the Edmonton Oil Kings, Reinhart has registered 10 points and 21 penalty minutes in 21 games.

Meanwhile, this year, Pelech who had been previously known for his defensive game has added some offense to his repertoire.  In 20 games for the Erie Otters this year Pelech has managed 15 points.  Coming into this season, Pelech had put up 62 points in 168 games.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Isles Interested In Jake Gardiner?

According to Darren Dreger from TSN, the Flames have contacted the Leafs about defenseman Jake Gardiner.  He also named the Islanders as a team that has contacted the Leafs.  The Leafs are reportedly asking for a top 6 forward in exchange for Gardiner.

Through 26 games this year, Gardiner has registered 6 assists with no goals and is a +2.  As a rookie in 2011/2012 Gardiner had 7 goals and 23 assists in 75 games.

I would seriously consider trading Michael Grabner for him.  Gardiner is still young at only 23, and is measured at 6'2 184 pounds which would add much needed size to the Islanders defensive core.

Dreger: Garth Snow Isn't Planning On Making A Coaching Change

According to Darren Dreger from TSN, he was told by Garth Snow in a series of text messages that he isn't making a coaching change.

The Islanders have lost 11 of their last 13 games and are 6-15-3 in their last 24 games which puts them at last in the Metropolitan division and with the third worst record in the NHL.

Even though this slide is beginning to resemble the one that got Capuanos predecessor Scott Gordon axed, Garth is still giving Capuano the benefit of the doubt.  It will be interesting to see how long Snows leash is for Capuano though.