Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pre Game: Isles Return To Action Vs Leafs

Tonight, our Islanders return to action after the nearly 3 week Olympic break playing host to Nazem Kadri and the Leafs.

The goalie match up tonight features Jonathan Bernier for the Leafs and Evgeni Nabokov for the Islanders.

With injuries taking its toll on the team the lineup will look quite different then the Islanders pre Olympic lineup.  Bridgeport callups Ryan Strome, Anders Lee, and Mike Halmo will all be in the lineup tonight with Lee making his season debut and Halmo making his NHL debut.  As everyone knows, Tavares is out with a leg injury, Frans Nielsen is out with a broken hand, and Matt Martin is out with a lower body injury but it is possible that he gets back in the lineup this weekend.  The lone healthy scratch for the Islanders is Matt Carkner.

Happy Birthday Casey Cizikas

photo by foxnews
Today, Islanders center Casey Cizikas is celebrating his 23rd birthday.
Cizikas was a 4th round pick by the Islanders in the 2009 draft which is the same draft where the got the likes of John Tavares, Calvin de Haan and Anders Lee.
After playing a little over a season in Bridgeport, Cizikas was slotted in as the Islanders fourth line center and hasn't looked back.  Over time, not only has Cizikas settled into that role effectively but he has also become a very good penalty killer as well.
We would like to wish Casey a very Happy Birthday and look forward to continuing to watch him evolve over the years as a member of this team.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Who Is Mike Halmo?

photo by hockeysfuture

Today, along with teammates Anders Lee and Ryan Strome, Mike Halmo was called up to the Islanders.  What set Halmo apart from Strome & Lee is that he has never been with the big club before.  This unfamiliarity caused some Islanders fans to wonder who exactly he is when news that he was called up came out.

Halmo was a prospect who went un-drafted that the Islanders signed in March of 2012 to a 3 year entry level contract.  In his final year in juniors Halmo was 5th in the OHL in scoring with 85 points in 66 games and also served as team captain in his final season.

While he does have a scoring touch, Halmo does play with an edge to.  In his final year in juniors Halmo amassed 162 penalty minutes.  He is perhaps best known for getting a 10 game suspension after placing an illegal hit on Nail Yakupov.  

Halmo didn't stop playing with his edge when he left juniors.  He has continued with that edge in his time with Bridgeport.  In his 104 games with Bridgeport Halmo amassed 167 penalty minutes.  He doesn't spend all his time in the box though as he has also put up 52 points in that same 104 game span.

I don't really know enough about Halmo to have an opinion but on the surface it appears as though Halmo has the ingredients to be a fan favorite at the NHL level should he pan out.

Isles Call Up Lee/Strome/Halmo

Today, in anticipation of the NHL coming out the Olympic break the Islanders called up Anders Lee, Ryan Strome, and Mike Halmo from Bridgeport.

The call up of Strome was expected since he was sent down a couple weeks before the break.  Meanwhile, the call up of Lee was expected by some given the Islanders current injury situation.  Halmo getting the call though was a surprise to many.

The trio combined to form Bridgeport's top line for most of this season.  In 54 games for the Sound Tigers Lee has managed to put up 22 goals and 19 assists along with 83 penalty minutes.  Those 22 goals were enough to lead the Tigers and his 41 points were second on the team behind Strome.  Meanwhile, Halmo managed 17 goals and 20 assists and 116 penalty minutes in 53 games for Bridgeport.

With the trio having a lot of success as a unit in Bridgeport this year I wonder if they will keep them together as a line up here.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Isles Move Nielsen To IR

According to reports, today the Islanders moved forward Frans Nielsen to IR retroactive to February 8th.

Nielsen broke his hand the in the Islanders final game before the Olympic break against the Avalanche.  He is expected to miss the first week of games after NHL play resumes later this week.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Since When Do The Islanders Care About Season Ticket Holders?

This afternoon, Garth Snow made some critical statements to Arthur Staple of Newsday regarding the IOC and IIHF after the news of the Tavares injury came out.

One thing he said that really stuck out for me was, "Are the IIHF or IOC going to reimburse our season ticket holders now?"

I would like to know when the Islanders front office suddenly started caring about season ticket holders?  Over the last five or six years pretty much every perk season ticket holders had has been taken away and ticket prices have gone up multiple times even with the constant finishes in the lottery.  Today, the perks for Islanders season ticket holders are getting early access to Adventureland and getting one free year book.  Not one free year book for each seat on your account like it used to be, just one in general.  Additionally, they have to deal with the Islanders catering to the general public offering them stuff to try and get them to buy tickets that isn't even offered to season ticket holders at lower prices then what season ticket holders are charged as well.

The Islanders try their hardest and every which way they can think to get people to sign up for ticket plans.  However, after signing up for the plans people aren't given any benefit to continue on with the plans and are pretty much forgotten about by the team.  Before Garth Snow starts wondering if the IOC or IIHF will worry about our season ticket holders, why doesn't the Islanders front office show some concern for them for a change?

Isles GM Snow Criticizes IIHF/IOC Over Tavares Injury

Earlier today, news came out that Islanders star center and captain John Tavares would miss the rest of the NHL season after suffering a torn MCL and torn meniscus in Canada's 2-1 win over Latvia yesterday.

According to Newsday, as one would expect Islanders GM Garth Snow wasn't very happy about this.  He told Newsday, "Are the IIHF or IOC going to reimburse our season ticket holders now?  It's a joke.  They want all the benefits from NHL players playing in the Olympics and don't want to pay when our best player gets hurt.  It wouldn't matter if we were 10 points up on a playoff spot or 10 points out.  We lost our best player and he wasn't playing for us."

Personally, I was very surprised to see something like this come from Garth because he hasn't been one who really ruffles feathers with anyone during his time hear.  While I question some of what he said, I applaud him for saying what he did and standing up instead of just sitting back like he normally would.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Tavares To Miss Rest Of The Olympics, Maybe Longer?

Update: According to Arthur Staple, John Tavares will in fact miss the rest of the Islanders season with a torn MCL and a torn meniscus.  The Islanders captain is expected to be ready for training camp in September.

During Canada's 2-1 win over Latvia today, Islanders forward John Tavares suffered a knee injury after attempting to sidestep a hit along the boards.

Following the hit, Tavares went to the Canada bench and didn't return to the game.  According to Bob McKenzie from TSN, we will find out a more detailed diagnosis on the extent of Tavares injury tomorrow after an MRI.  McKenzie said the word out of Sochi is it isn't good though.

Now, I might be being a bit of a pessimist but I have a feeling we won't be seeing Tavares again until training camp next season. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Is Michael Grabner Re-Emerging In Sochi?

photo by thescore

In the 2010/2011 season, Michael Grabner managed to put up 34 goals as a rookie.  Following that season, hoping to lock Grabner up at a cheap price assuming the 30 goals would be a regular for him, the Islanders signed him to a 5 year deal worth 15 million dollars.

However, since signing the contract Grabner has only hit the 20 goal plateau once and is on pace to come up short of that goal total yet again this season.  While he does have other elements to his game that make him a valuable commodity because of his lack of production his name has began to surface as someone who could potentially be moved in the right deal.

While the NHL is shutdown now for the Olympics, Grabner hasn't been able to have any sort of rest as he has joined teammate Thomas Vanek in Sochi competing on behalf of team Austria.  Thus far in the tournament, Grabner is second among all players in points only to Phil Kessel of team USA.  Grabner has managed 5 goals in the tournament including a hat trick in his teams first game and he added an assist in there as well.  These stats are coming in just three games played.  Those 5 goals are more then half the amount that he has had for the Islanders in 56 games this season.

With his superior play thus far in the tournament, it has caused some fans to begin asking if Grabner could possibly be returning to the form that we saw when he scored 34 goals as a rookie in the 10/11 season.  Having Grabner return to rookie form would do wonders for the Islanders as they search for some secondary scoring.

While I understand fans thinking like that about Grabner, I wouldn't get my hopes up just yet.  After watching the guy and his inconsistencies for over two seasons, I need more then a couple tournament games to show me that he is back to being the player that earned himself the 5 year contract he currently has.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Has the Pulse Disappeared From The Coliseum?

Over the last few years, our Islanders have had some very rough seasons finishing with top 5 draft picks in 5 of the last 6 seasons.  Even with that though, one thing that never wavered was the atmosphere of home games at the Coliseum.  Even during the worst years there was still some sort of buzz or excitement during games.

I was at the last two games before the Olympic break last week and for the first time I felt like that buzz or that excitement had disappeared.  Sitting in my seats during those games, I didn't get the feeling that a large majority of the people in attendance wanted to be there.  The feeling I got was that most people were there because they had tickets and didn't want to put them to waste so they came.

This is something I don't anticipate getting any better after the Olympic break.  Especially after we trade Andrew MacDonald and Thomas Vanek I expect us to end up on the short end of most games.

So what now has caused this after so many seasons?  I think fans are getting tired of the constant losing and yearn so bad for seasons like last year.  With this being the 7th season of the rebuild I think they are well within their rights to feel that way.  When were told for years that we have no money and can't afford to sign people and then the GM goes out and signs someone like Pierre Marc Bouchard and calls it our big off season move or signs Josh Bailey to a massively inflated contract that he doesn't deserve questions as they should will arise.  Especially in a summer where we are supposed to be building off our first playoff appearance in many years, echoing what many other people have said, the GM failed majorly this past off season.  On a normal team, failure like that would lead to the GM losing his job, but that won't happen here.

My favorite though is when the owner who has for the most part been mute since the Brooklyn announcement in October of 2012 tells the New York Times in an interview that "star power" will be needed to compete with the Rangers in Brooklyn.  How come he realizes that will be necessary then but doesn't see the need for it now?  Also, how management constantly says the rebuild is over and that we should be competing for the playoffs.  I have news for them, over the last 7 years of the 21 teams to be in the bottom three in payroll in that time period only 7 of them have made the playoffs.  It would seem to me that spending among the lowest teams in the league year after year isn't a good way to ensure success.  Knowing this management team they probably think they can go against the grain and be the first team to reverse that trend.  Furthering on that point, in 5 of those 7 seasons we spent the least in the entire league usually using bonuses and buyouts to reach the cap floor with ticket prices for the fans either staying the same or going up.

For the reasons I have stated and many more I could understand why the collective pulse of the fans may have disappeared.  To be honest, I am surprised it didn't happen sooner.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Frans Nielsen Out With Broken Hand

Yesterday, it was announced that Islanders forward Frans Nielsen had sustained a broken hand in the teams final game before the Olympic break this past Saturday night.  Nielsen is expected miss around 1 week following the end of the Olympic break.

Nielsen sustained the injury in the third period of the game on a slash by Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson.  As consequences for the slash, the NHL suspended Johnson two games yesterday.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Join our Isles Giveaway!

All you need to do is go on twitter, follow SaveTheIsles and RT our tweet. It's that easy, winner will recieve two tickets to watch the Isles play the Maple Leafs on 2/27.

Don't wait, the winner could be you!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Avs Send Isles Limping Into The Break

Tonight, before a jam packed crowd at the Coliseum our Islanders fell 5-2 to the Avalanche.  Here are some of my notes:

-Solid game from Brock Nelson, he played with a lot of confidence tonight which was good to see.

-Good to see Tavares finally get one on the board after going scoreless for an uncharacteristic length of time.

-Nice to see the team finally cash in on some power plays after struggling for a while.

-I know he had an assist tonight but Bailey is an absolute mess out there sometimes, borderline tough to watch.

-Hamonic looked good in his return back which is encouraging.

-It seemed like there was a mini invasion of Nordique Nation at the Coliseum tonight.  If you recall they visited a few years ago to a Thrashers game in an attempt to lure the team to Quebec.  That also led to Garth Snow's quote about how the team welcomes "all fans."  In retrospect at times the group of fans was the most entertaining aspect of what was otherwise a less then stellar game.  There was also a small group of Hartford Whalers fans present to.  For those not averse in NHL history, before moving to Carolina the Hurricanes were the Whalers.

-Once again tonight we failed to put up a 60 minute effort, well we didn't even put up a 30 minute effort tonight let alone a sixty minute one.  With the lack of effort came a familiar result, yet another loss.  I have no idea what needs to be done but something does because this happens way to often.

With tonight's loss the Islanders fall to 8-14-8 at home on the season to this point.  According to Eric Hornick, that is tied for the Islanders second worst home record through 30 games in franchise history.  The 2000/2001 Islanders also had 8 home wins in 30 games and the 72/73 expansion Islanders had just six.  If that doesn't so happen, you like a microcosm of what the season has been like I am not sure what will.

Next Game: 2/27 @ Home vs Toronto

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Pre Game: Avs @ Islanders

Tonight, our Islanders close out their pre Olympic schedule with a match up against Pa Parenteau and the Colorado Avalanche.

The goalie match up tonight features JS Giguere for the Avalanche and Evgeni Nabokov for the Islanders.

Tonight marks PA Parenteau's first game on Long Island since the winger left following the 11/12 season.  In an article for the Denver Post Parenteau pretty much confirms what I thought and was reported at the time which was that the Islanders low balled him with contract offers before he hit the open market.

After Thursday's trade of Regin and Bouchard the Islanders only have 12 forwards up with the big club so there will be no forwards scratched tonight.  With Travis Hamonic coming off IR, Matt Donovan was sent back to Bridgeport so he can play during the Olympic break.  I would expect Matt Carkner and Radek Martinek to be the teams healthy scratches tonight.

Butch Goring Nominated For A NY Emmy

photo by thescore

According to reports, Islanders commentator Butch Goring was among many people who were recently nominated for a New York Emmy Award.  The award recognizes excellence in programming on TV and on other media platforms.

Goring has worked in the Islanders booth since the 2010/2011 after the Islanders declined to accept Billy Jaffe's deal with MSG because Jaffe was not positive enough.

We all have fun with Butch from time to time but I am really happy for him, I hope he wins the award.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Isles Activate Hamonic Off IR

The Islanders have just announced that defenseman Travis Hamonic has been activated off IR and likely will be in the lineup in tomorrow nights game against Colorado.

Hamonic has been out for a couple weeks suffering from concussion symptoms.  With Hamonic healthy now this will be the first time the Islanders defense is fully healthy since the third week of the season.

I'm a little surprised by this because I am thinking why rush him back before the Olympic break instead of giving him the break to make sure he is 100%.  With the way we have been with injuries this year it seems like an unnecessary risk for us to take.

Surging Flames Defeat Isles 4-2

Last night, our Islanders were defeated by the Calgary Flames who have now won 7 straight games by score of 4-2.  Here are some of my notes:

-Good to see Tavares/Vanek get some points after being quiet for a little while now.  That line seems to have lost some of its mojo so to speak of late which is concerning.

-On the topic of Vanek, I was disappointed in the fans for booing him last night.  I do not blame him at all for rejecting our contract offer.  He has made it clear in the past that he doesn't want to play on losing teams anymore and in that department we don't have the greatest track record.  If anyone should be booed it should be management because they are responsible for that, not Vanek.

-The improvements to Matt Donovan's game have been staggering since he came back which is refreshing to see.

-Andrew MacDonald has struggled on the power play all season and yet we keep him on it, it doesn't make sense to me.  Since we know he isn't part of the future of the team why not have Matt Donovan take his spot on the power play since he is someone that as of now could be here long term?

Next Game: Tomorrow @ Home Vs Colorado

Isles Trade Bouchard/Regin To Hawks

According to Newsday, the Islanders have traded Pierre Marc Bouchard and Peter Regin to the Blackhawks in exchange for a 4th round pick in this years amateur draft.

Considering these two guys were Garth Snows two prized free agent signings this summer I guess shipping these two guys away for a fourth round pick in this years draft is admitting Snow failed in free agency this year.  I wonder how the ever positive Islander people will spin this in favor of the team?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Pre Game: Flames @ Islanders

Tonight the Flames take on the New York Islanders at the old barn.  The Isles coming off a 1-0 shutout against the Captials, look to get another W.  The Flames recently have been hot, winning six in a row. 

With the Flames playing so well, a good start is much needed tonight.  Hopefully Tavares can get on the scoreboard and bring home an Isles win for the home crowd. 

As always, Lets Go Islanders! 

Isles Trying Hard To Deal Vanek By Tomorrow

According to reports, the Islanders are trying hard to trade Thomas Vanek by tomorrow afternoon's Olympic roster freeze.

ESPN's Pierre Lebrun reports that we are looking to get a "three asset haul" in return for Vanek.

The LA Kings and the division rival Penguins have been two teams floated out there by various analysts as teams that could make a play for Vanek.  With LA also interested in Sam Gagner one has to wonder how that would effect the market for Vanek.

Andrew MacDonald Turns Down Isles Contract Offer

According to Brett Cyrgalis from the New York Post, defenseman Andrew MacDonald recently turned down a 4 year 16 million dollar contract offer from the Islanders which likely makes his days with the team numbered as the deadline approaches.  It is believed that MacDonald is looking for a 4/5 year deal worth 5 million per season.

The Post also reports that Snow has received one substantial offer for him already and has turned it down banking on the offers getting better as it gets closer to tomorrows deadline as well as the March 5th trade deadline.  It is believed that Snow is looking for at least a first round pick in return for MacDonald.

Lighthouse Hockey did some analysis yesterday trying to gauge the potential return we could expect for MacDonald by looking at some deadline deals from last season and concluded that a second round pick plus is a realistic return for the defenseman.

This season has been a rough year for MacDonald who has logged a ton of minutes in the absence of Lubomir Visnovsky and put up some points as well.  However, with those increased minutes his play in his own zone has started to waver which used to be a staple for MacDonald as recently as last season.

Hamonic To Return Saturday?

photo by NHLPA

According to Newsday, defenseman Travis Hamonic could return to the Islanders lineup Saturday before the team breaks for the Olympics in Sochi.

Hamonic has been out for a couple weeks now suffering from concussion like symptoms and was put on IR last week.  On the season Hamonic has 9 points and 24 penalty minutes in 47 games.  Hamonic is in the first year of a 7 year 27 million dollar extension he signed with the Islanders over the summer.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Isles Shutout Caps To Snap Streak At 5

photo by yahoo

Tonight, our Islanders went into Washington and shut them out by a score of 1-0 to snap their 5 game losing streak.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-Great job by Nabby tonight

-Good to see Amac get on the board after going quiet for a while in that department.

-Michal Neuvirth had a solid game for the Capitals, he made a lot of big saves on us to keep them in the game.

-Nice fight by Martin early on to set the tone for the game

A win like this could easily help the team build some momentum as they head into the Olympic break in a couple days.

Next Game: Thursday @ Home Vs Calgary

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Pre Game: Isles @ Capitals

photo by thedistrict

Tonight, our Islanders travel to Washington looking to break their recent losing streak as they take on Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals.

The goalie match up tonight features Evgeni Nabokov for the Islanders.  Meanwhile, Michael Neuvirth will get the nod in net for the Capitals.

Even with yesterdays news, Thomas Vanek will be in the Islanders lineup on the first line tonight.  Some fans had speculated they might sit him until a deal is completed to avoid the chance of him getting hurt and losing trade value.  Additionally, Matt Carkner will be in the press box tonight.  The lineup won't be enforcer less though as Eric Boulton will suit up tonight.

With three games to go before the Olympic break, getting some wins leading up to then would certainly make the break a lot more enjoyable.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Bye Bye Vanek

photo by Newsday

According to Arthur Staple from Newsday, star winger Thomas Vanek has turned down a substantial contract offer from the Islanders and is likely to be moved before the March 5th trade deadline.
Since being acquired by the Islanders Vanek has formed one of the most dominant lines in hockey alongside Kyle Okposo and John Tavares.

According to Newsday, the Islanders offered Vanek around 7 years 50 million which is around what he makes now but that was declined.

I'm very curious to see what we are able to get out of him.  If we are only able to land a first round pick then this will go down as a bad job by Garth Snow and management.  One thing I don't understand though is why we wouldn't offer him the eighth year.  Being the only team in the NHL that can offer him the 8th year, it doesn't make any sense for us to not use that to our advantage.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Poor Third Costs Isles In 4-1 Loss To Rangers

Tonight, the Islanders were defeated for the second time in three days by their rivals the Rangers.  Tonight it was in familiar fashion as the game was tied through two periods and a poor third period saw the Rangers score three goals including an empty net goal with 1 second remaining.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-Second period tonight was a great period by the team!  If only they were able to play every period like that.

-The team needs to shoot more, far to often do they pass up shooting opportunities making that extra pass and having nothing come out of it.

-Great game by Matt Donovan tonight

-Nabokov was alright, not great though.  It'd be nice if he was able to stop a breakaway.  I know it isn't easy but I believe I can think of one time between this year and last year that he has stopped one.  It is like a forgone conclusion.

Next Game: Tuesday @ Washington On NBCSN