Sunday, November 30, 2014

Isles Down Devils 3-1

Photo by zimbio

Tonight, our Islanders defeated the New Jersey Devils by a score of 3-1.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-Halak was sharp tonight to extend his unbeaten streak to 9 games.  At 9 games, this is a career long streak for him passing his previous high of 8 he achieved while with the Blues.  If they are able to continue with this level of play it will surely go a long way in ensuring long term success for the Islanders.

-While he wasn't named one of the three stars, impressive game by Casey Cizikas.  He finished the game with two points and had some huge penalty killing work near the end of the game.

-The power play was pretty poor tonight.  They had a good start to the first one tonight, however, the rest of the power play time was pretty abysmal.

-Matt Donovan has looked pretty good in his limited time this season.  That is a credit to the conditioning and training he does off ice to make sure he doesn't slip out of game shape.

-The third period was concerning tonight as they were more or less dominated by the Devils.  That period represented a change in the team though as in prior years the Devils likely would've scored at least one goal in this period but they failed to do so in tonights game which was the key to the Islanders victory.

After last nights loss, a win tonight was big and the team was able to come through.  While their first 40 minutes were solid, the third period though was certainly not their best to say the least.  The team is going to need to start getting healthy as they have a couple injured players now, and hope they are able to continue their positive momentum Tuesday from the Coliseum.  They can't get complacent because in the end it will cost you, potentially big time.

Next Game: Tuesday @ Home vs Ottawa

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Pre Game: Devils @ Islanders

Tonight, our Islanders look to rebound from last nights loss to the Capitals as they play host to Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils.

The aforementioned Schneider will be in net for the Devils.  Meanwhile, Jaroslav Halak will be back between the net for the Islanders looking to end November on a high note.

The Devils lineup will have a couple holes up front as both forwards Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac will miss tonights contest.

Meanwhile, the Islanders will once again be without Johnny Boychuk tonight who will miss his second consecutive game with an upper body injury.  Brian Strait will be in the lineup in his spot.  Lubomir Visnovsky will also be out of the lineup after suffering a lower body injury last night.  Matt Donovan will return to the lineup tonight for his second game of the season.

Isles Win Streak Snapped at 5 by Caps

Last night, our Islanders had their five game winning streak snapped by the Capitals as they fell by a score of 5-2.

The Islanders depth was really tested as Hamonic and Visnovsky both left the game with injuries leaving them with just four defensemen.  Chad Johnson struggled yet again in goal, I don't know what is wrong with him but he seems like a completely different goalie than the one that was in Boston last season.  The only real positives to come out of last night were Tavares and Anders Lee staying hot as they both managed to put one to the back of the net.

Next Game: Tonight @ Home vs The Devils

Friday, November 28, 2014

Pre Game: Isles @ Caps

photo by thedistrict

Tonight, our Islanders travel to Washington as they look for their sixth straight win as they finish off a home and home with the Capitals.

The goalie match up features Chad Johnson for the Islanders.  Meanwhile, Braden Holtby is expected to get the nod in net for the Capitals.

The Islanders will have one lineup change tonight as Brian Strait makes his return to the lineup.  He will be in Johnny Boychuks spot as he is day to day with an upper body injury.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Tavares OT Winner Leads Isles to 5th Straight Victory

photo by thestar

Tonight, our Islanders managed to win their fifth straight game by score of 3-2 in overtime.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-I thought Anders Lee was arguably the teams best forward tonight.  He made his presence felt both with his nice little spin move goal to kick off the scoring.  Then, he had his first fight at the end of the second period against the Capitals Tom Wilson, and really held his own against someone with a lot more experience than him in this area.  After the game, some players said that the fight really gave the team a spark at the time that they needed.

-Although he gave up a couple goals, I thought Halak had a solid game.

-The penalty kill struggled for the first time in a little while tonight.  The Capitals power play is probably one of the more predictable in the league and yet the penalty kill wasn't just beat by it once but twice.  This is something they are going to need to correct in order to give them the best opportunity to sweep the home and home on Friday.

-Another solid game from Ryan Strome who just continues getting better.

-Even though they got two power play goals tonight, it still needs to be better.  Far to often does it take them over half the time to just gain the zone which doesn't give the team much time to get anything done.

-The team seemed to fall into some old bad habits in the third and were fortunate that it didn't come back to haunt them.  At times they were caught sitting back instead of continuing to push the play which is the complete opposite of what makes them successful.

With their win tonight, the Islanders have now won 5 in a row and 10 of their last 11.  While this streak of course won't last forever, the team is sure providing one heck of a ride for fans to be apart of.

Next Game: Friday 5PM @ Washington

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pre Game: Capitals @ Islanders

Tonight, our Islanders look to win their fifth straight game as they play host to Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals.

The goalie match up tonight features Braden Holtby for the Capitals.  Meanwhile, Jaroslav Halak will be between the pipes for the Islanders as he looks to continue his impressive November play.

For the Islanders, Thomas Hickey and Calvin de Haan will return to the lineup tonight after missing Mondays game due to illness.  Brian Strait and Matt Donovan will head back to the press box to make room for them.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Islanders Earning Respect From Coaches & Media

This Post Originally Appeared on The Hockey Writers

With the Islanders having not experienced much success the last 20+ years, it isn't surprising that they aren't often given any respect in the media and are sometimes viewed unfavorably by other teams.  However, with the team having gotten off to their best start in franchise history with last nights victory over the Flyers, that is beginning to change.  With that victory, the Islanders sit at 15-6, tied for first place in their division with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the media as well as other teams are starting to take notice.

We're Number One

Yesterday, news outlets including ESPN and THN released their updated NHL power rankings.  With their home and home sweep of the Penguins over the weekend, the Islanders were slotted in first place in both rankings.  Pierre LeBrun from ESPN concluded his blurb on the Islanders by stating, "And man they are fun to watch."  Given where the Islanders were as recently as last season when they were referred to as a "tire fire" among other things on TSN, this is almost like living in a twilight zone.  The key for the Islanders though is to be able to sustain this success and not just have this be a temporary streak.

Kevin Weekes

Kevin Weekes was an NHL goalie for 10 years playing for 6 different NHL teams including the Islanders.  Weekes currently works as an analyst for the NHL Network.  Weekes was ahead of the curve on giving the Islanders credit as he has been on top of them since the Islanders made their run to the playoffs two seasons ago.  His praise continued for the team after their home and home sweep of the Penguins.  If the Islanders continue to play at this level, it won't be long before all of Weekes colleagues join him in praise for the Islanders.

Dave Lozo

Lozo is the lead NHL beat writer for the Bleacher Report and became a popular person in Islanders Country on Monday as he joined the train of media members beginning to believe in the Islanders.  Lozo joins Weekes and LeBrun as media members beginning to publicly acknowledge the Islanders impressive play.  After years of making jokes about the Islanders, it might take certain members of the media longer than others to acknowledge the Islanders.  It can't be denied though that the Islanders finally have seemed to find the formula for earning the respect that they have desired.

Where They Were

As recently as last season, the Islanders were being called a "tire fire" on the national TSN coverage of the trade deadline.  A couple years ago, Islanders forward Zenon Konopka made some headlines after objecting to the media referring to the Islanders as doormats.  These were only the latest examples of the Islanders not receiving respect from the media elite.  It all started to go down hill for the Islanders in the mid 90's with the introduction of the fisherman jersey and the ownership carousel that ensued when John Picket sold the team.  While things got better initially under Charles Wang, it wasn't very long until they were right back where they were and if not for new league rules, they probably would've been worse.  With the team preparing to move to Brooklyn, beginning to alter the teams image in the media and in the NHL were key and they seemed to have done that.

Coaches Giving the Islanders Respect

While media members have began to show the Islanders some respect, their impressive play hasn't gone unnoticed by NHL coaches either.  Following the Islanders shootout victory against the Kings earlier this month, Kings coach Darryl Sutter told media members, "...we came and got a point against a really good team tonight."  Coming from a coach who has won two Stanley Cups in three years, this is some bulletin board material for an emerging team like the Islanders.  Additionally, prior to the home and home series with the Penguins last weekend, Penguins coach Mike Johnston said of the series, "I look forward to these two-game series we have.  It gives us a chance to simulate playoff action."

Brief Thoughts

The day things like this aren't newsworthy items anymore will be a great day because that will mean the Islanders have taken a huge step in re-establishing themselves in the NHL and that is what we all want and deserve. 

Isles Trade Pedan to Vancouver For 3rd Round Pick & Prospect

According to Newsday, the Islanders have traded defenseman Andrey Pedan to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a 2016 3rd round pick and ECHL forward Alexandre Mallet.
Pedan was a third round pick by the Islanders back in 2011.  So far, in 34 games in the AHL, Pedan managed to put up 15 points and 101 PIMS.  He had seemed to gain a reputation as one of the tougher guys on the Sound Tigers this season.

Meanwhile, Mallet was a 2nd round pick by the Canucks in the 2012 draft.  Mallet has played 77 games in the AHL thus far and put up just six points in that time period.  He also has played 58 games in the ECHL where he has put up 40 points including 14 goals.  The Islanders also added to their draft pick depth which had taken a bit of a hit with the deals for Vanek last season and Boychuk earlier this year by acquiring the Canucks third round pick next year.

Isles Win 4th Straight in Shootout

photo by pixgood

Tonight, our Islanders continued their hot play as they defeated the Flyers by a score of 1-0 in a shootout.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-Great effort from Halak, he was on point tonight and the Islanders really benefited.  He made a potential save of the year on Claude Giroux's shootout attempt.

-To be fair to Steve Mason, he played an unbelievable game tonight.  He stole a point for the Flyers tonight.

-Solid game from the kid line tonight, they were clicking all game.

-Given that he hadn't played all season, Matt Donovan didn't seem to be behind which is good to see.

-With 1/3 of the defense replaced for tonight's game, the team really didn't miss a step allowing just 21 shots on net which is the sign of a good team.

I am running out of things to say about this team.  They are off to the best start in franchise history now and are undefeated in shootouts thus far this season.  Obviously this streak won't last this entire season, but this team seems to be capturing the imaginations of Islander fans all over the place.

Next Game: Wednesday @ Home vs Washington

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pre Game: Flyers @ Islanders

Tonight the New York Islanders look to continue their hot play against the Philadelphia Flyers. After two hard fought games against the Penguins, the Isles can't fall into the trap and come out the gate flat.

For tonight, same lineup as Saturday with Halak in net.  I would expect Grabner to be back in around a week or so.  

As always, let the coli rock & Lets Go Islanders!! 

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.

Pre Game: Lightning @ Islanders

Tonight, our Islanders return home looking to get some revenge on the Tampa Bay Lightning after their 5-2 loss to them on Saturday.

The goalie match up features Evgeni Nabokov making his return to Long Island for the Lightning.  Meanwhile, Jaroslav Halak will be in net for the Islanders.

After missing Saturdays game, Cal Clutterbuck will be back in the lineup tonight in place of Cory Conacher.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sound Tigers Brawl With Springfield

Earlier today, the Islanders AHL affiliate in Bridgeport had their five game winning streak snapped as they fell by a score of 5-3 to the Springfield Falcons.  The Sound Tigers didn't go down without a fight though as over 200 PIMS were accumulated in the final minute of the game as there were fights aplenty.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Isles Win Streak Snapped at 5 With 5-2 Loss to Tampa

Tonight, in what was their poorest played game in over two weeks, our Islanders had their win streak stopped at 5 as they fell by a score of 5-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-Chad Johnson didn't show up tonight and it really came back to haunt the team.  If Johnson plays like we know he is capable of the Islanders leave the first in the lead or at the very least tied which would've been way different than heading into the second period down a goal.

-Although they got a power play goal tonight, the unit overall wasn't very impressive.  They got multiple power plays in key situations and weren't able to muster up much of anything.

-Isles had a poor game in their own zone.  This has been a problem on and off all season and if they are aiming for sustained success this is something that absolutely needs to be rectified.

-The "kid line" was the Islanders best offensive unit tonight.  They had the most consistent chances and never really had horrible shifts like some other lines did.  Brock Nelson in particular had an excellent game showing off his excellent shot on his goal.

-We all know how good John Tavares is, but he really needs to play smarter with the puck.  The entire team really has a problem with turnovers, but it starts with him.  He makes those no look passes far to often and now they have rubbed off on teammates as well as we saw in the third period tonight when Brock Nelson attempted one that failed and ended up clearing the zone for the Lightning.

The streak had to come to an end sooner or later, however, for it to come to an end like this is disappointing.  If the Islanders had come out and played their game and Johnson showed up, this was a game that easily could've become their sixth straight win.

Next Game: Tuesday Vs Tampa Bay

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Pre Game: Islanders @ Lightning

photo by deadspin

Tonight, our Islanders look to extend their win streak to six as they travel to Tampa Bay to take on Steven Stamkos and the Lightning.

The goalie match up features Chad Johnson in net for the Islanders in the back end of their back to back.  Meanwhile, Ben Bishop will be between the pipes for the Lightning.

The Islanders will ice the same lineup as last nights shootout victory over the Panthers except for potentially Cal Clutterbuck who will be a game time decision tonight after tweaking something in last nights game.  If he is unable to go, Cory Conacher will likely get back into the lineup.

Isles Squeak Out 5th Straight Win Vs Panthers In Shootout

photo by zimbio

Tonight, our Islanders managed to get their fifth straight win all be it in tougher fashion then it should've been as they defeated the Panthers by a score of 4-3 in a shootout.  Here are some of my notes:

-Great game for Nikolay Kulemin, he was everywhere tonight and just had a solid consistent effort from the start.

-Much like Kulemin, Ryan Strome had a good game as well.

-The team needs to be more disciplined, the late penalties really came back to haunt them.

-Much like the discipline, the team needs to work on executing clean exits from their zone.  Their failure to do that was really evident particularly in the third period on the Panthers tying goal.

-It is a little confusing why Jack Capuano didn't use his time out in the third period especially after the Panthers goal when they seemed to gain some momentum back.

-Yet another good effort from the penalty kill tonight, which has seemed to hit its stride over the last week or so.

-While Halak probably wants one, maybe two goals back tonight, he still had a solid game and gave the team a chance to win which is what you want from your goalie.  The save he made in the second period squeezing his head to the cross bar was simply ridiculous.

While this victory didn't come easy for the Islanders, it won't get any easier for them as they begin a period of 4 straight games against the Lightning followed by the Penguins.  After a tough west coast trip to start the month, this will be yet another tough November test for the Islanders.

Next Game: Tomorrow Night 7PM @ Tampa Bay

Friday, November 14, 2014

Pre Game: Isles @ Panthers

photo by CBSSports

Tonight, our Islanders look for their fifth straight win as they travel to Sunrise to take on Roberto Luongo and the Panthers.

The goalie match up tonight features Jaroslav Halak for the Islanders.  Meanwhile, Luongo will be between the pipes for the Panthers.

One lineup change will be made by the Islanders tonight as Cory Conacher is coming back out of the lineup.  Josh Bailey will be taking his spot in the lineup returning from a hand injury.  Eric Boulton was put on IR last night to make room for Bailey on the roster.

Who Will Remain When the Islanders Get Healthy?

This post originally appeared on The Hockey Writers

The Islanders are playing some of their best hockey of the season right now and tomorrow expect to get Josh Bailey back from injury as they go for their 5th straight win against the Panthers.  Around Thanksgiving, they are expecting to get Michael Grabner back as well who has yet to suit up this year after undergoing back surgery early last month.  With these two returning, the Islanders will need to make changes to both their lineup and roster as they work both of them back in.  The question is though, who stays and who goes?  Today, we will look at some potential candidates who could have their playing time cut or simply be sent down and ending with my thoughts on what they will do.

Matt Martin

Since arriving on Long Island in the 2010/2011 season, Martin has become a fan favorite for his rugged style and willingness to defend his teammates.  However, over that time the Islanders have become a better team and Martins flaws have become more and more evident.  While he still adds the physical component to the lineup, much of what he does is replicated by Cal Clutterbuck.  He often seems a step behind in the Islanders fast paced system and doesn't seem like he fits in the lineup on a permanent basis anymore.

Cory Conacher

Conacher was this years feel good story coming out of training camp.  Having started the season on the left wing spot on the Tavares Okposo line, the coaching staff was attempting to rekindle the spark Conchaer had as a rookie playing with Steven Stamkos and Martin St Louis while with the Lightning.  Unfortunately, that was unsuccessful and ultimately resulted in Conacher being a healthy scratch for a couple of games last week before being put back in the lineup the other night with Eric Boulton dealing with an injury.

Eric Boulton

While Martin and Conacher have their flaws, they are able to take a regular shift in the lineup and not handicap the teams ability to roll 4 lines because of their presence.  The same can't be said for Eric Boulton though.  When Boulton is in the lineup, certain players are going to have to get extra ice time because of the limited minutes Boulton receives.  While I am a proponent of a physical brand of hockey more than the average person, it can't denied that players like Boulton don't have a place in the NHL anymore.  While he might be a great guy in the room and such, this is about icing the best roster and in this current NHL that doesn't include Boulton.

Anders Lee

While I think this would be the wrong move, Anders Lee along with Ryan Strome are the only Islander forwards that don't need waivers to be sent down.  Lee has been a presence since he was called up late last month when the team sent down Colin McDonald.  While his stats aren't really reflective of that, it can't be denied if you watch the games.  He has absolutely earned the right to continue to be in the lineup and it would be a pretty big mistake if the Islanders disagree and decide to take the easy way out and send him down.

My Thoughts

While it will be tough for the Islanders to make this decision, it is pretty easy for me.  With the Islanders needing to clear two spots, the obvious first move is waiving Eric Boulton.  Like I said above, his type of player doesn't really exist in the NHL anymore so I suspect that he would sail through waivers pretty easy and could end up being a good teacher for guys down in Bridgeport.  The second option is a little more challenging but for me I would probably waive Conacher and give Matt Martin Boultons role of dressing against more physical teams.  While it would've been nice to see Conacher be successful, it is pretty obvious after his showing this season that it won't be here so I think it is the correct move.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Blue and Orange Army Hosting 2nd Annual Food Drive 11/22

On Saturday, November 22nd, the Blue and Orange Army will be hosting their second annual Thanksgiving food drive benefiting Trinity Church soup kitchen in Coram and St Frances de Chantal soup kitchen in Wantagh.  It will take place from 1PM-6PM prior to the Islanders game vs the Penguins.  They will be located at their usual tailgate spot outside the plaza.

Items that can be donated range from canned goods or pastas to instant mashed potatoes.  Additionally, they will be grilling food which can be had for a $5 donation.  They will also have the first BOA open invitational 2 on 2 hockey tournament.  It is $5 per person and goalies play for free.  Lastly, there will be an Xbox 360 setup with NHL 14 at $5 per game.

If you have any questions you can contact the group on twitter here.

If you are able to, this is a great chance to help out a good cause as the holidays get underway.

Reports: NHL Picks Las Vegas Team Owner

According to the New York Post, the NHL has selected the owners of a Las Vegas franchise.  They selected William Foley and the Maloof Family.

Foley has a net worth of 600 million according to Forbes.  Meanwhile, the Maloofs are former owners of the NBA's Sacramento Kings.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Isles Get Revenge On Avs In 6-0 Victory

photo by zimbio

Last night, our Islanders were able to get some revenge on the Colorado Avalanche as they defeated them by a score of 6-0.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-Another great performance from Jaroslav Halak who seems to have hit his stride after a rough October.

-Good to see Strome and Cizikas get their first ones out of the way.

-Nice goal by Kulemin as well, he hasn't scored often but both his goals have been at big points of their respective games.

-Impressive defensive effort yet again from the Islanders.

-Nice finish from Lee on his goal, making the goalie pay for his mistake.

After a poor start to yet another November, Islander fans were becoming antsy fearing that they were on the precipice of another November swoon.  However, the Islanders have rebounded and are now playing their best hockey of the season.  The next week and a half will be a real test for the team as they face the Lightning and the Penguins twice.  The two matches with the Penguins will likely decide who will occupy first place in the division.

Next Game: Friday 7:30 @ the Panthers

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pre Game: Avalanche @ Islanders

Tonight, our Islanders return home for a quick one game homestand as they try and exact a little revenge on Matt Duchene and the Avalanche after they were defeated by them 5-0 in Colorado earlier this month.

The goalie match up tonight features Semyon Varlamov for the Avalanche.  Meanwhile, Jaroslav Halak will be in net for the Islanders.

The Islanders will have a couple lineup changes coming tonight.  Cory Conacher will be back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch the last two games.  He will be taking Eric Boulton's spot in the lineup after Boulton reportedly tweaked something in practice.  Additionally, Johnny Boychuk is expected to return tonight after sitting out Saturdays 1-0 win versus Arizona.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Islanders Have a Star Emerging

This Post Originally Appeared on The Hockey Writer

Last season, even though he spent some nights in the press box watching early on, by the end of the season Brock Nelson had made quite an impression on fans and media alike that he would be someone who people should watch going forward.

Early on this season, he is living up to the expectations he set for himself as through 14 games he is emerging as a potential star in the making.  With 14 points, Nelson is tied with Kyle Okposo for second on the Islanders, just one point behind John Tavares for the most on the team.  Those 14 points also put him in a tie for 20th in the entire NHL in scoring.  Additionally, Nelson leads the team in goals with 7 in just 14 games.  If Nelson was able to keep up on this pace, he would net over 40 goals this season.

Nelson has been able to maintain his steady production even though he has been juggled around the lineup playing with nearly everyone on the team except for the fourth liners.  While the lack of consistent linemates might frazzle some players, it hasn't done that with Nelson who has just continued to produce.  Nelson is also being used on both the power play and penalty kill, becoming a staple on each unit.  His use in these spots on top of at even strength shows that he has really gained the trust of the coaching staff after being a healthy scratch at points early last season.

While Nelson has been impressive no matter where he has been in the lineup, his best efforts early on have come as a member of "the kid line" as Butch Goring calls them.  That line consists of Nelson in the middle of Anders Lee and Ryan Strome.  Having played together in Bridgeport the trio have a built-in chemistry that really shows when they are on the ice with one another.

Fans Excited By Nelson

Nelsons play early on this season has really excited fans as well.  When asked about Nelson, Douglas Williams, 64, from Middletown NY said, "He got bigger and defense has a harder time stopping him like they did before...But his talent is showing itself."  Meanwhile, Adam Corbett, 43, a lifelong Islanders fan from Mt Olive NJ was rather sure of himself when he said, "By the end of this season, the league will know who he [Nelson] is."  Timothy Gebby, 35, from Valley Stream had high praise for Nelson as well.  "His hockey IQ is evident and fun to watch" Gebby said.  He continued, "He [Nelson] seems to have an idea on how the goalies technical weaknesses can be exploited with a hard accurate clean shot with an effortless release."  Nelsons hot start has given Islanders fans an added reason to be excited beside the teams play which has been more effective than in previous seasons.

I was fortunate to see Nelson many times during his one season in Bridgeport two years ago.  Every time I saw him I always came away impressed.  His most impressive attribute for me was always his wicked shot.  Having seen him so often in the minors, I am not at all surprised that he is emerging at this level like he is.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Johnny Boychuk To Be Evaluated Tomorrow

According to Newsday, Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk is out after suffering a knee on knee hit from the Kings Kyle Clifford in the Islanders victory on Thursday.  Boychuk will be examined tomorrow when the team arrives back home, Newsday reports.

Losing Boychuk would be huge for the Islanders.  He is an anchor back there as well as a presence on the power play.  Hopefully, for the team, this will not be serious and he will be right back in the lineup on Tuesday. 

Nielsen Late Goal Leads Isles Over Coyotes 1-0

photo by NBCSports

Tonight, in a game that can be classified as a goalie duel, the Islanders were able to come out victorious for their third straight win by a score of 1-0 over the Coyotes.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-Great effort from Halak tonight, he looked sharp all game which is very encouraging to see.

-Great shot and release by Nielsen on the winning goal.

-Mike Smith played unbelievable for Arizona.

-Penalty kill had yet another stellar effort tonight.  I don't know what happened, but it is good to see that the penalty kill seems to have woken up after a bad start to the season.

-The second unit power play continued to struggle tonight.  Maybe a player switch or something needs to be made because they haven't been doing much of anything the last few games.

A week ago, after the Islanders loss to the Sharks, if you told me they would finish this trip 3-2 I probably would've told you that you were crazy.  The fact they were able to do it though and in some cases impressive fashion like they did is a very encouraging sign for this team.  They need to keep their foot on the gas pedal so to speak though and not give teams a chance.  If they are able to do this, they should be able to have a successful November for the first time in a long time.

Next Game: Tuesday @ Home Vs Colorado

Pre Game: Islanders @ Arizona

photo by examiner

Tonight, our Islanders look to conclude their five game road trip on a high note as they travel to Arizona to take on Shane Doan and the Coyotes.  

The goalie match up tonight features Jaroslav Halak back between the pipes for the Islanders.  Meanwhile, after leading the Coyotes to a shootout victory over the Ducks last night, Mike Smith will be back in net for Arizona tonight.

With the Coyotes having played last night, and goalies traditionally playing worse on the back end of back to backs, the Islanders need to make sure they play their game and don't play down to their competition if they hope to come home Tuesday with a 9-5 record.

The Islanders lineup will be the same as Thursdays victory over the Kings.  Although, according to Newsday, there might be a change made to the defense.  The reason to make the change after possibly the teams most complete effort of the season to this point is anyones guess.  If there is a change made, Brian Strait will be the player going into the lineup.  Matt Donovan will be scratched for a 14th straight game tonight.

Howie Rose will be out tonight and on Tuesday as well.  Former Islanders broadcaster Jiggs McDonald will be taking his spot in the booth alongside Butch Goring for both games.  The Islanders are 12-1-3 in the last 16 games McDonald has called.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Isles Defeat Defending Cup Champs 2-1 In Shootout

photo by zimbio

Tonight, in their best 60 minute effort of the season to date, our Islanders defeated the defending Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings by a score of 2-1 in a shootout.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-Excellent performance from Chad Johnson tonight.  Tonight, he looked like the player the Islanders thought they were getting when they signed him to a two year contract on July 1st.

-Brock Nelson was all over the place tonight, great game from him.  His line was very effective as well, they earned another game together, in my opinion at least.

-Thomas Hickey had a solid game as well against his former team.

-The Tavares power play unit was pretty effective tonight.  However, the second unit had some struggles.

-As if we weren't aware already, fans really got a peak into Johnny Boychuk's toughness tonight.  It can't be said enough how big of an acquisition he was.

After beginning the trip like they did, the Islanders have really rebounded to turn this into a potentially solid trip pending the outcome of Saturdays game with Arizona.  Tonight was the teams best 60 minute effort of the season to this point.  If they can replicate this on Saturday they will have a very good shot at coming home next week with an over .500 west coast road trip under their belt which is always a good thing.

Next Game: Saturday @ Arizona

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Pre Game: Islanders @ Kings

photo by aegworldwide

Tonight, our Islanders travel to LA looking to build on last nights OT victory as they take on Jonathan Quick and the defending Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings.

The goalie match up features Chad Johnson getting the start in net for the Islanders.  Meanwhile, Jonathan Quick will be in net for the Kings.

After sitting out last night, Casey Cizikas will be back in the lineup tonight.  He will take the spot of winger Cory Conacher who will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season.  With the roster alteration here are tonights projected lines, according to the teams official twitter.





Isles Snap Skid At 3 With OT Win Over Ducks

photo by CBSSports

Tonight, our Islanders snapped their losing streak at 3 with a 3-2 overtime victory versus the Ducks.  Here are some of my notes from the game:
-Not an A+ game from Halak but solid nonetheless.  Hopefully, he has started to find a rhythm.

-Good to see the team get a couple conversions on the power play after struggling recently.

-Wicked shot by Kyle Okposo on his goal.

-Bad job by the defense on the Ducks second goal, you can't fall asleep like they did.

-The team needs to improve their play in their own zone.  At times tonight, it was pretty atrocious.

-The captain did his job and was the key in ending the teams losing streak tonight.  Great game from him, his line with Okposo and Kulemin was pretty solid as well.

While it wasn't pretty, a win is a win.  Especially given where this team has been, this was a big win for them.  They get right back it tomorrow with a game against the Kings which will be another big test for them.

Next Game: Tomorrow night, @ LA Kings

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pre Game: Islanders @ Ducks

photo by axs

Tonight, our Islanders continue their road trip as they travel to Anaheim to take on Ryan Getzlaf and the Anaheim Ducks.

The goalie match up features Jaroslav Halak for the Islanders.  Meanwhile, Frederik Andersen will likely be in net for the Ducks.

The Islanders are making one lineup change tonight as Casey Cizikas will be sitting tonights game out.  Taking his spot in the lineup will be Eric Boulton who is making his 2014/2015 season debut.  On top of that though, the lines have also once again been shuffled.  Nikolay Kulemin will be the latest person to get a shot on the left wing of John Tavares and Kyle Okposo.  The one big red mark of the lineup though is prized young player Ryan Strome will start the night centering a line of Eric Boulton and Matt Martin.  How Strome is supposed to develop his game at all when playing with guys like that is anyones guess.  Additionally, Brock Nelson, who is tied for the team lead in points will start the night centering Cory Conacher and Cal Clutterbuck.

Monday, November 3, 2014

RUMOR: Cal Clutterbuck on The Move?

photo by zimbio

According to, there is talk that the Islanders would like to move forward Cal Clutterbuck.  The report speculates that Clutterbucks 2.75 million dollar cap hit could prove difficult to move though.

Clutterbuck, who was acquired by the Islanders on draft day 2013 along with a third round pick from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for disgruntled prospect Nino Niederreiter has put up 21 points including 13 goals in 84 regular season games since joining the team.

I understand the teams desire to move a forward with Grabner and Bailey coming back they will have a bit of a logjam.  However, moving Clutterbuck wouldn't make much sense to me because it is highly unlikely they will be able to get near the value in return for him that they gave up for him.  

SMG Subleasing The Coliseum Parking Lot

If you have been to the Coliseum over the last few months, you probably have noticed the extra amount of cars in certain areas of the parking lot.

According to Newsday, SMG is subleasing the parking lot to three different car dealerships and the cars in the lot are being stored there for the dealerships.  The lot right to your right when you come into the Coliseum off of Hempstead Turnpike as well as the $8.25 lot are the two with vehicles being stored in them.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Isles On Losing Streak After 3-1 Loss To Sharks

Tonight, our Islanders fell 3-1 to the Sharks.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-The penalty kill let the team down once again in the first period on the Sharks goal.  You can't leave a guy out in front of the net by himself like they did and not expect to get burned.

-Doug Weight needs to start earning his paycheck as the power play was pretty bad once again tonight.  After their roaring start, the power play has really fallen off a cliff over the last two weeks or so.

-Once again tonight, how in the world does Casey Cizikas get more time on ice than Ryan Strome and Anders Lee?  Those two guys are supposed to be top 6 or at least top 9 forwards and future top 6 potentially first line players.  They shouldn't be getting less ice time then the 4th line center.  It makes no sense.

-Bad back check from Matt Martin on the Sharks third goal.

-Nice move and finish by Okposo on his goal.

-Good, effective game from Travis Hamonic in his return from injury.

Well, this certainly isn't how we expected this road trip to start.  With the Ducks and Kings coming up next, the trip couldn't have started much worse.  The Islanders need to get back to playing their game on a consistent basis otherwise this could join the long list of Novembers to forget.

Next Game: Wednesday 10:30 @ the Ducks

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Matt Carkner Likely Out For The Year

According to Newsday, Islanders defenseman Matt Carkner is likely done for the season after undergoing back surgery.  With his season done, that means Carkners Islanders career is likely over as well with his contract set to expire at the end of the season.

In 75 regular season games for the Islanders, Carkner had 5 points and 195 penalty minutes.  Carkner also had 1 point and 2 penalty minutes in 4 playoff games with the Islanders.

Happy Birthday Al Arbour

photo by NBCMontana

Today, former Islanders head coach and Islanders Hall of Famer Al Arbour is celebrating his 82nd birthday.

Arbour coached the Islanders for 1499 games achieving 739 wins in that period of time.  The team appeared in 5 straight Stanley Cup finals under Arbour winning 4 straight, also winning 19 straight playoff series which is an NHL record to this day.  It wasn't until November of 2007 that then Islanders coach Ted Nolan invited Arbour back to coach 1 more game to hit the magical 1500 number.  On November 3rd, 2007 Arbour graced the Islanders bench at the Nassau Coliseum one more time and in comeback fashion the Islanders defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins to give Arbour career win 740.  

We here at savetheisles would like to wish Mr Arbour a very Happy Birthday and hope that if his health allows him that he will make one last appearance at the Coliseum at some point this season.

Pre Game: Islanders @ Sharks

photo by newssap

Tonight, our Islanders look to end their two game losing streak as they travel to the "shark tank" in San Jose to take on Joe Pavelski and the Sharks.

The goalie match up tonight features Jaroslav Halak back between the pipes for the Islanders.  Meanwhile, Antti Niemi will be in net for the Sharks.

Coming off their recent loses, the Islanders made some lineup changes for tonight, according to reports.  The biggest change being the return of Travis Hamonic.  Hamonic will take Brian Straits spot in the lineup and be paired with Calvin de Haan.  The Cory Conacher experiment on the first line also appears to be over as Brock Nelson will be dressing on that line tonight alongside Tavares and Okposo.  The one big oddity of the lineup to me is Matt Martin playing with Ryan Strome and Anders Lee.  Martin has the potential to hold that line back much like Conacher was doing to the first line rather than helping them excel.

Why These Aren't Your Same Old Islanders

Over the last week, emotions in Islanders Country have began to run high as the team has lost two in a row and played pretty poor in each loss.  With the two loses, the team is now 2-4 in their last six games after starting the season 4-0.  The teams recent struggle has caused some to wonder if these are the same old Islanders?  Or have they as their roster suggests turned a corner to respectability?

While I am normally a pessimist when it comes to the team who always has a I'll believe it when I see it attitude with them, I think this team is more option two mentioned above rather than option one, right now at least.

While the goalies have struggled in the first month of the season, they have a history of being effective in the NHL, not the AHL which has usually been the case for the Islanders in recent years.  As the season wears on, the stabilizing presence they will provide between the pipes will be invaluable.

With Travis Hamonic returning tonight, and the defense being 100% healthy for the first time this year, this gives them potentially the best defense the team has had in over a decade.  The defense is led by Travis Hamonic, and more importantly, Johnny Boychuk who is the veteran top-4 dman that fans have been begging for, for years now.  After being mostly by himself for a long time, Hamonic finally has other capable players back there to take stress off of him.

Although the offense has been hit by injuries which has tested its depth, it is still one of the better offenses the team has had in a long time.  Where in previous years the team would go as John Tavares line went, the team proved last week in their win over Dallas that they are capable of doing damage on the scoreboard even if the captain has an off night.  For the first time in a long time, the Islanders have proven players with track records playing key spots on their team which is something fans aren't used to.

The big concern for fans shouldn't be the players because as stated above the team has proven players playing the key spots on the team for the first time in a long time.  Fans should be most concerned with the coaching staff, specifically head coach Jack Capuano and to a lesser extent assistant coach Greg Cronin.  First off, Capuano is in a spot he has never been before.  He has the most competitive team any Islanders coach has had in a decade and for the first time in his NHL coaching career he has expectations of reaching the playoffs and potentially doing something once they get their.  Will Capuano be able to reach or even exceed these expectations?  Or will they over come him and leave him looking for a job midway through the season or sooner?

Regarding Mr. Cronin who is in his second go around with the Islanders, his primary job with the team is the penalty kill which has been among the worst in the NHL in the first month of the season.  For the last few seasons, Cronin had been in charge of the Toronto Maple Leafs penalty kill and last season the Leafs penalty kill finished just one spot ahead of the Islanders.  He may be able to turn it around, but for the first month Cronin has failed to impress.

Today begins November, which for the Islanders of the last half dozen years has been the code word for the end of their season.  If the team wants a majority of fans to join me in thinking these aren't the same old Islanders, then get out of the month with a winning record.  If they are able to do that, Islanders Country may begin to beLIeve again.