Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Pre Game: Isles @ Jets

photo by wheresmyseat

Tonight, our Islanders begin one of their longest road trips of the season traveling north of the boarder to take on Blake Wheeler and the Winnipeg Jets.  

Jaroslav Halak is expected to get the start in net for the Islanders tonight.  Meanwhile, Ondrej Pavelec will be between the pipes for the Jets.

There aren't any lineup changes expected for the Islanders tonight.

Former Capitals GM Working For Isles

According to, former longtime Capitals GM George McPhee is back in the NHL as a part time scout for the Islanders.

If you recall, over the summer, it had been reported that McPhee was spending time at Islanders camp and the reason for his presence was that he was good friends with Garth Snow.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Isles Hang On For OT Victory

photo by zimbio

Last night, our Islanders managed to hang on to beat the Capitals 4-3 in overtime after blowing yet another 3 goal lead.  This was the 4th time in the last month the Islanders blew a 3 goal lead.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-Regardless that the team got the win, the fact that they blew another 3 goal lead is very concerning.  This is reminiscent of teams of years past which this team is supposed to be better than.  I don't know what the coaches or players need to do to fix this, but they need to do something.

-Nice tip from Lee for the first goal last night.

-Nice play by Kulemin to set up de Haan for his shorthanded goal.

-Good to see the team getting in on the "Yes" chant when saluting the fans after the game.

-While he struggled a little in the third period, Halak seemed to not be that rusty after missing a couple games.

-Nice shot by Boychuk on the winner in overtime.

While it wasn't pretty, a win is a win.  Like I said above though, the team really needs to do something about blowing the three goal leads because that isn't a recipe for success.

Next Game: Tomorrow 5PM @ Winnipeg

Monday, December 29, 2014

Pre Game: Capitals @ Islanders

Tonight, our Islanders look to rebound from their dreadful Saturday night loss to the Sabres as they play host to Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals who are making their final visit ever to the Nassau Coliseum.

The goalie match up tonight features Braden Holtby for the Capitals.  Meanwhile, after missing two games, Jaroslav Halak will be back in net for the Islanders.

There will be no lineup changes for the Islanders tonight.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Isles Activate Halak, Send Down Poulin

According to multiple reports, the Islanders have activated goalie Jaroslav Halak off IR and sent Kevin Poulin back to Bridgeport.
Halak was placed on IR yesterday with a lower body injury.  With him being activated, I would expect him to play tomorrow against Washington.

Yesterday further showed how important Halak is to the team.  The team is very fortunate that Halak wasn't more seriously injured.

Another Day, Another Blown 3 Goal Lead

Tonight, in possibly their worst loss of the season to date, the Islanders fell 4-3 to the Buffalo Sabres in a shootout.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-While Kevin Poulin looked good for the first two periods, the third period was amateur hour.  Could the defense have done more to help him?  Maybe in some spots, but the goalie still needs to make a save.  That is something Poulin failed repeatedly to do in the third period and it really cost the Islanders.

-Good to see Tavares put up two goals tonight.  You could tell from the outset that he was on his game tonight.  The move by him on his first goal was pretty impressive.

-Even with the changes made to the power play lineup struggles were still there.  They even gave up a short handed goal for the first time this year.  I don't know what Doug Weight needs to do, but he needs to do something.

-Contrary to the power play, the penalty kill was actually very effective tonight.

-While the kid line didn't have their best game, they certainly weren't bad.  The lack of ice time for Anders Lee tonight really stuck out for me as odd.  He didn't do anything to my eye that deserved a benching and he didn't seem to be injured.  For him to only play a little over 8 minutes doesn't make sense.

This was a game coming out the break the Islanders had to win.  Losing it, especially like this is unacceptable!  Some say bad things happen and to move on, however, repeatedly blowing three goal leads which the team has now done is concerning and something that absolutely needs to be addressed.

Next Game: Monday @ Home vs Washington

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Pre Game: Islanders @ Sabres

photo by wgrz

Tonight, our Islanders return from their three day holiday break as they travel to Buffalo to faceoff against Matt Mouslon and the Buffalo Sabres.

The goalie match up features Kevin Poulin for the Islanders tonight after being recalled from Bridgeport this morning.  Meanwhile, Jhonas Enroth will be between the pipes for the Sabres.

Beyond the change in net, there will be no change to the Islanders lineup from Tuesday's loss against Montreal.

Isles Place Halak on IR, Recall Poulin

This morning, the Islanders placed goalie Jaroslav Halak on IR with a lower body injury, according to multiple reports.
On Tuesday, the Islanders gave Halak a full maintenance day off, not even dressing him as Chad Johnsons backup for the game against Montreal which concerned some people.  With him being placed on IR today, it seems like they had reason to be concerned.

With his move to IR, the Islanders recalled Kevin Poulin.  Poulin is off to a great in Bridgeport this year with a 2.41 GAA and a .928 save percentage in 20 starts.

It should be interesting to see how the coaching staff handles this.  If they will give Johnson a majority of the starts or if they will have more of a platoon situation with Johnson and Poulin splitting the starts.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Montreal Plays Grinch As Isles Fall 3-1

Tonight, our Islanders dropped just their fourth home game of the season as they fell 3-1 to Montreal.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-While Chad Johnson was better tonight then he had been, it wasn't good enough to get the job done.

-The teams horrible play in the second period really came back to haunt them tonight.  After a first period in which they for the most part dominated Montreal, they came out in the second like they left all their energy in the locker room.  Much like they did a couple weeks ago at home against the Blues.  When your a facing good teams, you can't do things like that because more often than not they will make you pay like Montreal did tonight.

-The power play was atrocious tonight.  Capuano touched on it post game but it really not only didn't get anything done, it barely had opportunities to get started.  They have been struggling for a while now so it is time for Doug Weight to start earning the coaches portion of his paycheck.

-Nice play from Tavares to set up Okposo for the goal.

-The officiating was awful tonight.  You don't like to complain about the officials, but they need to be consistent and tonight they failed miserably at that.

Considering the way the team had been playing, going into the break like this is unfortunate.  I am still unsure about the decision to start Johnson tonight.  Given the off days coming up, I would've started Halak tonight and maybe Johnson on Saturday against the Sabres.  If the team comes out with poor efforts like theirs in the second period tonight it won't matter who is in net.  The team needs to take the break to refocus as they return to action Saturday preparing to finish off their 2014 schedule.

Next Game: Saturday 12/27 @ Buffalo

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Pre Game: Montreal @ Islanders

Tonight, our Islanders finish off their pre Christmas schedule with a match up against the Montreal Canadiens.

The goalie match up tonight features Carey Price in net for Montreal.  Meanwhile, Chad Johnson will be given the start for the Islanders with Jaroslav Halak getting a maintenance day today.  If Johnson's struggles continue tonight, it will be interesting to see how much more rope Johnson is given before something is done.

Johnson between the pipes is the only difference in the lineup from Saturdays victory over the Lightning.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Late Game Rally Powers Isles Over Lightning

photo by zimbio

Tonight, our Islanders had one of their most exciting finishes of the year to this point as they rallied for three goals in the final three minutes to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 3-1.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-Anders Lee is really feeling it right now with his second straight game winning goal.  It was an impressive tip by him this time around instead of crashing the net like last night in Detroit.  It is nice to see him starting to emerge much how Strome and Nelson have thus far this season. 

-While Tavares may not be himself yet this season, that doesn't matter because one thing that is always certain with him is that in crunch time he always comes through and he did again tonight with the tying goal.  Also, good to hear post game that he was fine after taking a puck to the ear late in the game.

-I'd be doing a disservice if I didn't mention Tampa goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy who played an unbelievable game tonight.  It's still early for him in his career but Tampa seems to have a special player there.

-One negative to come out of tonight is the teams sloppy play in their own zone.  That is one thing they absolutely have to improve on, especially when going against teams like the Lightning.

The Islanders were on the back end of a back to back tonight, but you wouldn't know it by their effort.  On offense, they were firing on all cylinders all night, and on defense they were solid as well, really limiting the Lightnings shots on net.  Halak put the stats to rest and had a solid game in his second start in two days leading the Islanders to victory.  Jack Capuano mentions it nearly every post game press conference now, but enough can't be said about the crowd.  The Nassau Coliseum right now is an unbelievable place to be to watch a hockey game and that is due in large part to the atmosphere created by the fans.

Next Game: Tuesday @ Home Vs Montreal

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Pre Game: Lightning @ Islanders

Tonight, our Islanders look to win their fourth consecutive game as they play host to Steven Stamkos and the Lightning.

The goalie match up tonight features Andrei Vasilevskiy for the Lightning.  Vasilevskiy will be making his second career NHL start.  Meanwhile, in a surprising move, Jaroslav Halak will be back between the pipes for the Islanders after backstopping the team to a victory in Detroit last night.

The Islanders will ice the same lineup tonight as they did in last nights 2-1 victory over the Red Wings.

Lee Game Winner Powers Isles Over Wings

photo by zimbio

Tonight, our Islanders continued their hot streak both recently and against the Red Wings as they defeated them by a score of 2-1.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-Solid effort from Halak tonight.  Some may say he should go tomorrow, but the stats say otherwise and Capuano usually goes by those.  In his time here, Capuano has hardly ever started the number one goalie in both games of a back to back.

-Great net front presence from Nelson on his goal.

-Like Nelson, great presence and awareness as well by Lee to put in the eventual game winner.

-The difference Boychuk and Hamonic have on this lineup can't be stated enough.  After a shaky first period, the team really settled down and controlled the game effectively.  That was something we really hadn't seen them do since both Boychuk and Hamonic went down.

-The power play was up and down tonight.  At time it looked very good, but at times it looked just awful.

With this game being the first of a tough 3 game stretch heading to the Christmas break, you couldn't ask for a better outcome.  The team really controlled a majority of the game and it took it to the Wings in their own arena.  Tomorrow, with the Lightning without Ben Bishop, the Coliseum crowd is going to have to do what they have been doing all year to this point and get in the head of Lightning rookie goalie Andrei Vasilevski who will likely be making his second career NHL start tomorrow.  If they are successful in doing that, it will go a long way in helping the Islanders get a sweep of this back to back and their 4th straight win overall.

Next Game: Tomorrow night @ home versus Tampa Bay 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Pre Game: Islanders @ Detroit

photo by gopixpic

Tonight, our Islanders travel to Detroit to start yet another set of back to back games as they faceoff against Pavel Datsyuk and the Detroit Red Wings. 

The goalie match up tonight features Jaroslav Halak back between the pipes for the Islanders.  Meanwhile, Jimmy Howard will be in net for the Red Wings.

The Islanders will get two significant additions to the lineup tonight as Johnny Boychuk and Travis Hamonic will both be returning from injury.  Michael Grabner was placed on IR with a lower body injury, and Griffin Reinhart was sent back down to Bridgeport to make room for these two on the roster.  Matt Donovan will return to the press box alongside Strait with the two of them returning.  With the Islanders, winners of a couple straight, getting these two guys back should only enhance their chances of coming out of tonight victorious.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Isles Pricing People Out of Last Game?

Update: Here is the chart showing prices:

Last night, I came into contact with the Islanders ticket prices for the last regular season game at Nassau Coliseum on April 11th against Columbus.

These prices are an attempt by the Islanders to really make people pay for their emotions and that is a shame.  The cheapest tickets for this game will start at $120 per ticket and go up to a staggering $350 per ticket.

Right now, the cheapest tickets for this game on stubhub are $100.  This is backwards, as traditionally the secondary market is more expensive then "face value" for marquee games like this rather than less expensive like it is in this situation.

With these prices for the last game, I can't imagine what playoff tickets for this season are going to cost.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Islanders Announce Second Half Promotions

On Monday, the Islanders announced their promotions for the second half of the season.  The dates fans should remember are:

January 16-Bryan Trottier mini locker night against the Penguins

January 29-Mike Bossy mini locker night against the Bruins

February 14-Kyle Okposo bobblehead day

February 28-Matt Martin bobblehead day

March 24-Pat LaFontaine returns to the Coliseum

March 29-John Tavares bobblehead day

Additionally, it was reported by Newsday that a night where multiple potential Islanders including John Tonelli would be welcomed back is in the works but nothing is done quite yet.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Isles Comeback Again in Shootout Victory

photo by flickr

Tonight, our Islanders defeated the rival Devils by a score of 3-2 in a shootout.  The Islanders mounted a come back victory again for the second consecutive game.  Here are some of my notes:

-While I am sure he would like to have the second goal back, Jaroslav Halak played a pretty good game tonight.  He gave the Islanders a chance to win which is all you can ask for from your goalie.

-How about Josh Bailey?  While he didn't have a great game, he did have his best game in about two months tonight.  The thing is, is this a sign of things to come?  Or is it just going to be a flash in the pan like it normally is with Bailey?

-I understand being frustrated, but a horrible job by Tavares taking a penalty late in the game like he did.  He has to be more disciplined then that.

-While they have had their struggles this year, the penalty kill came up big when it mattered tonight.

-Nice goal by Matt Martin tonight.  He really seemed to have an extra jump in his step in the third period, especially after that goal.

This was a game the Islanders had to win, especially with their tough weekend schedule looming.  While they might not have deserved the 2 points, they were able to gut it out and get them.  This game is another sign of the differences between this Islander team and teams of the past.

Next Game: Friday 7:30 @ Detroit

Monday, December 15, 2014

Pre Game: Devils @ Islanders

Tonight, our Islanders look to build off their big win on Saturday as they play host to the division rival New Jersey Devils.

The goalie match up tonight features LI native Keith Kinkaid in net for the Devils.  Meanwhile, Jaroslav Halak will be between the pipes for the Islanders.

The Islanders lineup will see one change tonight as Casey Cizikas will return to the lineup.  To make room for him in the lineup, Michael Grabner will miss tonights game.  Grabner is day to day with a lower body injury, according to Newsday.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Isles Snap Winless Streak at 3 With Comeback Win Over Hawks

photo by galleryhip

Tonight, our Islanders snapped their losing streak at three as they defeated the Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 3-2 in comeback fashion.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-Although it was scoreless through one, it certainly wasn't boring.  The game had an exceptional pace in the first period and Jarsolav Halak was huge for the Islanders as he really kept them in the game.

-Griffin Reinhart had arguably his best game in his short NHL career tonight.  Just all around I thought Reinhart played very well.

-Very impressive patience displayed by Visnovsky on the game winner.

-Good to see Okposo but one to the back of the net for a second consecutive game.  Hopefully, this is starting a little hot streak for him as he was cold in the goal department for a while.

-Huge hit by Martin on Rozsival tonight.  Don't see many open ice hits like that anymore.

Coming off three straight loses it was crucial for the Islanders to stop the bleeding tonight and that they did.  It sure wasn't easy but it was a heck of an effort from the team, especially in the third period.  Putting 41 shots up on the Blackhawks isn't something many teams do.  Now, if the team is able to build on this is something to keep an eye on.  The last time the team lost 3 in a row, they responded by winning 13 of their next 15.  If they are able to repeat that, they will be sitting pretty in the standings to start 2015.

Next Game: Monday @ Home vs the Devils

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Pre Game: Blackhawks @ Islanders

Tonight, our Islanders look to snap their 3 game losing streak as they play host to Patrick Kane and the Blackhawks.

The goalie tonight match up features Scott Darling for the Blackhawks.  Meanwhile, Jaroslav Halak will be back in net for the Islanders.

Jonathan Toews will be in the lineup for the Blackhawks tonight after suffering a big hit from Bruins defenseman Denis Seidenberg on Thursday.  His status questionable coming into the day after being held out of the second half of Thursdays game.

There will be two lineup changes for the Islanders tonight, as after a week of miserable play, Brian Strait was finally sent to the press box.  Griffin Reinhart will take his spot in the lineup for tonights contest.  Additionally, Josh Bailey will return to the lineup tonight after sitting out last game with an injury.  Eric Boulton will be scratched tonight.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Isles Place Conacher on Waivers

Earlier today, it was reported by Arthur Staple from Newsday that the Islanders had placed forward Cory Conacher on waivers.
Conacher, who signed a 1 year deal with the Islanders over the summer had 3 points in 15 games thus far this season.

To me, it seemed as though it was only a matter of time before this happened.  Especially after last night when the team dressed Eric Boulton coming off injury rather than putting Conacher in the lineup.  Hopefully, this is a sign that the Islanders are getting healthy, because if the last few games are any indication, they desperately need Hamonic and Boychuk back.

Isles Drop 3rd Straight 6-3 To Blues

Tonight, our Islanders dropped their third straight game by a score of 6-3 to the Blues.  Here are some of my notes:

-For some reason, Brian Strait remained in the lineup tonight and the Blues took advantage as 4 of their six goals came with Strait on the ice.  I don't know what he has to do to get scratched, however it should come sooner rather than later, right?

-What was Capuano thinking putting Eric Boulton out in a 1 goal game with 5 minutes left with the top line.  I know he said that Boulton has, "sneaky offensive ability" but putting him out in that spot is just simply mind blowing.  What he would contribute in that spot is anyones guess, save for maybe Capuano.

-Good to see Okposo put one to the back of the net for the first time in a while.

Another poor third period effort doomed the team tonight.  I feel like this is 3 years ago as I would've been saying the same thing then.  I am not sure what needs to be done, but something does because obviously what the team is doing isn't working.

Next Game: Saturday @ Home vs Chicago

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Pre Game: Islanders @ Blues

photo by panoramio

Tonight, our Islanders travel to St Louis looking to avenge their 6-4 loss last Saturday as they faceoff against David Backes and the Blues.

The goalie match up features Jaroslav Halak for the Islanders.  Meanwhile, Jake Allen will be in net for the Blues.

The Blues lineup will be a little stronger tonight as they get Alexander Steen back from injury.  Steen wasn't in the Blues lineup last Saturdays at the Coliseum.

The Islanders again will make some lineup changes as well.  Griffin Reinhart, not Brian Strait will be scratched tonight with Matt Donovan returning to the lineup.  Josh Bailey will also be scratched tonight with Eric Boulton making his return off IR.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Isles Fall 5-4 To Wild In Pathetic Effort

Tonight, our Islanders fell 5-4 to the Minnesota Wild for their second consecutive loss.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-The fact that Brian Strait was on the ice more tonight than all Islander players except for four is just utterly maddening.  Strait was on the ice more than John Tavares was tonight, let that sink in.  Brian Strait has been on the ice for 9 of the opponents last 11 goals including tonight.  If that isn't license for a stay in the press box, I don't know what is.

-While the team didn't help him out a lot, it was another sub-par outing for Chad Johnson tonight.  Johnson had a good showing against the Bruins in October.  However, beyond that Johnson has been shaky to say the least.

-The offensive ineptness made an appearance again tonight.  To get just 8 shots in two periods is simply unacceptable.  While it wasn't as bad on Saturday, this is two games in a row now where the offense simply disappeared after the first period.  I am not sure what the coaches can do to fix this beyond switching the lines up but something needs to be done.

-Congrats to Griffin Reinhart on his first NHL point.

-Thoughts to Keith Ballard, it was very scary seeing him on the ice tonight.

-Marco Scandella on the Wild needs to be suspended.  He was fined on December 1st for a hit to the head on TJ Oshie.  Tonight was his real highlight show though as in one period he hit John Tavares with a dangerous slash in the back of the leg.  He then followed that up a couple minutes later with a head shot on Brock Nelson that closely resembled the one he got fined for just 8 days ago.  He should now be dealt with as a repeat offender by the NHL and suspended accordingly.

 -The lack of ice time for Griffin Reinhart is also surprising.  Yes, he is a young player so you want to try and limit his minutes.  However, given the Islanders situation on defense that shouldn't be so obvious.  He should not be playing over 6 minutes less per game than Brian Strait given Straits on ice performance.

-To allow 4 goals in the third period tonight or on any night is unacceptable.  The effort tonight reminded of last season when after getting the lead they just sat back instead of continuing to play.  Maybe they thought now because they have more skill on the team that strategy may work.  However, they were once again shown that if you sit back on a lead like that you will lose.  Hopefully, this will be the wake up call the team needs to realize that they can't sit back like that and they need to keep the foot on the gas.

While the team does sit at 19-9 near the top of the eastern conference, if you aren't concerned by the back to back 3-0 defeats, you must be new around here.  Especially tonights game which resembled a game we would've seen last year or years prior to that.  How the team responds to this will really show a lot about them.

Next Game: Thursday 8:00 @ St Louis

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Pre Game: Islanders @ Wild

photo by greatseats

Tonight, our Islanders travel to Minnesota looking to rebound from Saturdays loss to the Blues as they faceoff against Thomas Vanek and the Minnesota Wild.

The goalie match up features Jaroslav Halak in net for the Islanders.  Meanwhile, Niklas Backstrom will be in net for the Wild.

The Islanders will see some familiar faces tonight as former Islanders Thomas Vanek, Nino Niederreiter, and Jared Spurgeon all call Minnesota home.

The Islanders will be making a few lineup changes in advance of the game tonight.  Lubomir Visnovsky will return tonight.  To make room for him, Matt Donovan will return to the press box.  Up front, there will be one change as well.  With Casey Cizikas out of the lineup, Josh Bailey will be back in after missing two games with a foot injury.

Lee Escapes Suspension, Fined $2286.29

According to reports, Islanders forward Anders Lee surprisingly escaped suspension for his hit on Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson.

While he did escape suspension, he didn't escape penalty altogether as he was fined $2286.29 which is the maximum he is able to be fined under the CBA.

I actually think the league got this one right which surprises me greatly.  Normally, especially when it comes to the Islanders this would've been an automatic suspension.

Isles Move Cizikas to IR, Visnovsky Return Imminent

According to Newsday, the Islanders moved forward Casey Cizikas to IR.  Cizikas was hit up high in the Islanders game this past Saturday against the Blues.

After the morning skate today, the Islanders are expected to activate Lubomir Visnovsky off IR so Visnovsky would take Cizikas roster spot.  After the defensive struggles the Islanders went through on Saturday, getting Visnovsky back will be a welcomed sight for the Islanders and fans.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Lee to Have Hearing for Hit on Gunnarsson

According to NHL Player Safety on twitter, Islanders forward Anders Lee will have a hearing for an illegal hit on Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson in Saturdays game.
It was initially reported that Lee was unlikely to receive any supplemental discipline for the hit.

Well, here is a video of the incident below, you be the judge.

Given the leagues recent track record with incidents similar to this, I expect Lee to be suspended for a game or two.  Although, I am not sure that is fair because after watching it a few times I am not convinced that Lee's intention on the play was to hit him in the manner that he did.

Who Is the Missing Link to the Islanders Top Line?

This article originally appeared on The Hockey Writers

After the Islanders traded Thomas Vanek last season, fans began to wonder what the Islanders would do to solve the first line left-wing spot.  Would they allow people with the team to attempt to fill the void?  Or would they acquire a proven player from another team to join that line?  With the talk that the Islanders and Oilers are potentially involved in trade discussions, we decided to look at a couple potential fits for this spot.

Jordan Eberle

Islander fans were sent into a bit of a frenzy on Friday after tweets that suggested the Islanders and Oilers were in trade discussions with Jordan Eberle being a piece being talked about.  Although he is entering his 5th NHL season, Eberle is just 24 years of age, and is coming off a 65 point season last year.  In 11/12 he had a career year as he put up 76 points including 34 goals.  While he doesn't exactly have a team favorable contract, signed for 6 million per season for the next 5 seasons including the current one.  It can't be denied that the potential of adding his skill to the core of this team is something that the Islanders should definitely consider.  While I am certainly not look to deal Griffin Reinhart, the inclusion of him shouldn't be a non starter from an Islanders perspective.  The team has accumulated a wealth of defensive prospects, and with the additions of Leddy and Boychuk have a crowded NHL group.  If Reinhart could be a key piece to land Eberle I would absolutely look into pulling the trigger.  Although I am not convinced this will end up happening as many other teams have interest in Eberle and are in a more desperate position than the Islanders are.  

Anders Lee

Lee claiming this spot is something I actually think has a realistic shot of happening as long as Lee can continue to grow his game and evolve into the player we all hope he can be.  Lee has shown a good scoring touch early on in his professional career putting up 40 goals in 103 games to this point split between the NHL and AHL.  He has shown the ability to score dirty goals like one of Tavares former linemates that he had a lot of success with.  Even though they have put up their points this year, Tavares and Okposo haven't been as electric and noticeable as they have been in past years.  Putting Lee on their line with the traits he has that resemble a former linemate of theirs could be just the thing they need to get their game going.  On the same token, it could prove to be the perfect spot for Anders Lee to begin a hopefully long NHL career.

Josh Bailey 

This has been a thought by some people as a sort of last-ditch thing to do for Bailey to see if he can salvage anything here.  Peoples thinking here is that if he can't produce at a consistent pace with Tavares, he won't be able to do it with anyone.  While I understand that sentiment, I am not totally sure that I buy it.  It can't be denied that Bailey does have some play-making skills.  However, more than that is needed to be the third man on this line.  I just don't feel as though Bailey's game would compliment this line.  Adding him to the line would lead to him holding them back rather than enhancing their game.

Brock Nelson

Over the summer, many thought Nelson would be the one to get first crack on the top line with Tavares and Okposo.  While he did end up getting time there, it wasn't very long so he didn't really have an opportunity to gel with them.  It has been said that coach Jack Capuano likes Nelson at center and doesn't want to shift him to wing.  While I understand and don't necessarily disagree with him, I have been a big fan of Nelson for a long time and think he would really thrive alongside Tavares.  Additionally, I don't think he is someone who would need to depend on Tavares, I think he is something who would be able to compliment the line which is what the searching is all about.

What I think Will Happen

As I said above, if Lee can continue to mature, I think he has a realistic shot of calling that spot home for a long time to come.  However, having someone brought in from the outside wouldn't entirely shock me either.  Although, making a player change to the Islanders right now with the way they are playing and disturbing that chemistry seems like a pretty big risk to me.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Isles Fall 6-4 to Blues

This afternoon, our Islanders fell by a score of 6-4 to the St Louis Blues.  Here are some of my notes from the game:

-He had to have a let down game sooner or later and that was today for Jaroslav Halak.  While he didn't have a lot of help in front of him, today was an effort I am sure he was disappointed with, especially against his former team.

-Given the injuries on defense, this was the kind of game you had to expect.  The Blues being a big veteran team were able to exploit the Islanders weaknesses.

-Special teams were a key in this game, particularly the Islanders lack of efficiency on the penalty kill.

-Good to see Tavares put one to the back of the net.  He had been snake bitten for a while, so hopefully that will get him going.

-While he did get a few assists, it has been a while since Okposo got in the goal scoring column.

-After what was a pretty effective first period, the offense almost disappeared for the entire second period.  It was almost like they went into shutdown mode thinking they had the game on lockdown and the Blues made them pay for it.

Well, the team can't win every game.  However, it was a shame to lose this game like this after the team played so well in the opening 20 minutes of play.  It will be interesting to see how team rebounds against the Wild on Tuesday coming off this loss.

Next Game: Tuesday 8:00 @ Minnesota

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Pre Game: Blues @ Islanders

This afternoon, our Islanders look to extend their winning streak to four as they play host to TJ Oshie and the St Louis Blues.

The goalie match up features Jake Allen for the Blues.  Meanwhile, Jaroslav Halak will be back in net for the Islanders.

The Islanders lineup will look a little different with Cal Clutterbuck re joining the lineup after missing Thursdays game.  Additionally, all 7 Islanders defensemen will take warmups today and a decision on which will be scratched will come after that.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Isles Move Hamonic to IR, Pulock Recalled

Update: According to Newsday, Ryan Pulock will be joining the Islanders tomorrow.  It had been said that they wouldn't call him up unless it would potentially be for long term so this isn't a good sign for Boychuk/Hamonic.  However, after a stellar performance in the AHL to this point, it seems like Pulock has really earned this.  

It will be interesting to see how Pulock fares in NHL action.
According to reports, the Islanders have put defenseman Travis Hamonic on IR retroactive to 12/2.  Hamonic was hurt in the Islanders victory over Ottawa on Tuesday after taking a hit from the Senators Chris Neil.

When it rains, it pours for the Islanders as the teams defense is dropping like flies.  With Visnovsky joining the team at practice today, it seems like they are at least getting a little bit healthier which is encouraging.

Isles Sweep Sens to Move Into 1st Place

Tonight, our Islanders completed a home and home sweep of the Ottawa Senators defeating them by a score of 2-1.  This Islanders victory combined with the Penguins loss to Vancouver gave the Islanders sole possession of 1st place in the Metropolitan division.  Here are some of my notes:

-Congrats to Jaroslav Halak for setting the Islanders record for consecutive wins by a goalie with 11.

-With the team missing half of our top 6 defensemen, tonight was a pretty solid overall defensive showing.  To give up just 20 shots on net given those circumstances is impressive.

-The penalty kill was solid tonight.  They did have one blemish with the Senators power play goal.  However, it came because the team went down two men on a blown call by the official.

-Given all the time he sat out, Matt Donovan has fit nicely into the Islanders lineup with all the teams injuries.

-Although it hasn't hurt the team in the standings, the first lines lack of production is concerning.

Early on, it seems as though injuries up to this point can't stop this team.  If the Islanders don't get healthier, Saturday will prove to be an even tougher test than it already would've been.  However, given the teams play recently, if you are not confident that they are able to win any game no matter what the circumstances then I am not sure what to tell you.

Next Game: Saturday @ Home 1:00 vs St Louis

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Pre Game: Islanders @ Senators

photo by realfans

Tonight, our Islanders travel to Ottawa looking to extend their winning streak to three as they take on the Ottawa Senators in the back end of a home and home.  The Islanders were victorious in the front end of the home and home on Tuesday, defeating the Senators by a score of 3-2 in overtime at the Coliseum.

The goalie match up tonight features Jaroslav Halak for the Islanders.  With a win tonight, Halak will surpass Billy Smith's team record for most consecutive victories by a goalie.  Meanwhile, Craig Anderson will be in net for Ottawa.

The Islanders lineup will look a bit different tonight as Travis Hamonic has been added to the list of injured Islander defensemen.  With his absence, Griffin Reinhart will be in the lineup tonight after being called up yesterday.  The lineup up front has yet to be determined as Cal Clutterbuck is banged up.  If he can't go, Cory Conacher will see action for the first time in a few weeks.

With half their defense out with injuries, this game will be a huge test for the Islanders.  Especially Jaroslav Halak in net who will have to be on his game tonight in order to give the Islanders a chance to win and go to 12 games over .500.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Isles Activate Grabner off IR

The Islanders also announced today that forward Michael Grabner was activated off IR.  Grabner has yet to play a game yet this year after undergoing hernia surgery near the end of training camp.
It will be interesting to see who comes out of the lineup to make room for Grabner.  Based off todays practice lines it looks like Josh Bailey could be the odd one out for now at least.  After having a good start to the season, Bailey has really struggled since returning from a broken hand a couple weeks ago.

Isles Recall Reinhart, Move Boychuk & Visnovsky to IR

Earlier today, the Islanders announced that they had put defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Lubomir Visnovsky on IR retroactive to 11/27 and 11/28 respectively.  With the two of them going on IR, the Islanders recalled Griffin Reinhart from Bridgeport.  This surprised some as after being a scratch in the Tigers game Sunday, it was thought that Ryan Pulock would be the one to get the call over Reinhart.
For the Islanders, hopefully these injuries aren't that serious as the defense can only last so long down 2-3 guys before the part time players show why they are part time players.

Hickey OT Goal Leads Isles Over Sens

photo by CBC

Tonight, our Islanders defeated the Ottawa Senators in the front end of a back to back by a score of 3-2 in overtime.  Here are some of my notes:

-While Halak wasn't in the form we had become used to seeing from him, he gave us a chance to win which is all you can expect from the goalie.  Halak also tied Billy Smith's team record with his 10th straight win by a goalie.  This is a mark Smith set back in 1982.

-Great job by Nelson on the tying goal.

-The team did a good job getting to the front of the net tonight.  Their ability to do this resulted in the team getting two goals tonight, including the game winner.

-Even with the absences on defense, the team had a good game allowing few shots on net.

Even when they seem like they don't have their "A" game so to speak, this team still finds ways to win.  It is wins like this that are making fans think of what is capable of happening with this team in the best case scenarios.

Next Game: Thursday @ Ottawa

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Pre Game: Sens @ Islanders

Tonight, the Ottawa Senators travel to the Island to kick off a home and home with our Islanders.

The goalie match up tonight features Craig Anderson for Ottawa.  Meanwhile, Jaroslav Halak will be between the pipes for the Islanders.  With a victory tonight, Halak will tie Billy Smith for the Islanders record for most consecutive wins by a goalie with 10.

The Senators will have a gaping hole up front as Bobby Ryan will miss tonights contest with a finger injury.

The Islanders will ice the same lineup as Saturdays 3-1 victory over the Devils.  Although, it was reported yesterday that Michael Grabner could make his return to the lineup this week so lineup changes could be on the horizon.

Are the Islanders the Best Team in the NHL?

This post originally appeared on The Hockey Writers

As an Islander fan, those are words I wasn't sure I would ever be able to say and mean given the teams struggles on and off the ice the last 20+ years.

However, after Saturdays 3-1 victory over the Devils, the Islanders sit at 17-7, tied with the Lightning and Montreal for the most wins in the NHL.  They are also in a tie for the third most points in the NHL behind the Lightning, Montreal,and the Ducks.  The surprising start by the Islanders has really caught the imagination of fans thinking of what could possibly be.  Today, we will look at elements that could lead to the Islanders holding the top spot in the NHL come spring time and conclude with my thoughts on if those are realistic expectations for the team.

Jaroslav Halak

Following last season, the Islanders knew they couldn't once again fail to address the goalie situation.  Knowing that, they got to work early in May acquiring Halak from the Capitals in exchange for a fourth round pick.  A few weeks later, the Islanders had their goalie as they announced they had signed Halak to a 4 year contract worth 18 million dollars.  Although, he struggled in October, Halak has proved to be everything the Islanders hoped he would and then some.  In November, Halak set a career high undefeated streak as he won 9 in a row, he is 1 behind Billy Smith for the Islanders record for most consecutive victories by a goalie.  His superb play earned him the NHL's number one star honors for the week that just ended.  Halak will be a huge key if the Islanders hope to hold the top spot in the NHL come spring time.

Defensive Additions Paying Dividends

After the Islanders signed Grabovski and Kulemin in July, the talk then shifted to defense.  While the Islanders had improved both in net and up front, defense was largely the area that had gone untouched.  So, fans and writers alike began to wonder who the Islanders would target and when they would make their move.  It started to get late in the off-season, but finally, on October 4th, one week before the the teams home opener, the Islanders finally made their moves.  It was on that day the Islanders acquired Johnny Boychuk from the Bruins for a couple draft picks, and Nick Leddy from the Blackhawks in exchange for a couple of prospects including Anders Nilsson.  The impact these two have had on the team can't be said enough.  They have taken stress off the entire defense core, especially Travis Hamonic and Calvin de Haan.  Additionally, they have allowed for Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Pulock among others to get proper development time they otherwise may not have gotten.  The most potentially overlooked aspect of them though is that they are both former Stanley Cup Champions.  The impact of that in a room like the Islanders who for the most part are still trying to figure out how to win is huge.

Kids Emerging

The Islanders rebuild has began to bear fruits for them this season as forwards Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, and Anders Lee have all taken on important roles for the team.  Nelson has taken on the biggest role as he is tied with John Tavares for the team lead in goals with 10 and third on the team in points with 20.  Not to be overlooked, Strome has really come on as well with 17 points in 24 games.  Strome is tied with John Tavares for second on the team in assists with 13, 3 behind Kyle Okposo for the team lead.  Lastly, Lee has been a physical presence since he got called up at the end of October.  He has managed to put up 6 points in 18 games including 5 goals.  He has given the Islanders a net front presence that they otherwise lacked except for Brock Nelson on the power play.  Also, he has shown the ability to score dirty goals much in the way of Mark Parrish and Matt Moulson.  The continued maturation of these kids will be key to the Islanders success this season and in the future.

Is the Top Spot Realistic?

Could the Islanders actually finish in the number on spot in the NHL this season?  If I was a betting man, I would probably say no as they have a lot of competition for that spot with teams that are more battle tested than they are.  However, if they hope to finish in that spot, the play of Jaroslav Halak will be a huge key for them.  If Halak is able to play to his career averages that will go a long way in seeing the Islanders finish in that top spot and potentially raise a banner on opening night in Brooklyn next season.  Additionally, team health will be another huge key.  The Islanders had stayed relatively healthy this year until recently.  The Islanders are currently without defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Lubomir Visnovsky.  Those two, especially with their years of experience will be huge for the Islanders down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Barclays Center Can Get Out of Isles Contract After 5 Years?

According to the New York Post, Barclays Center can get out of the Islanders contract after roughly 5 years.  If you recall, the Islanders deal with Barclays Center which begins next season guarantees the team about 50 million in annual revenue for regular season games, according to the Post.  The deal is seen as "...too risky" by AEG who is in early talks to purchase the Barclays Center, the Post also reported.

Last night, it was reported by Newsday that Nassau County was seeking 100 million dollars from the state in order to build a parking garage at the Coliseum site starting next year.  This would be one of the first steps in Bruce Ratners plan to redevelop the property including the arena.

I'm not sure what to make of this.  I have been one who has been on the side that they have no chance in the world of ever coming back here after this season.  However, if this report proves to be true, it sure does add fuel to the conspiracy theorists argument who think they could return some day.