Saturday, November 29, 2008

Live Blog: Islanders 4, Senators 2, Final

1:01 Hunter hits the empty net. Should seal the deal for the Isles.

2:05 Crowd getting antsy but the Isles finally clear.

3:37 The puck is spending more and more time in the Islanders' zone. Sutton delivers a huge hit in the neutral zone to excite the crowd.

5:12 MacDonald took a hit about a minute ago, but he appears to be okay.

7:55 Ruutu has taken a seat in the penalty box for Ottawa, now joined by Sim. Ten-minute misconducts for each. Not sure what they did, but it couldn't have been much more than jawing at each other.

11:56 Alfredsson finishes a gorgeous give and go with Heatley behind the net to make it 3-2.

13:20 Good pressure on the power play, but the Isles are unable to capitalize.

14:47 Heatley goes off for roughing.

15:32 MacDonald has made a number of good saves early in the period, including one there against the still shorthanded Sens.

17:09 Isles will go to another power play thanks to a holding penalty on Winchester.

18:03 Meyer rips a slapper from the point by Auld for his second of the game. Islanders lead 3-1.

20:00 Isles will start the period with 1:49 left on a power play. Bailey centering Guerin and Hunter, Weight and Streit at the points.

2nd Intermission

11.8 Sutton draws the second assist, and Fisher draws a high-sticking penalty to put the Isles on a power play to close out the period. Streit can hold the puck at the point, so this one will carry over to the third.

34.5 A Sim wrister from the right side deflects across the slot to a charging Meyer who deposits it in the open left side to give the Isles a 2-1 lead.

1:22 Smith takes exception to Colliton following a shot to the net and topples him as the whistle blows. Minor scrum of no consequence.

2:05 Bailey, Hilbert, and Hunter working some magic around the net, but Auld was there to stop the Hunter shot from the slot.

4:06 Sim stopped in front off a nice feed from Park. Best chance in a long time.

5:51 Anchorman quotes always make for a good diversion during a long break in the action of a slow game.

6:50 Nice hit from Witt along the boards earns some ooohs from the crowd.

7:33 The pace has slowed down quite a bit. Sensing some frustration on the part of Ottawa.

10:57 And we're back after some unfortunate technical difficulties. The Isles have squandered two power play chances and the chance to take the momentum in the game.


1st Intermission: Good job by the Isles to come out of that period all square. The Senators were running things early both physically and offensively. But the Isles gathered themselves sufficiently and spent some quality time in the Ottawa zone. Tim Jackman led all Islander forwards in ice time with 6:32.

0:02 Streit blocks a shot from the point to close out the period.

1:05 Spezza whistles one from above the circles and MacDonald's glove is just quick enough to keep it out of the net.

1:44 Sutton gets flagged for high-sticking.

2:35 Isles fortunate that a bad carom in their own zone occurred while the Sens were going for a change.

3:41 Gordon seems to be liking the Jackman-Colliton-Thompson line and their ice time bears it out so far.

5:18 Sim cuts in from the blue line with one man to beat. He goes down near the goal without getting a good shot off. No call on the play.

6:20 Guerin pushes a rebound just wide of Auld. Islanders getting more chances now. Hunter with the secondary assist on the Hilbert goal (Andy's 6th of the season).

7:19 Meyer grabs a loose puck at the point and fires it on Auld, Hilbert gets the deflection past the Sens' goalie to tie the game 1-1. Play under review. Great concentration by Hilbert as he was being cross-checked from behind as the shot approached. Review confirms the goal. 1-1.

7:34 Fisher rings a post.

9:30 Ruutu tried to get Jackman to drop the gloves but no combat developed.

12:28 Heatley finds room in the slot off a feed from the corner to give the Sens a 1-0 lead. Spezza and Alfredsson on the assists, if you can believe that.

17:00 The Senators are bringing the physical play tonight.

18:45 Spezza on a partial break rang one as loud as you can ring one off the post.

19:00 Bergenheim stopped on the doorstep by Auld.

19:45 Fisher knocked Colliton on his back side along the near boards.

20:00 (Remaining): Joey MacDonald is in goal for his 14th straight start. He's doing his best Rick DiPietro impression in every way.


It's Saturday Night Live at the Coliseum for tonight's clash between the 8-9-4 Senators and the 9-12-2 Islanders (that's 20 points apiece). I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and have recovered from yesterday's shellacking at the hands of the Boston Bruins.

My thanks again to Alex and Steve at Hockey Night on Long Island for having me on today. It was a fun show and the hosts did a great job at moving through a number of interesting topics.

Stay tuned for live coverage of tonight's action...

Tonight is Josh Bailey's tenth game of the season, his first knowing for certain that he is a New York Islander for the rest of the season (here's some nice analysis on his progress from IslesBlogger). Bailey already has as many power play assists as Frans Nielsen (3). The team leaders in that category are Weight (10), Streit (7), and Guerin (6)...The Islanders have already accumulated 136 games lost to injury this season...The club will again try for its eighth win of the month against seven losses (one in a shootout)...Today's player news includes Yann Danis switching places with Peter Mannino and Thomas Pock being waived.

HNLI Appearance Today

Please join me as I join Alex and Steve for another appearance on Hockey Night on Long Island. Here's the preview from the hosts:

Hockey Night on Long Island will hit the airwaves this Saturday at 3:30 PM EST for another awesome afternoon extravaganza. Just hours before the Isles faceoff at home against the Ottawa Senators, HNLI hosts Alex and Steve will be joined by Ken Rosenblatt of the Islanders Outsider blog for an hour choc' full of Isles talk. On the agenda will be a recap of the Islanders' loss to the Boston Bruins, the team's recent ups and downs, and all of the latest news surrounding the team. Like always, HNLI will be taking your calls, IMs, and chatroom comments for an interactive hour of hockey talk. So, DON'T MISS IT! Be sure to tune in to HNLI at 3:30 PM EST Saturday.

Click here for the show page.

This will be my fifth appearance on the show, and it's always a great way to spend an hour on all things Islanders. I believe Mike Schuerlein of also recently made his fifth HNLI appearance. As you may know, according to entertainment industry standards, members of the Five Timer's Club are afforded special status and perks. (And, unbelievably, I have not managed to find the accompanying video clip.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Eve: Penguins 5, Islanders 3

Well, that was a real turkey. But you know what they say—don't let the turkeys get you down!

I want to wish a happy and healthy Thanksgiving to everyone in Islanders Country. And please be safe if you're traveling!

I may be back with a fantasy report over the next couple of days. If not, see you Saturday at 3:30 for Hockey Night on Long Island and live from the Coliseum when the Ottawa Senators pay another visit.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

On the Treatment of Ryan O'Byrne

I think Red Fisher's oft-repeated criticism ("I say NHLers should know when their goaltender has left the net. If they don't, they shouldn't be playing at this level.") was a little harsh. The same lack of awareness that caused Ryan O'Byrne to turn the faces of Habs fans rouge often leads to far more innocuous, but accepted, transgressions—such as too many men on the ice. That the circumstances of this awareness faux pas resulted directly in a fantastical, late-game tying goal is not reason enough to suggest that O'Byrne doesn't belong in the NHL.

Go ahead and hold him accountable for the purse-snatching incident, whatever that was. And hold him accountable for a bad play, too. But if simple mistakes with the puck were enough to get a player bushwhacked back to the bush leagues, Rick DiPietro would be tending goal in the Federal League. And leading it in assists. (For and against.)

I hope Montreal has fun with O'Byrne for a few days, and then realizes that ruining a young player's psyche isn't fun. There's no need to run him out of town, which is what it sounds like some people are expecting to happen. But it also sounds like O'Byrne can handle the abuse.

By the way, I've been a little surprised by how often it's being mentioned that O'Byrne played at Cornell. So I've decided to add a counterweight to a bad press day for Cornell hockey. After six games, Cornell stands undefeated at 4-0-2 (those are ties at the end there, by the way—yes, Virginia, there are still ties in college hockey). The Big Red are ranked 12th in the nation, hindered somewhat in the rankings by a late start in the ECAC compared to the other major conferences (Colorado College and Miami of Ohio have played 14 games). Princeton is ranked 7th and leads Cornell by 2 points in the ECAC standings with a 6-1-0 conference record. The Tigers' one loss? A home defeat guessed it...Cornell.

Cornell has given up five goals in six games. Junior goaltender Ben Scrivens leads the world with a .971 SV% and a 0.81 GAA.

Things will get very challenging for the Red this holiday weekend when they travel out to North Dakota to take on the Fighting Sioux in the Subway Holiday Classic. It will be a tough, two-game test. Play it cool, David Toews!

The Enemy Within

Monday, November 24, 2008

Playing a Little Catchup

Before this game at the Forum Bell Centre gets too deep, we need to award some Fantasy Stars for the weekend games at New Jersey and Buffalo. But, first, I just wanted to mention that there have been some excellent responses to the Mike Mottau suspension. Among them, I particularly enjoyed reading Greg Logan, B.D. Gallof, and Lighthouse Hockey.

And now for the hardware...

Game 19: Devils 5, Islanders 2
Fantasy Stars of the Game
1st Star: Trent Hunter (6 SOG, 2 BkS, 17 PIMs, 1 hit)
2nd Star: Sean Bergenheim (1 G, +1, 6 SOG, 2 PIMs)
3rd Star: Andy Hilbert (1 G, +1, 1 SOG, 2 BkS)
4th Star: Brendan Witt (1 A, +1, 4 BkS 1 hit)
5th Star: Andy Sutton (1 A, 1 SOG, 5 BkS)

Game 20: Islanders 4, Sabres 2
Fantasy Stars of the Game
1st Star: Mark Streit (1 G, 1 A, 1 PPG, 1 PPA, +2, 3 SOG, 2 hits)
2nd Star: Andy Hilbert (1 G, 1 A, +1, 4 SOG, 1 BkS)
3rd Star: Joey MacDonald (W, 2 GA, .946 SV%)
4th Star: Doug Weight (2 A, 1 PPA)
5th Star: Josh Bailey (1 A, +1, 2 SOG, 1 BkS, 1 hit)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Nielsen Out 2-3 Months

When I heard that Frans Nielsen was walking around in good spirits last night, I was optimistic that the injuries he suffered as a result of the Mike Mottau hit weren't too severe. Unfortunately, the limp accompanying his walk was symptomatic of significant injuries. Oh, the dreaded high ankle sprain.

This is a tremendously unfortunate loss for the Isles. Nielsen was progressing so well in his second season of NHL action. And from a team perspective, the Islanders simply do not have enough offensive depth to absorb the losses of the creative players they do have. Josh Bailey, Jeff Tambellini, and Kyle Okposo (when he returns) really have to turn it on now.

I wonder how Scott Gordon reconfigures the power play. Does he move Doug Weight off the point to center Guerin and Hunter? Or does Bailey get the plum spot on the first unit? We'll see shortly. According to Greg Logan, Bailey will replace Nielsen between Hunter and Tambellini at regular strength. Looking forward, this injury opens the door wider for Bailey to stick around past nine games.

As for the suspension to Mottau, my previous post should have been titled, "Here's Why Mottau Won't Be Suspended for As Long As You Think He Will."

Me, earlier: "Can't you just hear the explanation that this hit, while deliberate and illegal, was not actually a blow to the head?"

Botta, tonight: "Howie Rose reports that Colin Campbell told Garth Snow that Mottau's hit was not to Nielsen's head."

We have you figured out, Mr. Campbell.

Mottau KOs Nielsen

After watching numerous replays of the Mike Mottau hit on Frans Nielsen (thanks to on youtube), I am very much looking forward to seeing how Colin Campbell handles this incident in light of the league's recent statement on hits to the head.

Mottau has two major things working against him. First, from both the front and rear views, he appears to be leading with the elbow. Second, the front view clearly shows that he has left his feet to deliver the hit.

Mottau also has two major things working for him. First, despite leading with the elbow, he doesn't land it. If the NHL's supplemental disciplinarian is using replays to evaluate the hit, he can focus on the fact that it looks like the actual impact was made with the forearm and hand. Second, it looks like the bulk of the hit was delivered to Nielsen's shoulder, chest, and neck. From the front view, it almost looks like Mottau pushed him over.

Of course, what it looks like isn't justification for anything. But if you're calling for a Thomas Pock treatment or worse, I'm just saying there's a lot of room for interpretation. And the Discipline-Islanders Islanders-Discipline dictionary has a spotty translation history. Can't you just hear the explanation that this hit, while deliberate and illegal, was not actually a blow to the head?

It's strange, though. The more I cast doubt on Mottau receiving appropriate disicpline, the more I am hopeful that this issue has finally evolved to the point that he will.
Nielsen did suffer injuries and will miss time.

Thankfully, and most importantly, the injuries do not appear to be too serious. The worst injustice at this point is not being able to have Nielsen on the ice.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fantasy Report—Game 18: Islanders 2, Senators 1, SO

Fantasy Stars of the Game
1st Star:
Tim Jackman (6 SOG, 1 BkS, 5 PIMs, 4 hits)
2nd Star: Joey MacDonald (W, 1 GA, .969 SV%)
3rd Star: Bill Guerin (1 A, 1 PPA, 6 SOG. 4 hits)
4th Star: Frans Nielsen (1 A, 1 PPA, 2 SOG, 1 BkS, 1 hit)
5th Star: Doug Weight (1 G, 1 PPG, 2 SOG, 1 hit)

Notes: Joey MacDonald has quickly played himself into being a legitimate option and is soaring up the Fantasy Star Point rankings (currently 4th)...With Kyle Okposo sidelined and Brett Skinner sent back to Bridgeport to make room for Brendan Witt, there will be two openings on the second power play unit. Look for Jeff Tambellini to pick up Okposo's minutes alongside Josh Bailey and Jon Sim. You might think Sean Bergenheim would get a look at some point but he's received only 45 seconds of PP time this season. Bruno Gervais and Radek Martinek are the top candidates to join Chris Campoli at the point on the second unit...Doug Weight's Fantasy Star Point ranking has dipped to fifth, demonstrating that the Islanders' leading scorer has really been spreading his production out evenly—he's simply good enough to earn fantasy stars consistently, but not spectucular enough to get the top stars very often.

Fantasy Star Points Top Ten
Streit, 36
Guerin, 34
Hunter, 33
MacDonald, 24.5
Weight, 22
Bergenheim, 14
Park, 12
Nielsen, 12
Comrie, 9
Thompson, 8
Jackman, 8

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Playing with an Illegal Curve

I have a short piece posted today on It's part of the first edition of their new weekly State of the Division feature, in which team bloggers provide an overview of where the teams they cover stand at designated points in the season. Anyone want to go on record saying the Islanders won't be listed fifth next time?

I regret not including mention of the Isles' eighth-ranked penalty killing or their league-leading 305 blocked shots (204 in 11 home games, 101 in 7 road games). But the piece was starting to feel a little bloated—there's a lot to say about this team right now.

Anyway, thanks to Illegal Curve for inviting me to participate. Check out their comprehensive roundup of NHL action and stories.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Islanders Top Canucks, Stick It to Vancouver Press

I would have posted this regardless of the outcome of tonight's game, but I admit it's a lot more fun after the Islanders defeated the Canucks 2-1 in a shootout.

A lot was made on tonight's television broadcast of the hatchet job done on the Islanders leading up to the game by members of the Vancouver press. Columnists, bloggers, and TV hosts everywhere have been taking cheap shots at the Isles since the first season previews began to appear, but lately these criticisms are really starting to miss the mark to hilarious effect.

I first became aware of Gordon McIntyre's piece in The Vancouver Province during a visit to New York Islander Fan Central prior to today's game. Let's do a little more call and response...

General manager Garth Snow has put together a pretty good squad -- if it was the 2001-02 season.

But Mike Comrie, Bill Guerin, Doug Weight and Mike Sillinger are all past their best-by date.

All right. But let's just do this for fun:

Doug Weight—18 GP, 4 G, 12 A, 16 pts
Henrik Sedin—18 GP, 3 G, 12 A, 15 pts

Bill Guerin—18 GP, 6 G, 6 A, 12 pts
Daniel Sedin—18 GP, 6 G, 8 A 14 pts

I don't know. They still look fresh enough to me.

And, yikes, is that Richard Park wearing an 'A' and logging up to 19 1/2 minutes?

Yes, that is the highly respected veteran, loved by players and coaches alike, wearing an 'A' in the absence of injured teammates Sillinger and Brendan Witt. And while Park may have hit 19 1/2 minutes here and there, he's averaging around 15 minutes per game. Actually, now that I look it up, Park has only hit 19 1/2 minutes once, 18+ minutes once, and 17+ minutes twice. He's played as few as 12+ minutes four times.

This once-proud franchise has long been a joke and owner Charles Wang is hinting he will leave town or sell the team if the decrepit Nassau Coliseum, long past the glory years of Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy, isn't replaced.

Actually, he's not hinting that. The media and the commissioner are hinting that.

The Isles will be missing defenceman Thomas Pock, suspended for five games after getting a major and being tossed from Thursday's game for elbowing former Canuck Ryan Shannon in the head in his debut with the Senators.

They would also be missing Witt and Freddy Meyer, who have played very little this season and, no offense to Pock, are much more significant losses.

I don't want to get in the habit of doing this (unless it proves to be endlessly fun), but sometimes they just make it too easy.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Looking Around After the Islanders Sweep the Senators

Sometimes things just come to you in pieces...

...Mark Herrman suggests in Newsday that the back-to-back victories by the Islanders over Ottawa may represent the apex of the Islanders' season. And here I was having so much fun watching them the last two nights. Oh, well, I guess I could use those 3 hours several nights a week for more pressing pursuits. Seriously, though, I'm looking forward to seeing performances like those against the Sens more frequently as the season progresses.

...Ross McKeon at Puck Daddy asks, "Why exactly would the New York Islanders have Darryl Strawberry drop the ceremonial first puck, especially when the ex-bad boy had never even attended one hockey game in person beforehand?"

Because it was Autism Speaks Night at the Coliseum, part of the Islanders' "Hockey With a Heart" campaign, and Darryl Strawberry is the founder of The Darryl Strawberry Foundation for Autism. And he's a local baseball hero. And he met Bill Guerin and Doug Weight this summer when the two Islanders took in batting practice at Shea. And maybe, just maybe, his appearance attracted a few extra fans. You know, and awareness for autism.

...Also in Newsday, Jim Baumbach urges Charles Wang to play hardball with the local government in regard to the Lighthouse Project: "Fans, take off your Islanders-colored glasses and look around the Coliseum. This place stinks. And no one is coming."

There is no doubt this needs to get done and is essential for the future security of the Islanders on Long Island. But so is the on-ice product. The honeymoon period for a new arena/stadium is probably around three years. After that, you'd better have something to show or all the amenities in the world are unlikely to sustain high attendance—especially if you assume that said new arena will result in higher ticket prices.

I'm one of those who doesn't really care about the arena from a fan experience point of view. To me, it's a hockey rink. I just want them to have a place to play, and if I'm there, food and bathrooms are necessary. After that, it's all gravy. Of course, the Islanders need the gravy to thrive. I just want to be careful about assuming that the gravy will perpetually bring the gravy train. Can you tell Thanksgiving is coming up?

...Pre-game show? What pre-game show? Time Warner Cable in NYC was a little slow with the switch last night. The newly launched pre-game show did not appear on channel 51 until around 6:50. I should have anticipated a bumpy transition. Who knows if it was MSG failing to notify Time Warner, or Time Warner failing to throw the switch? Whatever it was, I'd like to see it from the beginning next time.

...Last night was my first opportunity to view the alternate uniforms on TV. Beautiful. And the shots of the current home sweaters in the stands made them look that much sillier in comparison.

...Here's a recent article on the Blog Box in Sports Media Journal.

Fantasy Report Game 17: Islanders 3, Senators 2

Fantasy Stars of the Game
1st Star:
Jon Sim (1 G, 1 PPG, 1 A, +1, 2 SOG, 2 BkS, 2 PIMs)
2nd Star: Joey MacDonald (W, 2 GA, .950 SV%)
3rd Star: Mark Streit (1 A, 1 PPA, +1, 1 SOG, 3 hits)
4th Star: Tim Jackman (1 A, 1 SOG, 7 PIMs, 2 hits)
5th Star: Sean Bergenheim (1 G, +1, 2 SOG, 1 BkS, 3 hits)

Notes: Roles continue to change on the power play units. At the beginning of the game, Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey once again found themselves on the first unit with Mark Streit, Bill Guerin, and Doug Weight. The second unit forwards were Trenty Hunter, Frans Nielsen, and Jon Sim. Later in the game, Hunter and Nielsen swapped places with Okposo and Bailey. And there was one strange configuration when the Islanders started the third period in the middle of a power play. In that case, Chris Campoli took the ice with Streit and Weight. I'm not sure who was supposed to be at the points in that scenario, but Weight was at one of them leaving Streit or Campoli to push forward. Perhaps Scott Gordon was just preparing for the combos he wanted when Dany Heatley came out of the box.

In the rare instances that Weight and Streit don't play the full two minutes at the points, Campoli is always the second unit option and Gordon has been favoring Brett Skinner as his partner (Skinner's minutes, seconds really, are very limited there...Richard Park was 12-8 on faceoffs.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fantasy Report: Roster Review

One note before we get started: The NHL has suspended Thomas Pock for two games for his elbow on Ryan Shannon. The league has also suspended Pock for three games for Jarko Ruutu's elbow on Maxim Lapierre.

Okay, It's time to take a second look at what the Islanders roster offers to the fantasy hockey player. Things certainly have changed since our first look just before the season started.

Once again we will classify individuals as players, prospects, or specialists. The player and prospect classifications highlight individuals, while the specialist classification is centered around statistical categories primarily and then the relevant individuals. Before we begin, here's a quick recap of the classification definitions:

Player: These players provide enough value across the board to be in play in most leagues. Someone in your league probably has them. Is it you?

: These players have the potential to reward you based on their performance, expectations, and circumstances. They're not no-brainers but could provide decent value given ice time, the right linemates, and/or stepping up their play. Picking them up as free agents/on waivers is not a guarantee of future success. Not picking them up could cause you to miss out on a good depth player.

: These are players who offer high value in one or two scoring categories. If your roster can absorb a one- or two-dimensional player, look here to bolster a weakness.

Here's how things stood at the beginning of October:

Players: Rick DiPietro, Mark Streit
Prospects: Bill Guerin, Mike Comrie, Jeff Tambellini, Doug Weight, Trent Hunter

And here are the current evaluations:

Mark Streit—The power play quarterback's points per game pace has tailed off a little over the past few games, but there's no reason to give up on him now. He's showing an early pattern of going two or three games without a point and then returning to being a solid contributor. Streit leads the Islanders in power play goals with 3. Overall, he is 4-7-11 with 37 shots, 18 PIMs, -2, 21 hits, and 25 blocked shots. Again, he's not going to be your top defenseman, but there's a place for him.

Doug Weight—The veteran center is a surprise and welcome addition to this class if you're an Islanders fan. He is filling the role of #1 center on a team that needed an offensive boost nicely. Weight is the team's leading scorer on the strength of 3 goals and 11 assists, and also leads in power points with 2 goals and 7 assists.

Trent Hunter—The hits keep coming for Hunter (17th in the league with 44), but the big winger is also second on the team in scoring with 7 goals and 6 assists. Add 46 shots on goal and 4 power play points and you've got yourself a player. Watch the +/- though.

Bill Guerin—The captain is tied for third on the team in scoring with 6 goals and 5 assists for 11 points. He is also 2-4-6 on the power play. Those are nice support stats for the league's 10th most prolific shooter—Guerin has 66 shots on goal.

What happened to...
Rick DiPietro—After sitting out the first four games of the season while recoving from spring (and summer) surgery, DiPietro started two games and then suffered a knee injury in his third appearance. The company line on his return has him back sometime in December. I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see him again in 2008.

Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey—The heralded rookie duo is now being paired together on a line with Andy Hilbert, so the winger and his pivot man of the future are suddenly the present. More importantly, they hooked up on a first-rate power play goal against Ottawa (Bailey's first NHL point) and Scott Gordon gave them time on the first unit with Streit, Weight, and Guerin. Okposo is leading all NHL rookies in shots on goal. His offense will come, maybe not as much as the leading rookie scorers, but enough to keep an eye on. Bailey looks like he belongs in the NHL now. It's dangerous to make reactionary evaluations based on two games, but I have a feeling Bailey stays. Things would get complicated if Sillinger, Comrie, and Thompson are all healthy, but let's see if that happens first.

Joey MacDonald—The current starter in net doesn't have fantasy-worthy numbers right now, but he is filling in for Rick DiPietro very capably. If you need a stop-gap or spot start, you could do a lot worse—especially if the team continues to show progress in front of MacDonald.

What happened to...
Mike Comrie—A lingering hip problem currently has Comrie sidelined. His production prior to taking a break was insufficient for fantasy consideration—2 goals, 6 assists, only one power play point, and a strikingly low 23 shots on goal in 14 games.

Jeff Tambellini—Just not doing anything that's going to interest you.

PIMsSean Bergenheim and Nate Thompson lead the team in PIMs with 31. Thompson is currently out 2-4 weeks with a strained groin. Andy Sutton should be moving up the ranks after returning from an early season hand injury. He's amassed 18 PIMs so far in eight games.

(+/-)—Not much to see here. Brett Skinner, Sutton, and Radek Martinek are the only plus players, none better than +2.

Shots on goal: It's Guerin (66), Hunter (46), and then Streit (37), Bergenheim (35), and Okposo (35).

Hits—Other than Hunter, Freddy Meyer was the only big hitter (23 hits in 7 games) before going down with an injury. There are a host of Isles to choose from for 1+ hits per game.

Blocked shots—The Isles are doing a good job in this department. Sutton, Bruno Gervais, Andy Hilbert, Streit, and Chris Campoli lead the way. Martinek should be back Saturday night, and don't forget about Witt and Meyer when they return.

FaceoffsRichard Park is the only Islander with over 100 draws who has been successful more than 50% of the time (a very robust 58.1%). Weight, Nielsen, Comrie, and Thompson all need to do better. Bailey is off to a great start winning 14 of 22 (63.6%) in his first two games.

Time on Ice—On defense, Streit (25:39) has the only big number. Campoli (23:00), Gervais (22:19), and Sutton (21:51). Keep an eye on Martinek after he works his way back in. Weight leads the forwards at 19:22.

Recent Fantasy Stars

Game 15: Flyers 3, Islanders 1
1st Star: Trent Hunter (1 G, 6 SOG, 2 hits)
2nd Star: Jeff Tambellini (1 A, 4 SOG)
3rd Star: Bruno Gervais (1 A, 1 SOG, 4 BkS, 1 hit)
4th Star: Joey MacDonald (2 GA, .935 SV%)
5th Star: Thomas Pock (1 SOG, 3 BkS, 2 PIMs, 1 hit)

Faceoffs: Weight 12-4 (75%), Bailey 7-4 (63.6%), Neilsen 10-9 (52.6%)

Game 16: Islanders 3, Senators 1
1st Star: Joey MacDonald (W, 1 GA, .967 SV%)
2nd Star:
Sean Bergenheim (1 A, +1, 4 SOG, 1 BkS, 2 PIMs, 2 hits)
3rd Star: Trent Hunter (1 G, 1 PPG, 5 SOG, 1 BkS, 1 hit)
4th Star: Bill Guerin (1 G, +1, 6 SOG, 1 hit)
5th Star: Doug Weight (1 A, +1, 4 SOG, 2 hits)

Faceoffs: Park 11-6 (64.7%), Bailey 7-4 (63.6%)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

More on the Pre-Game Show [Updated]

[Update: See text of release from Islanders below.]

As I said in the previous post, I'm curious about the driving forces behind the Islanders finally getting a pre-game show after Cablevision didn't seem to think it was at all necessary entering the season.

The day after Neil Best broke the news about the pre-game, a headline about the show from the Islanders Web site appeared in my news reader. However, that article on the official site disappeared before I ever had a chance to read it (it's not even in the news archive, but the header in my news reader is still there). I know the article existed because I saw it quoted on other blogs.

So I've been trying to find out whether the tipping point was intense lobbying by the Islanders, an agreement that the Islanders would produce the show (a la Islanders Illustrated), Cablevision simply deciding it was the right thing to do, fan/media outcry, or something else.

I'm now told that the Islanders will be issuing a release shortly that should address these issues and, I hope, satisfy my curiosity.

And, to clarify, I'm not suggesting any sort of conspiracy on the part of the Islanders with the disappearing article. Perhaps it was simply released prematurely and they knew they would have more to say. Stay tuned!

Looking forward to watching the Bailey/Okposo combo tonight...


Uniondale, NY, November 14, 2008 -- The New York Islanders and the MSG Plus Network announced that beginning tomorrow, there will be a pre-game television show prior to the start of every Islanders game.

The pre-game show will feature C.J. Papa, Stan Fischler, Howie Rose and Billy Jaffe, and will run for 30-minutes prior to the start of each game.

“After meeting with Chris Dey, MSG Plus and the Islanders both agreed that a pre-game show would certainly benefit Islanders fans,” said Michael Bair, President of MSG Media. “We have a terrific and longstanding relationship with the team, and we’re happy to add the pre-game show to our slate of Islanders programming on the network.”

“We are delighted that MSG Plus will provide the platform for our fans to learn more about the Islanders on and off the ice,” said Chris Dey, New York Islanders President. “The pre-game show allows us to continue to broaden our reach while providing entertaining content for our fans. This is a show that our fans truly deserve.”

Each pre-game show will include in-depth feature stories, interviews and analysis leading up to game-time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Islanders Get Pre-Game Show

Neil Best of Newsday is reporting on his Watchdog blog that MSG+ will be adding a pre-game show to Islanders telecasts starting this Saturday night.

Obviously the economics weren't that hard to overcome. I do wonder what the tipping point was. Perhaps the Islanders are covering some of the production costs? The team already produces Islanders Illustrated, so it's not that much of a stretch. But I hope MSG did step up and do the right thing here. I never liked the argument that no one watches pre-game shows. If the Rangers and Devils have one, the Isles should too. And now they do.

A pre-game program dedicated to all things Islanders is particularly important with the post-game show now diluted by coverage of all three teams at once. The starts of games have almost seemed rushed with so little time between the beginning of on-air coverage and the opening faceoff. Tuning in at 6:30, 6:35, or even 6:45 for a 7:08 game is a much better warmup for the night's action.

Monday, November 10, 2008

More on the NHL Injury Policy

Stu Hackel of The New York Times hockey blog, Slap Shot, today provides a comprehensive look at coverage of the NHL's injury disclosure policy. And before I go any further, I'll point out that I decided to highlight Stu's entry before I reached the end and discovered my own blog mentioned among many in the discussion. But I do, of course, appreciate being included.

Two themes in particular from Hackel's piece caught my interest. First, the policy is now being put under the microscope by more than just Islanders beat writer Greg Logan. Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Jim Kelley of Sports Illustrated, Pierre LeBrun of, and Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald have all weighed in on the issue with varying degrees of criticism.

Second, Hackel featured quotes from Jarome Iginla (via an interview with Joe Haggerty of WEEI) and Andrew Brunette (from the Murphy story) that support the argument that players won't necessarily target the injuries of their opponents.

Here are some quotes from Iginla on being targeted and targeting an opponent's injury:

"I personally haven’t been. You know, I can see the one side where it sounds like you don’t want anyone to know if a guy has maybe a bad hand and you’re going to start slashing his hand. But I don’t think that’s going to happen regularly."

"I know when we hear a guy with an injury, we just played [Jason] Arnott. We knew he came back in Nashville, and we knew he came back from a finger injury. We’re trying to be hard on him obviously because it’s his first game back and he plays so well against us, but no one made one comment about let’s go slash his hands or anything like that. I mean, maybe playoff time things heat up even more. But no, we’ve never really talked like that at all."

"Well, we’re probably trying to hit him anyway, but we’re trying to hit him as much as we can."

"And if it’s an ankle injury, there’s nothing a guy is really doing to another guy’s ankle. I guess it would be a hand would come to mind that you might see more, but refs are on that and see that anyway. So yeah, most of them are like yeah, I’m not that personally, obviously, I’m not that worried about it because usually I feel like they’re trying to hit me anyway, or playing against another team’s defensemen and they’re trying to run me into a corner whether my shoulder is good or not."

And from Brunette:

"I don’t get it,'’ 13-year veteran Andrew Brunette of the Wild told Murphy. “I’ve never seen, never heard anybody say, ‘Let’s get him’ because he’s injured.

Muprhy also quoted Sabres coach Lindy Ruff:

"I don’t buy into this thing about being targeted."

Murphy additionally reported the following:

"None of the 10 players interviewed for this story said he ever has been coached to attack a wounded player with intent to further injure him. And none could recall being targeted because of a disclosed injury."

I recommend reading Hackel's whole blog entry, as well as the articles to which he linked, for a wide-ranging view of the issues surrounding the disclosure of injuries in the NHL.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fantasy Report—Games 13 and 14

Game 13: Thrashers 4, Islanders 3, OT Fantasy Stars of the Game
1st Star: Bill Guerin (1 A, 1 PPA, 7 SOG, 1 BkS)
2nd Star:
Frans Nielsen (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, 1 hit)
3rd Star: Trent Hunter (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, 1 hit)
4th Star: Mark Streit (2 A, +1, 1 BkS, 2 PIMs)
5th Star: Jon Sim (1 G, 1 PPG, 3 SOG)

Extra: Dismal night for faceoffs as the Isles won 24 and lost 42. Nielsen was best at 8-8, followed by Hilbert at 1-1, and Thompson at 6-7. Weight was 5-13, Comrie 2-8, and Park 2-5.

Game 14: Penguins 4, Islanders 3, SO
Fantasy Stars of the Game
1st Star: Doug Weight (1 G, 1 A, +2, 5 SOG, 1 BkS, 2 PIMs)
2nd Star: Andy Hilbert (1 G, 1 A, +2, 3 SOG, 3 BkS, 2 hits)
3rd Star: Andy Sutton (2 A, +1, 8 BkS, 2 hits)
4th Star: Bill Guerin (1 A, +1, 2 SOG, 2 BkS, 2 PIMs)
5th Star: Tim Jackman (1 G, 1 SOG, 2 BkS, 4 hits)

Extra: Park turned it around at the dot going 11-5 on draws, but he was the only one who finished over .500 (other than Hilbert who only took one).

Overall notes: One of the best things going for the Islanders this season is that Doug Weight is capably filling the #1 center role. Weight is leading the team in scoring with 3 goals and 10 assists, 2 and 7 on the power play. The near point-a-game pace is as much as you could ask for from the vet. And even with all those power play points, he's a +1 for the season.

The forward lines are still somewhat in flux with a couple of guys moving in and out of the lineup and Scott Gordon looking for the best combinations. On the top line, Weight and Guerin have gone through Sim, Okposo, and Bergenheim as their third, with the latter moving back there most recently after missing three games with an illness. The loss of Nate Thompson to a groin injury and the recall of Tim Jackman also necessitated some changes. Hunter-Nielsen-Tambellini is the most likely to stay stable. Park-Hilbert-Okposo was new, as was Sim-Comrie-Jackman. Those six could see some shuffling, with a lot depending on whether Bergenheim stays on the top line.

The power play looks a little more settled at the moment. On the first unit, Nielsen centers Hunter and Guerin with Streit and Weight manning the points. On the second unit, Comrie hits the ice with youngsters Tambellini and Okposo, and Chris Campoli as the entrenched point man. Campoli has alternately been joined at the blue line by Bruno Gervais or Brett Skinner recently. That spot is certainly up for grabs. Sim, Park, Hilbert, and Bergenheim will pick up some spare PP time here and there, as evidenced by Sim's tally on the tail end of a power play in Atlanta.

In goal, Joey MacDonald has performed admirably, but he is not a fantasy asset at this time.

Fantasy Star Point Leaders (through 14 games)
Streit, 33
Guerin, 29
Hunter, 25
Weight, 20
Park, 12
Nielsen, 10
MacDonald, 9.5
Bergenheim, 9
Comrie, 9
Thompson, 8

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Live Blog: Penguins 4, Islanders 3, SO

Postgame update: The word after the game on Hunter's shootout attempt was that the refs knew the puck was in but they couldn't see it. They have to see the puck go across the line to call it a goal. And, obviously, the replays gave no cause for overturning the call on the ice. Given the opportunity to criticize the officiating on the play, Scott Gordon paused in thought before taking the high road. He offered only that it's pretty hard to win a shootout when you don't score a goal.

Gordon also said that he felt bad for Gervais for falling victim to the bad bounce that allowed the Penguins to score their second goal.

As I mentioned in the live blog, the Islanders need to find a way to approach a third-period lead as an opportunity to win another period instead of protecting the lead. The strange thing is, for a large portion of the third, they did continue to push forward. But, as Gordon mentioned after the game, they suffered from a lack of attempts to shoot the puck.

Penguins win.

Hunter's shot is under review. If the call stands, the Pens win.

NYI Hunter Save

PIT Satan Save

NYI Guerin Save

PIT Sykora: Goal

NYI Weight: Save


End of Overtime: Things really opened up in the last minute and got sloppy. Guerin had a great opportunity streaking in from the right side but couldn't flip it by Sabourin. We're headed for a shootout.

1:05 Pens don't get a shot on net on a 3-on-1.

1:55 Lots of back and forth but no great chances for either team. It's somewhat of a tentative overtime.

5:00 Isles start with Hunter, Nielsen, Campoli, and Gervais.


End of Regulation: Great chances for both teams in the final minute with Crosby and Nielsen both shooting wide.

2:16 Tambellini with a blocked shot at the blue line and a partial breakaway. His shot is turned aside.

2:24 For about 15 minutes, the Isles were playing up tempo enough to give the Penguins something to think about other than constant pressure in the offensive zone. That changed and the Isles were once again back on their heels, not getting clears, and not getting clears far enough down the ice when they did get them. But keep in mind they are being outshot 17-0 in the third.

3:15 After a several-minute-long stretch of pressure, the Isles finally broke. MacDonald beaten by a long shot. Tied 3-3.

5:34 The Islanders have not registered a shot on goal in the third. That's not to say they're sitting back in a shell.

6:55 Same for the second unit. Power Play over.

8:08 The first unit fails to generate much of anything.

8:56 Nielsen's patience with the puck causes him to lose an opportunity to shoot or make a play, but gains the Isles a power play. Sykora goes off for hooking.

10:28 MacDonald had a little trouble with a sharp-angled shot and the rebound fell in front. No harm done.

12:40 Cooke's wrister rings the post. Might have been deflected on the way in.

14:45 Penguins have surpassed the Isles in shots on goal, 19-17.

16:01 Sabourin misplays the puck behind the net. Okposo takes a feed for another one-timer but doesn't get all of it.

17:15 MacDonald being tested early. He's been there each time.

18:25 Nielsen had a shot at a mostly empty net but his back was to the goal and the shot went just wide. Back at even strength.

19:00 Crosby to Letang for a one-timer, kicked away nicely by MacDonald. Then Mac shuts the door on Fedotenko in close.

20:00 So the goal here is not to protect the lead. It's to win the period.


2nd Intermission: The Isles have 1:23 left to kill off at the beginning of the third period. I would have much preferred seeing them go to the third with the two-goal lead, mostly because I wanted to see them tested with a multi-goal lead again. They might as well be put right back in that fire. At the same time, I'd like to think that the one-goal lead will have them playing with more urgency in the third. They know what their coach wants them to do. It's time to execute. And stay out of the box, even if the PK has been effective so far. By the way, those ice times provided by the NHL for the first period may have been a little off now that I look at them and the current stats again. These stat sheets are published so quickly that they occasionally include errors that are corrected later.

0:37 Now Gervais with a slashing penalty, the Islanders' fourth minor of the period.

1:38 Bergenheim created a shorthanded breakaway for himself but couldn't put it home with a defenseman bothering him the last 15 feet. He and Nielsen hammered at the loose puck in the crease several times before Sabourin finally covered.

3:21 Guerin goes off for slashing. The test is starting early.

3:59 Puck hops over Gervais' stick at his own blue line. Staal beats him to it and puts the moves on MacDonald to cut the lead. Isles lead 3-2.

5:30 Sutton sends it from the blue line down low to Okposo in the corner. Okposo slides it to the top of the crease where Hilbert receives, turns, and puts a backhand by Sabourin. Isles lead 3-1.

6:31 Giveaway to Nielsen in front but Scuderi slides across to block the shot and make up for the error.

7:04 The scoreboard shows the Pens with only six shots on goal. The Isles survived a couple of penalties early in the period, now they need to survive a few icings.

11:09 Weight out of the box takes a pass just inside the blue line from Jackman, holds on Sabourin, fires, and Jackman slams home the rebound into the open side. Sutton with the other assist. Isles lead 2-1.

13:23 Malkin does his best to dance by Weight and causes him to take a slashing penalty. Weight doesn't see it that way.

15:26 Talbot knocked down a Streit backhanded clearing attempt resulting in a goal-mouth scramble. MacDonald covers up. Isles are flirting with disaster by not clearing the puck multiple times when they had a chance.

15:58 Talbot undressed the Islander defense forcing Skinner to take a hooking penalty.

17:44 4-on-3 rush for the Pens results in an easy backhander for Tyler Kennedy. Tied 1-1.

19:35 Okposo has had two cracks tonight at that one-timer he likes from near the slot, but nothing to show for it so far.


1st Intermission: The Islanders have suffered from two main plagues this season: giving up the early goal and collapsing in the third. They seem to have overcome the first issue and have once again played a solid first period. Nielsen and Tambellini led the Islanders in ice time with over nine minutes each. Andy Sutton was the only other skater who surpassed nine minutes.

0:47 Weight almost creates another problem in front of the Pens' net on the forecheck. Poked the puck away but couldn't gather it in.

3:37 Weight gathers in a blocked shot just inside the left circle and feathers a softie over Sabourin's glove. Assists to Guerin and Hilbert. Isles lead 1-0.

5:09 Jackman finished an open-ice check nicely on Eaton in the neutral zone.

6:35 Consecutive blocked shots by Sutton and Hunter.

8:05 Park, Hilbert, and Jackman now on the ice as a unit.

8:13 Some decent looks on that power play, only a couple of shots made it on net.

9:10 Okposo, Nielsen, and Tambellini out with Campoli and Skinner.

10:40 Comrie, Guerin, and Hunter form the first forward unit with Weight and Streit on the points. Sabourin makes a nice save on a hard, low shot from Weight.

10:40 Talbot to the box for slashing. First PP chance for the Islanders.

11:58 The play has been fairly even so far. A few decent chances for each team, but nothing too scary for either goalie. The Isles are skating well.

13:19 Jackman playing with Comrie and Sim.

15:13 Malkin back, lost the draw.

16:40 MacDonald with a solid save on Crosby from the right circle.

17:26 Malkin skated off wincing. Looked like a lower arm issue.

18:48 Bergenheim is back with Weight and Guerin.

19:56 Satan heard some boos right from the start.

20:00 Your starting lineup: MacDonald, Streit, Sutton, Hilbert, Park, Okposo.


If it's Saturday and I'm live blogging, it must be hockey night at the Coliseum. The Islanders will look to get back to their winning ways from earlier in the week against the 7-4-2 Penguins, who are currently tied for second in the Atlantic Division with the New Jersey Devils, seven points back of the first-place Rangers. I'm told they've scheduled three periods of action tonight. We'll see how it goes.

Here are some personnel updates posted by Tom Liodice at The Tiger Track: Sidney Crosby will be in the lineup tonight despite unspecified soreness over the last few days and Nate Thompson is on the shelf for 2-4 weeks with a groin strain.

Other notes of interest: The Islanders finished 2007-08 with a 3-5-0 record against Pittsburgh. Josef Vasicek led the team in points for the series with Trent Hunter, Mike Comrie, and current Penguin Miro Satan each scoring three goals...Kyle Okposo leads this year's NHL rookie class with 30 shots on goal...The Islanders are averaging 16.5 blocked shots per game, good for fifth in the league. They finished fourth overall last season...This is the Islanders' fifth of 15 games in November. They've split the first four...Tim Jackman is making his season debut tonight.

As the Islanders take the ice for warmups in their fantastic alternate Saturday-special uniforms, I just have to make one comment on them. As much as I like this look, my preference would be for it to remain the alternate uniform while the home and away uniforms return to the style most often associated with the Dynasty era. That being said, if this uniform does go full-time in the future, I'll be far from unhappy about it.

In a poll earlier this week, 80% of respondents indicated they do not want Garth Snow to pursue a deal with Brendan Shanahan now that Mark Parrish is no longer an option.

Almost gametime...once again, timestamps in this live blog refer to time remaining in the period.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

MacDonald Leads Islanders Over Rangers 2-1 at MSG

Joey MacDonald standing on his head + offense from Richard Park and Nate Thompson = win. This is not the formula on which the Islanders are counting for success.

Or is it?
Outstanding goaltending + tenacious defense + opportunistic, aggressive offense = too much for the opponent to overcome.

MacDonald was the difference. And just a few days after a frustrated Marty Turco called out the skaters in front of him for trying to play goalie and not letting him see the puck, MacDonald was buoyed by 32 blocked shots from his support staff. The Isles also scored 27 hits.

It was important for Nate Thompson to get on the scoresheet, even if he did so with a put-the-pizza-in-the-oven goal. Clearly, Garth Snow and Scott Gordon did not bring Thompson here for organizational depth, but to play a meaty role. It's reasonable to hope that breaking through for his first goal will boost his confidence and get him on track to being the complete player he was in the AHL. Can you imagine Thompson developing into a Michael Peca type player? That's a lofty expectation, but it's fun to think about the ceiling for some of these young guys.

Nate Thompson puts the pizza in the oven.
Of course, we're still staring at two scoreless periods that were rescued by two shorthanded goals in the third. Consistent five-on-five scoring is the next hurdle to overcome. But for now, let's enjoy having won two in a row.

The New York (Global) Times covered the New York Islanders vs. the New York Rangers in New York City with an Associated Press article. Stu Hackel did provide some commentary in Slap Shot.

Fantasy Report

Game 11: Islanders 4, Blue Jackets 3, OT
Fantasy Stars of the Game
1st Star: Chris Campoli (2 G, 1 SHG, +2, 4 SOG, 4 BkS, 1 hit)
2nd Star: Trent Hunter (2 A, 1 SHA, +2, 3 SOG, 1 hit)
3rd Star: Richard Park (1 G, 1 A, +1, 3 SOG,
4th Star: Mike Comrie (2 A, 1 SHA, +1, 2 BkS)
5th Star: Bill Guerin (1 G, +1, 2 SOG, 2 BkS, 2 PIMs, 5 hits)

Game 12: Islanders 2, Rangers 1
Fantasy Stars of the Game
1st Star: Joey MacDonald (W, 1.00 GAA, .972 SV%)
2nd Star: Frans Nielsen (1 A, 1 SHA, +2, 4 SOG, 3 BkS, 2 hits)
3rd Star: Nate Thompson (1 G, 1 SHG, +1, 1 SOG, 2 BkS, 4 hits)
4th Star: Richard Park (1 G, 1 SHG, +1, 3 SOG)
5th Star: Thomas Pock (1 A, 1 SHA, +1, 1 SOG, 2 BkS, 1 hit)

Fantasy Star Points Top Ten (Through 12 Games)
  1. Streit 31
  2. Guerin 22
  3. Hunter 22
  4. Weight 15
  5. Park 12
  6. MacDonald 9.5
  7. Bergenheim 9
  8. Comrie 9
  9. Thompson 8
  10. Meyer 7

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sequels | Islanders 4, Blue Jackets 3, OT

Most classic horror movies have sequels. The Islanders got about three-quarters of the way through writing their own horror sequel before they decided they'd rather be an emotional roller coaster with an uplifting ending. Still, it was somehow fitting that Chris Campoli was forced to author the first overtime goal with a sequel that I can recall: Campoli 2 (This Time It Counts). But, like most sequels, when you look back, the first one was the real winner.

Despite the win, it still feels like a lead is there only to absorb the blow of giving up goals later—and then the game really begins. I do believe there is a strong psychological component to protecting a lead. You can say, "Just keep playing your game," all you want, but it's extremely difficult to actually do that. The opponent plays differently and the game feels different. Your instincts tell you to protect the lead so you focus on being defensive—even when your brain, and quite possibly your coach, is yelling at you to do otherwise.

With that dynamic at work, fending off a hungry team that's coming at you for 20 minutes is enough of a challenge with an All-Star goalie and a healthy defense. So it was satisfying to see the Isles bend, not break, and then capitalize on an opportunity to come away with two desperately needed points. Yes, you could do without the bend. But if it's progress and learning we're looking for, then consider that coming out of this game with a win is a significant step in the right direction after the Montreal game.

Blowing a lead does not mean it's time to pack it in. Standing up and saying, "We're still here—let's take this," is the response you're looking for. Last night, the Islanders gave the right response. Next, they need to work on coming up with the right response before they give up the lead.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Horror Show at the Coliseum [Updated]

Canadiens Say Boo; Islanders Jump

In what may have been one of the strangest nights in the history of Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders dominated for two periods before blowing a 4-1 lead to the...delight?...of thousands of screaming...Canadiens fans?

Someone up in Montreal thought this would be a good weekend for a road trip to New York. And that person has lots of friends.

Chris Botta made a very astute observation after the game. Normally, when a team crumbles like the Islanders did, you would hear plenty of booing. But the cheering from the Canadian contingent was so loud that there was no audible booing from the home team's fans.

I have seen Montreal play at the Coliseum before and it was never like this. Chris added that he had never seen such a showing for a visit by the Canadiens. Before I even entered the Coliseum, the only three fans I saw outside the press gate were decked out in their red Habs sweaters. Once the gates opened, they were everywhere.

In the live blog below, I tried to pass it off as visitors from out of town arriving early to check out the arena and have a full experience. But the numbers continued to grow and so did the decibel levels. The reaction to each Montreal goal was louder and more enthusiastic than I have heard from fans of any other team at the Coliseum.

Okay, I won't dwell on it any longer, except to say that you have to be impressed by such support and it made for a terrific atmosphere.

Time permitting, I'll have more tomorrow. In the meantime, if you missed it there are plenty of glorious and grisly details below.


One quick observation on Scott Gordon: I have never heard a professional coach offer more specific descriptions and explanations of his team's play. In this case, obviously, he was speaking of the team's shortcomings, what they did wrong, and what they need to do to fix the problems. Take a few minutes and view last night's press conference on Islanders TV. It is refreshingly light on cliches and rich in candid details.

Cowboy Cut Quote
Mark Streit: "We didn't forecheck. We didn't backcheck. We just watched."

Prime Cut Quote
Streit: "When everyone's on board, plays within the system, we can play with any team in the league."

Fantasy Report—Games 9 & 10

Game 9: Flyers 3, Islanders 2, OT
Fantasy Stars of the Game
1st Star:
Mark Streit (1 A, 1 PPA, 4 SOG, 1 BkS, 1 hit)
2nd Star: Andy Sutton (1 A, 2 SOG, 3 BkS, 4 PIMs)
3rd Star: Andy Hilbert (1 G, +1, 3 SOG, 1 BkS)
4th Star: Bill Guerin (1 G, 1 PPG, 3 SOG)
5th Star: Trent Hunter (3 SOG, 2 PIMs, 3 hits)

Game 10: Canadiens 5, Islanders 4
Fantasy Stars of the Game
1st Star: Trent Hunter (2 A, 1 PPA, 3 SOG, 2 BkS, 4 hits)
2nd Star:
Mark Streit (1 G, 1 PPG, 2 SOG, 4 BkS, 2 PIMs)
3rd Star: Bill Guerin (1 G, 1 PPG, 4 SOG, 2 BkS, 1 hit)
4th Star: Doug Weight (2 A, 1 PPA, 1 SOG)
5th Star: Frans Nielsen (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG)