Friday, October 22, 2010

Short Take on Rypien's Short Suspension

Here's what the NHL should have considered when handing down its suspension of Rick Rypien of the Canucks for shoving and grabbing a fan: What would the suspension have been if Rypien had thrown a punch?

I have to imagine it would have been a lot more than six games.

Rypien's thought process short-circuited. He and the NHL are fortunate that the circuit that shorted was the one labeled "Shove and Grab" rather than one next to it labeled "Punch." That's how close an NHL fighter came to punching out a fan on live TV with no provocation other than a sarcastic comment.

The result of the loss of control is not what should have been punished. The loss of control is.

And, while we're at it, it's really annoying when Gary Bettman feels compelled to put an everything's-okay-here spin on matters:

"Fortunately, this incident is not typical of the way NHL players conduct themselves and is not typical of the way Mr. Rypien had conducted himself during his career."

It happened. We all saw it.

Hey, these Islanders are pretty good.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Flatley Joins MSG

Neil Best is reporting in his Watchdog blog that MSG has hired former Islanders captain Pat Flatley for its Hockey Night Live! studio program. Flatley takes the seat formerly occupied by Butch Goring, who recently moved into the broadcast booth alongside play-by-play man Howie Rose to replace the controversially departed color analyst Billy Jaffe.

It's an interesting choice for Islanders fans as most still have very fond memories of Flats, including his on-ice style and off-ice personality. But Flatley hasn't been close to the Islanders in 15 years, so it's a little strange to think of him as being the Islanders voice on Hockey Night Live! There's a disconnect there that Flatley will have to resolve by spending some time getting close to the team again. Still, I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what he brings to the table.

Lighthouse Hockey Season Preview Roundtable

Please visit Lighthouse Hockey for an entertaining and interesting Season Preview Roundtable featuring several familiar bloggers, a few singers, a few actors, and a number of fictional characters—including a delicious and structurally challenged gingerbread man.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Gordon Should Name Roloson Starter

While significant injuries to Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo have curtailed expectations for an Islanders playoff run in 2011, the braintrust of the organization has no choice but to proceed as if that run remains very much in the plans. Therefore, all roster and lineup decisions must address the two-headed monster of maintaining forward momentum of the youth development while attempting to win now.

In a sport that breeds constant chatter about players knowing their jobs, roles, and responsibilities, Coach Scott Gordon has not named the owner of one very important job. Who is the Islanders #1 goalie?

Gordon can go a long way toward starting the season with an air of stability by naming Dwayne Roloson his starting goaltender. Right now, it is the best option for the Islanders to play to their competitive peak.

Roloson played his best hockey last season when he served as the team’s undisputed #1. Sharing the duties with Rick DiPietro and Martin Biron seemed to soften what had been a very sharp edge in net.
It is in the best interest of this year’s team to have an established starter, whether it be Roloson or DiPietro. But, for this season, it should be Roloson for roughly 55 games. The soon-to-be 41-year-old demonstrated last year that he is more than capable of holding down the job and leading the team to victories. The Islanders will get the most out of him in this role.

DiPietro has not been a starting NHL goaltender since 2008. The team should not put itself in the position of forcing itself to see if he can do it again now, and risk losing him for another year or more. Let him re-acclimate to the rigors of an NHL schedule by not playing too much of it—let him play enough to show that his body can absorb the beating it will take, restore his technique and reflexes, and re-build his stamina.

If DiPietro has trouble getting into a rhythm due to sporadic starts, so be it. What the Islanders can get out of him this season is still a question mark. Let him answer that question over 25-30 games. Then, next year, Garth Snow can decide whether to re-sign Roloson as a backup or, more likely, promote one of Kevin Poulin, Nate Lawson, or Mikko Koskinen to serve as DiPietro’s understudy.

If it were clear that DiPietro would outplay Roloson this year, I’d say give him a shot to take the job. But I don’t see how you can say that. The Islanders have a greater chance of getting the most out of their goalies, now and in the future, by giving the starting job for 2010-11 to Roloson.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Islanders Find a Home at 30 Rock

Okay, somebody's gotta fill me in. I don't get to watch much TV anymore, and when I do it's usually on the DVR. And I don't think I saw a single episode of 30 Rock last year. I happened to catch a new episode last night. So here are my questions:

1) Is Paul Giamatti a regular guest star?
2) Does his character, Richie, always wear a John Tavares jersey?

Good job by the Islanders getting their brand some high-profile exposure. The episode also featured an Islanders pennant on a background wall about four minutes in, which is when I turned the show on. At that point I hadn't even seen Richie in all his home-blue-91 glory, which he wore for the duration of the show. Later, the show's dialogue even had Richie describing himself as an Islanders fan.

To answer one of my own questions, it seems that this was Giamatti's first appearance on the show—at least according to IMDB. But, as chronicled here, it certainly was not the first appearance of an Islanders jersey on the show.

Maybe we can have an escalating battle between Entourage and 30 Rock to see which show can feature the most Isles paraphenalia. If only Hockey Night Live! were this friendly to the Islanders! (I filled out a blogging survey yesterday saying that my style wasn't snarky.)

Update: Here's a good thread on the topic from HF Boards, including a screen cap. I was making dinner while this on and completely missed the Matt Moulson part.

Update: Things are coming in fast and furious now. I'm not surprised that this was also discussed on Twitter, where it was suggested that the mention of/slagging on Moulson may be due to Giamatti being a Yale grad. Yale and Cornell are picked to finish first and second, respectively, in the ECAC this year. I also had no idea that Giamatti is the son of the late Bart Giamatti, former President of Yale and Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

Friday, July 30, 2010


I realize that this is a completely strange reason to come out of hibernation, but something had to do it sometime.

For all of those who felt that Newsday replacing veteran beat reporter Greg Logan with former intern Katie Strang was a purposeful thumb to the nose aimed at the Islanders and their fans, here's an amazing parallel from another market.

Tarik El-Bashir of The Washinging Post is leaving the Capitals beat after five years of top-notch coverage. Dan Steinberg of the Post's D.C. Sports Bog describes El-Bashir's replacement (thanks to Kukla's Korner):

"Katie Carrera, a former Post intern who has covered high school sports for us the past two years, will become the new Capitals beat writer. Katie is a rarity - a sports journalist who actually knows something about hockey. She has assisted Tarik on and off with the Capitals for the past two seasons and now she has the whole show to herself."

Sometimes things change. People get deserved opportunities as a result of those changes. While the circumstances that brought about the change at the Post may be vastly different than those that moved Logan off the Isles beat at Newsday, the effect is the same. Such a succession can and did happen in another market, and it doesn't have to be a reason for the fanbase to feel disrespected or bullied.


I've been mulling over a meta-post for this blog to explain what is happening with it and what can be expected in the future. The truth is, I really don't know. All I know is that I can't do it the way I used to do it. There is simply not enough time to watch the games the way I used to watch them, to keep up with all that is being written about the Isles and the NHL, to formulate posts, and to execute them properly.

Other blogs are setting the bar pretty high these days. It's debatable whether what I can offer still has a place among them.

I have come close a number of times to just announcing the end of this blog. But here I am once again. And it feels good to be back.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

NYI Classifieds

FOR SALE – SOLD – LARGE-BODIED NHL DEFENSEMAN. Surprisingly mobile and good hands for size. Good soldier, may not stay around past springtime. Some wear and tear.

FOR SALE – SHOOTOUT SPECIALIST – Fleet-footed part-time NHL winger. Laser-like wrist shot. Good pedigree. Will score at the AHL level. Some rust.

FOR SALE – VETERAN #1 GOALTENDER – "Lot 1A" Savvy presence in net. Capable of leading team deep into the playoffs. Battle tested, prospers under heavy workload. Atrophies in presence of "Lot 1C" or equivalent.

FOR SALE – VETERAN #1 GOALTENDER – "Lot 1B" Respected and adored by peers. Priced to move. Bags packed and ready to move since September. Also experienced as a No. 2 and No. 3.

FOR SALE – VETERAN #1 GOALTENDER – "Lot 1C" Refurbished former NHL All-Star. Dedicated and tireless worker. Not afraid to make a commitment. Been in the shop a few times. Palatable cap hit, when healthy. Service records currently "misplaced."

FOR SALE – FINNISH FLASH – Young forward with size, hands, and speed. Total package power forward. Slight fear of success. "Poised for breakout."

FOR SALE – VETERAN GRINDER – Winger with agitation mode. One-time 17-goal-scorer. Knee only two years old. Will dominate in AHL. "Depth."

WANTED TO BUY – 2010 AND 2011 DRAFT PICKS As many as possible. Preferably in third round or better. Will pay in cash.

WANTED TO BUY – GOALTENDER – Warm body, possibly two, needed to fill net for remainder of 2009-10 season. Must be prepared to play every night, or not at all.

WANTED TO BUY – YOUR FULL CAP SPACE – Collector with openings in storage. Will accept your bloated contracts for "high-quality draft incentives." We'll turn your mistakes into our roster-hole plugs!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Witt Waiver-Wired

Katie Strang reports that veteran defenseman Brendan Witt as been activated from the injured reserve list and will be placed on waivers at noon today. If not claimed by another team, Witt will report to Bridgeport.

This is certainly a case where you have to be impressed at Garth Snow's willingness to make a very tough call. While it was obvious that Witt was no longer serving the team adequately in his role, it would have been very easy for Snow to give him several more opportunities to work things out on the ice. You don't decide to waive a player of Witt's character, experience, and performance record like you're deciding which pair of shorts to leave home when you're packing for vacation and your suitcase is full.

Snow is paid to make difficult decisions in order to put the Islanders in the best position to win. Having Witt in the top six was not in the team's best interest. Nor was letting him accumulate dust in the press box. Perhaps Witt will show enough in his time at the Bridge to convince another team to take a chance on him as we get closer to the trade deadline.

While the Islanders can move on without Witt in the lineup, there is no doubt he will be missed around the Coliseum. Of course, as we've seen with other players, being waived and sent down doesn't necessarily mean the end of the line.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Milestones for the Moulsons

Fresh on the heels of older brother Matt Moulson recording his 20th goal of the season for the Islanders, Cornell freshman Chris Moulson on Saturday scored his first career NCAA goal as the Big Red defeated Clarkson 5-3.

The younger Moulson had only tasted the lineup once this season before being called upon by coach Mike Schafer for both games this past weekend. On Friday night Cornell defeated St. Lawrence 2-1. The 4-point weekend on the road puts Cornell all alone at the top of the ECAC standings and solidifies its top-ten ranking in the NCAA.

Moulson's goal on Saturday night gave Cornell a 3-1 lead early in the second period. After the game, he told The Cornell Daily Sun that speaking with his older, NHL-experienced brother had provided him with some focus for breaking through:

“I talked to my brother before the game and he just said to shoot more pucks and be around the net more,” Moulson explained. “The one thing he always tells me is to do the extra things. Everyone on the team is going to work hard, but you have to be the guy who does the extra things and works hard when everyone else is taking a break. He always told me to remain positive, you’ll get your chance, and you’ll be great.”

If that doesn't sound like the Matt Moulson Islanders fans have come to know this season, I don't know what does.

The Daily Sun reported Chris's goal thusly:
Just 3:32 later, Cornell was once again able to capitalize on a rebound opportunity. Junior defenseman Mike Devin wristed a shot on net from the slot, but Karpowich went down in butterfly position to deflect the shot away. Chris Moulson then picked up the rebound, skated to his right, and flicked a backhand over a sprawling Karpowich and into the back of the net. In giving his team a 3-1 lead, Moulson scored his first ever NCAA goal in just his third career game.

“I can’t even really remember what happened,” Moulson said. “It was a shot from the point … the puck was just sitting there and the next thing I knew I was on my stomach and the puck was in the net. I was trying to get up to celebrate but [Nick] D’Agostino was holding me back.”

If you recall, the elder Moulson had this to say about his brother just a couple of months ago:

"I try to talk almost every day to him. He's working hard. Hopefully he'll get a chance and I think he's probably a better player than me, so, hopefully he just needs a chance and he'll get in there and do well."

Congratulations to both Matt and Chris on reaching these gratifying career milestones.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Two-Minute Minors for 1/20/10

I've been considering doing some daily posts that are more like Twitter feeds where I just add thoughts as they pop into my head throughout the course of a day. Why not just join Twitter? I don't know—I just kind of like it here.

It then occurred to me that I already sort of do that occasionally with these Two-Minute Minor posts, though without the day-long aggregation. Anyway, we'll see what happens. Let's move on before I get called for delay of game...

  • Last night the Isles went toe-to-toe with the offensively gifted Penguins and came out a little stubbed. When Sidney Crosby drops a six pack of points on you and Evgeni Malkin emerges from his funk with a hat trick, you just have to tip all those hats and get ready for the next one. Isn't it nice to be in a position to take the positives from a loss and still feel good about what the team is doing? It will feel even nicer if the four-game winning streak is not followed by a losing streak of any kind.
  • Richard Park finally convinced an official that a shot off his stick is capable of being a goal.
  • Here's my guess at how Colin Campbell handles Andy Sutton's boarding of Pascal Dupuis: "Well, I just gave Jovanovski, a star, a two-game suspension—I have to suspend Andy Sutton." You know, just a guess, because that's all we can really do at this point. It was a bad play by Sutton and it's refreshing to see a player admit as much. It doesn't matter if you didn't intend to hurt another player—you have to be able to make the split decision that stops you from putting another player in danger. When you don't make that decision correctly, you pay the consequences. In this case a major and a game misconduct suffice, but I actually wouldn't be too surprised or too upset to see Sutton sit out a game or two. But I can't wait for the explanation. Update: I was wrong. Sutton has been suspended for two games and I actually am a little ticked. Why? Because...Prediction: Sometime in the next 12-18 months, Sutton will board someone else and get suspended for five games. You know, because he'll be a repeat offender.
  • The larger issue is, how long does Gary Bettman let this go on? It's not good for the league to have one of its top officials, especially one who impacts game play, constantly called out. I'm not even saying that Campbell has to be dismissed. But the issue does need to be addressed or the integrity question will continue to fester.
  • You know what really made an impression on me last night? Very quickly after Sutton hit Dupuis, Dwayne Roloson waved to the Pittsburgh bench for the trainer to come out. Then he skated out of the crease, and out of the TV picture. The next time you see Roloson, he's skating back to Dupuis with the Pens' trainer in tow. Classy move by an opponent.
  • Yesterday, Uni Watch mentioned John Tavares's bet-losing practice appearance in a Team USA jersey. Uni Watch proprietor Paul Lukas made mention of the mysterious slits in the back of the jersey and wondered about their purpose/origin. I e-mailed Paul to tell him that I had read that the jersey belonged to Sparky the Dragon, and the slits where there to accommodate his wings. At the time, I couldn't remember the source of that information. Paul published my note as an update in today's edition, so I want to make sure to give credit where credit is due. After a little searching, I can now confirm that my source for the Sparky information was none other than blogging pal Dee Karl. Good scoop, Dee!
  • Finally, it's always good to remind yourself just how obsessed you are with sports. Yesterday, I got lunch from Five Guys for the first time. My order number was 57. While waiting on line, I kept thinking how cool it would be if, instead of calling out my order number when my food was ready, the line cook instead shouted, "Comeau!"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Reason to Believe: Islanders 6, Red Wings 0

Just some things I'm thinking about following a joyful night of joyful hockey...

Matt Moulson's offense is heating up again. And he's finding the net while playing with Frans Nielsen. Both circumstances help negate the ideas that Moulson is a flash in the pan who got off to a hot start and that his production was due mostly to his pairing with John Tavares.

How nice it is to once again be able to legitimately pin the future of the Islanders on Kyle Okposo, Tavares, AND Josh Bailey. Bailey looked like a boy last year. Suddenly he looks like a man, and plays like one too.

Despite his slow start in the goal column, Okposo will surpass his goal total from a year ago. Watch him light it up in the second half.

Seeing my favorite player of his era, Kenny Jonsson, back in the Islanders family for one night.

The part of NHLer Rob Schremp now being played by...Rob Schremp.

BD might be right that keeping Martin Biron on ice (as opposed to on the ice) might improve his trade value. At the very least, it won't harm his value and it will also protect him from injury (as much as that recalls the awkwardness of the Bill Guerin situation last year).

At first I was opposed to the idea of keeping Biron out of the rotation. I thought he deserved to at least dress on occasion and his exclusion reflected poorly on him and reduced his perceived value. But this is going to be all about Dwayne Roloson and Rick DiPietro, and who gives the team the best chance to win night in, night out. That's clearly not Biron.

I would, however, not be so quick to pull the trigger on a deal for Biron. Let's see DiPietro get the rigors of a few NHL games under his belt before the team puts itself one more injury away from last season's goaltending carousel.

It was a shame that the 6-0 domination of the Red Wings had to occur on the same night as a thrilling shootout (in more ways than one) between the other locals. Not good for getting the deserved local press. On the other hand, it was the kind of win that the rest of the league's cities will notice.

It's good to see some old friends still plugging away in the Blog Box.

I resisted doing this for a long time, but I finally caved.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Let Okposo Hear You

Just a thought as this New Year's Day draws to a close: It would be a great thing if everyone who attends Saturday night's game channels his or her anger and disappointment at Kyle Okposo being left of the U.S. Olympic team toward a show of support for #21. Let him know how you feel about him—when he comes out for warmups, when he steps over the boards, and every time he touches the puck. The Coliseum could use a night of frequent, loud ovations.

And keep this a positive thing about Okposo and the fan base's appreciation for the kind of player he is and the kind of player he will be. No need to invoke the names Drury, Callahan, Burke, etc. Make it all about Kyle on this night.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Two-Minute Minors for 12/17/09

Jeff Klein, writing in the Times off last night's 2-1 Islanders win at Madison Square Garden:

"Wednesday’s game was not the first time Tavares had set foot in the Garden. That happened on Nov. 28, when he and his Islanders teammate Matt Moulson watched Moulson’s brother play for Cornell against Boston University. No one recognized him at that game, he said."

I had wondered if Tavares would go to that game with Moulson, and figured he would seeing as how it was through Chris Moulson that Tavares and Matt Moulson became acquainted. At the time, I didn't ask Moulson if Tavares was going with him because a) I already felt like asking him whether he was going bordered on too personal, and b) I swore to myself I would make it through my first conversation with Moulson without mentioning Tavares.

But it's nice to know now that they did make it to the game, even if they didn't actually get to see Chris play (he wasn't in the lineup).


In Ottawa, Chris Campoli has now gone from power play point man to healthy scratch to...fourth-line winger? (Ottawa Sun via Rotoworld)


Let's give the Islander credit for this. It's the middle of December and they're still gripping onto this season with all five fingers on both gloves. Despite a thin defense and inconsistent scoring, there are still multiple reasons to watch them day in and day out. You couldn't say that about some Islander teams in the last 15 years, nor could you say it about a lot of NHL teams with this kind of roster.

As this week has shown us, expect more highs and lows. And if the season is going to gradually turn one way or the other from a winning/losing standpoint, I'd still be surprised to see them start winning more consistently than losing more consistently.

But I can also see this team taking that perception as a challenge and pushing themselves to remain prominent in the Eastern Conference's messy lower half. If they can do that at least through the Olympic break, I don't think it's lowering expectations too much to consider it an accomplishment. Not for a fan, anyway. The goal in the locker room should always be to solidify eighth, then climb into seventh, and so on.


Kudos to Blake Comeau for being in the thick of things once again. It should be easier for him playing with Tavares and Moulson. But, like Moulson has done, you still have to produce.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Learning's More Fun When You Win; DiPietro Aches—No Fun at All

Blake Comeau has been universally praised, and rightfully so, for his performance in Saturday night's 3-2 overtime win over the Boston Bruins. He capped of a solid game by delivering a near-exquisite backhand pass to Frans Nielsen that resulted in a breakaway game-winning goal for the Dean of Danes.

Yet, my lasting memory of that game, apart from Rob Schremp attempting to pole dance on Mark Streit, is a replay that shows there's always room for improvement—even when your play impressed people all game long and you created the OT winner.

From the view behind the play, what you saw on Nielsen's goal was that Comeau didn't follow up his pass by going strong to the net. Instead, he glided in and watched to see what would become of Nielsen's attempt. In doing so, Comeau allowed two Bruins to get between him and the play.

By going hard to the net, Comeau would have been in position to pounce on a rebound if Nielsen didn't convert. He also could have given Tim Thomas something else to think about, either as a second option for Nielsen or as a distraction.

As it turned out, the additional options weren't necessary because Nielsen took care of business. And I'll also grant that the speed with which Nielsen attacked the goal may have precluded Comeau from being a realistic second option. But he still could have put himself in position to compete for a rebound.

Anyway, my point here isn't to kill Comeau. It's that this Islanders team has already taken a step forward in its development this season, and learning from plays like this one is what will help them take the next step forward. Being relentless and taking nothing for granted goes a long way toward winning more games. I have confidence that this is the type of play Scott Gordon doesn't leave on the cutting room floor after he reviews game tape.

By the way, John Tavares demonstrated what I'm talking about on the Islanders' second goal. After making his no-look backhand pass out front to Matt Moulson, Tavares continued skating around the back of the net and came out on the other side. If Moulson hadn't been able to get a shot off right away, Tavares was wide open at the far post for an easy tap-in.


All tightness aside, were the Islanders seriously going to let Rick DiPietro back into the goalie rotation after only three rehab appearances? I realize they have to operate within the framework of conditioning assignment restrictions, but for the amount of time he's been away, how could three appearances have been considered sufficient for him to return to game action at the NHL level? I would think five games, minimum, would be more on the mark. He hasn't even played five periods yet.

I may have said this before, but I'm at the point where I feel nothing but bad for DiPietro. For someone with so much talent and drive to be unable to use these attributes because of physical problems—well, I can just imagine the emotional ache that goes with it. Some will say, "What does he care? He's raking in $4.5 per year into the 2020s regardless." I assure you, that's not enough for DiPietro.

We're past the point of worrying too much about the impact of his injuries on the Islanders. As shown by Dwayne Roloson this season, there is life after DiPietro. Or between DiPietro injuries. Even the long ones. It would just be a shame to see him never quite make it back. We're probably a long way from that happening, but the return has been anything but smooth. It's only natural to think about it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Moulson 12, Moulson 13, Moulson 14

Just a quick hit to say congratulations to Matt Moulson on his first career hat trick. And in a big road win to boot.

It wasn't quite Mario's five goals five ways, but there was something special about this hat trick. Moulson scored on a booming slap shot from above the circles, a deke on the goalie, and a deflection. This is no one-trick pony scorer.

It's so easy to root for this guy to do well, and I continue to be thrilled as he continues to make his mark on the NHL. With all the talk on tonight's Point Blank chat about locking him up, I couldn't help but think that Moulson is one guy I can't wait to see get paid.

And, yes, he still reminds of me Ryan Smyth out there.