Browsing Posts in Islanders

When the New York Islanders were so aptly named, ownership figured that they may as well have been called the Long Island Islanders with their ties all across the island just off the mainland of the rest of the state of New York. There isn’t a heck of a lot going on right now on the ice, but one of the announcements that was made is that, assuming that there is hockey by that point, the Isles are going to be moving to Brooklyn to the new Barclays Center for the 2015-16 campaign.

The 25-mile trek down the Belt Parkway keeps the Islanders on the Island, and it takes them out of a dilapidated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and puts them in the much cushier state of the art Barclays Center, which is just opening its doors this week to the Brooklyn Nets.

It’s going to be a sin to see the Coliseum go, knowing that this was the venue that saw so many magical moments when the Islanders won the Stanley Cup in 1980, 1981, 1982, and 1983. However, a failure to be able to upgrade the venue has really forced the team to move once its lease is up.

Though the Islanders haven’t been to the playoffs since 2007 and haven’t won a playoff series since 1992, they have a heck of a lot of young talent that they are going to be bringing with them to Brooklyn in all likelihood.

John Tavares will be in the prime of his career by the 2015-16 season move, and he is coming off of a season last year in which he led the team with 50 assists and 81 points. The top goal scorer, Matt Moulson will be 32 by them, but if he can keep this production up, he might still be a star. Parlay in there Pa Parenteau, Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo, and so many of the other young up and comers on this team, and there is definitely hope that the Islanders will be great to make your NHL picks on when they move to Brooklyn in just a few seasons.

Last night’s Rangers-Islanders tilt at Nassau Coliseum (my first visit of the season) was a snapshot of two teams headed in opposite directions.  The Rangers came in riding a hot streak (6 straight wins, second place in the division), while the Isles sorely needed a win (9 losses in their past 10 games, last place in the conference).  It was an intense game, as always, and that intensity boiled over to the stands (a fistfight next to my section needed a few guards to be broken up before the 1st period was over – always good times).

(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)

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Debora Robinson/NHL/Getty Images

With only two games remaining on the Islanders schedule this season I want to take this opportunity to look at a possible move that could shake things up in Islander country.  As of now the Islanders roster is comprised of homegrown talent such as John Tavares, Andrew MacDonald, and Frans Nielsen as well as players getting a second chance like Matt Moulson, Michael Grabner, PA Parenteau, and Al Montoya.

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Paul Bereswill/Getty Images Can we get this guy an Isles helmet please?

The Islanders inked goaltender Al Montoya to a one-year contract extension.  Montoya has been exceptional since joining the Islanders compiling an 8-4-4 record to go along with his stellar .928 save percentage.  All while wearing his San Antonio Rampage helmet in every start he has made claiming he doesn’t want to jinx his play and change helmets.  Well I think it is about time to start designing Mr. Monyota a new Isles mask.

The beauty behind this signing is that Montoya was acquired in exchange for a 2011 6th round pick from the Phoenix Coyotes midway through the season as the Islanders went through a slew of injuries to their netminders.

This is a great signing for the Isles for many reasons.  One, Montoya has been very impressive between the pipes and seems focused to prove to everyone that he is an NHL goalie after things didn’t pan out according to plan since being taken 6th overall by the New York Rangers in the 2004 draft.  He has been extremely consistent for this young club, giving them a chance to win every night since his arrival.  Two, with DiPietro’s never ending injury brigade, Montoya brings stability to a team with playoff expectations next season.  Without a legitimate back up to DiPietro this team doesn’t stand a chance.  Lastly, it allows young goalie prospects Kevin Poulin and Mikko Koskinen the proper time to develop in the minors.  Furthermore, I know he has only seen action in 17 games this season but I feel he can make the leap to become an NHL starter.  Not to mention his contract is 14 years shorter than DiPietro’s.  At this point I could take a shot at Rick but I am a DP supporter the man will not give up and perhaps by some sort of miracle he can regain form which would be an incredible boost to this team.  I do not agree with handing any player especially a goaltender a 15 year deal, but what’s done is done and Isles fans need to move on.

Montoya was just an afterthought in the Coyotes organization with Ilya Bryzgalov and Jason LaBarbera manning the cage for the Yotes and prospect Matt Climie seeing the majority of the rubber for the San Antonio Rampage.  Montoya a once highly touted first round pick was relegated to AHL back up.

I will trust Garth Snow’s opinion of a goaltender afterall he was a serviceable netminder in his days.  I will also trust a goaltender who posted an 86-29-8 record in three years with the University of Michigan, led USA to its first World Junior Championship gold medal in 2004, and has a chip on his shoulder to prove he is an NHL starter.

Montoya stones Marty St. Louis

As of today there are five NHL teams that can boast that they have two 30 goal scorers on their roster this season.  These teams are the first place in the NHL Vancouver Canucks (Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler), the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks (Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp), defending Eastern Conference Champions holding the best record in the East Philadelphia Flyers (Danny Briere and Jeff Carter), the Anaheim Ducks (Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan) who are clutching onto the final playoff spot in the West, and the final team rounding out this list…I’ll give you a hint, they currently sit in second to last place in the Eastern Conference…Give up?…it’s the New York Islanders with Michael Grabner and Matt Moulson with 30 goals each.

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Written by: Eric Conway

The Islanders lost their third consecutive game last night by a score of 3-2 to the Philadelphia Flyers.  The latest loss makes the Isles victims in 14 of their last 17 games.  The Islanders battled hard with the Flyers for the first two periods leading 2-1 going into the second intermission.  Two power play goals by the Flyers in the third period secured the victory over the struggling Islanders.

The winning goal was recorded by Simon Gagne, who has scored in each of his last three games.  The goal came by way of a power play thanks in part to a bonehead penalty taken by recent call-up Trevor Gillies.  Can someone please explain to me what this guy was doing on the ice in a tie game with seven minutes remaining in regulation?  He is 31 years old and a notorious figher in the minor leagues, playing in only his third NHL game.  The penalty opened the door for the Flyers and they capitalized.  It was not a snipe by any means, as Gagne attempted to pass it across to teammate Mike Richards standing at the doorstep.  The puck luckily deflected off Mark Streit’s stick and past Dwayne Roloson with 6:06 remaining in the third period.

Soon to be free agent (cough Garth Snow try and sign this guy) Jeff Carter, scored his 31st goal of the season off a beautiful feed from Danny Briere.  The game was nodded up by Claude Giroux who snuck a pretty backhander past a sprawling Roloson.

The Islanders offense was provided by Kyle Okposo who fired a laser right under the crossbar and surprise surprise John Tavares.  Tavares’ goal was his 18th of the season and snapped his 17 game slump without a goal.  Even though it was not a particularly pretty goal, it was a goal nonetheless and can hopefully give the kid some much needed confidence as the season winds down for the Islanders.

Some Sidenotes:

The Flyers have now beat the Islanders 15 straight times, the longest current streak in the NHL of one team against another.  The all-time streak for one team beating another is owned by the Boston Bruins, as they dominated the Ottawa Senators for 17 straight games in the mid 90s.

Robbie Schremp suffered a right knee injury and will be evaluated by team doctors on Wednesday.

Overall, the Isles did some good things out there against a much bigger Flyers team.  They held their own for two periods before the Flyers were able to make a comeback thanks to two power play goals in the third.  Once again Roloson did everything he could to get the Islanders a victory.  The Islanders will play host to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night where they will battle with U.S. Olympians Erik Johnson and David Backes.  I really like the Blues this season.  They are 6 points out of the last playoff spot in the west so expect them to come out hungry.  Keep an eye out for University of Michigan product TJ Oshie.  This kid can do it all.

Written By: Eric Conway

It pains me to report this, but Islanders rookie, Andrew Macdonald, left the arena last night in a boot and will be out 4-6 weeks with a broken foot.  This comes the day after the Islanders traded veteran defenseman, Andy Sutton to the Ottawa Senators for a 2nd round draft pick.  Macdonald has blended in nicely since his call-up from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and has proven himself as an immediate contribuor for the Isles.  The Islanders rewarded his solid play by signing him to a 4 year extension over the Olympic break.  Macdonald was selected in the 6th round, 160th overall in the 2006 NHL draft.  He played junior hockey under former Islander head coach Ted Nolan, who was the reason the Islanders drafted him in 2006.  Macdonald has posted 1 goal to go along with his 5 assists in his 39 contests for the Islanders this season.

In my opinion, this is a tough loss coming out of the Olympic break.  The Isles just traded away Andy Sutton who logged a lot of minutes and was a physical presense and now we lose Macdonald.  Hopefully recent call-up Defenseman, Dustin Kohn can step up and fill the role as the Isles remain in the fight for the final playoff spot.  The Islanders are 5 points out of the last spot and are coming off a big win against one of the NHL’s top teams, the Chicago Blackhawks.  The Islanders will try and inch closer to the final spot as they take on the Atlanta Thrashers tomorrow.

What Do You Think Islander fans? Can we make the playoffs?

Photo Credit: islanderspointblank.com

Written by:  Eric Conway

The Islanders will look to avenge their tough loss on Saturday against the Bruins tonight as they head to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers.  This is the fifth of six meetings between the Atlantic Division rivals.  The Flyers have won all four meetings this season so far, with three of the four wins coming by a score of 2-1.

With the Islanders playoff hopes dangling by a thread, this is as close to a must win game in March as you will see in the NHL.  They have slipped down to second to last in the Eastern Conference and are a lofty 9 points back of the 8th and final playoff spot occupied now by the Boston Bruins.  The Isles have only 17 games remaining on their schedule to make a run at the last spot. In my estimation, they would have to win at least 12 of those games to be in the running.

Prediction:

I am feeling extremely bold today and will say that the Isles will snap their winless streak against the Flyers tonight by a score of 5-3.  To further make myself look insane, I will even predict a goal by John Tavares that will snap his 17 game drought without a goal.  The kid had 15 goals in his first 31 games in the NHL and today he is going to break out of this abominable slump.

I know Isles fans are down right now, but you really have to look at the positives of this season.  With a win tonight, the team surpasses their point total of a year ago where they finished dead last in the league.  Hopefully the Islanders can muster up a total team effort and get the victorty tonight considering it will be nationally televised on Versus.  Puck drops at 7:30 PM eastern time.  Hopefully, the picture above will bring back some memories…

Photo credit:  lessinglets.com

Written by: Eric Conway

With the Islanders not in action tonight and their dwindling playoff hopes fading each day, I figured Isles fans could use a little optimism.  So I decided to do some research on a few Islander prospects not yet in the professional ranks.  Here are a few prospects I came across that are hidden gems and may be able to step in and make an impact at the NHL level.

Rhett Rakhshani:

Not the biggest person on ice standing at only 5’10 and weighing in at 180 pounds, this workhorse has tremendous vision on the ice.  He hails from Orange, California and played his junior hockey for the National Team Developmental Program in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  He is currently a senior at NCAA powerhouse, University of Denver where he is not only the team leader in points, but also the captain of the team.  Rhett has compiled an impressive scoring line of 20 goals with 28 assists for 48 points in 36 games this season.  Denver is presently ranked the number one team in the nation.  Rhett is a smooth skater with very good hands.  Selected in the 4th Round #100 overall in the 2006 NHL Draft, Rakhshani has the potential to become a differenece maker for the Islanders in the very near future.

Blake Kessel:

I know what you’re thinking, a compact speedster with an absoulute cannon of a shot just like his brother Phil.  Sorry Isles fans, but Blake is not built like his older brother Phil, in fact he is bigger.  And he plays defense.  Standing at 6’2 and weighing 204 pounds, Blake has the prototypical frame of an NHL defenseman.  Now Blake does take after Phil in one regard, both possess cannon shots.  Blake played his junior hockey in the United States Hockey League for the Waterloo Blackhawks where he scored 30 goals to go along with 65 assists for a total of 95 points in 118 games.  Those are nice numbers for a defenseman in his two years of service for the Hawks.  He has continued his development suiting up for the University of New Hampshire Wildcats the past two seasons. During his sophmore season, Blake has continued to be relied upon offensively, collecting 8 goals and 25 assists for 33 points in 33 games.  With two more years of college eligibility left, look for Blake to be in the running for a Hobey Baker award as he inches ever closer to becoming an elite offensive defenseman at the next level.  Selected in the 6th Round #166 overall in the 2007 draft, this kid may end up being a late round steal if  he continues progressing at this expedient rate.

David Toews:

Sticking with the brother theme, the Islanders selected Jonathan Toews’ younger brother in the 3rd Round of the 2008 NHL draft.  If he is anything remotely close to his brother, then we have a legitimate prospect on our hands.  For the last two seasons, David has accumulated 9 goals in addition to 16 assists for 25 points in 53 games while wearing a University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux jersey.  Not a big guy at 5’11 and 185 pounds, David gives defensemen nightmares with his work ethic and skating ability.  Check out this snipe he had against Merrimack College.

Photo Credit: nydailynews.com

Written by: Eric Conway

U.S. Olympic backup netminder, Tim Thomas made 37 saves to lead the Boston Bruins over the New York Islanders 3-2 on Saturday.  The Bruins offense was led by Marc Savard, who netted a power play goal in the second period.  David Krejci and Milan Lucic rounded out the scoring for the Bruins who are the lowest scoring team in the NHL.

The Isles offense was provided by Josh Bailey and Matt Moulson. Moulson collected his team leading 23rd tally of the season.  Personally, I do not think Moulson gets enough ice time.  He leads the Islanders in goals scored by a significant margin now and still fails to see any substantial power play time. Doug Weight has been used to play the point on the first power play unit and he only has 1 goal on the season thus far.  Don’t get me wrong, I respect Doug Weight. He has had a heck of a career, but for the Isles to be handing him all this ice time is a bit ridiculous.  Let some other young guys develop and see more time.

The struggling Islanders are seeing their dim playoff chances fade real quickly after losing their last two games.  The Islanders now sit 13th in the Eastern Conference and are 8 points back of the final playoff spot which is currently held by the Montreal Canadiens.  If the Islanders want to keep any of their slim playoff hopes alive, they must start by winning in their next game on Tuesday as they travel to Philadelphia.  The Isles need to string together a solid winning streak to get themselves back in the thick of the playoff race because there are many teams vying for that final spot.

Other Housekeeping Items:

John Tavares has not scored in his last 17 games.  His last goal came on January 16th in a shootout victory over the Buffalo Sabres.  I was at that game and it feels like forever ago.  He has 17 goals on the season and I would like to see him net a few more before the season ends. It will give him some confidence going into a crucial offseason where he needs to obviously get stronger physically and work on his skating.

Mark Streit picked up his 200th NHL point, assisting on Josh Bailey’s goal at 2:18 of the second period.

Islander Fans: How concerned are you? What needs to change?

Photot Credit: topics.dallasnews.com