Islander News Articles 11/26

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/25/2008 09:12:00 PM | | | | | | | | | Comment Here
Newsday: Mark Herrmann covered practice with head coach Scott Gordon on the club's effort paying off and Bill Guerin on how they have learned from their third periods and feels the club is on the upswing and getting healthy but echoed the coach in that the players have to work hard.

NY Post: Dan Martin interviewed Rick DiPietro who talked about how tough it's been on him with his injury and what's ahead for him.

Point Blank: Mr Botta had a state of the Islanders where he talked about the club by position and what's happened for them to be in position to reach the five hundred mark.

National Post: Reports former Islander Wyatt Smith was traded from Norfolk of the AHL (Tampa) to the Phoenix Coyotes for future considerations.

Black Hills Pioneer & Rapid City Weekly: Peter Centineo has a feature on
former Bridgeport Sound Tigers assistant coach Joe Ferras, who is now a head coach with the Rapid City Rush. In the article Mr Ferras talks about former Islander head coach Ted Nolan's recent visit.

Ct Post: Michael Fornabaio's update is on Blake Comeau with comments from head coach Jack Capuano and Mike Sillinger.

Mr Fornabaio also have more on Dennis Packard who was signed to a pro tryout. The Utah Grizzlies announced that they have loaned forward Dennis Packard to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League.

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Islander-Sound Tiger Notables

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/25/2008 04:22:00 PM | Comment Here
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Shelly Anderson reports on the Penguins at practice. Marc-Andre Fluery will not be ready to return against the Islanders who will face a well-rested club on Wednesday night. Dany Sabourin is 1-1-1 with five goals allowed in three starts in Fleury's absence with the NHL's best goals-against average, 1.66, and the third-best save percentage, .935 at 4-2-1 overall this season.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Mr Anderson also reports on the Pens changes to their powerplay which has been struggling for a club 7-1-1 in November and fourth in the Eastern Conference

Yahoo Sports: Ross McKeon had the weekly power rankings and it's obvious he does not follow the Islanders based on his ranking which apparently has little to do with the games.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
I have been phasing out all yahoo sports content, this will be Mr McKeon's final ranking to appear at NYI Fan Central. Cannot be bothered with work that is clearly poorly done or waste my readers time.

Media Blog: Cory Witt reports Joey MacDonald's seven wins in November leads all NHL goaltenders.

Note-I posted the Islanders weekly prospect watch on NYI Fan Central Prospect blog on Monday when it was released. All updates are linked by date on that blog.

Ct Post: Michael Fornabaio blogged on Tuesday's optional practice with some schedule changes for the Sound Tigers later in the season.

No reported callups at this time as of his 2:30pm blog update.

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A Look at the Big Picture for 08-09 Islanders

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/25/2008 07:39:00 AM | 2 Comments
Big picture and I write this every year around the same time you have to have ninety two points/twelve games over five hundred to make the playoffs. Last year that number in the Eastern Conference went to ninety five points so it may even be tougher.

New York Islanders went from five under and a season that looked to be over by Thanksgiving in terms of playoffs to one where bought themselves more time.

A ton of work ahead.

Now they have to keep piling up the points and staying out of the regulation losses to see if they can take that next step which is getting above five hundred.

Then we can start talking playoffs.
So what's the secret as to why the New York Islanders have won five out of six games? It should have been more like nine out of ten given the position they have put themselves into entering the third periods long before the wins came which indicates what's happening is no fluke with the injuries they have had.

No secret that they usually generate that third goal which is far different than last year's club that had two goals or less fourteen games in a row. Doug Weight will do something that leads to a goal. Streit's speed and skill have been a big positive even when he is not scoring. Hunter is giving this team goals he did not give them last year.

No secret that this group does skate better in this system and are getting better individual efforts from a lot of players.

Best kept secret for all of last year's system and the hundred ninety eight shot against improvement is this group may even be better at it. You put a goaltender in net who makes big saves with that kind of team defense and you are going to be in every single game.

Between Witt, Hunter, Hilbert, Sutton there is always a player stepping up and making a big block and everyone is buying in. On the other end of that you have Martinek skating the puck out with Streit, Campoli, Gervais and it's a well balanced group with whoever is out of the lineup.

Because of it the New York Islanders have been in every game but one, even nights they have not played well.

It's no longer a coincidence.
Our poll comes to an end with Josh Bailey's ninth game trial on Friday when Garth Snow and Scott Gordon have a decision to make.

I have no idea what will be the decision but my guess is Nielsen's injury opens a spot for Bailey. That pass in overtime that almost won the game is a skill this roster lacks, even with Weight who has been more than anyone could have asked and just keeps piling up the points.

A spot has to be made for Sillinger and Okposo when they return, I would expect both by next week. Comrie is still part of this club and there is Nate Thompson who must be getting close to skating.

Only two things I know.
1. This club is prone to injuries.
2. The more depth the better.

My guess on who is demoted starts with who can be without going through waivers and that's Jackman, Colliton and Fritz.

If it's my team Jeff Tambellini stays here and keeps throwing his hits or driving the net, he is doing a few things. All it takes is that one game where something clicks, a player gets confident in what he is doing and it all changes. I could be wrong but I do not see him clearing waivers and he has nothing left to prove in the AHL.

Twenty games is not enough in the NHL to lose him now is the Milbury plan revisited.
MacDonald made his saves against Montreal and their speed does force a goalie to react different but he gave up some rebounds. With games Wednesday, Friday (noon) and Saturday Dannis or Mannino have to play one here.

Danis got his two starts on the weekend, would seem the right move to recall him and give him the game against Pittsburgh.

Practice should tell Scott Gordon the story on this which is again why talk of schedules for goaltenders months in advance are pointless.

Islanders finally get a break after Saturday.
Pock's suspension has ended with Monday's game. Will be interesting to see if anyone gets a game off with Witt still working his way back in (does not see Witt's way of doing things) or another player on the backline.

Meyer has to be close to skating also.
NYI Fan Central will not have Thanksgiving day News Articles.

I may be able to post some Wednesday late articles but will pre schedule a blog with links to the Post-Gazette/Tribune.

Friday's coverage will also have no Daily Morning Articles. I will schedule a pregame blog for the noon game against Boston and have a postgame and may be able to watch live.

For those traveling early and everyone have a very Happy Thanksgiving.

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Islander News Articles 11/25

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/25/2008 06:30:00 AM | | | | | | | Comment Here
Newsday: Greg Logan's postgame article has head coach Scott Gordon's comments on Ryan O'Byrne's owned-goal on a delayed penalty while Bill Guerin comments on the shootout.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
This is one of those days the ITV interviews need to be watched with a full minute plus of Scott Gordon answer questions and Mr Logan writing responses.

Newsday gave the Knicks Lebron James marketing campaign another huge cache of print space Tuesday. Mark Herrmann/Newsday staff beyond the beatwriter has not had anything (one Arthur Staple article) all to say about the clubs hot streak but Mr Herrmann was assigned to do a feature on a Phoenix Coyotes player begging the question how come the Newsday staff only seems to go the extra mile on Islander coverage when it's time to go negative?

One print article is not what I would call enhanced coverage and that has nothing to do with the beatwriter because his second article seemed to be his post-game blog.

Most games in the first half of last season the Islanders received a second print article before the Superbowl.

Newsday: Mr Logan instead in the Islanders Newsday blog had what we can call a second article with more on O'Bryne's goal with the Islander player comments. Mr Logan felt Canadians head coach Guy Charboneau threw Mark Streit under the bus explaining why the fans booed him for leaving "to take the money" elsewhere while Streit commented.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
Good stuff from Mr Logan defending Streit for taking the money as any player would, seems to be some lingering bad feelings with Guy Charboneau as Streit was outspoken about his forward-defense role with the Canadians when he signed here.

Seems Streit (at least in Newsday) took the high road in his return to Montreal while Guy Charboneau took the low road when he should have credited him for his defensive play.

Montreal Gazette: Red Fisher's game coverage noted players who do not score for the Canadians did the damage in this game in an article where he questioned Alexei Kovalev.

Montreal Gazette: Pat Hickey also had game coverage.

Note-Peter Botte was assigned by Leon Carter's Sports department to cover team Cablevision Monday with a lot more space than his Islander coverage receives. There was even room for a Gretzky feature.

Ct Post: Micheal Fornabaio had the Sound Tigers weekly during the day Monday.

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New York 4, Montreal 3 Shootout

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/25/2008 05:40:00 AM | Comment Here

AP: Has the recap of the Islanders 4-3 shootout win in Montreal on Monday.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
I know the win and the points are always the story and the Canadians are struggling to score and in a bit of a slide but the Islanders even with the injuries skated well against the Canadians and again blocked shots.

What happened after O'Byrne scored and the Habs went on the powerplay?
Block by Hilbert, block by Witt.......cleared.

Another block after Sim's penalty, Jackman on the ice in the last two minutes shorthanded and making a clear.

Islanders again were doing this all night, Hilbert early dove chest first for a block early in the game, Hunter always is doing this.

Combine that with Martinek who took the puck in overtime and was moving through traffic with Streit and you see where the speed is coming from.

Last year Red Fisher in the Montreal Gazette wrote in a game DiPietro gave them any chance he should have come out and skated with the puck just to show them out to move the puck.

Last night the Islanders moved the puck.

The points were huge and a little poetic justice for the Coliseum game and Park's broken stick that should have been the tying goal. Weight's reaction was fun to watch.

Josh Bailey played over seventeen minutes, his shot looked very good and led to Hunter's powerplay goal, he is starting to convince me he may just belong here and if he can make plays against a skilled club like Montreal he can make them against anyone at this level.

Islanders made the powerplay work for them. I'm not fan of Park on it but the pass Weight hit him with was impressive and if anyone has noticed Weight is more dangerous
as a forward with the powerplay than on the point.

Not a fan of how the Islanders again surrendered a quick goal after opening the scoring, too much traffic in front of MacDonald who again played well enough but gave up some rebounds in his third game in four nights. Cannot let Steve Begin do the scoring.

Streit had twenty five minutes.

You take the two out of three they had to have on this roadtrip and move on, they won the games I thought they would lose.

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New York at Montreal 7:30pm Msg+

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/24/2008 10:41:00 AM | | | | 2 Comments
Montreal Gazette: Pat Hickey has a recap of the Canadians recent offensive struggles and also reports Joey MacDonald will start tonight in goal for the Islanders.

Mr Hickey also reports there's a chance Guillaume Latendresse will return after missing one game with a sore shoulder.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
I will not have another update before the game so if Danis is recalled and starts here I guess Mr Hickey got it wrong. For Danis to play here would mean he would have played three days in a row and traveled three times.

One thing I know is we are not seeing any talk of MacDonald being locked into a schedule we constantly read about DiPietro which is why all the talk about it months in advance was worthless.

Standings do not lie folks, the Islanders need points out of this game and two out of three games on the road trip. They need to exploit another skilled club with great speed struggling and they have to get the defense and goaltending while staying out of the box.

Fair to write it's highly unlikely the Islanders will win a 7-6 shootout kind of game with the Canadians but they are long overdue for that kind of game.

The Islanders are likely going to need those three goals which seems the dividing line between getting points in this league and losing in regulation.

Good news is anyone who watched against Buffalo even with the 18-2 shot disparity did not see MacDonald forced to make a lot of quality saves. If this is the pattern the team defense can lock itself into that should keep them in games but like we saw against the Devils every game is different. Lindsay Kramer has a feature on Islanders-Sound Tigers goaltender Peter Mannino with comments from Bridgeport head coach Jack Capauno.

Newsday: Arthur Staple has an interview with Colin Campbell where he talks about a committee of people which include former Islander Pat Flatley in the decision making process regarding discipline/suspension which was how Mike Mottau's suspension was determined along with Mr Campbell's history regarding both New York area clubs, how the process has evolved with more technology and that he would be replaced if the teams did not feel he was doing a good job.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
Mr Campbell told me something I did not know and felt was necessary, that several other people are behind these decisions. Unfortunately again what is not consistent is that a player got an injury off a hit to the chin/neck where we can quibble with that vs direct head shot but the result is still the same.

Someone is hurt because someone was careless.

And that's why the suspension has to be longer if you are really trying to crack down on this kind of hitting.

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Islander News Articles 11/24

Newsday: Greg Logan has speculation regarding Josh Bailey staying past Friday with comments from general manager Garth Snow, head coach Scott Gordon and Bailey who talks about the opportunity the Islanders have given him and how it's gone.

The Islanders head coach also credited his club for only taking three penalties against the Sabres.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
Could be wrong but I think Snow's comments are a repeat from a few days ago. Headline
notwithstanding (which is not written by Mr Logan) we'll know by next Saturday.

Until then I will watch the games and count the votes here.

The Flint Journal: Bill Marshall had an excellent feature about the life of the late Don Morrow who is a 2008 inductee to the Greater Flint Area Sports Hall of Fame. The writer described him an ambassador in the sport of hockey who unfortunately passed away before he could see his one of his sons in Kenny Morrow win Olympic Gold and the Stanley Cup with the Islanders.

AP: Has an early preview of the game against the Canadians Monday and the Islanders recent struggles against them.

Mike Komisarek is out with an upper body injury after his recent fight with Milan Lucic and is expected to be out another four-five weeks. Pat Hickey in the Montreal Gazette here reports forward Guillaume Latendresse was scratched Saturday after an apparent shoulder injury against Ottawa Thursday.

Ct Post: Michael Fornabaio has coverage of Bridgeport's 4-2 win including comments from head coach Jack Capuano on Mike Sillinger and the game. Sillinger talked about his conditioning and his hip still being sore, Blake Comeau/Dustin Kohn also are quoted on their play.

Mr Fornabaio also had the boxscore and three stars/report card here.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
For those scoring at home Sillinger's three game conditioning stint ends Saturday against the Binghampton Senators. Josh Bailey's ninth game will be Friday in Boston with the Islanders home against Ottawa next Saturday.

Philadelphia Inquirer: Has the Phantoms coverage.

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Bridgeport 4, Philadelphia 2: Sillinger/Hunter

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/23/2008 06:37:00 PM | | | | | | Comment Here
Newsday: Greg Logan in the Islanders Newsday blog has Trent Hunter's comments on the hit by Mike Mottau against Frans Nielsen while the beatwriter had some very strong criticism for Colin Campbell where among several things felt his actions undermined the precedent he was attempting to set when he suspended Thomas Pock.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
One of the rare times Mr Logan has come to the defense of the club during his tenure as beatwriter. He is correct here that when a player goes for the head/neck area and it results in an injury it should be considered the same thing while Trent Hunter also made a good point that sometimes in a game it's tough to control where your hands go as play moves quickly.

Having written that if there is a grey area in the rules here with what is considered head vs neck vs upper body it's up to the league to fix it and display some common-sense thinking in the decision making process which is the continual knock against Colin Campbell he deserves.

One player went out of his way to go high on another player and as a result he is now out eight-twelve weeks as a result which should have been a factor in this decision.

I wondered last night if Sean Bergenheim had that on his mind just before the Sabres second goal because he seemed to have a player in his sights for a similar hit and just let him go but that's a total guess on my part.

It sure has been quiet around Scott Gordon on this subject, considering he sent a fax after Pock's suspension I would like to know what he thinks of this?

As for as the Islander team officials, complaining to the media solves nothing. This has to be handled behind the scenes and anyone who thinks otherwise has gotten far too used to Mike Milbury way of doing things here.

Newark Star-Ledger: Rich Chere has comments from Devils head coach Brent Sutter Sunday on the suspension and felt it was a neck shot and different while he was critical of Trent Hunter receiving a ten minute misconduct for sticking up for his own teammate. The Devil coach also comments that players have to settle things themselves on the ice but that shots to the head must be condemned. Reports the Sound Tigers defeated Philadelphia 4-2 Sunday at Harbor Yard.

Yann Danis allowed two goals on twenty four shots in his second day of work before a possible recall and start against the Canadians.

Mike Sillinger returned with a vengeance.

1. BRI Joensuu, (8) (Sillinger, Comeau), 2:06
1. BRI Comeau, (3) (Fraser, Sillinger), 5:43
2. BRI Kohn, (2) (Walter, Bentivoglio), 11:59
3. BRI Walter, (3) (Sillinger, Comeau), 7:31 (PP)

Blake Comeau was named first star, Sillinger third star with three shots.

Islanders Website: Has a full report on Mike Sillinger's Bridgeport debut.

Ct Post: Michael Fornabaio in his Sound Tigers blog reported Sillinger wore Tim Jackman's number and was an assistant captain in his game coverage.

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Islander News Articles 11/23

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/22/2008 10:19:00 PM | | | | | | | Comment Here
Newsday: Greg Logan recaps the Islanders 4-2 win in Buffalo. Joey MacDonald talks about how getting right back in goal helped his confidence while Bill Guerin talked about the Islanders play with the lead.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
The part about the club being " incensed " about the two games suspension to Mike Mottau was edited out of the earlier version of this article. What was not edited in was a single comment from head coach Scott Gordon on a rare night ITV did not have a postgame.

Newsday: Mr Logan has reaction from general manager Garth Snow on Nielsen's injury/Mottau's suspension including where Mike Comrie and Josh Bailey stand in terms injury/nine game trial. Also included in Sunday's print edition was an edited version of Islander Insider from Friday here.

Buffalo News: John Vogl's game coverage points out Buffalo after forty minutes held a 31-14 shots advantage and had taken 30 of the last 34 shots while the Islanders on the strength of three powerplays opened with 10 of the first 11 and still led 2-1.

Buffalo News: Mr Vogl/Mike Harrington had the game notes which included Tim Connolly's latest injury the Islanders long injury list and Mottau suspension.

National Post/Ticker: Had Bill Guerin's comments praising Trent Hunter for standing up for Nielsen and suggested the officials on the ice should have access to replays on the ice to determine if someone is hit in the head.

Vancouver Sun: Theresa Tedesco had a very interesting five part article on the Nashville Predators ownership situation/league
individual market finances/Jim Balsillie/Relocation Rules Process/Bettman legacy where claims the concerns of debt among the NHL ownership are increasing. Bill Daly NHL deputy commissioner also had a few comments on different subjects.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
This is the time of year we start seeing articles about how much revenue the six Canadian teams generate.

The writer used Forbes for some worthless filler estimates but the kicker here is Wayne McDonnell Jr, a clinical assistant professor of Sports Management at New York University was brought in for a few comments.

Mr McDonnell worked as a financial analyst and accountant at Madison Square Garden according to the writer.

For those who recall during the lockout the Cablevision owned Rangers claimed the highest losses of any NHL team and we all know the league has this little litigation problem with the Ranger ownership where Mr Bettman threatened one action he could take would be to kick the Dolan's out.

Sorry, but those subjects were not included in this article.

Sound Recaps Bridgeport's 4-1 loss. Jesse Joensuu had a first period goal.

Ct Post: Michael Fornabaio's game coverage centers around all the penalties Bridgeport took with head coach Jack Capuano's comments along with Blake Comeau and goaltender Yann Danis.

Note-Bridgeport is home against Philadelphia Sunday at 4pm in Mike Sillinger's first game.

Ct Post: Mr Fornabaio blogged on the Sound Tigers loss in Hershey on Saturday which dropped them out of first place.

Lebanon Daily News: Dan Sernoffsky also recaps the 4-1 loss in a game Yann Danis had stopped 28 of the 29 shots he faced through two periods.

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New York 4, Buffalo 2

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/22/2008 10:09:00 PM | Comment Here

Associated Press: Reports the Islanders on Saturday defeated the Buffalo Sabres 4-2 along with Sports Network recap here

NYI Fan Central Comments:
After last night they had to have two points here and they found a way, granted they played a struggling opponent but this is the kind of team that is supposed to give the Islanders trouble because of their speed.

Joey MacDonald did what number one goalies are supposed to do and that is keep their team in the game which is exactly what happened in the second period, he did not have to make a bunch of big saves but did not allow any poor goals. Huge win for the Islanders and MacDonald who you think would be a little shaken after five goals the night before but kept his composure and got the job done.

Cannot ask for any more from a goaltender.

Confidence and results are everything in this league, that's why we see teams like Buffalo and Ottawa pressing despite their speed and skill.

Where was the Islanders desperation being out shot 18-2 against a struggling team?

Nice shot by Streit, good deflection by Sim but does not change how the period played out where the Sabres did block some chances. Guerin made a very nice cut to the net for his goal which is exactly where he needs to be shooting, Weight made a good pass to Hilbert who found Guerin.

Islanders again came out and had early powerplays (nice work between Weight-Guerin-Bailey) but could not make them pay off at a point where they needed to finish a play. Lalime made a few good stops too.

Would like to see Bailey use his shot.

Hilbert one way or another is creating goals, this one off a deflection of a Trent Hunter shot on a slick backhand pass from Bailey. Hilbert's pass to Guerin was off a very good start of the third where the Islanders came out and skated.

Colliton had five blocked shots to lead the club, Fritz dropped Peters for his two minutes and had a chance or two on offense. Weight two more points and almost twenty minutes of ice time?

Good defensive effort from the backline with Scott Gordon aside from Streit keeping everyone under twenty minutes. Witt had one very good defensive play.

Third four goal game of the season, I think for now it's time for the media to forget the blown third period lead angle because it seems to be in the past.

I think what Bergenhiem did before the Sabres second goal would be what Peter Laviolette used to call a " drive-by " or did not want a ten-game suspension for the hit he looked like he could have thrown.

Right after that he had a great shift with Weight and Guerin where Rivet robbed Weight and Bergenheim did some great work. Killed any momentum for Buffalo off the goal they scored.

More recap tomorrow updated in this blog entry but the Islanders had to get two points after last night.

We'll see what they can do on Monday in Montreal as Scott Gordon has a goaltending decision to make.

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Nielsen Out Eight-Twleve Weeks/Mottau Two Games

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/22/2008 09:53:00 PM | | | Comment Here
Islanders website: Announced center Frans Nielsen is out for eight-twelve weeks with what is being described as multiple leg injuries.

Newsday: Mr Logan in the Islanders Newsday blog reported Nielsen did not sustain a concussion and that Mike Mottau was given only a two game suspension.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
Just a horrible loss to see any player injured, Nielsen's speed is what was making his game so effective and this could have a Trent Hunter-like effect where we do not see the same player afterward. Eight-twelve weeks in instances like this can be more also.

It sure seems like a slap on the wrist suspension but I guess Mr Campbell does not feel a player injuring his leg because of a hit to the head is related. So much for the resulting in an injury part.

And it was a player with his arms and stick above the shoulder that made some contact with the head. (chin/neck)

Mr Campbell simply has no business being in this role, it seems too much for one person anyway but about what I expected. No amount of games given to Mottau changes the loss of Nielsen to the Islanders and that's the bottom line.

Newark Star-Ledger: Colin Stephenson has comments from Devils President/GM Lou Lamoriello, Mike Mottau on the suspension and their take on what happened.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
I think if Andy Hilbert or Richard Park hit Zach Parise like that and he twisted his leg the wrong way and was out eight-twelve weeks and they were laughing afterward the suspension would be different just as we saw a clear double-standard with Simon and Pronger.

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New York at Buffalo 7pm Msg+

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/22/2008 03:59:00 PM | Comment Here
AP: Previews Saturday's game against the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC arena.

Since beginning the season with four straight wins as part of a 6-0-2 start, Buffalo (9-7-3) has gone 1-5-1 and been outscored 21-7 during their current slide.

The Sabres registered a season-high 40 shots against Martin Biron on Friday, but the former Sabre was perfect in leading visiting Philadelphia to a 3-0 victory.

Right wing Mark Mancari, the second-leading scorer in the AHL was recalled from Portland and inserted into the lineup, defenseman Nathan Paetsch played for just the fifth time. Tim Connolly/A. Kotalik are out for the Sabres.

Goaltender Ryan Miller hasn't been sharp lately for Buffalo, allowing 13 goals during a personal three-game losing streak but Lalime could have sat on the ice for all the work he got in the Coliseum game.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
You go into a game like this without Okposo, Nielsen and the speed/skill they bring against a club that will be desperate to come out and take the game at the Islanders who are outmatched in the speed/skill department head to head. A lot is being asked here which is why Friday was so important to set the tone for the roadtrip with a good effort.

Scott Gordon needs the best game from his skaters, it still might not be enough against a club that scored four first period goals against Boston before losing before Friday. Sabres will be more than happy to trade chances given the skill disparity.

Do I even write about the eight goals and Coliseum game? Sabres no doubt will be looking for a big effort and to run the Islanders out of the building while Scott Gordon's players should want to send a message of their own after that memorable loss.

As I write this Nielsen is going to be out for the Sabre game according to Mr Botta Point BlankJeremy Colliton will be recalled.

Maybe, maybe not but it has to be written Trent Hunter just lost his center and the Islanders recalled a player with one AHL goal in eighteen games to take his spot.

You look around this lineup and see Fritz, Jackman, Colliton, Bailey, Tambellini, Park, Hilbert there are seven combined goals for seven players dressing.

No hiding from this for long if at all.

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Poll/Mailbag/Quick Hits

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/22/2008 04:08:00 AM | | | | | 2 Comments
With about four full days left in the latest poll we may not have a triple digit vote but we do have the best race ever in a poll with a tie at sixteen-sixteen as to what you would do with Josh Bailey in terms of whether he stays here or is sent back to Windsor?

Keep him with Islanders 16 (50%)
Send him back to Windsor 16 (50%)

I'm waiting until the final day to vote myself and have not made up my mind, he has to look like he can play at this level. For now I want to see the next few games and what he can do without Okposo.
Usually I answer my e-mails directly instead of responding in the blog but Mike asks why I did not write anything on Msg NY/Hockey Night being cancelled given I discuss media here?

My only initial thought is what this means for Butch Goring who I would like to see in a job with the Islanders and not the Cablevision-owned Garden but as long as he is on television like Howie Rose, Billy Jaffe they all are under contract to Msg with Mike Emrick, Chico, Steve Cangialosi, C.J Papa and anyone else you can name.

Only actual Islander employees are Chris King and Steve Mears calling games which is why Sherry Ross left the Daily News to call Devils hockey.

As for the rest I do not watch the Msg shows anymore and go out of my way to avoid it because of Msg's poor treatment of the Islanders for over a decade on a station that one year will show classic games before the opener and the next will not even allow live internet games from training camp. The team even had to fight for a pregame while the Devils received one with three side reporters while the latest Msg suit in President Michael Bair tells us what the Garden is going to do.

I'm glad the ratings were so poor that it was cancelled when my teams postgame show and the coaches press conference were cut off because Al Trautwig wanted to do another Ranger infomercial, I wish it were cancelled immediately.

Whatever MsgNY/Sportsdesk was it will be back in another format with a different name. Virtually all of what the Msg personalities contribute beyond the six broadcasters for three teams is worthless and over the last decade plus has only served to make hockey even more invisible.

My advice to all Islander fans is watch nothing but the pre-post games with the telecast and turn the channel when they shove High School Sports at us and do not watch one second of a Ranger game on Msg or help their ratings ever.

Do not ask the media any questions while Islander games are on a station called Msg Plus with some games on channel 51/199 that are not even advertised on the cable guide here in NYC as they tell us this is enhanced coverage?

Stop giving the other team a triple rating while our clubs games are buried on channels that are not good quality with only one Islander centric show. Folks like Neil Best will use it to make a case one team is more popular than another because it's been set up to help one club while hurting the other but it's not true.

Put eighty two Islander games on Msg with a full pre/post game and classic contests/shows year round while burying the Rangers on Msg+whatever with no programming or advertising for the next five years and then we will see who is more popular.

When Msg gives all four teams it owns tv rights (Sabres also) the exact same coverage and content space on television we can revisit it, until then no Msg.

Low ratings force changes, it's up to you.
Steve asks what's the deal with the World Junior Championships?

I will be covering the World Championships like last year with a section on the main blog. It's too early to know who will be participating for the Islanders as most teams still have to have a camp and make final cuts for something that begins with invites in the summer.

Thanks for the question.
Quick Hit:
The most funny thing I read this week was the same paper (Vancouver Province)here who ripped the Islanders was the only one who did not give Henrik Lundqvist the pass the local media did when he pulled himself with Iain MacIntyre writing " It must have been done telekinetically " as he tried claiming Ranger coach Tom Renney signalled him to the bench.

If DiPietro did this the media would have been all over him in a game against Robert Luongo for the rest of his career.
This was Tuesday:

"Recently, we have had two supplemental discipline incidents involving direct elbow blows to the head," the memo from league disciplinarian Colin Campbell read.

"This is a play that we have been trying to remove from our game for a number of years. In one case there was no injury and in the other incident, the elbowed player received a concussion. Both players delivering the elbows had never before been involved in supplemental discipline.

"We cannot and will not tolerate blows to the head that are deliberate, avoidable and illegal," the memo read.

We better see the same standard held here or it's not worth wasting time talking about it any longer.

Love Chico Resch, always will but who is he kidding here?

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Islander News Articles 11/22

Newsday/AP: Has the early recap of the Islanders 5-2 loss to the Devils.

Newsday: Apparently Newsday is having some web problems so Mr Logan had the game article at this time in the Islanders Newsday blog where he asks head coach Scott Gordon why Mitch Fritz did not get on the ice in the third period or play much? Bill Guerin expects to see a suspension for Mottau's actions while Brent Sutter defended his player which drew criticism from Mr Logan because he was very outspoken about the hit against Brandon Sutter.

Newsday: Mr Logan's article for Saturday's paper with Bill Guerin's comments.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
I kind of see where Scott Gordon is going with over extending his bench with no Nielsen, Hunter (after his fight) and if it was fair to put Fritz in cold but on the other hand no doubt Fritz has a lot of games where he goes in cold to fight to change momentum or at least stand up for a teammate at the risk of his safety.

Mr Logan got it correct, if dressing Fritz is overtaxing a roster that has three games in four nights and he is not going to play he has no business being here at all. I can understand if the head coach felt the Islanders still had a chance and did not want to throw it away with a penalty but again they needed a skater with finishing skills in this game and should have had one so no one is taxed or looking ahead to the next game.

I'm a little disappointed in Brent Sutter here but if he said he did not see the hit or the replay I will give him the benefit of the doubt until he does. After that I expect to see him be just as outspoken as he was when his son got injured on a completely clean hit.

Bill Guerin and Doug Weight defended Pock as a clean player but no one criticized the five game suspension among the players and in fact supported the excessive action to protect everyone.

Newark Star-Ledger: Rich Chere had comments from Bill Guerin on Mottau while Brent Sutter and Kevin Weekes downplayed their teammates hit in the game recap along with the notebook which included Colin Stephenson here who used to write Islander game articles in the Daily News.

Daily News : Kristie Eckert in the Devils recap had Bill Guerin's comments calling for a suspension of Mike Mottau while Ms Eckert reports Scott Gordon said after the game that Frans Nielsen may have a head injury to go with a right knee injury.

NY Post: Mark Everson has the Devils centric coverage on their win points out along with Mike Mottau's comments on a possible league review that the Islanders have scored more than three goals twice all season.

NY Post: Dan Martin has comments from Islander defenseman Mark Streit about playing at the Nassau Coliseum vs Montreal.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
All this print space for a long article with Mark Streit that could have been written back in October for all we know but no game coverage?

Daily News: Eliot Olshansky in Devils Prospect article for the news on Friday also included Islanders prospect Jase Weslosky, a goaltender at St. Cloud State, shared WCHA Defensive Player of the Week honors with 48 saves on 51 shots as St. Cloud swept then-No. 4 Denver & prospect Blake Kessel, a defenseman at No. 13 New Hampshire, scored the first goal of his collegiate career on Saturday in the Wildcats' 8-6 loss to No. 5 Boston College.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
This has by far been the best hockey work at the Daily News for all three local clubs this year with the Islander prospects receiving their fair amount of space and more. Just hard to know when it will be released because that aspect has not been consistent.

Enterprise : Glen Farley has an interview with Steve Carlson from the movie Slapshot where he talks about Islander head coach Scott Gordon
about his playing days and what he would bring to the Islanders crediting the job he has done with comparisons to Bruins head coach Claude Julien.

Ct Post: Michael Fornabaio in the Sound Tigers blog notes Mike Sillinger will not be reporting to Bridgeport until Sunday for those wondering if he could now be recalled to the Islanders instead?

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New Jersey 5, New York 2

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/22/2008 12:40:00 AM | | | Comment Here
Sports Network: Has the recap of the Islanders 5-2 loss to the Devils in Newark Friday.

Associated Press: Had Joey MacDonald/Bill Guerin on the game & Mike Mottau's hit to Frans Nielsen's head.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
Could see it coming a mile away.

We cannot blame this one on Rick DiPietro's health while Mitch Fritz sat on the bench in the third period just like him.

One team coming in off a win the day before, the other looking like it had not done much since Monday that was very content to ride MacDonald and not push the play at a club that is beatable if you get shots and work.

Not much else to write on this one, disgrace that Nielsen got hit and his leg got caught in the ice and it looked bad.

Terrible hit by Mottau to the head and of course not even a major penalty. Should be interesting to see if this is even reviewed now that a player was injured which is the so-called criteria?

Nielsen's loss to this roster is huge considering his skating and impact on a game.

Without MacDonald early it would have been worse. New Jersey skated, drove the net and made plays, the Islanders did a lot of watching and reacted slowly. Nielsen's shorthanded chance was the only good moment the Isles had in the first.

Islanders were outworked, outplayed and outclassed in every area. They got the two early powerplays that should have gotten them into the game but they generated little against a goaltender who looked as rusty as the Islanders.

Overspeed was stuck in park most of the game.

Even Hilbert's gift from Weekes did not give them any momentum. Sutton made a nice play to get a shot at the net and Bergenheim was there for a rebound which was one of the rare times the Isles worked in front of the Devil goaltender.

Jackman was a non-factor with most of the forwards, his momentum changing fight did nothing but get himself a cut and Fritz might as well have stayed in the AHL for his two plus minutes on a night the club needed another skater and a fight to respond to Mottau.

Credit to Hunter but that's not what he does.

Parise picked the Islanders apart and without Witt's block would have scored. He beat Gervais good to the outside while Bailey, Campoli watched Gionta come in and score who had a tough night with the fourth Devil goal deflecting in against him.

New Jersey was handed a nice five on three shortly after Nielsen was injured and with two players sticks broken could not clear the puck.

Game, Set, Match on a night the Islanders seem very satisfied to mail in the effort and frankly got what they deserved. Credit to the Devils but this seemed a lot more about what the Islanders did not do.

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New York at New Jersey 7pm Msg+2/Msg

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/21/2008 04:29:00 PM | Comment Here
AP: Has the preview for tonight's game against the Devils in Newark.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
For me the second Friday game of the season in Newark in a lot of ways is like opening night number II with Brendan Witt back and the defense getting very close to full strength.

Mitch Fritz makes his return for whatever role he plays. He cannot replace Kyle Okposo's offensive ability.

Scott Clemmensen comes in off a very Devil-like win against Florida on Thursday where he came without a few minutes of a shutout. I would expect to see Kevin Weekes in goal given the Devils upcoming schedule. Devils have a lot of injuries up front and of course are without Brodeur.

We all know what Elias, Gionta are capable of doing with Zajac. Parise always seems to have a big game against the Islanders and despite a quiet start Langenbrunner is a quality player.

From the Islanders side of the puck they have to create their chances and attack the Devils defense making plays in center ice. Last time the game was very competitive in Newark with the Isles doing everything but finishing. Only goal last time was a first period shot by Weight that hit the Devils defense and went in. Recalling Fritz could backfire if he does not play his share of minutes and a faster scoring forward is needed.

With what's ahead Islanders again need points here. No time for excuses/rust or anything but more hard work and skating.

Media Blog: Cory Witt reports with the return of Brendan Witt, Richard Park and Doug Weight will split time as assistant captains depending on whether the Islanders are home or away.

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Newsday Islander Insider: GM Garth Snow

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/21/2008 01:13:00 PM | Comment Here
Newsday: Mr Logan had the Friday Islander Insider with general manager Garth Snow's comments on a wide array of topics.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
Mr Logan does an excellent job here on the questions and left nothing off the table as Garth Snow also did very well talking about the working relationship with his first coaching hire back to his interview, how the season has gone along with a full breakdown of the veterans/young players along with Rick DiPietro's injury status from the summer with what's ahead as the veterans were discussed along with Josh Bailey.

This was far different than what we used to get from Mike Milbury where he would challenge some players in the press and even the last few years where you could see a little frustration with the gm. Snow pulled no punches but had a very measured response which is also reflected in the patience this management seems to conduct themselves with. I agreed with almost all of what Snow said about his team and the coach.

Only thing that made me do a bit of a double-take was when he said he communicated with Scott Gordon daily which he also said about Ted Nolan in April.

We'll see what happens moving forward because like all teams some things will work while others will not. There is a lot of competition for jobs here which means the only constant will be change.

Newsday: Mr Logan in the Islanders Newsday blog also had more from the general manager beyond the Insider where he spoke about how veterans are starting to teach the players Scott Gordon's system along with the physical play of his roster.

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Islanders Eighteen Game Report Card: Defense/Goal

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/21/2008 12:22:00 PM | Comment Here
Part II of the Islanders 2008-09 Eighteen game report card focusing on the defenders and goaltender who have played more than six games.

Mark Streit:
When Garth Snow signed Mark Streit he was quoted as saying he would solve the clubs powerplay struggles, I would not make that leap just yet but Streit has helped the unit with three goals and assist coming with the man advantage. He has not had an even strength goal yet which is where he did a lot of damage in Montreal but from game one was making plays like finding Hilbert for a goal in the opener with an instinct built for Scott Gordon's system.

The good news is reports of him being anything like Marc-Andre Bergeron in his own end of the ice were completely incorrect. Streit has played very well on defense and trusted with huge minutes where we have seen steady play in injury circumstances that would be tough for any defender along with being part of a unit that leads the league in blocked shots. In every area Streit has looked like a very good signing.
Grade A:

Bruno Gervais:
A few mistakes here and there like a bouncing puck over his stick for a goal against the Flyers recently.

Some will note his rating and say he is not doing enough but the coaches minutes tell the story of how steady he has been for the club as he wins the puck in the corners and usually makes his clear unless it's a good play by the opposition like we saw in a game against Dallas. He has tried to join the offense more and had a heck of a pass through the middle for a shorthanded assist. I'm not sure we will ever see the player who was a league leading scorer in the AHL but Gervais has done the job on a backline with injuries and done it well.
Grade B:

Chris Campoli:
For a player who is coming off two shoulder injuries and a lot of time missed he stepped right in and played a ton of minutes and did not miss a beat with steady play and the ability to jump in the offensive zone with instincts we have seen since his rookie year. He is contributing to the offense with some key goals including one in overtime (twice) and scored against the Senators with a shot he picked a corner and hit it in traffic. Only thing Campoli can do is keep working/improving but he has been solid.
Grade B:

Andy Sutton:
Seems the Andy Sutton from Atlanta who took bad penalties or shots hit him/went in or bad goals that found him has been gone now for close to a full year when he got locked in playing here. He returned from injury and like Campoli did not miss a beat and doing a very good impersonation of Brendan Witt blocking shots and doing it in a way where the puck goes out of high quality areas and conducts himself like a leader when he is on the ice. A few big hits but again like last season is going for the steady play and it obviously helps the club. Do not expect to see much offense but the way he is working he should not change a thing.
Grade A:

Thomas Pock:
Pock after coming over on waivers has kind of had the start Sutton did a year ago with some mistakes and deflections that went in against him but before his suspension was playing some better hockey. Not sure where he stands when Meyer returns or his suspension ends after Monday but he's done enough recently to earn more games.
Grade D:

Freddy Meyer:
Meyer only played seven games but most of the time I saw the same very steady play from a year ago. A few other times he looked out of sync in this system which he talked about and there have been a few out of character turnovers. A few times he tried to play a little more offense.
Grade C:

Brett Skinner:
In eleven games with the minutes he got I did not see mistakes and saw a player only getting more confident who did not look out of place on a powerplay who Scott Gordon was trusting more and more. The minutes he played were a positive for the team.
Grade B:

Joey MacDonald:
Without MacDonald's strong play beginning opening night against St Louis the team likely has only a win or two and they would never have been as competitive or in position to win so many games. He only seems to be getting better as he plays more and has not only made the saves a goalie needs to make but many he should not be making against opposing players with great reactions. He seems the opposite of DiPietro in that he does not play the puck but hold it and settle things down.

Some will feel he is having a good start for a backup goalie, fact he is playing as well as any of the top goaltenders in the NHL and has done the impossible in being the difference-maker DiPietro was at his best which is saying a lot.

Bottom line MacDonald's done everything asked and a lot more, for the Islanders to have a chance it must continue. If he keeps it up and has the club in playoff position when DiPietro returns DiPietro he will not be a lock to regain his spot as number one goaltender.

MacDonald has simply been that good.
Grade A+:

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Islander News Articles 11/21

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/21/2008 12:07:00 AM | | | | | | | | | Comment Here
NYI Fan Central opens for the weekend in it's new third-jersey look with a bigger text. The darker blue will return next week.

Newsday: John Jeansonne had comments from Brendan Witt & Mike Sillinger on the work they have done to return along with comments from head coach Scott Gordon.

Mr Jeansonne also reported Kyle Okposo was wearing a brace on his right wrist.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
I suspect from Mike Sillinger's comments he is not going to get much better and it's time to see if he can get back into NHL game-shape. After at least two reported knee injuries for Brendan Witt it's time the Islanders keep him healthy and productive.

The way things from a distance look on paper Sillinger's time in the AHL will run a bit longer than Josh Bailey's nine game trial if he plays the weekend after Thanksgiving with Bridgeport.

Something has to give with Weight, Bailey, Sillinger, Nielsen, Comrie & Park if everyone finally is healthy and we are getting close to a point Nate Thompson should be able to resume skating based on his two-four weeks.

NY Post: Dan Martin's preview ran about as long as the blurb on Scott Gomez in the Islanders article while Mark Everson recapped what the Islanders will be facing here based on the Devils play against Florida.

Newark Star-Ledger: Rich Chere in his recap of the Devils win on Thursday has comments from head coach Brent Sutter he has not decided on his starter for Friday's game against the Islanders.

Ct Post: Michael Fornabaio has comments from head coach Jack Capuano on the Sound Tigers 13-3-0-2 start as he credited his player while Ben Walter talking about his return also praised the work of Blake Comeau & Jeremy Colliton.

Mr Fornabaio also wrote about the injuries and roster changes from Mannino/Fritz to extra defenders. Mike Sillinger has not reported yet for his conditioning assignment which begins with Sunday's game at Harbor Yard.

Northern Daily News: Had an article written by Kimber Auerbach who also writes for the the Sound Tigers website about Kirkland Lake product Kurtis McLean and defenseman Chris Lee with their comments.

Note-As of this time the article does not appear on the Sound Tigers website.

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Islander Notables: Danis, Fritz, Mannino

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/20/2008 09:06:00 PM | | | | | | | 2 Comments
The Islanders released the weekly prospect watch today which was archived on NYI Fan Central Prospect Blog with all weekly updates.

Ct Post: Michael Fornabaio in the Sound Tigers blog reported Mitch Fritz will be called up to replace Kyle Okposo and Yann Danis was sent to Bridgeport. Peter Mannino
was recalled to the Islanders.

Bridgeport does not have a Friday game.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
Peter Mannino follows Wade Dubielewicz path to the NHL getting his first recall earlier than the 03-04 night Dubie came into a huge game in Philadelphia and won.

On paper it seems a good plan that Yann Danis gets two AHL games and comes up to play in Montreal on Monday night, but the way things have gone for Mannino it's fair to wonder if he will rewarded with a start if Danis does not play well? It's also fair to write at some point MacDonald is going to have some downs to go with all the great play.

Media Blog: Corey Witt in his media blog also had an excellent feature on Mitch Fritz.

Newsday: Greg Logan in the Islanders Newsday blog also reported on the moves and will have a state of the Islanders from general manager Garth Snow on Friday as part of the Islander Insider.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
It's been very quiet from the general managers corner this season which is a good thing. Many general managers rarely speak at all which may be the right practice for a job on the Islanders that draws more attention than virtually anything.

Test: Name the Giants, Jets and Nets general managers.

Point Blank: Mr Botta along with the earliest report on Mitch Fritz recall had an interview with Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi.

NYI Fan Central Comments:
Appreciate the hard work from Mr Botta to contact Mr Suozzi/Mr Bettman and provide information but the backlash from this only produces speculation in local and out of town papers the Islanders could be moving here and accomplishes nothing. Now we have Jim Riggs the commissioner of the EPHL on the future of the Islanders here.

In short, this is becoming a distraction and were getting nothing from the key players in the Town of Hempstead approval process.

Mr Wang sat front row with Chris Dey (and what looked like Garth Snow) for a Dragons playoff game last spring in Philadelphia and was rooting as hard as the fans. Four days later the announcement came the Dragons were sold to a local businessman but there were blurbs in articles Mr Wang was looking for a buyer over a year before a sale happened.

Newsday: Anyone else notice that new NHL blog supposedly written by Mark Herrmann has had virtually nothing on the Islanders with Mike Casey now in there selling Rangers?

I think other than Mr Herrmann's quick blub speculating the Islanders win last Saturday would be their high-water mark this season we have read practically nothing back to the 11/1 opening entry on Mitch Fritz in a so-called blog that is supposed to provide extra information on the Islanders along with the Cablevision-owned team and the NHL?

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Big Test Coming for 08-09 Islanders

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/20/2008 10:43:00 AM | Comment Here
We have seen Scott Gordon's team play some very good hockey and could easily have another three-four wins.

With the injuries they have had the club has produced more goals than they did a year ago and led the league in blocked shots playing without Martinek, Witt and Meyer for a good stretch after Sutton, Campoli were out early.

Outside of the Buffalo game they have been competitive in every contest, even the one they did not score they could have had a few goals if the puck bounced in their favor.

But now we get to the next level of games and the ones that will give us a good indication if this group is built for the long-haul of a playoff race without DiPietro.

Even the Devils can put up a six spot as they did against Washington last week but lets leave them out of this.

@ Buffalo, @ Montreal, Pittsburgh, @ Boston & Ottawa is what I want to look at.
@ Buffalo: Gives up goals but against Boston scored four first period goals before the Bruins rallied. Outside of the opener against the Blues the club has not broken out like that in a game and may need to win a wide-open game here.

@ Montreal: What the Islanders did against Montreal at home was impressive for two periods but we all know what happened when the Canadians hit the switch and got skating themselves. Can the Islanders who are a better team than they were that night go up to Montreal and skate with them to the level it will take to earn points with the game on the table?

Pittsburgh: We have seen the Pens once at the Coliseum already with Crosby just back from injury, the Islanders got the game to a shootout. Can they now do what they did last year against the Pens and win a game here? Sabourin was in goal for that game so forget about Fleury's injury.

@ Boston: Bruins after being dominated by the Isles for years chewed up the Islanders last year and beat them at their own game. This is a huge test to see if the Isles can compete with a club that is only getting better than they were a year ago with a lot of things working for them.

Ottawa: I expect next time we see the Senators they will be out of their losing streak and ready to send a message to the club that beat them twice or they will have some new players with them.

This is the stretch folks I think we find out of this team is for real and built for a playoff race. They win their share of games and compete here they can with anyone.

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Islander News Articles 11/20

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/19/2008 09:52:00 PM | | | Comment Here
Newsday: John Jeansonne has comments from Doug Weight on working with the teams youth and how things have changed from when he broke into the league. Head coach Scott Gordon had more details of Kyle Okposo's " not so serious " hand injury and working Brendan Witt back in with less minutes.

Mr Jeansonne also wrote about Weight's impressive offensive production to this point.

Chicago Sun-Times:Len Ziehm reports former Islander Aaron Johnson who did not make the Hawks opening night roster is tied for second in the NHL with a plus eleven rating and a few goals/assists as part of a third pairing unit in Chicago with his comments.

NHL Notes:
Steve Regier was again recalled by the Blues to the NHL club.

I wonder if Rick DiPietro pulled himself out of a game after allowing five goals if Newsday/local media would ignore it or would the critical of showing up his coach and team especially if the same goaltender a year ago complained about who was on the ice at the end of a game here?

More Thursday:

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Islanders Eighteen Game Report Card: Forwards

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/19/2008 08:30:00 PM | Comment Here
Like last season we did a twenty game report card with grades for the players in a quick paragraph. With Thanksgiving next week and a busy schedule over the weekend I felt game eighteen would be a good time to do this feature.

Anyone who has not played at least seven games is an incomplete to this point and will not be reviewed. I want to see more of Josh Bailey before voting in our poll or doing a paragraph.


Bill Guerin:
Guerin still had his quickness to drive the net when necessary, he has not given them enough big goals yet and some nights has seem flat-footed after giveaways and still is too much on the perimeter which accounts for his team high seventy four shots. He only has one even strength goal on the season to go with his two powerplay tallies, one shorthanded and empty net goal. He has to finish some plays and has a center he trusts in Doug Weight. On pace for twenty four goals/forty eight points which is about as much as can be asked but he has to do more at even strength.
Grade C:

Doug Weight:
Doug Weight has four goals, three come off deflections on the powerplay by the other team but despite his lack of speed does see the ice well and is making plays in all three ends of the ice. He also looks like he is having fun playing hockey after what was a tough season a year ago. So far it looks like a great signing by Garth Snow.
Grade A:

Trent Hunter:
Credit the system, the center around him or just a player skating better but Hunter has been in better position to finish his chances. As usual he is doing a great job in the checking, defense department along with great shorthanded play going all out to block anything he can get in front of. Do not let the plus/minus rating fool you here because he has been that good in every area.
Grade A:

Frans Nielsen:
This is a player who even early was getting chances and making plays, what he has done so far will not stand out on the score sheet but his speed and decision making with and without the puck has been very impressive. The hockey instincts are obviously there and only getting more acclimated to this level, his shot needs to be a little better but it's a good start. Scott Gordon has a lot of confidence in playing him in critical moments.
Grade B:

Kyle Okposo:
Some good stretches where his individuals skill have stood out but playing him on the left side with Guerin and Weight set him back when he looked ready to break out.

Fair or not Okposo has to produce more and has not had his wrist shot working off some good looks at the net. I'm not sure if Park or Hilbert are right for that and it's asking a lot of Josh Bailey to set him up as well as he did in Ottawa. Okposo does work hard/skate well and has some very deceptive moves where he has beaten some defenders one on one. It's going to take time and confidence but there are signs.
Grade C:

Sean Bergenheim:
Seems wherever Bergenheim goes that line starts getting chances off his skating and checking, it's no coincidence. He made a goal against Ottawa Saturday shooting and then driving the net for the rebound. The production has not been consistent but he has been making some impressive moves and displays a nasty edge sticking up for his teammates. Among the club leaders in penalties with most the over-aggressive variety but all Bergenheim needs to do is keep doing what he has been. The speed and instincts indicate he is an NHL player with good potential.
Grade C:

Jon Sim:
Maybe not the best role/system for Sim but he is on his seventeen goal pace with less minutes and not on a set line after starting with Guerin and Weight. The acceleration from behind the net to drive the goal is as good as ever and he is a pest who will get after the other club. Many may forget he missed an entire season but so far he's chipped in with two powerplay goals. I suspect he will do even more
with a set line.
Grade C:

Mike Comrie:
From opening night where he was on wing until the time his hip started acting up Comrie has seemed somewhat off-balance in this system and with who he is paired with. A few good plays where he drove the slot for rebounds and the work to feed a team-mate for a breakaway in the corner was there but it's obvious there has been something missing from the best version of his game despite his eight assist. Not sure if injury-related or system related but last year's leading scorer has to be an offensive factor when he returns.
Grade D:

Richard Park-Andy Hilbert:
Might as well combine both players because both are excellent on defense and in the passing lanes breaking up chances with great speed going back the other way. Hilbert
had a nice goal opening night, banked one in off a player against Philadelphia and is on pace for about twenty five points. He will go body for body with anyone in open ice/corners and has skills lacking on the roster.

Park is off to a slow offensive start for him but has great instincts to win a puck and skate off the wing along with his pk ability.

Both players are doing exactly what you expect and doing it well.
Grades B:

Jeff Tambellini:
We have seen some games he has tried to play physical, he has made a few good passes to set up plays along with driving the net. He had that great rush in Florida and had Vokoun looking lost after his shot hit the crossbar, it's something lacking on this roster but we are not seeing it nearly enough. If Bergenheim, Okposo, Nielsen can be visible every game Tambellini has to be also.

Considering Tambellini is the oldest in the young prospect group and what he did in the AHL the pressure should be rightfully on. He receives a failing grade based on a lack of quality chances created, not a lack of production on a weak offensive roster not geared to help a young player breakout and score.
Grade F:

Nate Thompson:
It did not start well but he did become acclimated to this level and brought some energy to a fourth line. Scott Gordon had him as the only forward on ice in some five on three situations and he has stood up for his teammates. There is some speed but seemingly not the hands unless were talking baseball swing which led to a big first goal in Manhattan. Given he was picked up off waivers after the Bruins could not make a deal he's done about as good as can be expected to this point.

Of course only management knows if he has a spot in New York moving forward when all the injured players return.
Grade C:

Defense & Goaltending will be done Thursday or Friday.

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