11/22/11

Too Many Words, Passengers/No Identity For New York

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/22/2011 07:27:00 AM


So is Garth Snow giddy or gushing on this day about his team moving forward?

Last year for well over three months, this was a very tough team to play against, the young talent resigned here and bought into what worked as this club won or played well against most/all of the top teams.

This is not taking a step back to move forward, not even close.

Something changed from last season to this. One look at the defense is a good place to start.

Jack Capuano went back to his forward lines from last season as much as possible and the New York Islanders were shutout again. MacDonald and Hamonic were both minus three and had little help.

As I have been writing since the opener, no words fix players over-matched losing too many battles for pucks. It's only going to get worse now because everything has been tried, the frustration is obvious and you can see it in Tavares, Streit and many others faces.

Benching Comeau/Okposo was never going to be any kind of answer.

Bush league for Dan Bylsma to take a timeout up 5-0 late in a game, or run out Crosby again in the final minute. Not that the Islanders can put out a forward or defender to respond with a fight.

This was a Penguins team that just lost to both Florida and Tampa Bay, who recently lost to Carolina, the Isles arguably played better than they did in the shootout point they had vs Pittsburgh earlier.

Pittsburgh did not even play very well Monday night, the game opened 8-1 in shots for the Islanders (besides the Pens crossbar in the opening seconds) then Jay Pandolfo/Marty Reasoner watched Crosby fly past him at center ice on the opening goal with MacDonald getting beaten badly on the finish. Nilsson's reaction to the second goal watching him whiff with his blocker on a high point shot reflects a bad goal.

Of course, that was after Reasoner and Pandolfo got beaten again at the point, or Pandolfo took out Jurcina on the 3-0 goal.

As usual a lot of words from the players, they had a few quality chances and Fluery had to play well for his shutout, but hardly great to win.

Still the game looked like a mismatch beyond mostly individual efforts. Ullstrom played well, but if it moved Matt Martin to right wing that's not in Martin's best interest or the teams and a bad decision. Jurcina/Martin took the body a few times with Hamonic.

Rolston had his usual low percentage shots from bad angles, Grabner had some good chances as did Streit, but as usual this team lost far too many battles all over the ice, especially in the defensive zone as the usual suspects got picked apart.

Anders Nilsson made some good saves, but he still let in two goals he cannot allow.

I found it interesting once Eaton got hurt and they were down to five defenders, the Isles started skating better and drew some powerplays. Not sure if this was the scoreboard, or the game having been decided, or having three defenders who could skate out of five as opposed to six?

Eaton's sprained MCL means Mike Mottau plays which makes the problem even worse.

Bottom line:
Ten points out of eight place, the club has not had a winning effort against a team playing well all season, they have two wins since October 15th and have looked as lost as they did on opening night unless the opposing goaltender struggles.

This club looks more lost than they did last season with one regulation win in eighteen games. The potential is absolutely there to be the second worst New York Islander team ever with fifty point or less potential.

It's not working, it's not going to work, nor is trading Bailey or Okposo revisiting the Milbury plan any answer.

I still see the Colorado Avalanche down 3-0, call timeout and a player screaming at his team like he knew the Islanders were holding on and fragile.

He was right, Colorado has one win since playing the Islanders.

Answers?
If management feels Jack Capuano is contributing to the problem, or that the team is not playing to it's potential, he will likely be fired. I do not believe a coaching change fixes anything.

There are no answers beyond going back to what worked last season as much as possible, getting younger, bigger and faster on defense and at forward. Teams are not offering talent playing well so forget the trade market.

That means you send/keep Pandolfo, Rolston, Reasoner, Staios, Mottau, Jurcina, on the sidelines as much as possible and start replacing them. If you are going to lose, go down with the best possible lineup to develop moving forward.

If Wishart, Reese, Donovan/Ness or even Anton Klementyev have to come up here to make this defense faster to start a rush so be it, even if they get beaten they can skate.


11/20/11

For New York It's Not About One Game But An Entire Season

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/20/2011 06:43:00 AM


In the context of one game, losing 6-0 or worse happens to a lot of teams in this league. The scoreboard around the NHL Saturday night reflects this.

However this is not about one game.

This is about an entire season starting with opening night, where the New York Islanders have been outnumbered and over-matched virtually every single game, unless the opposition has a poor performance.

Outnumbered, outplayed, out-skated. Too slow, small, old and not physical enough.

This blog has been writing about it since opening night.

Jack Capuano kept talking about the second half of last season in his press conference last night, what he did not seem to understand is his defense is much older and slower, plus the forwards added threw off the chemistry of what worked so well last season in the second half.

The NHL head coach is not experienced in NHL veteran players past their prime, with this kind of mileage struggling. The AHL you can always find someone else younger and hungry with some skill on a PTO.

As for Saturday night, Boston's defense took the puck quickly and their transition in all three zones made the Isles look like an AHL team. Staios got caught pinching on the opening goal, Eaton, Jurcina were disasters waiting to happen all night with mistakes. Streit was a minus five, and far too often Reasoner and so many others were slow to read or react. Hamonic and MacDonald got picked apart.

I cannot blame Streit on the first goal, he took his man to the corner, dove with his stick out and gave the Bruin forward little but a bad angle centering pass, Niederreiter was unsure where to go, Reasoner was to slow to get back and cover two players, 1-0 on a slam dunk goal DiPietro had no chance on.

Offense? Are you kidding?

It was almost sad seeing Frans Nielsen (or other Islander forwards) trying to get past three or four defenders on a rush, the new rules likely saved him from injury.

It was the same thing we saw against Washington when Nielsen actually scored, and what we see most games.

Outside of some descent work from Martin, Bailey and Pandolfo, this team showed absolutely nothing. Boston simply exploited the Isles better, but not much different than Florida on opening night, and most other teams this season.

The Islanders best offensive moments were short-handed.

What would you have me write about Rick DiPietro? They lost 6-0, his turnover cost them one goal, he had little help on the others as did Anders Nilsson.

Boston is a very good team, they just got past Columbus 2-1, but this is not about any opposition or how they played.

It's about the New York Islanders and largely a defense (with some forwards) that are simply too old, small, slow and over-matched.

Jack Capuano is correct, the rest is all words.

The Tributes to Ed Westfall were moved down the page, the ceremony was outstanding as was Jiggs McDonald, and their second period play by play.


11/18/11

New York Notables: It's Rick DiPietro's Time

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/18/2011 11:44:00 PM


This is why six goaltenders needed to be signed.

Did you really believe Evgeny Nabokov and Al Montoya were completely durable goaltenders? Both were hurt at the World Championships, Nabokov managed to be so out of shape he needed close to a month last year to get ready when Detroit signed him?

Dwayne Roloson (granted much older in hockey years with his own injury history) was the exception, not the rule.

Evgeny Nabokov's groin injury will keep him out for at least a month, Al Montoya apparently was injured in Colorado and is day to day.

Mikko Koskinen is in the FNL on assignment, no idea if the Isles are going to ask he return to North America.

Just like that, the New York Islander goaltending is down to Rick DiPietro, who has to play five games in the next seven days all against winning teams with the Isles season basically on the line. They cannot afford to lose any more ground in the standings, and five hundred means nothing.

Kevin Poulin goes from part time goaltender, coming off another knee surgery, to full time starter as in three games in three days in Bridgeport.

First up, the Boston Bruins on a seven game winning streak, then a trip back to Pittsburgh where Matt Cooke and the Pens (perhaps with a Crosby return) will be fired up.

Rick DiPietro to the best of my knowledge last season rarely played back to back games and did not prove durable. Obviously there is no hiding from the fact he must not only stay healthy, but stop the puck, and give this team a chance to win games with a suspect (to be kind) defense.

There is no hiding from Mike Mottau's turnovers, Milan Jurcina's lapses, Steve Staios getting caught, or turning over the puck, with penalties or the lack of speed on the backline and some of these forwards.

Fair to write the deck is stacked against DiPietro, who's passing may be the biggest benefit to this teams slow defense, but mistakes could hurt them just as easily.

Either way, it's Rick DiPietro's time.
***********************************
Happy the club got any win possible against Montreal, loved Bailey's pass to Pandolfo, Niederreiter's effort to clear a puck, and some of the good chances they generated that Peter Budaj did make some great saves on when he was not letting in soft goals.

Still, even with the injuries on the Montreal backline, even playing the night before, you could see the speed from their defenders as they took the puck and skated it out of their end of the ice. Mistakes and all, Montreal basically took over play in the third period as a five player unit.

That's what's been missing for this offense, defenders who can take the puck and skate with it. This is why I see the club outnumbered in all three zones.
***********************************
No one's going to convince me a penalty kill that is around 20th, needs Jay Pandolfo so badly that Kyle Okposo should sit for a third game.

Or that Mike Mottau should not be placed on waivers for Wishart, Reese or another defender.
***********************************
Congratulations to Ed Westfall, lot's of great memories/stories of him not only from the Islanders but his time in Boston, where he won the Stanley Cup. Hopefully Saturday's ceremony also includes a tribute to Jiggs McDonald, who apparently is also getting a plaque.


11/14/11

See No Chance Current NYI Roster Can Turn Season Around

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/14/2011 10:32:00 PM


No doubt the players will continue to talk a good game, most of them seem to be giving all they have.

Having written this, when a team plays fourteen games, and it's painfully obvious they are too old, small, slow, not physical enough in virtually every game, it's obvious that things are only going to get worse, as the schedule and frustration mount.

Colorado, Vancouver were not even playing well.

What's The Problem Exactly?
As written in every blog entry, the veterans brought in or returning defenders simply have too much mileage on them. Impossible for the Isles younger/faster forwards (with MacDonald/Hamonic) to play the game outnumbered in all three zones.

Most of the Isles five on five offensive chances are generated off turnovers, or point shots, exact opposite of the formula that worked in the second half a year ago with a more mobile defense, that had some physical players.

Kyle Okposo only had five goals in second half of last season, few noticed because Grabner was on his line scoring with Nielsen, who has three even strength goals, but is creating little so Nielsen is more noticeable without shorthanded goals/penalty shots.

The Brian Rolston trade to bring in the Devils forty points/forty games in second half forward of last season has failed because he needs to play left wing. So far, that decision has hurt Comeau, Bailey and now forced Grabner to change his position, being that it's obvious Comeau cannot play right wing.

The Isles Pk with Reasoner and Pandolfo have not been exploited yet to a large degree, but it's the exact opposite of last year's team when Bailey, Grabner and Nielsen attacked other teams and put them on the defensive.

Blame Game?
Jack Capuano: See no fault or blame with the head coach. His comments early in season suggested he knew this was not enough, and his team most nights has worked hard. No line changes with slower forwards or a very slow defense are going to work.

Capuano looks like he is over matched and knows it going into games, his changes have not helped Comeau, Okposo, or Bailey and likely will take it's toll on Grabner, and it looks like frustration bordering on desperation calling out his players again.

Garth Snow: The blame goes entirely on the general manager. For the same reasons he moved on from Trent Hunter and others, he needed to recognize the returning defenders, plus Staios made for a very slow, old, turnover prone mix that failed in November/Early Dec of 2010. What did he really expect from Jay Pandolfo, or Steve Staios?

As I wrote previously, he doubled-down on a weakness already there with his backline and went back to what failed in Nov/Early Dec of 2010.

It's failed again.

Jack Hillen, Bruno Gervais, Radek Martinek, Ty Wishart, Dylan Reese may have had flaws/injuries to their games, but skating was not one of them. Folks now see how valuable Martinek was when he was moving well with the puck.

Marty Reasoner looks like a player who Florida moved on from at the right time, or his camp injury plus a struggling club has take it's toll, his thirteen goals should have made him a huge improvement over Zenon Konopka's fights by appointment, but it has not. Haley's ability to fight (not score) is more valuable than Jay Pandolfo's contribution.

With Calvin deHaan likely out with a shoulder injury, the gm seems reluctant to call up Ty Wishart, who was successful in twenty games here last season.

Garth Snow boxed himself in good with the roster he constructed or let return from November 2010. Other teams see it and know they can force play most games.

Charles Wang: No blame at all. Like most teams he cannot offer front-loaded contracts to players. He was spending well over forty million before the league had a salary floor, after Snow traded Wisniewski/Roloson's 4.5 million last December with no roster return, the club was still over the cap.

The UFA defender market was not a good one, the Isles made a trade and Christian Ehrhoff signed for huge front-loaded money, same as Wisniewski.

With all the teams in new buildings bleeding red ink, getting taxpayer funds or exemptions, there is no blame that can be given to Charles Wang.

But why would anyone want to notice these things?


11/11/11

What's Ahead For New York? More Of The Same

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/11/2011 10:50:00 PM


Like I wrote the other day, no doubt these players are doing the absolute best they can.

Too slow, old, small, not physical enough on the backline and with the changes made at forward the same issue.

Colorado's forwards and defenders just picked the New York Islanders apart and beat up on them good because they were slow in skating/reading/reacting far too often.

I noticed the players struggling for air in the higher altitude.

Isles could have used three of those younger, bigger, fast-skating, physical defenders that Colorado had. Just as they needed a few bigger, fast-skating, physical forwards not named Matt Martin to protect Tavares better.

Even struggling Colorado saw what was going on and one of their players started yelling at his team and it worked. They just wore the Islanders down and beat on them because they could. The chances the Isles seemed to get were off of Colorado willing to trade chances, with a few smart plays as well.

Of course, the Isles should have won, Grabner's chances (especially in the final second of regulation) is as good a chance as can be generated. Was the officiating poor from not calling Reasoner vs MacDonald early to other bad calls? Yes.

It's not the point.

Win or lose it does not change how Colorado dominated in the physical and skating department, even if the Isles are as desperate as a team can be for points.

The point of the final three months of last season was a moderately to above avg successful team that was very hard to play against virtually every game, that did not back down, it was successful in the standings and on the ice.

That club seems now like it's a distant memory with the tweaks made in the summer to get older, slower, smaller, and easier to defend/attack.

Nothing I see short of drastic changes on the older backline and forward spots to get younger and bigger changing this.

Truth of the matter is unlike every other year, this time Garth Snow pushed the wrong buttons in who he identified as players who can help take his core to the next level.

Perhaps they can steal a game or two here and there, but the kind of hockey that needs to be played to make up seven points (just to get to the eighth seed) is not going to happen with the club as currently constructed.

There will be no hiding Sunday or in the next two weeks moving forward from what has been working against them since opening night as the schedule picks up, the standings leave no room for falling any further behind.

Common Sense Time:
Yes, we have Dolan's joke professional media covering us in print/television, when they are not being ordered by courts to show games in HD they claim for years are all shown in HD.

They are now so lazy they go to amateur fan blogs to break fictional trades, get over it, we have written about this enough, I made clear it's only going to get worse and the coverage is a joke. Arthur Staple is the latest former Ranger beatwriter who could care less about covering the New York Islanders unless it's to stir something up.

Many of these people are the same ones telling you the team must trade a goalie, despite the fact the goaltending is not costing them games to this point. They are not around the club daily if at all, they do not know what management or the players are saying (or not saying) they likely do not even watch the games.

As Michael Peca said long ago, if you are not in the lockeroom and unless a player tells you something directly, do not believe it.


11/9/11

Are the New York Islanders Really A Different Team?

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/09/2011 05:08:00 PM


Islanders website: Had an article with comments from John Tavares, Andrew MacDonald, Travis Hamonic on how this is a different team than a year ago.

NYIFC Comments:
What has to be noted here is this sampling begins when MacDonald missed his first game in late October and includes the time before Travis Hamonic was first called up in late Nov.

This means Hamonic and MacDonald were not part of the club when things bottomed out a year ago, they came up or back in December and a few weeks later the club started winning.

Seems like a lot of words based on inexperience, some different forwards, and leadership.

Mark Eaton was an even/plus defender last year during this stretch, who mostly plays at even strength.

This is picked up from where the team lost against Montreal.

October 27th-30th 2010 Games Played 0-3:
Mottau 3
Eaton 3
Wisniewski 3
Martinek 3
Jurcina 2
Hillen 3
Gervais 2
******************************
November 2010: 1-7-3
Eaton 11
Mottau 9-Season ended 11/21/10 with 0-10-3 stretch from October 27th.
Wisniewski 11
Martinek 11
Hillen 5
Gervais 10
Reese 5
Hamonic 2-Season debut 11/24/10 replacing Mottau.
*******************************
December 1st-13th 2010: 0-6-0
Eaton 5-Left lineup 12/13/10 0-5
Gervais 2-Returned 12/9/10
Wisniewski 6
Martinek 4
Hillen 5 Returned 12/3/10
Hamonic 6
Reese 2
MacDonald 6-Returned from October Injury 12/2/2010.
********************************
Dec 16th-31st 6-1-1
Wisniewski 6 Traded 4-1-1
Martinek 3-Returned 12/16/10/Out 12/23/10
Jurcina 7-Returned 12/16/10
Hamonic 8
Hillen 6
MacDonald 8
Eaton 6-Returned 12/22/10
Gervais 4-Returned 12/23/10/Out 12/27/10/Returned 12/29
Reese-1 Returned 12/31/10

Mark Eaton played one more game last season on 1/3/2011.

Conclusion:
Overall I did not see a club a year ago that seemed like it was being outnumbered to this degree in all three zones because collectively it's defense was too old or slow.

The 2010-11 team was terrible at five on five when it fell apart last season, but it's different this year. Last year it was Schremp, Weight, Sim, Hunter, Konopka, it was Okposo being out, Bailey and Comeau being moved around too often, Nielsen not able to score at five on five.

This time the players being counted on and not producing are Bailey, Okposo, Comeau and a forward who had forty points in his final forty games with the Devils a year ago, plus a center who had thirteen goals a year ago in Reasoner.

Wisniewski-Martinek in terms of skating, starting rush are far superior to Streit as long as he's paired with Staios, plus a year off for Streit is a long time. Andrew MacDonald is working back from his surgery, Travis Hamonic is known now around the NHL. Eaton, Motteau missed months without playing.

As for 2010-11, do not forget Dwayne Roloson was putting up a great save percentage, with no winning results into late December before his trade. DiPietro won most of the late December starts.

I see this simply as an issue of too many older, slower defenders doing their absolute best causing the club to be outnumbered all over the ice. NYIFC viewpoint is Tavares, MacDonald and Hamonic are going to be very disappointed because most games it has not been a question of working harder.

No one is going to convince me this defense is not skating as hard as it possibly can.



11/8/11

Garth Snow Has To Make A Move

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/08/2011 01:07:00 PM


The general manager has seen his club play over ten games now, if he cannot see his defense is too old/slow, too mistake prone, and forcing the game to be played in the Isles end of the ice throwing off his forwards ability to fore-check the competitive part of this season will be over very soon.

This team cannot continue to play entire games outnumbered all over the ice because at least three of the defenders dressing are too slow, to go with Rolston, Pandolfo and Reasoner.

Either Garth Snow has to trust his prospects, give them an opportunity or he has to add some speed, skating and skill to his back line from outside the organization. A year ago for over three months it did not matter who dressed on defense, as long as the backline had some skaters to push the puck to the forwards.

The notion this older defense, or some veteran forwards are going to get faster or younger is a non-starter. Nothing Jack Capuano can do short of asking for at least two defenders from Bridgeport is going to help.

Either that or this fifteenth place team will soon be ten points out of the eight seed, and serious questions about Garth Snow's future as general manager need to be asked.

Almost ridiculous Garth Snow came back to the same formula that failed on defense a year ago in Nov and doubled down adding Staios, plus getting slower up front.

I watch these games and always see the opposition skating faster, always with more players around the puck, moving like a unit.

The problem is not Okposo, Bailey or Comeau, the problem is they cannot get passes on the move or with any room to work.

No, I would not trade any of them.

Unlike every other year, this goes directly on management decisions, not injuries.


11/5/11

A Win For New York....However

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/05/2011 11:55:00 PM


For those who have followed NYIFC for years, you know blog entries are not done to depress folks, quite the opposite, sure our team can enjoy a comeback against a very good opponent.

They had to have a win, any way possible tonight and got it, perhaps it helps a few players relax, and changes the offensive dynamic.

Having written this, poor goals allowed and point shots for rebounds is not nearly enough. For this to work, some forwards need to create some offense out of the corners or along the walls. Everything this team does seems to come off rushes or outside shots.

Obviously the slower defenders cannot pinch with any speed or ability to cycle.

Vokoun let up some poor goals, Washington did not have a great deal of jump in this game.

You look at the four goals, credit the hustle of Nielsen, however he was one against four and a low percentage rebound got past Vokoun.

Rolston took a good shot, he was also surrounded and outnumbered before it got past Vokoun.

Staios shot got through, Martin made a nice play to finish, but another low percentage outside shot, same as Parenteau's game winning goal.

Not being negative, but this has been the only offensive formula that has worked at five on five outside of one period against Tampa.

It's not the offense that beat teams in the second half, that scored so many brilliant goals off creative play deep in the offensive zone off a sustained fore-check and wore down the opposition.

Not a fan of Grabner changing his position, apparently Rolston needs to be a left wing here, so far Comeau and now the teams leading scorer have changed for him. The five minutes on Parenteau was terrible.

Ok, two points.

Boston just won 7-0 against Toronto, every Atlantic team won on Saturday, with Pens leading as this was written.


11/4/11

Time Running Out For New York

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/04/2011 11:16:00 AM


Rather than post another repetitive blog entry I decided to re-post 5/3 NYIFC Entry Why New York Can Lose Next Season because many of those scenario's are playing out.

Some things are even worse with Moulson struggling, MacDonald-Hamonic showing some inexperience or AMac returning from injury.

Things are only going to get tougher because this group now goes from hunter to hunted with teams like Washington, Boston, Colorado and Vancouver coming up. That means they will be forced even more on defensive, more mistakes, penalties and games played in their end of the ice, as opposed to Thursday.

Fifteenth in East based on wins, five points out of the eighth seed. It took only one game to see the problems right away this year.

Looked like Capuano wanted to give a few shifts to Jurcina vs Staios with Streit.

Even Winnipeg's defense was more mobile and stepped up on a few offensive shifts.

Tavares took some big hits, no one really dressed to respond.

Time's running out.


11/1/11

What's Next For New York? Win One Game

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/01/2011 08:31:00 AM


Updated:
Trevor Gillies cleared waivers.

Updated 5pm:
Nino Niederreiter was sent to Bridgeport on a conditioning assignment, he is only permitted to play there for two weeks and will debut (with Gillies) Wednesday morning in the Sound Tigers next game.

Simply put this team needs to win a hockey game Thursday.

It does not matter if it's the kind of game they won against Minnesota, or three pucks bounce in from center ice, does not matter if this teams slow defenders need to have the best games of the careers.

Even the middle or lower of the pack teams have demonstrated an ability to put up some even strength goals, the kind this team did from mid-Dec a year ago.

All opposing coaches no doubt go in with the same plan, don't let Tavares or Streit beat us, wear down Staios, Eaton, Jurcina and Mottau by playing the game in their end of the ice, they cannot score at five on five.

Standings do not lie, even with games in hand.

This team has to win a hockey game right now.
**************************************
Trevor Gillies has been sent down before, but kind of an interesting situation. To dress him meant Comeau or another forward do not play, to send him down leaves Matt Martin and virtually no effective veteran fighters. (Mottau cannot fight with his eye)

My choice would have been to put Mottau on waivers over Gillies.

No clue what happens when Niederreiter is ready, he is a right wing so either Pandolfo sits, Rolston sits or once again becomes a left wing for Comeau sitting.

Either that or once again someone plays out of position.

I would bench Rolston or send down Pandolfo, it's not working for Rolston because he needs to be a left wing here to be effective as he was in the second half with the Devils.

Right now Capuano has the player the Devils placed on waivers last December.

No one is going to mistake Jay Pandolfo with a top flight defensive player. A line where Martin, Reasoner, Niederreiter dress should be a plus line, and that's what's needed most right now.

Goaltending? It's worked but very unconventional, all three have said the right things.

Personally could care less if the goaltenders are not happy with the circumstances because what else can the team do? All three are injury prone or have been ineffective, partly due to injury.

What are the three goaltenders going to do? Nothing.

Al Montoya does not like it he can go back to being an AHL backup in San Antonio, if Nabokov does not like it he can go home and come back when again his contract is tolled when he's healthy, no winning team would have him as a starter.

If DiPietro does not like it he can retire.

All three have been effective, but that's the reality of the club's goaltending.
************************
Mark Katic has another shoulder surgery coming.

For those wondering Kirill Kabanov is with Shawinigan and started playing last week, prospect blog has updated his profile.


10/30/11

New York Defense Simply Too Slow At Even Strength

New York Islander Fan Central | 10/30/2011 05:28:00 AM


The same blog entries cannot be repeated every few days here.

This is simply not going to work.

A slower, less mobile defense, that is mistake prone, throws off every facet of what worked for close to four months a year ago. The powerplay was not the problem on this day.

Well aware San Jose was red-hot, Sharks goalie made some great saves or it would have been a win, and the Sharks skated like a team that just played in Detroit the night before.

Isles skated as well as they could with who they had, obviously the puck hit the glass in overtime.

Here's the big questions our fans should be asking:

1. This was the Isles best offensive game of the season? How much sustained five on five pressure did the Isles get to go with another night of no five on five goals? For myself (and broadcasters) they noted fourth line shift with about three minutes left in second, where they cycled and had San Jose pinned in.

I noticed it immediately.

That was about it for another sixty minute game.

2. How often on forecheck now are the Isles forced to simply throw low percentage shots on goal because the defense is too slow combined with Rolston/Pandolfo?

3. Then we get to the usual story, nothing personal against Steve Staios, but signing him to play with Mark Streit is a flat out joke, it's costing this club every single game to go with Mottau/Eaton.

Streit wears down too a lot more with Staios, after a year off injury that's asking too much.

Jurcina is hardly any better than Mottau.

# 24 penalty in opening seconds 1-0.
# 24 out with Streit on second goal, Streit having to work harder.
# 24 gassed and too slow, did not have his stick down or the right angle on OT goal, so that long cross-ice pass got through him for the shot. He had nothing left to pressure the player making that pass and was not skating.

Quality offensive players will pick that apart every time.

It's positioning, lack of speed, slow reaction, giving players room to work without pressure, who can already finish. Simply not being able to keep up.

What do you expect from a thirty eight year old player, who's never been a top two defender, who was a camp invite, who was out most of last season, and who's value was that of trade for Aaron Johnson/pick two years ago?

This makes the Isles collectively too slow to maintain a forecheck, it makes them play shifts throwing the puck out of their end, as opposed to skating and it hurts the cycle/forechecking which means not being able to control play in the offensive zone at five on five or sustain any pressure.

It leads to a lot of give-up plays, where the end result is throw puck at net and hope for something to happen, it's not a quality setup, even when Tavares deflects the shot in the net. This runs contrary to how Matt Moulson's success off work in the corners or passes from forwards that led to his five on five goals.

The effort was there against San Jose, beyond Rolston throwing too many bad angle shots at the net, all lines could have produced a goal off a rush against a sluggish San Jose team.

Comeau had some good shifts, with a few uneven shifts.

DiPietro played as well as Nabokov/Montoya, his stickhandling even helped start a few rushes. Goaltending has not cost them a single game to this point.

Lack of mobility on defense has cost them the identity they produced as a team from mid-Dec/mid-March a year ago.

It's not going to return unless management makes changes to the defense, by then, it likely will be too late.


10/26/11

If New York Goes Into Free Fall This Time It's Different

New York Islander Fan Central | 10/26/2011 07:41:00 AM


This time it's going to be far different than the last three of four years.

Many of those seasons, the club had massive injuries, that either lingered into the season or hit the club in camp, then accumulated. What could be done with Sillinger, Comrie, Weight, Guerin, DiPietro, Hunter with so many others but wait?

This time no excuses can be given, even if last year's even strength scoring did struggle badly early and some things are similar with Mottau and Eaton, it's not.

A year ago, it was reasonable losing Okposo and Streit to injury, and expect it to catch up with them which it was already doing at 4-1-2, same as Scott Gordon's first year or Ted Nolan's final month when the injury count shot up to a league leading four hundred two games lost.

All those teams led the NHL in man games lost to injury, by huge differentials vs most other clubs.

Not the case in 2011-12.

Twenty one periods of New York Islander Hockey in 2011-12. One acceptable period against a Tampa team throwing pucks in their own net, that could not get out of their own way for twenty minutes.

That represents the bulk of the scoring at five on five beyond Mark Streit point shots redirected by forwards into the net, or an odd broken play. (Moulson's goal against Rangers)

The new forwards brought in do not look in sync at all, the returning forwards seem effected by it. The defenders who returned from injury (aside from Streit) are too slow/old to keep up in all three zones, and are not getting faster or younger, and that has thrown things out of balance entirely.

You can see what happens when the defense pinches or how other teams defenses outnumber the Islander forwards for pucks. This defense is not mobile or creative in the offensive zone with three veterans beyond Streit.

They are easier to defend, it forces individual efforts as we see with Tavares.

Hamonic and MacDonald do not have the same edge to their games yet, MacDonald had major surgery.

Eventually the three goalie system is going to produce a poor game, so far they have gotten efforts that should have produced points out of all seven contests.

DiPietro's puck moving ability seems best suited to the defense lack of speed, but his mistakes and inconsistency combined with the lack of five on five production leave the team zero margin of error.

Beyond what's been written about call-ups and getting younger/faster on defense, I see no solution here with the current group. Perhaps an opponent/goaltender is going to have a very bad game or the special teams can carry the club to a token win here and there. Maybe someone can do what Montoya did against Minnesota.

Most who do not follow the team (some who do) who only see record, will claim it's the Islanders struggling for the same reasons.

Even though this blog has written NOV 2010 Islanders are not going to win, it not November 2010, even if two returning defenders are from that badly struggling roster with Jurcina making it three.

This time if things fall apart, it will be far different than the last three of four years.


10/25/11

Time Already Running Out For New York?

New York Islander Fan Central | 10/25/2011 08:58:00 AM


Sorry to write folks, after only six games, with a very light schedule ahead until mid-November, there is no time for anything but winning or a sustained streak/not losing in regulation.

The first segment is in the books, 3-3, with a lot of serious questions and a team that looked nothing like it did from mid Dec 2010/mid March 2011, this does not call for a patient approach when a rested team is outplayed to this degree.

One period where Tampa fell asleep is all they have to show for their five on five play, most of this season's offense is all PP/point shots to produce goals.

As we saw after 4-1-2 a year ago, it did not last when the pp struggled.

Despite games in hand, New York losses to Pittsburgh on Tuesday in Richard Park's return, they will trail them by ten points in the standings. The recent history at Pittsburgh has been terrible so that could easily become twelve.

After that San Jose, Winnipeg, Washington at home, then some serious road travel with Boston, Colorado and Vancouver.

Then things finally pick up schedule-wise, but will things be so out of hand by this point, realistic contention will be on the fringe of being over?

Either the club figures out it's even strength/offensive and defensive speed/coverage problems by this point or they will find themselves approaching the eight-ten point cutoff behind the eighth seed before mid-November, likely four/five games under.

NHL five hundred is nowhere, this team has to find itself at least ten-twelve games above that number to be in contention, that may still not be enough.

Garth Snow's tenure should be on the line here if this team drops out of contention, going with his Nov 2010 choices on the backline in Eaton or Mottau, plus signing Staios and if his choices in Pandolfo, Reasoner and Rolston simply do not produce.

If Blake Comeau is again a lost player for half a season or longer that goes on management for not leaving him where he was productive in the second half, and how that effects Josh Baily with no regular right winger. Also there is no hiding the lack of five on five production Nielsen and Okposo have never had long before Okposo got hurt.

Jack Capuano also will have to be accountable for his lineup decisions, something he rarely changed with his forwards last season.

NYIFC personal take is this defense is too slow, they are not going to win games banging bodies because they do not have that kind of defender.

If they can win over the better part of four months with Wishart, Hillen, Reese, a revolving door of injuries last year without Streit, it's time to use some of those future considerations or put Mottau on waivers/AHL, Staios in the stands, while limiting Eaton's minutes or including him in a trade.

Milan Jurcina is also a very disposable part, he can also be moved for a low level pick or someone that helps.

Wishart, deHaan, Reese go into the lineup and perhaps one of Donovan/Ness.

Pandolfo is not a great shutdown, NHL defender, he's not going to produce much or win games with speed or physical play. The club needs a physical element beyond Gillies three minutes, so recall Michael Haley or put Rolston on a fourth line.

When things are not working you try and replicate what did work.

Here were the defenders dressed when New York finally broke out on 12/16/10:
A. MacDonald 25:53
T. Hamonic 23:38
J. Hillen 12:46
M. Jurcina 13:19
R. Martinek 20:57
J. Wisniewski 22:25

Obviously that group did not stay healthy or together for long, a lot of games the goaltending was the story.

They cannot bring back the 2010-11 defenders who are no longer here, but they can call up defenders with the speed to get the offense producing. No one is going to convince me the players are not in the system/current organization with Streit to replace some of the speed no longer here.

I do not believe older, slower defenders become faster, even if rust melts off their games from a long time out. It's a shock-blocking defense, that is so slow it forces the forwards to play the game in the defensive zone.

This offense requires a faster, more mobile defense to get the other team on the defensive.

The November 2010 defense that featured only injured Mark Streit, MacDonald is not the answer.

Travis Hamonic came up Nov 24th, a year ago.


Canadian Media Slam Sports