11/26/11

Should Garth Snow Be Fired? Absolutely Not

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/26/2011 05:20:00 PM


Sorry folks, NHL General Managers by and large are sacred cows, unlike coaches.

Once they are in the job it takes a ton of horrible years/decisions to send them packing. George McPhee, Sather, Bryan Murray, Don Waddell, Bob Clarke, Darcy Regier, so many others.

David Poile in Nashville is considered one of the best in the business, the Predators have done little come playoff time. Boston had to send a draft pick to Ottawa for it's general manager after a league dispute.

It took forever to get Craig Patrick out of Pittsburgh, he did not have stable ownership but his first year out of the lockout pushed the wrong buttons with the high priced veterans, and Ray Shero came in from Nashville.

Many get promoted to the role of President, even some unqualified disasters like John Davidson, or Kevin Lowe, have the media in their corner, win or lose.

Brian Burke moves around a lot, one or two other gm's do also and Burke traded what turned out to be two top picks for Phil Kessel.

Paul Holmgren does what Ed Snider says, whether it be trade players signed after one year to decade plus contracts or front-load for the next one in July.

People like Cliff Fletcher in Toronto even get to play interim gm after Milbury robbed him blind for Jonsson and Brewer or Luongo depending on who you consider the Leafs pick was used for.

Burke does not front-load, so no top players pick Richard Peddie's team, same as Montreal, who can only take Scott Gomez, once the max part of his contract is already paid.

One or two general managers real claim to the job is being former player agents as we saw with Mike Barnett in Phoenix for a while.

As hockey fans we may be frustrated over Garth Snow not being able to front-load contract offers in summer, but most teams cannot front-load either and not able to make those kind of signings.

Overall you have to access the job the general manager does year by year. I cannot blame Garth Snow for the injuries in the previous years, he's made some excellent signings or decisions (Streit, Roloson, Moulson, Grabner and even Schremp for a time) to help the club in free agency, a few decisions were mistakes in resigning Brendan Witt early along with one extra year of Doug Weight/Sim. (even with a two-way contract)

Snow has not publicly stuck out his neck to protect his former coaches, he would not be the first to fail there.

No one wanted to see Trent Hunter leave when his contract was up, Snow handled it perfect and re-signed Hunter at an excellent rate, regardless of the decision not working out in the long run.

Snow has also done a great job locking up his prime players, combined with his extensions to MacDonald/Nielsen.

Brett Hull was a horrible co/gm in Dallas, anyone can throw around money, we have seen general managers over their head in the job from day one.

I do not see that with Garth Snow. Bergenheim got every chance here, as did Tambellini, even if they were Milbury's picks or traded players. Even Jeremy Colliton was qualified, as Jesse Joensuu was.

Absolutely Blake Comeau was played out of position, that goes on the gm.

Bottom line, last summer Snow made some good gambles in Rolston based on his second half production a year ago vs Hunter, same on Reasoner's thirteen vs Konopka's two goals.

It did not work.

Were those gambles any worse on paper as opposed to the ones made by Florida's new gm, Dale Tallon, who grossly overpaid for marginal free agents well passed their prime in most cases, after his drastic mistakes in Chicago, despite winning a Stanley Cup?

Bergenheim got a four year contract after Tampa moved on, he has two more points than Blake Comeau.

Snow was boxed in with returning Eaton, Mottau off injury vs finding a way to move on from them or outright cut them. It was a mistake considering what the defense did without them in the second half, plus resigning Jurcina early.

Obviously doubling down with Steve Staios, giving him the spot with Streit was terrible, as was bringing in a limited fourth line veteran in Pandolfo, who at this time is playing center for the first time in his career.

In the draft Snow/staff's goaltending decisions are not looking good with Koskinen in Europe, the decision on Hamonic outstanding. Still, the draft picks have to step in and supplement his plan here, it's still very early on that front, especially for Josh Bailey.

Matt Martin looks like a player.

James Wisniewski for a third vs resigning Sutton was an excellent gamble, even if it did fail, Sutton got injured his first game in Anaheim, was converted to forward, now he's in Edmonton.

Even if 2011-12 means another head coach losses his job, and the New York Islanders finish at the bottom of the standings this time with no excuses about injuries) Garth Snow should continue as this club's general manager.

Given the injures the previous years, the excellent decisions on many moves, his contract negotiations, it's not even close to the point of considering a change at general manager, sure he needed to make a move (even if from his AHL team) but has not and it does raise fair questions about his performance.

I see no chance Garth Snow goes with another Mike Milbury plan. Based on the things that worked in the second half of last year, this blog agrees completely the pieces are in place.

No folks, teams are not dumping anything but struggling players at this time, it would be nice to see Snow call up Bridgeport and get deHaan, Wishart in here, move on from Rolston, Pandolfo, Mottau and Reasoner so Niederreiter can finally play and give Ullstrom/Rahkshani a serious run of games.

As I wrote a while back a lot of these problems are going to solve themselves after the season.


11/24/11

Blake Comeau On Waivers Is Management's Failure

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/24/2011 02:44:00 PM


Blake Comeau was one of the players last year, who believed in the direction of this franchise moving forward.

He is a team player, who changed his position whenever asked.

It cost him.

Simply put management's job is to place players in the position they are best able to succeed. Blake Comeau was moved around, he struggled badly in the early parts of his last two seasons before 2011-12.

Before that he lost his job to Nate Thompson.

Now Comeau is on waivers.

In 2009-10, he finished with twenty goals/thirty five points. On Feb 10th 2010, he had six goals and fourteen points, as he was finally kept on left wing.

In 2010-11 he finished with twenty four goals/forty six points. On Jan 5th 2011, he had eight goals, three in the first two games, with seventeen points, again his position was changed early in the season whether it be to play right wing with Tavares or on another line.

The point being he's been moved off the position he has had the bulk of his NHL success when put on left wing and kept there.

Granted Blake Comeau as a prospect was a right wing when drafted, the Isles advertised him as a player who could any of the three forward positions. He was rarely used at center.

Again this year, management tried to make him a right wing to accommodate Brian Rolston.

All this constant changing of positions has contributed to many struggling prime players on this roster to go with the issue of it's defense. Comeau struggled far less than Kyle Okposo since last January.

What's next is Matt Martin (who's time has come to be more than a fourth line player) has been moved off the left wing spot he has played since day one to right wing for David Ullstrom. If that continues it is a mistake, one that apparently caught up with Blake Comeau, a mistake also when Michael Grabner was moved to right wing.

The failure of Blake Comeau this season being placed on waivers goes directly on New York Islander management for not putting him in the situation where he's had the most success.


11/23/11

Bottom Line The Defense Becomes Faster Or Nothing Will Work

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/23/2011 07:28:00 AM


I'm not happy Mark Eaton is injured, however I will admit him not being in the lineup is more of a solution to the overall biggest problem this team has.

Speed/transition on defense.

From this blog's perspective that's been the biggest problem with this team from day one.

Mike Mottau turning over the puck going in for Eaton will only make things worse, he's too slow/mistake prone to help anything. Jurcina is at best mediocre for the limited times he is healthy.

Garth Snow and Jack Capuano were here last season, they saw what did not work last season earlier on defense vs what did later on. It practically did not matter who dressed on defense until the very end of the season when they were using players on amateur tryout contracts.

A mobile defense gets to the puck in the defensive end first, it is able to skate the puck out which creates room for the forwards to enter the offensive zone, it gives the forwards room and mobility in the offensive zone and wears down the other team, when the defense can win pucks on the boards.

What we have seen in essence a game of catch, the slower Isles defenders under pressure throw the puck to center ice to the other team, the other other team skates the puck back in and wears down the defense. The forwards are in the middle of this game of catch and always chasing/outnumbered.

The New York Islanders do not need six superstars on the backline.

Streit, MacDonald and Hamonic are all a part of the solution long-term, but two of the other three have to be able to skate/win pucks/start rushes.

In this blogs estimation nothing changes until Wishart, deHaan/injured, Reese or another defender who can skate enters this mix, replacing Mottau, Staios and Jurcina.
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Calling up Michael Haley for no scoring, a few body checks and an occasional fight by appointment in a fourth line role solves absolutely nothing in the big picture, even if he goes in for Jay Pandolfo which should be the only player he can be recalled for unless Niederreiter is going back to juniors.

Is the plan to change another forwards position, keep Comeau in the stands or move Matt Martin around until he becomes as ineffective as Bailey, Comeau?

Or is Kyle Okposo or Josh Bailey heading back to the stands?

Bottom line Matt Martin is a left wing, Ullstrom has been used this year in Bridgeport as a left wing and has done very well. Matt Moulson is a left wing.

Grabner and Comeau need to be left wingers.

Comeau again had his position changed from left wing, Grabner also now plays on Tavares line as a right winger, the results have been terrible and not in either players best interest.

As easy as it is to blame Brian Rolston for this, management let him play left wing, and for many years Blake Comeau has allowed management to change his position.
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So the Flyers come in off some losses and desperate to beat a team they have owned for years. Mottau, Staios, Jurcina and an offense with no goals in two games have to defend and get the puck to the Islander forwards?

Marty Reasoner looks as done as Mike York did when he was here, I guess we discovered why the Florida Panthers let him go with his thirteen goals at a time they needed to sign half the league to fill out a roster.

I cannot blame Garth Snow for taking that gamble, he had thirteen goals on a club that had a horrible fourth line plus/minus that lost over thirty games by two goals or less a year ago. Same as I cannot blame Snow for bringing in Rolston with a forty point second half a year ago.

As for Wednesday there is the issue of picking a goaltender, who's going to have to be perfect out of Nilsson, DiPietro and Montoya, who's been practicing for a week like he's close.

Six points (four games in hand) behind fourteenth place Carolina, eight points (one game in hand behind eighth seed Washington.

They cannot fall behind any further, either this team starts winning right now, or it's another fifty five game preseason the rest of the way.

This is why so many blog entries have been done here, it's now or never.


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.
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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.
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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.
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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
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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.
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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.
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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.


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