Positives For New York But Nothing That Changes Standings

New York Islander Fan Central | 1/16/2012 09:06:00 PM | Comment Here

The quality of the New York Islanders play has been mostly solid/steady, outside of the game in Phoenix you could make the argument the club has not had a real clunker since the Bruins/Pens stretch in November.

Most games the Islanders skate well enough to take the play at the opposition, even in recent losses. The opposing goaltenders have had to play well from Rinne to Bobrovsky to Hiller's save on Parenteau that turned the Anaheim game.

Overall, some fantastic progression from Tavares to superstar status(not just all-star), Matt Moulson looks dominating, Okposo is playing like a top pick, and visible, scoring in games for the first time since before his injury.

Hamonic/MacDonald are progressing well, and mostly solid efforts from Nabokov.

Parenteau has thirty seven points in forty three games, that's more than anyone could have expected.

Grabner's speed has finally returned, perhaps he needed this long to get back the jump after his groin injury, still it's a one line Islander team on offense, that simply is getting almost no production from it's other lines at even strength.

Bailey, Niederreiter have been getting their chances, or making their chances, Martin's hitting.

The veterans on up front and on defense, have given them virtually nothing in terms of offensive support. Rolston began his twenty nine point second half with the Devils, January 9th a year ago. Reasoner will be out a lot longer, Pandolfo is not a scorer at his natural right wing spot, much less playing a spot he's never played in his career.

A few nice plays from Staios, Eaton, Mottau and Jurcina, a few big mistakes as well which will be the theme. Outside of rare Jurcina goal, expect no offense.

Streit's delay of game for falling into net losing his balance is the latest in a series of absurd calls which began with the ot delay of game against San Jose, he had a three point game.

Rick DiPietro is going to have his surgery, the Islanders including his knee swelling has been a theme every single year and is the story, not the sports hernia.

Bottom line, a team holding firm at five games under, winning a few, then losing a few is a club going nowhere near a playoff spot, that's not even a discussion any longer unless the group wants to go 10-0-0 to get near the eighth seed, which they have given no sign they are capable of doing.

Losing deHaan to another shoulder injury is terrible. This team could use him here along with Ullstrom, after getting a few goals over the weekend.

Poulin was sent down after the Nashville loss, impossible to criticize him or the Islanders for how he was handled. Nabokov was playing well enough to get on a run, it was time to see if he could hold up physically and he did.

He seems happy enough to be here by his comments, we'll see what that holds if he stays past the trade deadline and continues his solid play.

A few teams are spiraling downward toward the Isles spot in the standings as the disparity between pretenders and contenders widen.

Bridgeport's won seven games in a row, with a lot of players on PTO. They are still outside the playoffs and really need another seven in a row to discuss them having a playoff chance.

Impossible to see any veteran holding much value at the trade deadline if Garth Snow decides to sell. The big question on Nielsen is coming as he approaches the trade deadline/UFA as a good defensive player, but simply not a five on five scorer.

Parenteau also enters this discussion.

Of course Garth Snow should be willing to gamble on younger players who have played well in the recent past, but are struggling on their current teams.

No law he cannot get his veterans for next year at the deadline.

Having written this, every team is looking for players to improve, that's one of many reasons there is little/no major activity beyond Mike Cammalleri, likely saying the magic words to force Montreal to move him by going public with his complaints.

DiPietro Sports Hernia Surgery, Not Career Threatening

New York Islander Fan Central | 1/13/2012 07:03:00 PM | Comment Here

The Islanders twitter feed reports, the team will issue an official statement on Saturday regarding Rick DiPietro.

NHL.com based upon Cablevision owned Newsday: Is reporting Rick DiPietro needs sports hernia surgery, who comments along with general manager, Garth Snow.

NYIFC Comments:
The bottom line is the doctors have told DiPietro he can return from this injury, he wants to continue his career, and the general manager expects he can return.

There is nothing here that says this is related to his knee.

Of course, this continues a three headed goaltender system, with three more prospect goaltenders (one in Europe) and decisions to be made on Nabokov and Montoya on a team that has barely been able to keep one goaltender healthy for half a season.

Or the biggest problem that it's another lost year for DiPietro, where he took steps backwards, and did nothing to work rust off his game or prove durable even compared to last season.

It's at the point where management cannot wait for him or give him an opportunity vs other goaltenders in the system. As written the other day, the Isles can make future arrangements for him to play regularly elsewhere until he proves durable and effective.

Charles Wang's Management of Webster Bank Arena In Bridgeport Now Profitable Per Howard Saffan

New York Islander Fan Central | 1/09/2012 08:50:00 PM | Comment Here

Connecticut Business News Journal: Has a full interview with Bridgeport Sound Tigers President, Howard Saffan, on the management changes made at Webster Bank Arena since Charles Wang's group purchased the rights to what was, " The Arena at Harbor Yard ", reported in the Ct Post 4/29/2011.

The Sound Tigers lease runs until 2021, Mr Saffan made clear last August after the referendum defeat, the team would remain in Bridgeport for the duration regardless of the Islanders status past 2015.

Mr Saffan by his own words here formerly managed the Nassau Coliseum for Charles Wang, since the sublease changes in Dec 2009 where Charles Wang/and or Scott Rechler pay Smg to run the Nassau Coliseum through 2015 in exchange for revenue from events and New York Islander games.

NYIFC Comments:
I would not do a full blog on this if it were not important.

Apparently Mr Wang's group in Bridgeport is turning a profit at what is now Webster Bank Arena, they also received a naming rights fee for the name change.

Mr Saffan discusses the renovations done to the facility, and briefly discusses the events at the Coliseum, along with a very candid interview with the internal numbers.

Of course, Webster Bank Arena is not the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, however Mr Wang and his people are running both facilities.

2011-12 New York's Lost Season Becomes Audition For 2012-13

New York Islander Fan Central | 1/08/2012 11:16:00 AM | Comment Here

If the New York Islanders actually won in Anaheim, plus extended it to a five game winning streak in Phoenix, what really would have been different?

The standings do not lie, the weakness NYIFC has been writing about since opening night confirm with countless repetitive blog entries on the veterans and their downside eating minutes and producing little.

Twelve points out of eighth/ten points behind ninth/tenth spots.

The competitive part of this season has been over for a long time.

The balanced scoring is not there, the veterans on defense are limited and error prone in a way even worse than a year ago without the injuries. They have been lucky to get some steady play and some temporary health from Nabokov.

Nothing Like Last Year:
The second half of this season is going to be nothing like last year, where there were solid reasons the success would carry over to the next year. It's not going to become a feel good story with forty games of scoring, speed and chemistry or signs this is heading in the right direction as currently constructed.

The current roster is not the second half roster of one year ago, and has far too many veterans struggling.

Expect no signs beyond what Moulson, Tavares and Okposo, Bailey, Niederreiter can provide, or what Hamonic, MacDonald do in their maturing process, hopefully some of these players can stand the frustration and the physical toll.

It's an slow, older, limited team unless Garth Snow decides to waive some veterans, who are doing nothing for this team with the risk, if the players brought up are injured it could present even more problems.

There is little depth in Bridgeport to recall. Collton, DiBenedetto, Marcinko have been hurt, Rakhshani missed a big part of this year with a concussion, Ullstrom is here with his concussion.

Mark Katic has been out since the preseason opener. Sure there is deHaan, Wishart, Donovan, Ness.

The standings do not lie in Bridgeport either, despite the excitement of Kevin Poulin's three shutouts in a row.

What's Next?
The frustration mounts for the fans, players, as written about long ago, it's going to get ugly.

Expecting this team to steal points against Detroit and Philadelphia is not impossible, but in the end it does not matter because what was mostly a sixty game exhibition season, officially became a forty two game exhibition schedule.

Anton Klementyev Suspended:
Anton Klementyev's suspension is not the first time a player bolted from the AHL, or Bridgeport. Apparently he does not want a greater role in the ECHL, who the Isles have no affiliation with this year. Overall Klementyev was handled poorly by Garth Snow from day one, drafting him, signing him, then immediately taking him out of Canadian juniors to see a lot of part time at best play in Bridgeport.

Some may recall he sat for weeks and made a desperation cameo on the Islanders.

Bottom line is if you are that determined to make someone part of your organization he has to be played in a prime role and for many reasons never got that or was ready for it when he was put in the AHL. It took years for the Isles to make this decision with Klementyev, so they finally decided on the ECHL and he rejected it.

Klementyev has no right to reject re-assignment and was correctly suspended but how it got this point is the problem and goes on management.

If Donald Fehr's NHLPA is this intent on playing hardball over the new conference format, which was given many positive reviews by the players, get ready for another NHL lockout after this year. I'm not sure the format is dead or a negotiating chip, but it's obvious Mr Fehr is going to earn his pay, but will likely discover this is not baseball.

As for NYIFC, this blog is no fan of the new conference format or only four playoff spots per conference.

New York Notables

New York Islander Fan Central | 1/05/2012 04:59:00 AM | Comment Here

Do not wish to comment much on games based only on highlights.

The Isles twitter would not respond to a question about live streaming all games on ITV for Time Warner customers, we'll see if Cablevision allows this for their own teams?

In the meantime NYIFC will write what we can on a few subjects.

1. It's gotten to a point with Rick DiPietro that he simply cannot stay healthy.

For him to miss this much time, have a few practices, travel to Carolina, then go back home with a lower body injury might require the organization rethink what direction they go in with him after this season.

Groin problems for goaltenders can linger and ruin seasons, only the Isles medical staff can say whether this is related to his knee surgeries. Still a decision needs to be reached after four seasons, he's regressed for different medical reasons from a year ago.

If Mikko Koskinen can play in Europe under contract, the Isles can make similar arrangements for DiPietro.

2. Nabokov still has his mistakes which led to a goal against Carolina, he's also played well enough, but neither of the three goaltender have proven durable.

2a. If he proves durable and effective Nabokov should be offered a contract. Only he knows if he will wish to stay, but don't overestimate his value. If he goes at the deadline at best he's worth a late round pick unless a team badly overpays.

2b. I'm starting to wonder if Dwayne Roloson needs a change of scenery again next summer and would like to return, only problem here is at the moment the collective defense here is as weak as Tampa.

3. Love the decision to reunite Okposo with Tavares/Moulson which worked very well in Scott Gordon's first season.

3a. Not sure what that means for Parenteau's future, however for now he has a spot on the top lines.

3b. Also not sure what to make of Niederreiter, wrote he should have been sent back to juniors.

4. Michael Grabner's speed has been gone since his groin injury, perhaps it's time to sit him down, he was the key to the secondary scoring.

5. Nice to see Nielsen get a rebound/shootout goals, but at five on five his track record screams he's not going to score. Bailey desperately needs a few players who can finish or set him up on his wings, Rolston is not that player.

5a. Nielsen should also be phased out of any powerplays units.

5b. He should be in play come the trade deadline, he's not Michael Peca defensively or physically, he's the perfect fourth line center for this team moving forward but likely would not want that role.

5c. I see nothing that can be done with Reasoner signed through next season, short of sending him to the AHL via waivers.

6. Reality is this defense (especially the veterans) are making their usual huge mistakes for this team. Nothing I have not written about since opening night.

7. Not sure what's going to happen out West. Win or lose, this teams has demonstrated only that whenever it gains ground, it gives it right back and usually it's about their weaknesses catching up with them and not so much the opponent.

7a. Many elements of this roster are not built to last long-term past this season and doing little to merit a spot here now. Cannot fathom why Wishart, deHaan, Rakhshani and others are waiting for opportunities next fall they should be getting now.

7b. David Ullstrom has had his concussion for a long time now.

8. Been a long time since this team lost a game in a blowout like the Devils had against Boston.

9. Would like to see the Isles formally announce they wish a change from Howie Rose for next season and put the pressure directly on Msg.

Rose enthusiasm seemed painfully forced against Edmonton, he also did this before his previous vacation in his final game as if he's trying to leave a good impression.

Too many vacations and enough playing the Jiggs card, who can be given any role he likes if Msg wants to pay for it. Rose does nothing to help raise the Islanders profile and it's time to call the teams carrier on the public carpet after taking the hit for Billy Jaffe who was also apparently dumped quietly by what was formerly Versus and is not calling games for any team.

9a. Interesting no one called out Versus for Jaffe not being tendered a contract? He now does NHL Network highlights (Time Warner is providing NHL Network for free to replace Msg and he spoke via telephone with Moulson after Carolina win) and appears on Dolan's weekly hockey program, for keeping quiet/saying what was on the Msg cue cards when not renewed.

10. For those wondering Flyer owner Ed Snider's Comcast, who was a big part of Smg taking all the Coliseum's revenue, now owns NBC so whatever hockey programming is there will feature Snider's Flyers.

10a. Ilya Bryzgalov got a fat front-loaded contract from Snider to give up nine goals against the Jets, not start the outdoor game and overall is the latest mistake in goaltending 101 by Snider. This was after Snider had his other front-loaded long term flavors of the previous year traded last summer.

10b. Which is why the NHL needs a new CBA and changes to prevent this practice.

11. Brutal spin on the terrible winter classic ratings for Cablevision vs Comcast by Bettman and those who need Msg/Comcast ad dollars, who look the other way because it's not good for their careers nor would their editors let them write about it.

Correction: Not sure why NYIFC has been writing Brian Rolston had forty points in the second a year ago, he had close to thirty points from January 9th to the end of last season. Obviously a poor job here by a blog that prides itself on giving it's readers accurate information and not acceptable.

Having written this Rolston's second half production from January 9th forward made his trade for Trent Hunter's contract a good gamble statistically at the time which was the overall point to be made.

Clarification: Sorry NYIFC has done virtually nothing on the WJC, the link was posted weeks prior to the games for folks to read everything, simply did not have much to write on this subject to give it the space it was in the past.

Bottom Line: New York A Mediocre/Limited Team In 2011-12

New York Islander Fan Central | 12/27/2011 01:19:00 AM | Comment Here

No doubt it's a very tough time for the fans, or everyone associated with the New York Islanders.

There were realistic expectations of winning this season that came crashing down starting on opening night.

Unlike last year, this time expect the second half to be more of the same with a lot of frustration. It's a different club. Jack Hillen can progress, Bruno Gervais, Ty Wishart and even a fringe veteran like Dylan Reese can come up and progress.

Mark Eaton, Mike Mottau simply do not have that capability at this point in their careers. It's fair to write Frans Nielsen is someone who can still progress offensively at five on five, but to expect that does not reflect his career on a team where Josh Bailey is not ready to produce regularly, or Marty Reasoner has flat out not been able to.

Same can be written about Milan Jurcina, even when he has a good stretch.

As I have written many times since opening night, this team has flaws it simply cannot get past, it goes beyond any one specific player. It also goes to the basic construction in terms of speed, toughness, size.

All three goaltenders for the most part have lost very few games directly, even with the goaltending hanging by a thread in Nabokov at this time.

Jack Capuano no doubt is frustrated. He can single out players indirectly, however his team for the most part has been in every game. Having written that too many players on this roster are limited in what they can give each night, either by being too old and limited or too young and not ready.

I absolutely do believe all of them are doing their best most games.

The 2011-12 New York Islanders took some steps back with the decisions made last summer. Some were good gambles that failed, others just poor decisions in a weak UFA market that did not feature the kind of player who could replace the faster defenders who left or add the scoring veteran needed.

At best this group seems capable of a few steps forward, followed by a few back, it's not last year's first or second half beyond a few names on defense.

No pulling punches, after all the years of injuries, all the years of waiting for Bailey, Okposo to take the next step, for the most part it has not been working for the first round picks.

For Carl Hagelin to have same six goals as Kyle Okposo and score two critical goals against the New York Islanders is not acceptable at this point in their careers.

I'm not going to write this is a bad team yet, even with it currently in 15th place they have been in virtually every game.

Still, good/excellent teams dominate mediocre/limited teams, it could get a lot worse in the second half as the frustration builds, if it has not already.

More Injuries For New York/Notables: Haley/Nilsson Recalled

New York Islander Fan Central | 12/21/2011 05:20:00 PM | Comment Here

Michael Haley and Anders Nilsson have been recalled from Bridgeport.

No hiding from injuries/schedule/standings, as Nino Niederreiter will play his 10th NHL game on Friday against Toronto meaning he's not returning to juniors.

The Islanders twitter feed Wednesday, reported both Al Montoya and David Ullstrom have been diagnosed with concussions.

Brian Rolston was placed on IR retroactive to 12/15.
Not sure what the move is going to be besides Matt Martin moving to third line with Bailey and hopefully Niederreiter.

Jack Capuano cannot play three lines with all the games coming up.
Not much to write about two shootout wins beyond the opposing goaltender had to be excellent which is very good news, despite low goal total.

Also that the New York Islanders desperately needed two wins.

Ondrej Pavelec played good in the Coliseum or his team would have lost a game the Isles dominated, but was not forced to move in net. In Tuesday's game, the Islanders had him scrambling, but he played great.

Point being there is scoring four goals when Tomas Vokoun is leaking goals vs scoring two goals when the opposing goaltender is playing excellent as we saw against Minnesota and Winnipeg.

Of course folks only remember wins/losses.

This means, Isles should be due to get a few higher scoring games if Tavares, other lines continue to create chances.

Watch the shift where Streit's stick broke. Tavares stole the puck, his line dominated. No concern about his numbers, he's getting plenty of great chances.
Milan Jurcina had a lot of outside shots lately, he's not the correct defender to be paired with Mark Streit.

Outside of Hamonic/MacDonald backing off a Winnipeg player in overtime, they have been excellent.
Obvious even before his concussion, Montoya was again struggling.
Not sure what Nabokov can contribute at this point, however no doubt the win does not hurt his confidence, he's familiar with his upcoming opponent if he starts on Thursday based upon 2011-12.

State of the New York Islanders: Big Issues Ahead

New York Islander Fan Central | 12/18/2011 01:41:00 PM | Comment Here

Simply put here is the menu depending on the next CBA.

1. Garth Snow/Charles Wang continue to do what twenty plus other teams in new or modern facilities/bleeding losses also refuse to do. That means no front-loaded contracts for the kind of player that may help the forwards/defenders take the next step, however with no guarantee of success in a four playoff spot conference that includes Comcast/Cablevision and the ownership funding Mario Lemieux.

IE: Christian Ehrhoff making $18 million of his 40 million in the first two seasons scoring the same two goals Andrew MacDonald has produced against Minnesota.

IE: James Wisniewski's massive front-loaded deal in Columbus, enough said.

Hardly a guarantee of winning with countless examples.

2. Gamble on the Tomas Kaberle UFA's of the NHL at 12.75m over three years (not front-loaded) and the serious baggage they bring which rarely works, or Joni Pitkanen who receives $4.5 million over three years to largely not produce. There's always Chris Camopoli at 1.7m to sit around for the most part and watch hockey in Montreal (after being cleared to play) or another Andy Sutton contract which Anaheim unloaded on Edmonton.

2A. Take on a front-loaded contract in the Scott Gomez/Ryan Smyth mold, where the player is failing, but the bulk of his money has been paid already? That can include someone off the NHL radar (see Sheldon Souray) desperate to continue a career anywhere.

3. Continue to sell the development of the prospects here, to a team running out of time on it's lease, with a fan base which will not accept another 2000-2001 Milbury plan of moving prospects, but tired of waiting to return to the playoffs?

This is why NYIFC wants to see Calvin deHaan here now, if Mark Streit feels he's ready that's enough endorsement. We had past entries on how the club is going to need time to add in Hamonic/deHaan and cannot do it all at once.

Last year was Hamonic, this one should have been deHaan with Wishart here from day one, Mottau on waivers from summer, Staios never invited.

For those wondering it's been a rough injury go for Niederreiter, who is technically a full year younger than Tavares in his rookie season.

I would not keep him here past his nine games, it's not the same as deHaan or Tavares.

I expect Niederreiter will stay regardless.

4. Continue to shop for bargains in free agency, or invite players to camp with serious downside. Those players bring many flaws, highly unlikely to be successful, despite staff's success with Matt Moulson.

5. Explore what is almost an impossible trade market with valuable players largely signed to NTC/NVC or waiting to pick/choose when their time to enter UFA arrives.

That begs the question why did Garth Snow take back Ty Wishart in a trade a year ago, have him come up and play twenty games in the second half at plus five for Jack Capuano, on a successful club over an extended period, then qualify him, but not see one call-up on a slow, struggling defense?

Wishart was drafted 18th overall, five years ago, it's time.

This includes not qualifying Jack Hillen, who Nashville seems very happy to have on their team here?

Those who recall Snow won the bidding for Hillen and gave him a contract structured where he would become a RFA earlier, by those two games he played in the NHL immediately after he signed.

The gambles on Rolston/Reasoner were good statistical gambles by Garth Snow vs their counterparts, but have failed. Pandolfo does not bring critical elements of size, speed, scoring and was a mistake from day one.

For a few summers running here, this blog has maintained it's not the most important summer and that most of the roster spots have been taken.

This coming summer, that changes.

The chance to replace Jurcina, Eaton, Staios, and Mottau.

Cross-roads for Parenteau and Nielsen at UFA.

A true cross-roads with many of the six goaltenders contracts up, Koskinen a top pick (first goaltender selected) in Europe a RFA.

Tavares, Bailey, Strome are all centers (to say nothing of Nelson/Cizikas) which means time to re-evaluate Nielsen's size and even strength scoring to go with Parenteau vs right wing depth.

Don't count on Kirill Petrov.

Very big on-ice issues ahead.

One more time for those claiming Charles Wang will only spend to the floor.

Facts are Facts.

This owner was spending well over forty million before there was a floor, his gm was trading 4.5m in contracts last December and no roster player came back to the NHL roster at that time.

Charles Wang did his part, he locked up Moulson, Tavares, Grabner, Niederreiter, Stome and Okposo and extended Bailey. His gm signed MacDonald and Nielsen to very favorable deals.

Nassau County failed Charles Wang again, as other teams got their taxpayer funded facilities approved or 1981 exemptions for life.

Charles Wang got Ed Mangano, Murray, Law, Jay/Judy Jacobs, Stuart Rabinowicz and a decades long cast of characters all with their own self-interest set on the Coliseum property with Dolan's Newsday controlling the spin.

Wang and Scott Rechler got the privilege of losing 19 million dollars, while Wang owns a hotel in full for 90m dollars he cannot take with him, when the Coliseum lease expires.

To say nothing of the 17 million Wang and/or Rechler current paid to manage Smg's facility until the current lease expires.

Time Warner folks, enjoy Cablevision/Dolan latest blackout of NY sports. Guess HD loss to Verizon and being forced (after endless appeals) to finally throw HD switch, meant a new fight.