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

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

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 | Comments

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 | Comments

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.

Could Capuano vs Streit Mean End For Coach?

New York Islander Fan Central | 12/16/2011 10:19:00 AM | Comments

Per Isles twitter-Niederreiter sheds non-contact jersey; skating with Martin and Reasoner at practice today

Capuano confirms that Niederreiter has been cleared to play. MacDonald and Eaton will be game time decisions tomorrow in MIN.

Transactions: Poulin (emergency terminated) and de Haan (emergency not terminated) have been returned on loan to Bridgeport.

(MacDonald and Eaton a bit shocking.)
Coach vs Captain is the one element that could force an immediate coaching change.

Jack Capuano was a very frustrated head coach Thursday night after the Islanders lost another game they could absolutely not afford to lose, where he lost Brian Rolston, then decided to take David Ullstrom out of his mix in a game the Islanders took a physical beating.

Capuano did not have a good night, neither did his team collectively, obviously he knows the standings and was frustrated.

In this business Capuano came as close as possible to calling out Mark Streit for his breakdowns that led to the tying and winning goals for a Dallas team, that was trailing, but controlled play for the most part with Kevin Poulin giving them any chance to win.

Absolutely Streit struggled.

Sure the second call against Tim Wallace was poor as were others, not the point.

Bottom line this general manager started talking about getting back to five hundred and making a playoff push a week ago. His team dropped every game since, lost leads and every game another key element let them down from special teams to goaltending.

Now the coach comes as indirectly close to calling out a captain, who was out for a year and given Steve Staios as his defensive partner when Streit needed a defensive partner to take the burden off him after a year without playing?

Instead Streit got a double burden.

There are playing games on offense vs defense, for Mark Streit, it seems like he's been overworked with so many games pinned in on defense, granted since MacDonald has been out Streit has mostly been paired with Travis Hamonic.

Of course that's the best player for Streit to be paired with.

When something like this happens, either the coach and captain get on the same page quickly, or someone pays the price.
The best example I can give folks of what this defense has been missing with all the older veterans/Jurcina, watch Calvin deHaan with 7:30 left in the second period take a puck from his crease and carry the puck out of the defensive zone with speed.

deHaan was solid, but that's the element this defense needs most.
As well as Kevin Poulin played, for a goaltender who had not started any game since December 4th (AHL) he needed to stop the 3-2 goal. Hamonic played it perfect, the shooter cannot beat him short side like that.

Of course if Poulin played avg this would have been 5-2 game for Dallas even if he stopped the 3-2 goal.
What's Next?
Another Haley recall or perhaps Rakhshani? Do they take any chance on Niedereiter given what is an NHL concussion epidemic with players dropping everywhere?

Nabokov had a setback and is back to skating, but another groin setback could mean he's out for the duration of his contract.

Bridgeport once again seems to have more PTO's than regulars.
On The Ice:

Unless this club can defeat Minnesota again (Montoya stole that game) go to Winnipeg and earn two points, then win at Nassau Coliseum West x2 with Toronto in-between, there will be nothing left to talk about regarding the NHL playoffs in 2011-12.

There is no hiding from the standings, even 4-0-2 only moved the needle a little.

Clarifications For NYIFC Readers/Twitter Followers

New York Islander Fan Central | 12/13/2011 05:30:00 PM | Comments

There is never a perfect time for this, however we need to address a few things for NYIFC readers either here at this site or those following on twitter, because a lot of e-mail is received on this.

Our twitter box here at New York Islander Fan Central, is in effect, a running blog.

Because of this format NYIFC continued last season and continued again for 2011-12.

A year ago we went all out with twitter updates for every game/which included far more blog entries than advertised.

Whether a new written entry is posted or a bunch of twitter updates are posted, it is basically the same thing, so you are always seeing new information here.

This have been scaled back again this year, the concept of doing late night twitter updates/blog entries is something that has been done more than advertised, however there is no interest in signing on late after games regardless of what happens on the ice for every game.

Of course, NYIFC always tries to do a little more.
Given the announcement today regarding Islander prospect, Corey Trivino, I wish to clarify our policy on management, player or media members private lives.

It's off limits.....

NYIFC discusses hockey related issues here only.

It has been this way here since this NYIFC started in summer of 2007.

Regretfully a lot of amateur fan bloggers, and sadly professional media now all interested in selling themselves or to gain attention, feel the need to comment or play expert on everything for fresh material.

NYIFC cannot/will-not do that and see's this practice as unfortunate.

One twitter update on Matt Moulson getting sued for a car accident being in a newspaper was re-tweeted here. I felt later on that was completely inappropriate on our part to do so, and apologize for adding it to our twitter feed.

We can discuss media bias regarding hockey matters, how it relates to a teams business, how folks do business that effect the club on and off the ice, but everyone's private lives are off limits.

We discuss hockey related issues here.
As for NYIFC twitter only followers no doubt most of this will ring on deaf ears, because many obviously do not visit this blog.

However, to be clear anyone joining our NYIFC twitter feed to sell products, advertise their own hockey sites will simply be blocked and reported for spam.

I have resisted making the feed subscription only, but all conversations must be about hockey, respectful, and done without any kind of profanity which is NYIFC rule out of respect for all followers.

Thank You Very Much,

Twitter box will re-post Wednesday at 10am.

A Few Good Signs For New York, But No Hiding The Problems

New York Islander Fan Central | 12/07/2011 11:34:00 PM | Comments

Updated 1pm:
Grabner will play vs Chicago. Reports NYS awarded Nassau/LI 101M, of which apparently none will go toward a new Coliseum unless this is a separate deal.

Some will recall the Association for a Better Long Island led by Kevin Law/Stuart Rabinowicz did not even include the Coliseum it it's request for state funding.

Fear not, Hofstra's Stuart Rabinowicz, will be getting part of two million dollars for his business interest.

This 5-1 win against Tampa (not the October game) was the best collective sixty minutes this team played all season.

Why? This offense did not beat a struggling goaltender, they beat one (Garon) with the kind of chances the goaltender could not stop who was playing very well.

It's becoming a good habit.

We have seen the Islander offense dominate Winnipeg and lose 3-0, control the play in a 1-0 loss to the Devils, but whether it be Ondrej Pavelec or Johan Hedberg, in those games they did not generate the kind of chances the goalie had no chance to stop or was forced to move in net.

In short, the opposing goaltenders logo got a workout.

There is winning by beating Tomas Vokoun leaking rebounds or bad goals in a win vs what's been happening lately. There is some speed/offense and quality chances coming off transition from defense to offense.

That's what your collective offense has to show the ability to do, we saw that with the work to setup Martin, the passing for Jurcina's goal, the play for Tavares goal, and the excellent vision of Josh Bailey setting up Ullstrom, to go with Matt Moulson dominating.

Tim Wallace was very good.

There is no doubt the New York Islanders have finally gotten a little transition going in their game from defense to offense that began as far back as the Flyers game. It's fair to write Tavares is due for a few more goals to go with some of those outstanding passes, now that he has one.

Losing Michael Grabner is huge, that kind of injury could cut into his speed for a long time, and takes away an element teams cannot deal with.

Bottom line to sustain the kind of winning that will be necessary for the club to enter serious playoff contention, a defense with only two even strength goals all season that features Mike Mottau, Dylan Reese, Steve Staios and Milan Jurcina will have to give whoever the starting goaltender is a chance to win games this club scores less than three goals and produce.

The turnovers against Chicago and Dallas were horrible on defense.

There is no hiding this defense or it's flaws, even if Streit and Hamonic log twenty five minutes a game.

That means Al Montoya, if he continues his solid play, has to be great and steal more than a few games. He's proven capable to date.

Reality is if Marty Reasoner is not the answer with his double digit minus totals and lack of speed, it's time for a change. Same with Brian Rolston, who's getting his salary even if he's released.

Rolston worked to setup Bailey in New Jersey, he drove to the net against Buffalo, he cannot get surrounded by two Tampa forwards on a pp because he's not moving as I noticed Tuesday.

It means David Ullstrom cannot pace Jesse Joensuu's past production, he has to take the spot Blake Comeau's departure gave him, and be a visible player every game as Matt Martin is with his own strengths and abilities. It means Kyle Okposo and so many others have to carry this club to at least three goals a game or make the kind of plays that allow less than three goals to produce wins.

Reality is six points behind two teams for the eighth seed that likely has to play at least fourteen games over five hundred starting Thursday to qualify for the 2011-12 playoffs with few regulation losses.

I do not believe this is realistic because of the current defense, however I'm hoping they can prove me wrong.

The good news? It's realistic to continue a conversation about the 2011-12 New York Islanders and playoff contention for the moment.
The Islanders announced a preseason game in Canada next fall.

Niederreiter has a concussion, the player who did it will miss only three games, Pock missed five.
NYIFC Notables:
A section linking to WJC has been created.

More images of the Dynasty Era/Incredible moments have been added to sidebars that our readers should absolutely love.

I could not find an image of Bob Bourne holding the Stanley Cup, just an image of one of his Stanley Cup rings up for auction long ago. Not the first former player or Islander in that regard, but it's disappointing.

Dramatic Changes For New York

New York Islander Fan Central | 12/05/2011 10:26:00 PM | Comments Reported NHL Board of Governors (owners) approved changes that dramatically alter the conferences and playoff format beginning next season. Has Commissioner, Gary Bettman's, video press conference.

The new alignment enables the NHL to create a balanced schedule in which all teams will play each other at least twice every season, once at home and once on the road.

The top four teams in each Conference qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The first-place team would play the fourth-place team; the second-place team would play the third-place team. The four respective Conference champions would meet in the third round of the Playoffs, with the remaining two clubs playing for the Stanley Cup.

NYIFC Comments:
Bottom line, instead of competing with fourteen teams for eight playoff spots, the New York Islanders will compete with six teams over four playoff spots.

The NHL has been reduced to four divisions or expanded to four conferences, depending on your viewpoint.

The top four clubs in each conference qualify for the playoffs, that means the New York Islanders could have the second best record in the other Eastern Conference, but if it's not top four in their own conference, no playoffs.

It also means for the entire six month regular season, there is no reason to be concerned with games in terms of playoffs unless it's one of the other six teams in their own conference which is a huge downside.

Carolina and Washington are joining (or rejoining) the New York Islanders conference or division for the 2012-13 season.

It seems like the current Western Conference clubs got robbed blind, sure they will see every team, but a few teams that wanted to be in the East will not be changing primary rivals or conferences, plus for now they have to beat out an additional team in their conference.

Unless Tampa and Florida are playing one another, the closest conference road game is in Buffalo.

The two Western centric conferences have sixteen teams (eight per conference) competing for what will be four playoff spots, while with the Eastern centric clubs, have seven clubs competing over four playoff spots.

Eight teams/four spots x2 conferences vs seven teams/four spots x2 conferences.

Of course, if Phoenix does move East one conference could go from seven to eight.

The idea of a divisional or now smaller conference playoff has never been personally appealing, now these new conference playoffs mean you have to emerge from your conference playoffs (two rounds) before advancing.

My guess is a lot of owners are unhappy with this format, but all will get Crosby and Ovechkin in their building once a year in a revenue driven business.

Remember not long ago the spin was it was more important for natural rivalries and eight divisional games were more important than meaningless games with the West?

Now it seems unless it involves your own seven team division, for the entire regular season until the semi-finals, it means absolutely nothing.

The NHL seemed awful popular with New York vs Los Angeles, Boston, Buffalo and Philadelphia in 1980 come playoff time.
Comments on Moulson/injuries and recent wins/callups are on twitter, the player who concussed Niederreiter can only get same five games Tomas Pock received for his head shot, who will meet with NHL Tuesday. His own coach said he left his feet to hit Niederreiter's head.

Why is Andrew MacDonald skating and traveling with the team if out 2-4 weeks? No timetable (media could not even get that right claiming out indefinitely) does not sound good for Rick DiPietro, however once the club disclosed a specific injury (groin strain), it has to be accurate per league rules.

In short, it's not a knee injury.

Nice to see management promoting players who are statistically meriting callups, however they need Calvin deHaan (or another defender) for Mike Mottau as soon as Tuesday unless this defense can block 28 shots/allow 30+ and score five/four goals per game.

Sure, Eric Nystrom beat callup Dylan Reese clean for his goal, Reese for his part has one of what is now two even strength (5/5) goals scored by this defense all season.

The teams speed/transition has improved from defense to offense, but they are giving up chances in exchange.

Three games under five hundred means this club must play fifteen games over starting Tuesday to have a realistic chance at the 8th seed. Three wins/four games changed nothing with the current 8th seed/eight points ahead of the Islanders.

What's Next For New York? More Games/Tough Choices

New York Islander Fan Central | 11/30/2011 01:31:00 PM | Comments

Not much to write about two token road wins against the Devils or Sabres, over eighty two games even the worst teams win a few games.

There are some good signs with Grabner, Tavares, Okposo getting chances, Rolston setting up a goal, and scoring another with hard work. Bailey's passing is a lot of fun to watch, and that was a nice shot for his goal.

I have never seen a player in this league generate as many breakaways as Michael Grabner game by game.

David Ullstrom's been a nice story, he had his first NHL point in Buffalo, but he's not going to replace Comeau's twenty goal production and neither is Matt Martin this year. I found it interesting the Calgary spin machine, completely ignored his giveaway that led to a goal in Calgary's one goal loss in his first game.

Comeau for his part was first class and did not put anything on Capuano.

Obviously, Al Montoya's play is at a more consistent level than DiPietro, and deserves to start for the time being. I suspect DiPietro is not going to be effective playing occasionally, but he has not earned the opportunity to play over Montoya, and forced Capuano to start Anders Nilsson.

That was his chance.

Still, the team defense is not nearly good enough, even with MacDonald looking better, Hamonic playing well. Mike Mottau almost has to be hidden as we saw against the Devils after their second goal. If Steve Staios is on the ice five on three, obviously Jack Capuano does not see what I see, or has no other alternative vs Jurcina (who had six shots on goal vs Buffalo) but has plenty of his own lapses.

Of course Parise should have been called for goalie interference, and the distinct kicking motion was there, but it was a break. The fact he was alone in front, after Nielsen won the faceoff perfectly says it all about the problems with this team in critical moments of games, whether it be scoring or defending.

No gang, icing means no line change allowed, don't blame Capuano for who was on the ice.

What I notice most about this teams powerplay is how many times the word surrounded is used while the Isles supposedly have the extra man, a goal/redirection by Moulson off a point shot by Steit is fine for one pp goal, but overall this power play has struggled and not generating the chances they should be.

How many entire games have the Isles been surrounded at five on five?
What's Next?
They play a few more road games and need to find ways to win ugly as they did in Buffalo and New Jersey. Tavares is getting close, he get's one it could lead to a bunch.

Could be time for a call up on defense.
Playoff Reality?
This club is four games under five hundred, to realistically qualify you need to be at least 10-12 games over the break even mark.

It's not realistic.

But it goes much deeper than this.

Have the New York Islanders played a compete sixty minute game yet, where the Isles talent was simply better than the other team where the opposition played well? I would have to write no, which was far different than the second half of last season.

Are things going to get any better this limited on defense, or with the slower defenders/forwards? The injuries are starting to surface more and one key injury could really sink the club for good.
Not much to write on Charles Wang's comments which cannot be trusted strictly from Dolan's beatwriter without supporting video/audio. Wang speaks more than any other local owner, not getting killed in games should not be acceptable to him after all the resources and time he puts into this team. Being philosophical about the journey is all well and good, but he's paid for a winning team in 2011-12.

New York hockey is small market because it's baseball's town, he is correct there.

He was honest enough (as usual) to admit he cannot spend like the corporate teams, but most should know that already or are not being realistic.

Charles Wang has Nassau County, every other owner got taxpayer money or exemptions for their new or renovated buildings and still the Devils are on the verge of bankruptcy in a taxpayer funded arena where the Devils receive the revenue. Wang got the privilege of losing over 20m trying to do the Lighthouse with Scott Rechler, while Ed Mangano, Kate Murray and now Hofstra President, Stuart Rabinowicz, looking out for what suits their best interest after a decade of spending with poor fan support.

Fans should direct their frustration there, not at an owner who locked up his core talent for the next five years last summer. (despite backloading)

Should Garth Snow Be Fired? Absolutely Not

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

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.

Blake Comeau On Waivers Is Management's Failure

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

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.

Bottom Line The Defense Becomes Faster Or Nothing Will Work

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

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.
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.
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.

Too Many Words, Passengers/No Identity For New York

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

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.

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.

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 | Comments

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.

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

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

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.

See No Chance Current NYI Roster Can Turn Season Around

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

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?

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

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

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.

Are the New York Islanders Really A Different Team?

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

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.

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.

Garth Snow Has To Make A Move

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

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.

A Win For New York....However

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

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.

Time Running Out For New York

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

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.

What's Next For New York? Win One Game

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

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.

New York Defense Simply Too Slow At Even Strength

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

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.

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

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

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.

Time Already Running Out For New York?

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

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.