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.