Go Time

As I made the commute from the city tonight I passed 2 guys wearing Islander jerseys, no doubt on their way the the World's Most Heinous Arena for tonight's game against the Rangers. It was a sight that would get the adrenalin going in any Islander fan.

The Isles, coming off of a big win against the Senators, arrive with some room for improvement. Most notably, the power play has been nothing short of deplorable as of late. This morning, the NHL had us at 15th in the league. Compare that with October 22nd when we led the league in PP %. Going 0 for 4 last night only exacerbated the precipitous slide. The Isles continued the trend in the 1st, missing on a PP opportunity early, which included a 5 on 3 created by a delay of game call vs. the Rangers. The first closed with a double minor to Orr after a dirty hit on Comrie, which preceded some level of chaos when Ryan Holweg played mad scientist with Radek Marinek's stitches. Another missed opportunity on the man advantage resulted.

The second was intense with Betts inadvertently scoring on Lunqvist as Islanders crashed the net after an unexpected bounce off the glass (It counts as a PP goal, which we'll take). This was followed by a quick Simon/ Orr scuffle and a Ranger Power Play goal- Drury, his 6th of the season off a DP rebound. With less than 4 minutes to play Gomez netted his 5th goal of the season, another off the power play. This was becoming an unpleasant game to blog about until Comrie finally scored with about 2 minutes left in the second.

Ok, if you were watching the 2nd intermission, you saw Fischler and Trautwig talking about the "hockey pants" worn by the Flyers and Whalers back in the day. Images were shown. They looked like athletic/ workout pants matched with hockey jerseys. Very unpleasant.

Lunqvist had a great save on Hunter early in the third, and with about 14 and a half minutes remaining, the Sillinger line created another great scoring chance that Hilbert miraculously missed. I think it may finally be time to consider bumping Park to the third line, with Hilbert relegated to fourth line and penalty killing duties. His defensive talent and hard work is overshadowed by his inability to finish. Its probably far enough into the season to fairly come to that conclusion.

The Isles couldn't pull this one out of their hat, but I'll take 3 out of 4 against the Rangers thus far. Gallant and Nolan will have their work cut out for them improving our power play; because if it had been stronger tonight, this would have been a different game.

We won't see these guys again until March, and its any one's guess where these teams will be then.

You can have anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant

Anything of course, except a Power Play goal.

I hope everyone out there had a great Thanksgiving weekend. I was in PA with the in-laws and have been watching a great deal of Islander hockey on DVR. On Friday morning the wife and I ventured out and took the plunge on a 32 inch Sony HDTV. So between hi-def Islander hockey and XBOX 360 gaming I put the over/under before I lose my job at three weeks, after which I can write this blog full time.

Andy Hilbert scores the game tying goal last night, how bout that? I wouldn't have let the guy hold my friend's newborn after his open net miss in the previous game against Boston, but he scored via a very pretty screen shot through Ward's legs and past Thomas. Park, positioned perfectly off the left circle, netted the game winner after a rebound generated from a Fedetenko shot.

Lines were tweaked for this game in an attempt to get the top two lines moving. Simon skated with Comrie and Guerin, where he was expected to forecheck and cycle the puck out to his linemates, who are more deft goal scorers. (Let's not forget, however, that Simon has better hands than anyone really gives him credit). I felt this generated some jump for this line, more early on than later.

Fedetenko was lined up with Vasicek and Satan and these players generally posed the most consistent threat. Miro led all forwards with 21.25 in ice time. While I am thrilled with another close win and another sellout, there is cause for concern with the lack of scoring from our top line and anemic power play production. Coming in at 3 for 40 on the man advantage over the past ten games (as reported by Greg Logan), we went 0 for 3 last night. If our top line doesn't score goals, and our power play does not connect, we will not win these one goal games forever.

This win puts us at at a tie with the B's with at least a game in hand on everyone in the conference. Reason to be excited, but not too excited. We have Ottawa to contend with this week, after all.

"DP is the new Denis Potvin"

And a finer complement DP may never receive. As the garden faithful were giving DP the business in the beginning of the 1st with one of their brilliant chants, Howie Rose made the correlation as shown in the subject line. What a compliment for DP, as the only way the Ranger fans seem to be able to deal with their most talented rivals is to come up with chants. ______ sucks. (Insert name on the blank line).

First things first. If you were watching this game you saw Avery get pushed by an Islander player into DP's crease with about 3 minutes left in the first. You also would have seen Avery throw his hands up as he fell to cross check DP on the neck/ head area. This could have been inadvertent, but if you saw the tape, it was clearly intentional. It worked though, as it drew a retaliatory penalty from DiPietro. Jaffe was a little hard on DP for taking the penalty, but if it was me, I would have gone after Avery as well. (Assuming I was wearing pads and a mask, of course).

A very cautious first period gave way to an extremely intense second. It was nice to see Fedetenko finally score a PP goal for the Isles as they haven't scored one since November 10. Conversely, it was disappointing not to be able to score on the 5-3 we had in the second after the double minor to Avery and even more disappointing to give up the earlier short handed goal, which allowed the Ranger fans to get back into the game. And after watching Avery drive his glove into Fedetenko's nose for about 12 seconds toward the end of the period I discovered something. I absolutely can't stand Sean Avery.

Onto period 3. The Isles got things started with a devastating hit by Bryan Berard on Drury followed by a successful unrelated kill. The Isles had some tremendous chances on a subsequent PP with Berard ringing one off the post. Hitting was intense with time ticking down in the final few minutes of the game as the Isles did a nice job blocking passing and shooting lanes. With one minute to go the Isles had to fend off a two man advantage on a kill as henrik sat on the bench. And they did it. Make that 6 straight games at msg without a loss. Cue the HIP commercial and bring on Fischler baby!

I doubt I'll get another post in before this weekend, so I wanted to take a moment to wish all fellow fans out there a great Thanksgiving. Good night.

Hey, You're Earl "The Pearl" Monroe

I was having lunch with a fellow Islander fan the other day when we realized that we are inundated with the same group of commercials when we watch Islander games. Perhaps you recognize the subject line from the HIP commercial with Earl Monroe and Gina at the firehouse. And how about "I'm Christie Brinkley, and I'm an Islander". Why don't we mix that one up a little bit? How about "I'm the Seventh Woman, and I'm an Islander". Why not, she's a loyal fan too. Anyone hungry for a cheese steak from Subway? I'm not, but I sure have seen enough ads for their newest Quizno challenging offering enough. And of course, if there's an Islander fan without Geico car insurance after years of exposure to cavemen and little gecko creatures, I'd love to meet him. My friend posed a great question. When the Islanders watch game tape, are they forced to sit through the same spots? Can you see Witt and Martinek sitting there reviewing game tape from the Devil game and Martinek remarking "not this HIP commercial again". I hope not.

Perhaps this is specific to our cable company? We have cablevision, as we like to support James Dolan and his tendency to keep the Knicks and Rangers mired in mediocrity.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking the sponsors of our beloved team. I'm just saying, if you're sitting out there in Islander country thinking, "If I ever see another HIP commercial again..." you're not alone. Chances are there are a couple of Islander defensemen doing the same thing.

Avery Incident- Update

As I posted earlier, the NY Times is reporting that there are accusations that Ranger's forward Sean Avery "made derogatory comments about the recent cancer diagnosis of Maple Leafs forward Jason Blake". This allegedly occured during an on ice incident with Blake and Darcy Tucker prior to the start of Saturday's Ranger- Leaf game. The altercation with Tucker resulted in a fine of 25K to the Rangers, 10K to the Leafs, 2.5K to Avery and 1K to Tucker.

The alleged comments, which Avery vehemently denies, were first brought to light by a Toronto radio reporter. Here is Avery's official statement as released by the Rangers:

“I am extremely upset and hurt that false and damaging comments were attributed to me regarding Jason Blake. I made no such comments. I have lost two grandfathers to cancer and have been a consistent contributor to multiple cancer-related charities, first and foremost, Hockey Fights Cancer. I am unable to comment further, as the matter is now being addressed by legal counsel.”

So lets take the accusation about the Blake comment into consideration. There are 2 scenarios that I can see. 1) Sean Avery is the victim of horrible slander. Some Toronto Radio personality, or his or her source, fabricated this extremely specific and malicious slander directed towards Sean Avery. An outrageous lie was created to vilify a Ranger forward, or 2) Sean Avery said something to Blake and Tucker regarding Blake's illness in an attempt to agitate them.

Which do you buy?

I remember reading an interview with Sean Avery years ago when he was with the Kings. It was with either Maxim or FHM. In the piece, Avery stated that when he really wanted to get under a players' skin, he would start talking about their wife.

I would love to believe Avery's denial, but his past actions lead me to question it.

Avery attacks Blake's Cancer Diagnosis- Report

The NY Times is reporting today that there are accusations that Sean Avery of the Rangers made disparaging comments about Jason Blake's recent cancer diagnosis Saturday night. The comment was allegedly exchanged with Darcy Tucker in a pre-game incident Saturday, which already produced fines for the Leafs, Rangers and both players.

Avery is vehemently denying these comments.

Tonight I will have the full story and my thoughts.

Road Jerseys

Hello fellow Islander fans. I have finally moved back to NY and am now taking an inventory so as to ensure all the important pieces of my life made it through. Please bear with me.

Wife- Check

Autographed and framed ("Norris x 3") Denis Potvin Photo- Check

XBOX 360- Check

OK, I'm in good shape. Now how about our Isles? Since when did the Isles become number 8 on ESPN's power rankings? (thank you Thomas P). Since when did we become a team that somehow finds a way to win the close divisional games by coming back from behind? Since when did we become the team with the most improved attendance over last year? Since when did Chris Campoli become such a force on the power play? Since when...?

I'm not quite sure how to answer any of these questions, but I am sure that every single Islander fan out there should truly savor what this team is doing right now. We have balance because different players and lines are helping us win on different nights. We should be grateful because we have a goalie that is keeping us in every game. We have a coach that is making the right decisions and pulling the right strings with whoever he has on the ice on any given night. Finally, we have an organization that has shown vision in improving the exposure of this team by introducing this blog box, hosting Al Arbour's night, and flooding tv, print and the Internet with advertising in an successful attempt to improve Fall attendance. For the first time in a long time, this organization is running as we all knew it could.

I know its early, and its a long season, but let's take a moment to stop and enjoy this. We deserve it.

Good Luck to the Isles as they prepare for the "Godless" Flyers tonight. It will begin an unforgiving schedule as we make amends for a light October filled primarily with home games. The team seems hungry though, and I don't know about you, but I'm ready to sit back and enjoy every game.

On a final note, anyone else catch Fran Healy's show "Halls of Fame" with Denis Potvin which aired after the win against the Devils? In one night we saw the best of our current and past teams. Can't beat that.

It's Go Time...and a Shout-out to a loyal Isle fan

Well, its not really go time for the Isles yet, but for my wife and I, tomorrow morning is our move. Its been terribly busy, but I wanted to take a moment to drop a line to my fellow Islander countrymen.

There's not much to say about the Ranger game at this point other than it brought me great joy. Its great to see Hunter finally getting some goals for his hard work, although seeing his hard nosed brand of hockey just reminds me of the disappointment I felt this Summer when we couldn't nail down a longer term contract prior to arbitration. Garth Snow will be an extremely busy individual once our season ends (hopefully in June sometime). I enjoyed Sutton's play as well... clearing traffic in front of DP and nearly sending Petr Prucha onto Hempstead Turnpike with an attempted hip check.

I want to take a moment to say hello to a loyal Islander fan out there, AZS. We don't know each other, but if I ever run into you at the arena, this round is on me. And while wearing a Potvin jersey...priceless.

Have a great weekend guys, and Go Isles!


Tonight, in a game that could not have been scripted any better, the Islander players, fans, coaching staff, and hall of fame alumni came together to win one more game for the legendary Al Arbour.

As the Islanders came back from a two goal deficit thanks to goals by Hunter and Satan one could not help but notice the utter joy expressed by Ted Nolan as he uncharacteristically let his emotion show behind the bench. It is apparent, however, that his joy was not for himself or for his team, but instead for head coach Al Arbour. As fulfilling as it was to see Coach Arbour smile and celebrate after each Islander goal, it was just as fulfilling to see the appreciation of his joy expressed by Nolan and his players. As Ted Nolan said during the post game press conference, Al Arbour may not have known all the players on the Islander roster this morning, but they sure knew who he was. The deference shown to Arbour by this New York Islander team dispelled the belief that many modern hockey players are not appreciative of the sport's past. That view does not apply to the inhabitants of the Islander locker room.

It is so difficult to write about an evening like this, as the game and its aftermath wrote its own story. I have never teared up when watching a hockey game until tonight. Seeing the video played after the game with touching pictures of Arbour from his earliest days as an Islander coach was overwhelming. When the music played and the shots of Arbour with a young Denis Potvin, and Arbour hugging Mike Bossy after the Isles won their first cup were shown on the jumbo screen, several current Islanders could not hold back their emotions. And as the Islanders prepared to raise the "1500" banner to the rafters tonight chants of "740" thundered down from the ol' barn. The atmosphere was so intimate, so special.

Ted Nolan, and the New York Islander organization as a whole deserve to be highly lauded. They showed great vision in coming up with this idea and great respect, professionalism, and competence in executing the practices, media relations and most notably the wonderful post game ceremony. The sellout crowd was an integral part in this evening as well, as the fans pulled the Isles through this comeback before staying to make the post game ceremony as memorable as it was. There is only one word that can be used to describe tonight. Beautiful.

Al Arbour, one of the most successful coaches in all of professional sports walked off the ice for the last time as an NHL coach tonight. He did not walk alone. He was surrounded by his loved ones, his players from the dynasty years, Ted Nolan, and the current New York Islander team. He will always be a legend, and he will always be an Islander.

He will never walk alone.

A Night to Remember

On the night when the Isles honored journeyman Mike Sillinger for becoming the 6th Islander to reach the 1000 game milestone, the 'yet to win on the road 'Lightning came to the Coliseum attempting to improve upon their disappointing visit to the NYC metro area. They already lost to the Devils and rangers while being outscored 9-2 in those two match ups.

Congrats to Mike Sillinger, who received the accolades of the Islander team and organization for doing what so few have done, namely survive 1000 games in this league. The Isles really seemed to take the bull by the horns with respect to getting fans to this game and preparing a fitting pre-game ceremony, which is commendable.

Anyone else get a little anxiety when MAB and Sutton are playing in their own end? That's not to say they both don't bring something to the table (Sutton for example can do a great job of clearing bodies from in front of DP and MAB has a devastating, if not unpredictable slap shot), but to me they seem to be our weakest pairing when speaking strictly defensively. Sutton's skating out of position tonight almost cost us a goal in the first, if not for DP's highlight reel save on Hlavic. Furthermore, Sutton's puck handling in his zone tends to deteriorate noticeably when under pressure. While Bergeron's previous defensive shortcomings have been well documented, Sutton has room for improvement.

Lets give some credit to Chris Campoli for a nice play in the neutral zone that sprung Vasicek, Park and Satan and lead to the second goal. (And to think how unsure Campoli's standing was on this team in late September). Its also nice to see Hunter get a nice tally in the third for his second on the season. And oh, by the way, congratulations DP on your twelfth career shutout!

I've go to cut this short as we're in the middle of packing for our move next week and I can't find any of my socks. Have a great night, go Isles, and happy birthday Mr. Al Arbour.