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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Opening Night

There are two words that can make any sports fan giddy with excitement and joy.
Opening Night

Tonight is was the night the NHL season will would have started. Tonight was opening night. The one night of the year when all fans, even us New York Islanders fans, can be anticipating and hoping about the season that we have waited six long months for. It is the one night where all 30 teams are equal. Everybody is 0-0-0 with 0 points.

Photo Credit: shop.mlb.com 

Now, imagine you are at the game. You walk to the gate, hand an usher your ticket with the phrase, "Home Game 1" on it. She gives it back to you. After walking through the turnstile, a different usher hands you a rally towel with the phrase you've waited a while to see written write across the middle, "Opening Night." There is a buzz all around the arena that there won't be for the rest of the season. It's a sell-out and everybody shows up early. You go to your seats for the pre-game warm ups, you see your team out on the ice in person for the first time. That new player they acquired over the off-season looks good in his new uniform. The superstar has his hair (or lack thereof) flowing as he skates around the ice. The goalies are looking great in their pads. They stop everything they face. The veteran skates right past you. You wonder how much he's got left in the tank, whether or not he will be back for another season. He passes a puck to the rookie making his NHL debut. He's got his whole career ahead of him, and you wonder if he will live up to the hype that has been around him. You look across the ice to see the other team. "It's going to be a good game."

After grabbing some food from the vendor that you missed, you return to your seat well before the start of the game. It's opening night, and they are going to introduce all of the players. First, the lights in the arena dim, a video is played to get you hyped up. Shortly after that, the spotlight is on as the players are introduced and come skating out of the tunnel one by one. You clap for each one, maybe throwing in a boo or two to the players that you don't like as much. At the end, it's the Captain, the man chosen to try to lead the team to the promise land. He gets the loudest ovation, you cheer loudly for him. Then the public address announcer introduces the coaches, you don't  really know who the assistants are, but that doesn't really matter, does it? The visiting team takes the ice and goes to their bench. The referees take the ice, you boo them, but have they done anything wrong yet?

It's time for the national anthem, and for opening night, there is a flag that covers most of the ice. A famous singer is singing the national anthem. She sings it beautifully, the flag is put away. The starting lineups for both teams are announced. The referee blows the whistle. The centers are at the face-off circle ready for the puck drop. The referee drops the puck. All the waiting is over, the season is upon us. Game on.
Photo Credit: Bleacher Report

Right now, we don't know when exactly will happen. We all know that the NHL is in the third work stoppage in the past 18 years. This is the first of many obstacles us hockey fans will have to overcome. Right now, all we can do is wait and hope. 

Thanks for reading. Let's get hockey back!!! 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Final Season Player Rankings Part 4

While most of the hockey world is focused on the other two New York area NHL teams battling for the Eastern Conference title, I'm taking some time to focus on ranking the remaining Islanders that I didn't rank in my previous three entries. Once again, I'm only ranking the forwards that played in at least 20 games this past season. So players like Micheal Haley and Rhett Rakhshani will have to wait until they get more time on Long Island.

#21 Kyle Okposo 79/100

Photo Credit: islanders.nhl.com
Kyle Okposo had a very interesting season. Kyle spent some of the early part of the season up in the press box as a healthy scratch and the longest streak in his career without scoring a goal. It ended with Okposo recording the highest goal total of his career. In early November with the Isles struggling to put anything in the net, coach Jack Capuano put Okposo on a the Isles top line with forwards Matt Moulson and John Tavares. They produced and Okposo found his game that had gone missing at the start of the season. Ultimately, if PA Parenteau doesn't return, Okposo might get more time playing with them. If Parenteau returns, Okposo will likely play with the same people who he has played with most of the last couple seasons, Frans Nielsen and Michael Grabner. As for Okposo's ranking, it would have been higher had he been more consistant throughout the year. He was very streaky, going through long goalless droughts and hot goal scoring streaks. If he can figure out how to go on a good streak for most of the year, he will continue to be a top six forward on the Islanders for the upcoming future.

#51 Frans Nielsen 87/100 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
Nielsen might have been the biggest bargain for the Islanders last season. Before I go into his offensive numbers, I want to write about his defense. He usually starts his shifts facing the other team's top line in the Islanders defensive zone or on the penalty kill. In the future, don't be suprised if he is nominated for, or even wins the Selke Trophy, which is given to the best defensive forward in the NHL. The defense is also one of the main reasons the Isles signed Nielsen to a 4 year/$11 million extension February. Another thing that probably won't show up on the back of his hockey card is that he is the best NHL shootout scorer since the NHL first implemented shootouts after the lockout. Nielsen is 23/38 in shootouts in his career. That is a 60.5% success ranking. That is the highest all-time of all shooters who have taken at least 30 attempts. This stat is even more astonishing because Nielsen uses the same move for almost every attempt. Now it is known as hte "Danish Backhand of Justice." Goalies can't stop it even when they know it's coming. To top off all of this, Nielsen had the best offensive numbers of his career last season, scoring 47 points (17-30-47) while mostly playing with Michael Grabner and Kyle Okposo, and even playing on the power-play and penalty kill. With a new long term deal under his belt, Nielsen is no longer overlooked and underrated. It will be interesting to see if Nielsen can meet the lofty expectations the team has for him. At the pace he is going at, Nielsen will have a career next year.

#12 Josh Bailey 67/100 

Photo Credit: newsday.com
Theere is only one word that I can think of when describing Josh Bailey. Although I said this about Kyle Okposo, I feel like I need to say it again, inconsistant. This season was especially an up and down  (mostly down) roller coaster. This year, Bailey played in 80 games. Yet he only got 32 points. (13-19-32) Out of those 32, 18 of them came in his last 20 games. That says two things. The first is that Bailey really finished his year strong and that this might continue into next season. Secondly, after doing the math, that means Bailey only had 14 points in his first 60 games of the seaosn. That number is just flat out awful. Bailey struggled to find the right role with this team as his linemates were constantly changing. He was a solid penalty killer and even scored three shorties this year, but for a #9 overall draft pick, he needs to get better on offense. If the Isles are to contend, they need to get more offense out of Bailey. Also, he needs to find linemates and stick with them for a while so they can develop chemistry, which didn't happen last season. Bailey needs to pick up the pace or he will be picked up and dropped in Bridgeport. 

#40 Michael Grabner 74/100

Credit: nyislanders.com
Michael Grabner came out of nowhere in the 2010-11 season to become the Isles leading goal scorer and a rookie of the year candidate. In the 2011-12 campaign, he had a reality check, and his numbers dropped significantly. Although Grabner still had the speed and ability to create chances and  breakaways, for some reason, he didn't put them in the net. What's the reason behind that? I wish I could tell you. Maybe he was thinking too much, maybe he forgot to think at all. I even noticed that it seemed like he found new ways to miss every night.  In any case, Grabner barely reached the 20 goal mark this year and maybe, just maybe, that is due to the fact that he took 54 less shots on goal than he did his rookie season, even though he played in two more games this year. His +/- also had a major drop, going from a +13 his rookie year to a -18 this past year. Many people, including myself, were expecting a repeat performance of Grabner's rookie season, but this year he proved that he is human.  Next year will be a key year for Grabner to try to prove he is a consistant, reliable, and effective NHL forward. 

#15 PA Parenteau 88/100 

Credit: Getty Images
PA Parenteau's past season was without a dobut, the best he's had as a pro. Playing on a like with John Tavares and Matt Moulson for most of the year, Parenteau registered his highest career point totals. Although he did score two less goals than he did in 2010-11, his assists went up drastically. He had 49 helpers, which ranked him 12th in the entire NHL. When you add in his 18 goals, that gives Parenteau a career high 67 points, which was third on the team behind only his linemates. The chemistry he has with Tavaes and Moulson is almost undescribable. The three of them make one of the top scoring lines in the NHL, and they didn't change even when other lines changed throughout the season. Maybe his great year can be explained as such. Parenteau was playing in the final year of his old contract, and he wanted to send a message to Garth Snow and the Isles front office that he deserves a raise. He definitely got that message across. Parenteau has openly expressed that he wants to be an Islander, yet there is only one question that remains. Will Garth Snow match his monetary demands? If he does, Parenteau will continue to be a force on the Isles top line. 

#91 John Tavares 93/100 

Photo Credit: newsday.com
After all these years of trying to find one, the New York Islanders have their superstar. The #1 overall pick in the 2009 draft had a breakout season, proving to the rest of the NHL that he is an elite player and a force to be reckoned with for the upcoming future. He played in his first All-Star game in January, and it probably won't be his last. He proved that he can be a team leader. (If THIS doesn't prove it, I don't know what will.)This past season, JT had new career highs in every major offensive category. Put together his 31 goals (20th in NHL)  to his 50 assists (9th in NHL) and then you get 81 points (7th in NHL). That is just short of a point per game, which is phenominal for a 21 year old. There is also one other category that many people might overlook that might show why Tavares had his breakout season, shots on goal. In his rookie season of 2009-10, JT had 186 shots on goal. This past year, he fired 286 shots on net. That's exactly 100 more than he had his rookie year. The 286 shots ranked him 10th in the whole NHL. Tavares is getting more confident on the ice, so he feels better about taking shots then he might have in the previous few years. You can't forget about his defense. Capuano left JT and his linemates out for key faceoffs late in games when the Isles were protecting a late lead, and they delivered most of the time. Now that John Tavares is officially established as an elite center, it will be interesting to see how he handles the pressure that is put on him. I would expect him to have another career year as he tries to lead the Isles to the playoffs. 

There you go. I've ranked every single Islander. Is anybody shocked that Tavares got the highest ranking? Do you think I messed up? I'd love to hear your opinions in the comments. 

Lets Go Islanders!!! 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Final Season Player Rankings Part 3

If you haven't looked at my previous two entries, feel free to take a look at them before you take a look at this one. Those were about the Islanders goalies and defensemen, now it's time to take a look at the Isles forwards from this past season. I'll only be ranking the forwards that played in at least 20 games this past season, so players like Casey Cizikas and Trevor Gillies won't be rated just yet. I'll be using the same 0-100 scale that I used for the defensemen here. Some Islanders had career years, others...not so much. Take a look at how the Islanders forwards fared this past season.

#25 Nino Niederreiter 62/100

Photo Credit: espn.com
After being sent back to the WHL after 9 NHL games in his rookie season, the Islanders wanted to keep 19 year old Niederreiter with the big club his season. To put it lightly, Nino's first full season in the NHL didn't even come close to matching anyone's expectations. Looking back on it, the Islanders would probably wish they sent him back to Portland again after 9 games. His ranking is low because he was an offensive threat in every league he played in so far besides the NHL. For a player that played in 55 games, Nino's numbers are just dreadful. He scored only one goal, and that was his only point of the season. His -29 in the +/- category doesn't help his cause. Also, he did spend a lot of time playing with Marty Reasoner and Jay Pandolfo, who aren't offensive threats. I'd expect him to play in Bridgeport for a while in the near future, as when players have played there, they come up and really help the team. Nino's NHL future looks bright, but just be patient, because it will take a few seasons.

#16 Marty Reasoner 59/100 

Photo Credit: espn.com
The Isles didn't make too many free agent signings before the 2011-12 season. However, one of the moves they did make was to sign the veteran centerman Reasoner to a two year contract. To put it lightly, his numbers were just miserable in his first year on Long Island. In 2010-11 with the Panthers, Reasoner had 32 points (14-18-32) while playing in all 82 games, and even had a +2 ranking. This year, Reasoner only played in 61 games, was a healthy scratch for plenty of the ones he missed, and didn't score a goal until the final week of the season. This season was the worst year of his career stastically (1-5-6), a -25 ranking was 8 worse than any of his previous career lows in the +/- category. He wasn't the Zenon Konopka type guy the Islanders were looking for when they signed him. Next year will be a pivotal year for Reasoner because if he can't rebound from this past season, then I can't think of an NHL team that has a need for a 35 year old has-been forward.

Jay Pandolfo Jay Pandolfo #29 of the New York Islanders skates against the Boston Bruins at the Webster Bank Arena on October 1, 2011 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The Bruins defeated the Islanders 3-2.
Photo Credit: Zimbio.com
#29 Jay Pandolfo 60/100 

After 13 years with the New Jersey Devils, the Islanders agreed to give the veteran one more shot at the NHL. Pandolfo didn't even have a contract until the week before Opening Night. Forgetting his numbers for a minute, Pandolfo does deserve credit for making it back to the NHL and being nominated for the Bill Masterton trophy. This award is given to a player who shows qualities of perseverence, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. He put his heart and soul into every game this season, and even though I don't think the Isles will bring him back, I believe they made the right move signing Pandolfo. He was a valuable veteran leader for a team of young guys,  a great penatly killer, and even moved to center from wing for a while when it was necessary. I won't go into his numbers as his ranking should give away his numbers for you. (They weren't good.) Whether or not Pandolfo plays again is a mystery, but we can thank him for this past season's hard work and dedication.

Photo Credit: zimbio.com
#41 David Ullstrom 70/100

Out of all the prospects that made their NHL debuts with the Islanders this past season, I think David Ullstrom was the best. From the first game he came up, he immediatley fit into the Isles system. He wasn't afraid to drive to the net, unlike other players who would sit back and wait for the play to develop in front of them. Ullstrom made the plays and played like he'd been in the NHL for years. A mid-season concussion may have hurt his development, but he still showed why he could be a good NHL forward in the years to come. He only played in 29 games, yet he registered 8 points (4-4-8), and helped the Isles powerplay get more opportunities. I would expect Ullstrom to get more than 29 games in the NHL next year, and I really think that he will make a significant impact on the ever-maturing Islanders.

#26 Matt Moulson 88/100

Photo Credit: espn.com
Over the past three seasons, there has been no Islander that has been as consistant as Matt Moulson. He has never, not even one time, missed a game for the Islanders, playing in all 82 for each of the past three seasons, not missing one single game. Moulson has also been the Islanders most consistant goal scorer, scoring at least 30 goals in each of those three seasons, culminating with his 36 goal performance last season, ranking him 10th in the entire NHL. He was even a +1 in the +/- category for the season, which is nothing short of spectacular on a team that allowed 52 more goals than they scored. At the current pace Moulson is at, he should be in like for around 80 points next season if everything goes according to plan. Objective #1 would have to be to sign PA Parenteau, but we'll get to him later. Last season, Matt Moulson was the best Islander not named John Tavares. He is a premier goal scorer and he proved that he can keep up the pace at an elite level. For Moulson, the sky is the limit. On a separate note, he is a finalist for the Lady Byng Trophy. This is awareded to the player that exhibits great sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct along with a high standard of playing ability. With only six penalty minutes over the whole season, I wouldn't be too suprised if Moulson wins the award. He deserves it. Matt Moulson will be a force to be reckoned with for the next few seasons.

#17 Matt Martin 75/100 

Photo Credit: nyislanders.com
This season, I think Matt Martin would have to be one of the most improved Isladners. The first major stat that needs to be brought up when talking about Martin is hits. This past season, Martin had 374 hits,  81 more than anyone else in the league. Divide that by the 80 games he played in, and that gives him 4.6 hits per game, which is a very impressive number. He is the biggest physical threat in the NHL, and if he can countinue to do this next season, he will be a very successful pro. Add 14 points (7-7-14) to the mix and you get a solid NHL player. His offense has improved from the previous season, and if it continues to improve, he'll be a consistant and valuable player and physical threat for these Islanders, who don't have any big threats besides Martin. I was very pleased with Martin's game last season, and I can't wait to see what he brings in the years to come. 

That's it for the first half of the forwards. I'll do the other forwards in a separate entry when I can. What do you think of these ratings? I'd love to hear your opinions in the comments section. 

Lets Go Islanders!!! 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Final Season Player Rankings Part 2

Photo Credits: espn.com
 If you did not read my previous entry, where I rated the Isles goalies from this past season, you should take a look at before you read this. Now, I'm going to rate all of the Isles defensemen. This time, instead of using letter grades, I will use a scale of 0-100, with 100 being the highest possible grade. The numbers can give a more precise ranking than the letters did. Any defenseman with more than 20 games played will be ranked, so one game wonders Calvin de Haan (left) and Ty Wishart (right) will have to wait to be ranked. They will get their chances. Enough with the future, let's look at the past season's defensemen.

Photo Credit:
#3 Travis Hamonic 84/100
After playing 62 games during his rookie season, Hamonic came into this season knowing exactly what was expected of him. He did not disappoint any of the critics. This season, Hamonic appeared in 73 games, and kept on playing late in the season even though he had a broken nose. For most of the season, he was paired with Andrew MacDonald, and the two were a great defensive pair, oftene being sent out to play against the other team's top lines. Hamonic's offensive totals (2-22-24) aren't awful, but he known for  defense, and some other stats prove it. He was 17th in the whole NHL in blocked shots with 157, and he also had 170 hits. Another baffling number is that Hamonic had the highest +/- of any  Islander, registering a +6. That might not seem like much, but the fact that any Islanders were a positive this season is a statement in itself. If Hamonic can pick up his offensive game and keep his defensive game up, then he can be an elite defenseman in the years to come.

Photo Credit: newsday.com

#47 Andrew MacDonald 79/100 
While his partner Travis Hamonic definitely improved from 2010-11 to this past season, Andrew MacDonald might have regressed a little bit. In 2010-11, A-Mac only played in 60 games, but had 27 points (4-23-27) and was a +9. This previous season, he played in 75 games, most of them with Travis Hamonic, and only registered 19 points (5-14-19) and was a -5. What can be the reason behind this? One reason may be that he and Hamonic always played against opponent's top lines and that may have had something to do with it. Also, MacDonald has definitely not been as much of an offensive threat as he was in previous seasons. MacDonald has done great on defense, and his rating isn't any higher because of the significant points drop.

#24 Steve Staios 71/100
Photo Credit: daylife.com
If you have been clicking on players names throughout this entry, you have seen some of the highlights provided by the Isles this year. When you see the Steve Staios highlight, you gain satisfaction. At 38 years old, Steve Staios didn't even have a guaranteed contract in the preseason. It was only after Staios had a great preseason that the Isles signed him to play along Mark Streit as the top defensive pair. Staios played in 65 games this season, nine more than he played in his last two seasons combined with Calgary. He also played in his 1000th career game late in the season against the Jets. His offensive numbers (0-8-8) don't tell the whole story.  Staios wore an 'A' on his jersey for all home games because of his ability to be a veteran leader and mentor on a team made up of very young players. His rating is only a 71 because he was a -19 for the season, and he really didn't too much. When watching him during games, I often found myself wishing Staios would do more. I dobut he will be back next season with all the young d-men the Isles have. Not a bad year for a man that resurrected his NHL career for another season.

Credit: post-gazette.com
#27 Milan Jurcina 62/100
Milan Jurcina's season is also a very interesting one. This season, he played in 65 games, 19 more than he did in the previous season. However, his numbers are just dreadful. He only had 11 points. (3-8-11) It seems like all of his shots went wide, and he reminds me a little bit of Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn in the Major League movies. He has a great slapshot, probably around or maybe over 100 miles per hour. However, he has trouble getting it on net. Another dreadful stat is his +/- of -34. You read that correctly -34. That means when at even strength, the other team scored 34 more goals than the Isles did when Jurcina was on the ice. If he can figure out his slapshot, then he can be a nice complement to Mark Streit.

Credit: newsday.com

#42 Dylan Reese 66/100
Reese has been called and recalled by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers mutiple times this season. Next season, I would hope that he will start the season in the NHL. He only played in 28 games this season, and in many of those games, he was paired with Mark Streit. He had seven points (1-6-7) in those 28 games. More suprisingly, his +/- was 0. He was dead even in that category. Reese is very young and talented, and with Steve Staios unlikely to return, a roster spot will be open. I think that Reese is the leading candidate for that spot. He is the guy the Islanders went to before Aaron Ness, Matt Donovan, and Calvin de Haan, who all had breif call ups. For this past season however, we didn't see too much, but we saw glimpses of what looks to be a bright future for a good young defenseman.

OTTAWA, CANADA - FEBUARY 3: Mark Eaton #4 of the New York Islanders celebrates his game winning over-time goal in his 600th career NHL game against the Ottawa Senators during an NHL game at Scotiabank Place on February 3, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) Photo: Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo / AL
Credit: timesunion.com
#4 Mark Eaton 73/100
What a year it's been for Mark Eaton. He is the textbook definition of a defensive defenseman. Most of the year, he was with Milan Jurcina, so his +/- took a hit at -17. But for at least one game in Ottawa, he was the man. It was his 600th National Hockey league game, a one to remember, and in overtime, he broke a long scoreless drought by scoring his first goal as an Islander. You can watch it by clicking on his name just above. Eaton has been a very solid defenseman for the past couple seasons. His rating is the way it is because while he has done little offensively, his defense has been superb. He should be back next season and I don't see why the Isles wouldn't bring him back.

                                                    #2 Mark Streit 88/100
Credit: Getty Images
After missing all of the 2010-2011 season, the Islanders still had the confidence to name the 34 year old Mark Streit from Switzterland as the next team captain after Doug Weight's retirement. This season, Streit showed why he was an All-Star and led the team in points back in 2009. At times this season, mostly toward the end of the year, he played like the elite defenseman the Isles want him to be.  Although his 47 points (7-40-47) are a decrease from his previous totals, Streit definitely had his best season as an Islander this year. Streit was the leader of the Islanders powerplay from the blue line, and he wasn't afraid to step up and go to the dirty areas near the opponent's net. Streit appeared in every Isles game this season, and one of the main reasons his ranking isn't higher is his +/- of -27. That just isn't good at all. If the Islanders can find Streit a great partner to compliment his offense for next season, they might have a legitimate chance at reaching the playoffs.

That's it for the defensemen. Next up will be the forwards. Since there are so many of them, I might do the forwards in two separate entries. If you disagree with any of the rankings I made, I'd love to hear your opinions in the comments.

Lets Go Islanders!!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Final Season Player Rankings Part 1

The Islanders season is over. Another disappointing year for the Isles and their fans as we will once again sit at home and watch the postseason without the blue and orange. Once again they have a top 5 draft pick, this year it's the #4 pick.  While the standings may not indicate such, many Isles have vastly improved their games since last season. In this entry, I will rate the goalies on a scale of A+ to F based on their performance (or lack thereof) this past season.

#60 Kevin Poulin  C+
photo credit: bostonherald.com
After injuries gave Poulin the chance to play last year, he shined, going 4-2-1 in 7 starts before a fluke injury ended his season. This year, Poulin was called up quite a few times, but only appeared in six games. Part of that can be due to Evgeni Nabokov's good play, but the other part of that can be due to that when he was called up, he was rusty. He went 2-4-0 in those six starts. Both of the wins came against the Carolina Hurricanes. In those six games he posted a save percentage of .907 compared to .924 in his rookie season. Ultimately, there was too small of a sample size to accuratley grade Poulin. In the next few seasons, if Evgeni Nabokov gets traded or leaves, Poulin will be the first guy to get the call. He should be the Islanders goalie of the future, but in the present, he'll be in Bridgeport where he can excel and thrive, and try to lead the team to a Calder Cup. 

photo credit: sports.yahoo.com
#35 Al Montoya B- 
Montoya was also given a chance last year after a slew of injuries to goalies. In 2010-11, Montoya played in 20 games down the final stretch. In those games he posted a 9-5-5 record, 2.39 goals against average, and .921 save percentage. These numbers were good enough to earn Montoya a one year contract extension. This year, his numbers looked very different though. In 31 games played, he posted a 9-11-5 record, while having a 3.10 goals against average and an awful .893 save percentage. Montoya started the year as the starting goalie on opening night, and ended up winning two of the first three games for the Islanders. However, once Evgeni Nabokov started playing, Montoya was relegated to the bench. And, after suffering a concussion in Winnipeg in December, Montoya was sidelined for a little while, and when he came back, he just wasn't himself. I don't know if it's fair or not to give Montoya a B- in the rankings. He didn't have the best circumstances and once Evgeni Nabokov started playing, Montoya was not the same Montoya he was during the previous season. I don't think that the Isles will resign Montoya for next season but he has played well enough that he should find a job somewhere else in the NHL next season. 

#39 Rick DiPietro  D
Rick DiPietro - Montreal Canadiens v New York Islanders
photo credit: newsday.com
We all know about Rick DiPietro and his struggles. In October, a Brian Rolston slapshot got him in the face and took him out. Then in December, he had to get sports hernia surgery, once again ending his season. In 8 games this year, DP went 3-2-3 with a .876 save percentage. Not good. This marked the 3rd time in the last 4 seasons that DP has played in 8 or less games. He still has nine years left on his contract, and it doesn't look like he is going anywhere. There are three reasons I didn't give him an F. Firstly, he actually played in a few games and won a couple. Secondly, he had 2 assists on the year, giving him more than Nino Niederreiter. Thirdly, he tried to win the fans over by buying lunch for the first 5,000 fans at an Islander game at the end of the season. Too bad it takes wins, not lunches, to win over the Islanders fans.

#20 Evgeni Nabokov A-

Evgeni Nabokov Goaltender Evgeni Nabokov #20 of the New York Islanders warms up prior to the game against the Florida Panthers on October 22, 2011 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida.
photo credit: zimbio.com
Nabokov has had a crazy ride to Long Island. After refusing to play for the Isles last season, he came back to the NHL and his first season on the Islanders will be considered a success many people, but Nabokov himself won't appreciate his season. He went 19-18-3 with a solid .914 save percentage in his first full season in the NHL since coming back from the Russian KHL, starting in exactly half of the games during the regular season. Nabby played like the elite goalie that he was for so many years with the San Jose Sharks, even winning games by himself at some points. He will be back next season, and now, he is in line to be the Islanders starting goalie if all works out. If he plays just a little better than he did this season, than the sky is the limit for the Isles.

Anders Nilsson was not given a grade because I am only grading the goalies that played in at least 5 games, he might get a better chance next season.

That's it for the goalies. Next up will be the defensemen.

Lets Go Islanders!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lucky Bounces, Awful Finishes

Another season looks like it will end without the playoffs, and if the Islanders already give you headaches, these last five games must make you sicker. They all have a common theme to them, and I guess that can be a theme that applies to the Islanders season as a whole. Let's take a look at all the breaks the Isles got, only to suddenly let it all fly away.

March 10, 2012 Devils @ Islanders

New York Islanders' Frans Nielsen (51) And Andrew MacDonald (47) React AsThe third of three games that the Isles played against the devils in a span of one week. Anders Nilsson won his first NHL game during the first of the three games, so he got the nod again in the finaile. Through  two periods, both Nilsson and Devils goalie Johan Hedberg stopped everything they faced. In the third period, the Islanders got one to the twine when John Tavares got a perfect pass from PA Parenteau, and nailed a perfect shot over Hedberg's shoulder. With less than two minutes left, the Devils caught a break as a weak wrap-around found its way through Nilsson to tie it. Then, seconds after the center ice faceoff, PA Parenteau took a boarding penalty. Newly acquired Devil Marek Zidlicky sealed the Islanders fate off the faceoff in the Isles zone by blasting a shot past Nilsson. With 1:40 to go in the game, the Islanders were winning. With 1:25 to go, they were down 2-1. Final Score: 2-1 Devils.

March 11, 2012 Islanders @ Rangers

After the Devils disaster, the Islanders had to quickly rebound at MSG the next day. The final game against Rangers is one that the Islanders had to win, unless they would lose the season series vs the Rangers. The Islanders got the first goal, once again by John Tavares, but this time it was in the first period. This is the first lucky bounce the Islanders got during this game. The puck didn't even hit Tavares' stick, it just hit his body and went past Henrik Lundqvist. The Isles then got another break after a Mark Streit slapshot deflected off a Ranger, hit the back glass, and bounced right to Matt Moulson, who banked it off of Lundqvist and in while Henrik was looking the other way. See this crazy bounce HERE.
The Rangers answred both Isles goals, but the Isles got another break when Andrew MacDonald scored on a breakaway right after he left the penalty box. Give John Tavares the credit for this one as he made a great pass that sprung MacDonald for a goal. The game went into OT, and in OT...

Don't get me wrong, the Islanders were doing a great job keeping things on the perimeter on this play. HOWEVER, there are two things that, in my opinion, could have been done better. Firstly, Nielsen or Streit should have tried to dive at Richards to close up the passing lane and make him shoot. Secondly, the Isles should have realized how much time was left and played like goons. They were down to three men because of an earlier penalty, and with under ten seconds left in OT, anything goes. The Isles could have taken another three penalties, and they still couldn't lose any more man power. They should have been interfering, slashing, and doing anything to prevent a shot. Time for the next one.

March 13, 2012   Capitals @ Islanders

The title of this entry mostly reflects on this game more than any of the others. Here's the lucky bounce.

This goal has to be the craziest goal I've ever seen. This gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead. Then later in the period while on the power play, Travis Harmonic shot the puck towards the net and had it bank off of a Capital defender and into the net. After the first period, it was 2-0 Islanders. They made it 3-0 when JT banked in a rebound off a Mark Streit shot on the power play. After that, the Capitals fought their way back. The one man the Islanders should have kept an eye on, Alex Ovechkin, put two pucks past fellow Russian Evgeni Nabokov, including the tying goal. The Isles caught yet another break in the shootout when Dmitry Orlov lost control of the puck before he could even get a shot off. Unfortunately, Mark Streit couldn't convert for the Isles and Matt Hendricks won it for Washington in the next round. The Islanders blew a three goal lead in this one. This had to be tough to overcome.
 Alex Ovechkin #8 Of The Washington Capitals Ties

March 15, 2012  Flyers @ Islanders

Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov came into this streak trying to break the Flyers all-time shutout mark. The Islanders dug themselves into a 3-0 hole midway through the second period. Evgeni Nabokov wasn't playing like the Nabby he was a month ago. Fellow Russian Ilya Bryzgalov did break the record for the Flyers with just about 250 minutes of shutout hockey. That's more than four games. Of all the ways for the streak to be broken, I wasn't expecting a Michael Grabner fling of the stick. This was another lucky bounce for the Isles.

John Tavares scored 30 seconds later to make it 3-2 Flyers. The streak of 35 seconds being significantly less than Bryzgalov's previous streak between goals. Unfortunately for the Isles, they couldn't put a third puck into the net.  Flyers 3 Islanders 2.

As I am writing this entry, it seems that the Islanders are on a bit of a roll. Wins in Montreal and Toronto have the Isles flying high. They want to try to keep this good momentum going for the rest of the season so they can play the spoiler role for any teams thinking they can roll over them.
Toronto Maple Leafs Goaltender James Reimer, Left, And David Steckel, Right, React As New York Islanders Celebrate MattNew York Islanders' Josh Bailey (12) Scores

Lets Go Islanders!!!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Just a Small Chance

The Islanders are starting to run out of time to make a move in the playoff hunt, but if there was a time to make a move, it would be now. The Islanders can thank these three stars, that are not named John Tavares, for the late season push.

Third Star: Timly Scoring from Defensemen 
Islanders defensemen have scored a total of 13 goals this season. That is not a good mark by any means, but when the Isles have to have a goal, don't be suprised if it is a d-man putting the puck in the twine. In the past few weeks, the Isles won two games in overtime thanks to the defensemen. The first OT winner was scored by the least likely culprit on the Islanders, Mark Eaton. But why would he not score? It was only his 600th NHL game and he was heading down the ice with Milan Jurcina, another unlikely culprit.

The second OT winner was scored by none other than the captain, Mark Streit, and his goal was a beauty. He went right through the entire Los Angeles Kings team and buried a backhander past Matt Moulson's brother in law, Jonathan Quick. He also did it on a day the Islanders were honoring a defenseman, Kenny Jonsson.

Second Star: PA Pareteau's Emergence
 P.A. Parenteau #15 Of The News York Islanders Scores

Over the past couple weeks, PA Parenteau has showed everybody that he deserves a raise from the 1.25 million bucks he is making this season. He has scored goals at timely moments. He has also been the guy to make the perfect pass to set up a goal. He is currently 6th in the entire NHL with 42 assists, and even when he was moved off of the John Tavares line, he continued to produce. When Parenteau heads into free agency this summer, the Isles need to make it their number one priority to resign him for next season.

  Evgeni Nabokov #20 Of The New York Islanders Makes

First Star: Nabby Saying No
Let's face it, Evgeni Nabokov has been the Islanders best player over the past month or so. He single-handedly won a game that the Islanders had no business winning, making 45 saves in Philadelphia through overtime, then making two more in the shootout to somehow give the Islanders a 1-0 win. When games have gone past regulation this year, Nabokov hasn't lost. He has provided something the Islanders have lacked over the past few seasons, stability in net. There are talks that the Islanders might trade him, but then they would be giving up on this season. Garth Snow needs to make a significant effort to re-sign Nabokov for next season because Al Montoya has been shakey and Rick DiPietro is well....Rick DiPietro. Nabokov's 15-14-0 record so far this season is solid, especially since he missed a few weeks earlier in the season with an injury. If Nabokov leaves, then the Islanders will have no goalies that have any experience in big games. 

Now, I know what you are thinking, Where is John Tavares? He is not on this list because everyone in the NHL knows that he is just the best player on the team. Also, over the past few weeks, it has been these three things leading the team. The time to win is now or never  for the Islanders. Will it happen? Let's watch and see. 

Lets Go Islanders!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Halfway through the season the Islanders are once again at the bottom of the standings. However, let's just take some time now to look at a great acheivment that was recently achieved by a great Islander. By looking at the title, I guess you know that I am talking about Evgeni Nabokov getting his 300th career win Saturday night against the Sabres.

Although his stats from Saturday might not be earth-shattering, this achievement is. (He made 23 saves on 25 shots on Saturday.) Only 25 other goalies have ever accomplished that mark. It has taken Evgeni Nabokov 583 career games to reach this mark. In retrospect, Mike Richter played 666 career games and only got 301 career wins. Legendary Hall of Famer Turk Broda played 629 games, and won 302. Former Washington Capital Olaf Kolzig played 719 games and only won 303. This puts Nabokov at a pace to pass all of the above goalies as well as Isles legend Billy Smith (305 Wins) by the end of the season. Doing so would put Nabby in 22nd place in the all time wins list. That is one heck of an accomplishment.

Nabokov, EvgeniIt's been a long road coming.

Almost 12 years ago to the day, Nabokov made his first NHL start on January 19, 2000 and matched Hall of Famer Patrick Roy shot for shot, the game ended in a 0-0 tie. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy as Rookie of the Year in 2001. He scored a goal in 2002. In his career with the Sharks, he played in 80 playoff games, winning 40. He also played in two All-Star Games and won a Gold Medal at the 2008 World Chamiponships for Russia. Things got a little bumpy from there.

After the Sharks told him he wouldn't be coming back for the 2010-11 season, Nabokov went to Russia to play in the KHL. Why? Nobody in the NHL wanted him. Four months into that contract, it was terminated by mutual consent between him and the KHL club. We all know what hppened when the Isles claimed him on re-entry waivers from Detroit last season, but now that can be considered a blessing.

Although it has been a rough year for Nabby, he has had his fair share of great moments. He is making the veteran minimum at $570,000. He got injured in November, then recently came back and has started the last eleven games. All of this led to win #300.

In my opinion, the Islanders need to keep playing him. He is regaining some of the form he had when he was with the Sharks. If he stays healthy, keep him rolling. But for now, let's bask in his 300th win. Congrats Nabby! Hopefully there are many more to come down the final 40 games of the season.

Lets Go Islanders!!!