Travis Hamonic couldn’t have asked for a better thanksgiving week if he tried. Yesterday morning Hamonic was recalled by the New York Islanders and is set to make his NHL debut tonight against Columbus.
“I got all antsy and I felt like a little kid again on Christmas morning,” Hamonic said while describing his reaction to the news. For the 19, soon to be 20, year old, it’s been a lifelong dream to get to this moment. “It’s been a lifetime wanting to play in the National Hockey League and when you finally get that call for the first time, there’s nothing like your first game.
Even in all the excitement, Hamonic Knew just who to call.
“I got on the phone right away to my family back home,” Hamonic said after the morning skate. ”They're just as excited because they've definitely been here along the way with me and it's nice that I can share it with them.”
Harmonic’s family made arrangements and will be on hand at the Coliseum tonight for their son’s first NHL game.
While Hamonic may not have made the team out of training camp, he has been playing very well down in Bridgeport. Harmonic leads the Sound Tigers defensemen in points.
However his stats aren’t the only indication of how well he has been doing. His coaches and teammates are also singing his praises.
“He's got some size, he’s a good skater and obviously a good puck moving defensemen,” Jack Capuano told reporters gathered at the morning skate. “He'll give us a shot from and give us the physical play if we need it.”
Dylan Reese also had plenty of good things to say about the young Isles defensemen.
“Travis is going to be a great player, there is no question,” Reese told WRHU Saturday morning prior to the Panthers/Isles game. “He's a great two way player, very physical, he’s been fighting quite a bit, not afraid to get out there and help out. He's got a great hard shot from the point and I think he's going to be a really great player. He's fine tuning his game and he came in with a lot of confidence, which is great for a rookie. He wasn’t afraid to make a play which is what you want at that level.”
Hamonic made sure he made mention of the people down in Bridgeport who have helped him along the way.
“The coaching staff and management down in Bridgeport showed a lot of confidence in me giving me a lot of ice time and a lot of big minutes in a lot of key situations,” Hamonic explained. “(I had)a lot of good teammates down (in Bridgeport) that defiantly helped me along the way and obviously the coaching staff helped me a lot to, So I'm thankful.”
Hamonic described tonight's game as the “biggest one in my career." He will have to overcome one thing tonight, the butterflies that go along with making your NHL debut.
“Obviously there is going to be a handful of emotions that going through my mind come the anthems and the warm up, “Hamonic told me. “But for me I’m really going to work hard on calming myself down and not letting those emotions get to my head. I just got to make sure I go out there and play my game and not get out of my comfort zone at all.”
That shouldn’t be too hard to do; this is a young man who’s played in the Memorial cup and on the World stage at the World Juniors. What one more game of hockey for this successful 19 year old defenseman.
The Islanders are back at home for the second of two meetings with the Montreal. On Wednesday, the Habs beat the Islanders in a game Blake Comeau described as one the Isles "didn't really deserve to win." A game the Isles were outshot 35 to 21. "The score obviously could have been a lot worse if Roloson didn't make some big saves for us," comeau said following today's morning skate. As for today's game the young Islander simple put it, "we have to get off to a better start. "We have to come out earlier and play a full sixty minutes."
As for the starters tonight Dwayne Roloson will be in net for the Islanders and on the other side will be Alex Auld for the Canadians. Auld will get his first start of the season for the Habs. In the lineup for the Islanders will also be Trent Hunter, but the most surprising will be Bruno Gervais making his season debut......................AS A Forward! Gervais will play the position for second time in his life; the first was at the age of 12 in pee wee hockey. During a day when Gervais's Pee Wee hockey team had a to play a tourney game in the afternoon and a regular season game in the evening, his then coach bought everyone McDonalds in between the games. The coach let the kids have seven up on the bench and allowed the players to pick their own positions. "That was the last time I played forward," Gervais told reporters. Coming back to the present Gervais will be paired on a line with Jon Sim and Zenon Konopka for tonight's match up. "I don't think we're going to be a tic tack toe line," Gervais said. "But were going to try to make it hard for them to play and were going to be physical, create some momentum, and create some cycling in their zone and stuff like that."
CURBING THE TREND
As far as curbing their losing streak John Tavares and Blake Comeau both have similar ideas on how to do just that. "Our specialty teams have to keep stepping up for us," Comeau said following today's morning skate. "We have to generate some 5 on 5 goals. You know it's something we can't do here and there, it's something we have to make an all the time thing." Tavares added to that when asked about how to turn things around. "We have to Get back to the things that made us successful before," said Tavares. "Being harder on our fore check and bringing more pace to our game. We have to limit our turnovers and play the game the right way. Play the way we play the game, instead of falling into the other teams hands."
The Islanders announced today that Rob Schremp has been assigned to a conditioning stint up in Bridgeport. Schremp has not played this season after suffering a lower back injury during the preseason.
EL NINO REACTION
Yesterday the Islanders announced their decision to send Nino Niederreiter back to the WHL's Portland Winter Hawks. So I asked around about the one they call "El Nino" and here is what I got back.
John Tavares: "Nino is going to be a great player for us short term and long term. Sometimes it's best for somebody to get that experience back down in juniors. We were a lot deeper this year so when guys like Robbie, and Grabner, and eventually Kyle come back it's going to be tough for him to find his way, maybe get the ice time he should be getting at his age and experience. I know he took [being sent down] really well, he took it like a great professional and we're excited about his future."
Blake Comeau: "I think it's a management decision and obviously they're doing what they think is best for him. From what I understand Portland has a really good team. Nino is going to be a great player in this league; I think people forget that he just turned 18. He's a good player and an even better kid off the ice. Everyone got along with him, everyone wishes him the best and everyone is obviously going to keep tabs on him"
Finally, if you're going to the game remember Tim Horton's will make their Long Island debut only at the Coliseum. So defiantly try it.]]>
My favorite part: -yo watch Tavares and Okposo combine for 200 points and the Isles win the division
-With that penalty kill? Hell No
Stick tap to 12 Angry Mascots for bringing this to my attention.]]>
Lots of big hits, fights, and nice plays coming from the TD Garden last night. From what I saw, the Isles rookies played very physical. You couldn't go five minutes without a little scrum. Even though they took the loss, they're still pretty impressive.
Camp opens tomorrow and these rookies have one more game to show they deserve to attend it. The Isles will faceoff against the Burins again tonight at 6:55. You can watch it live on the Isles offical website.
***Also, no word on any NHL players attending training camp on a tryout basis with the Isles, but if anyone accepted, we should know tomorrow morning***]]>
With their rival, 2K Sports, backing out from this year’s cycle of NHL video games (for X360 and PS3, at least), EA Sports is getting set to release the best installment of their NHL franchise yet. The game is rated E 10+ by the ESRB and it hits the shelves on September 7th.
Remember: the EA NHL franchise has won 22 Sports Game of the Year Awards and there’s no evidence they’re stopping now.
Now I’ll synopsize some of the salient improvements and noteworthy new features that Electronic Arts has in store for us:
IT’S A DOUBLE BLACKHAWK ALL THE WAY: Jonathan Toews, recent Olympic gold medalist from the Vancouver games and Conn Smythe trophy winner, will headline NHL 11 as the game’s cover athlete; Toews’ teammate Patrick Kane was the cover athlete of last year’s edition.
INCREASED REALISM: In puck-play (essentially the puck will no longer be chemically bound to your stick until you shoot); in goalie play (reducing the frequency of goalies playing those perfect angles); and on face-offs (allowing the puck to bounce upon hitting the ice, making it harder to win the face-off, and allowing the player to shoot directly off the face-off). The player will be able to jump over others lying on the ice (the absence of such feature has proved annoying in the previous years). Furthermore, this will be the first time that broken sticks will be included in the game.
NO MORE CANNED ANIMATIONS: Tired of the scripted, predictable reactions to hits and checks? Well, NHL 11 utilizes all-new AI programming with the ragdoll effect for all hits and checks. The game’s new physics engine was designed in part by the people who created that of EA’s boxing game, Fight Night.
Here’s what Game Informer had to say about it:
“Like Natural Motion's Euphoria technology, this procedural system generates animations on the fly, getting rid of the repetitive canned animations that plague so many sports games. Whether you're on open ice or along the boards, every collision looks unique -- players can catch the buckles along the benches, get their skates tied up, or even keep their balance if the checker only gets a small piece of him. Players rebound viciously from the glass after getting checked into the boards, and if you hit your victim hard enough, he may drop his stick or suffer a gruesome injury.”
FINALLY, EH?: In addition to the plethora of European teams, those belonging to the three member leagues of the Canadian Hockey League, the OHL, QMJHL, and WHL, will all be playable in this year’s version.
HOCKEY HAIR METAL: The NHL franchise has been widely regarded for its soundtracks over the years. This year will be no different, bands including The Ramones, The Black Keys, Airbourne, Bullet For My Valentine and Megadeth, among others, will be on the soundtrack, creating an intense arena-esque experience.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: The Hockey Ultimate Team: the one feature that EA has been touting all summer long. They call it the biggest online dynasty mode ever–essentially a large, online fantasy league. The twist is, you actually get to play in the games. Your players are virtual hockey cards, and you can buy new and better ones by winning games, thereby collecting pucks (the feature’s currency) and using them to either buy new packs of cards (players) or go to the Auction House feature where you can trade for a specific player.
Any way you cut it, EA Sports NHL 11 is going to be an exceptionally realistic, fun, and exhilarating experience. I strongly advise you to pre-order it now, as it will be a hot commodity, come September 7th.]]>
With yesterday's acquisition of defensemen James Wisniewski the Islanders are presented now with a dilemma before training camp even opens; who should they suit up come opening night? As of today the Islander website has Mark Eaton, Bruno Gervais, Jack Hillen, Milan Jurcina, Andrew MacDonald, Radek Martinek, and Mark Striet listed as the team's defensemen. Add Wisniewski to the mix and you have two D-men who will be sitting in the press box come opening night verse Dallas.
So who makes the line up and who doesn't? Let's break it down. First theirs Mark Eaton, the former Penguins defensemen, who Garth Snow signed to add more veteran presence on the blue line. The 33 year old may not be a scoring machine, but he is a player who adds size and can play a lot of minutes over a game (averaged 18:01 last season), as well as block shots. Eaton was second on the penguins in block shots, blocking 135. Eaton is very much a lock to make the team out of training camp.
Then comes Mark Streit and Radek Martinek, two players who are also locks to make the team out of camp. While Streit has been one of, if not, the best defensemen on the team, Martinek is more the concern down the road. Martinek has suffered injury set backed seasons the past several years, including last year where he only played in 16 games. In those 16 he scored 2 goals and an assist for 3 points and can be dangerous player when healthy.
Then Comes the Young defensemen Jack Hillen and Andrew MacDonald. Hillen put up 3 goals, 18 assist and 21 points in 69 games last year while averaging 16:40 minutes on the ice per game. Also playing a role on the special teams unit, averaging 1:46 on the power play. MacDonald, who received a four year contract extension, recorded a goal, 6 assists and 7 points in 46 games while averaging 17:06 last season. Both were invited to play for team USA in the world Championships and both were bright spots on a very lackluster Islanders blue line last season. Expect both to be playing on the island come season start.
Now comes Milian Jurcina, the former Blue Jacket/Capital. He may have been Olympian in Vancouver; I don't see Jurcina suiting up for the Islanders early on. Jurcina put up the same numbers as MacDonald (1, 6, 7) he has not been as much of a stand out player as A-Mac or Hillen has been. As well, Jurcina has also been plagued by injuries this past season. While Jurcina does add size, I do not see him ousting Hillen or A-Mac out of a playing roster spot. However should Martinek or any other defensemen go down with an injury expect Jurcina to be the first one called in.
Finally there is the curious case of Bruno Gervais, the 25 year old defensemen whose play is spottier than a firehouse Dalmatian. While Gervais has played a prominent role on the Islanders defense for the past three years, his play has yet to truly improve finishing the past two seasons a -15. He does average time both on the power play and penalty kill as well as 16:30 a game and has his moments when he seems he could finally be turning into the player the organization hoped he would be. But he has yet to truly turn into an everyday NHLer. He will not be playing anytime soon for the Isles and will either be traded, enjoying the view from the coliseum press box or be back with the Sound Tigers in Bridgeport. Either way, the Gervais experiment most likely is nearing its end on Long Island.
So looking forward here is what the opening night defensive pairings might look like;
The Isles need defense as well to help guys like Streit out on the blue line. Remember Andy Sutton? He's a free agent as well and he would be a good fit for the Islanders' blue line next season, again. I can see Garth going after him again. But theirs also guys like Paul Martin that would fit well with the Islanders roster.
Now for the goaltending situation. Expect Martin Biron to be gone. DiPietro has been battling injuries for the past couple seasons. He will most likely be back next season. But of course Garth needs to find a solid backup goaltender in case DP gets injured again. Which is most likely the case. Snow may keep Biron and Rolie or he may just keep one. Rolie is signed into a 2 year contract with the Isles so I don't think he will be going anywhere. But Garth could have a trade up his sleeve.
Its very likely that you wont see Sim or Park back next season.They haven't shown much on the 4th line this season.
According to Islanderspointblank, the Isles have about 6-8 million dollars to spend on contracts. So they will most likely spend it wisely.
Please follow us on twitter at IHB_NICK, IHB_DAVE, and IslesHockeyBlog. I look forward to another season with IslandersHockeyBlog and staff.]]>