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.]]>
The New York Islanders get set to take on the Montreal Canadians in the first of two games they will play this week. Even bigger than the game will be the decision on whether or not Isles management keeps up 5th overall draft pick, Nino Niederreiter.
In my view Niederreiter has made the most of his eight (soon to be nine) games with the Islanders so far this season. From the time "El Nino" stepped on the ice at the Nassau Coliseum he brought his A game. From throwing his body at his opponents, creating scoring opportunities and scoring goals Nierderreiter has been impressive on nearly every facet of his game. If I'm Garth Snow (thank god I'm not) I would keep him up. Hey that's just me.
-As reported Michael Grabner did not make the trip up to Montreal and to fill the void the Islanders called up Matt Martin from Bridgeport. @RobCarlinMSG tweeted he expected to see Martin on a line with weight and Niederreiter.
-Dwayne Roloson will get the start tonight against the Habs.
-Tonight will be the first time the Isles see Mike Cammalleri since he hacked Nino Niederreiter (jeez this kid is in everything tonight). As tweeted by Newsdays Katie Stang, Cammalleri "has no idea" whether or not there will be retaliation against him.
-One more thing on "El Nino" Katie Strang Tweeted she believes Niederreiter will stay with the Islanders for the rest of the season.
-Good read about the friendship between Islanders star John Tavares and Canadians Star rookie P.K Suban. (Globe and Mail)
-Finally, expect hoards of Canadians fans at the coliseum on Friday. In case you missed this last week Gazzet Writer, Pat Hickey, had an interesting piece on the planned invasion of Nassau County by Habs fans.(Montreal Gazette)
Listen live here.]]>
We are now a few weeks into the regular season and every team in the NHL has played somewhere between six and ten games. I believe that it takes a good 20-25 games before we have a true barometer of a team’s outlook on the rest of the season, but we’re halfway there, so let’s look at each team’s record and how that compares to the expectations the team had in the preseason.
Penguins-5-3-1/11 points-It took a few games before they earned their first home win and their new arena, but the Penguins are where most thought they’d be. Now it’s just a matter of staying there and not blowing the division lead as they’ve done the last couple of seasons.
Islanders-4-2-2/10 points-Despite a few key injuries, the Islanders are off to the same hot start they had last season before they faltered down the stretch and fell out of the playoffs. If they can keep themselves around the middle of the conference, somewhere between sixth and tenth, until they are fully healthy, than perhaps they can do what the Kings and Avalanche did last year and make the postseason with a young team before most people thought they’d be able to.
Rangers-4-2-1/9 points-Drury, Gaborik and Prospal are all injured and that doesn’t bode well for the Rangers. Even though they’re above .500 now, it may be difficult to remain there over a stretch of time until they’re healthy. But a decent start puts them on par with expectations.
Flyers-3-3-1/7 points-A slow start for the defending Eastern Conference champions, but with questions in net, this may not be a surprise to some people. They certainly have the offense talent to go along with a great defensive unit, but the goaltending situation is what will keep early season detractors of this team in the right for now.
Devils-2-6-1/5 points-A defensive team for over a decade that finally developed and/or acquired the offensive players needed to balance out the team had many thinking this was a legitimate Cup contending team this year. Maybe a lot of people didn’t expect them to win it all, but to at least make and then be a force in the playoffs. Instead, the Devils find themselves at the bottom of the division and conference. Needless to say, spectators are surprised as much as the team is.
Maple Leafs-4-2-1/9 points-One of the last two teams to get their first win last year, Toronto turned into one of the last two teams to lose their first game this year. Expectations were higher than their last place conference finish of last year, but few had them leading the division this early.
Canadiens-4-2-1/9 points-A trip to the conference finals last year brought even higher hopes to the Habs this year and so far they aren’t disappointing. There is still a long ways to go, but thus far they’ve done their best to prove last year wasn’t a fluke.
Bruins-4-2-0/8 points-Determination was expected to be a large driving factor for the Bruins after blowing a 3-0 series lead in the playoffs last year. The above average start may not be surprising to some, but the fact that it’s been mainly on the heels of Thomas in goal and not Rask is.
Sabres-3-5-1/7 points-Backstopped by one of the best goalies in the league and driven by an early playoff exit, the Sabres had high hopes for this year. Early on though, they’ve struggled to find their game and their outlook was not to be below .500 this early in the year.
Senators-2-5-1/5 points-For a team that gave the then defending champions a run in the first round of the playoffs last year, the Senators were thought to possibly have a breakout year. So far though, it’s been a breakdown year, and a team that finished fifth in the conference just last season is now fifth in their five team division.
Lightning-5-2-1/11 points-Before he even made one personnel move, just hearing that Steve Yzerman was hired as Tampa General Manager made people believe that this team could make the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference. Then once Yzerman started putting his stamp on the team, people had concrete reason to believe the Bolts would finish in the top eight. And with Tampa sitting atop a division that also has the powerhouse Capitals, it’s safe to say the Lightning are exceeding expectations so far.
Capitals-5-3-0/10 points-A decent start, evening if they aren’t leading what may be the weakest division in the league. That the defense has been the scapegoat for recent playoff failures coupled with the fact that the Caps have had one of the hottest penalty killing units to start the season means leading the division or not, the defense is working, so expectations are currently exceeded.
Hurricanes-4-3-0/8 points-A much better start to the season compared to that of last year, Carolina has to be feeling pretty good right now when you consider the situation they were in this time last season. Only one point above .500 is good enough to say this team is likely on par with preseason outlooks.
Thrashers-3-4-1/7 points-Not having as hot a start as they did last year, but there were a lot of new faces that came into this team and it takes a while for the players to get acclimated with one another. But unfortunately for Thrasher fans, all 46 of them, below .500 puts this team even with expectations.
Panthers-3-3-0/6 points-This team has the potential to be a lot worse than .500, but they are at least not surprising anyone with their current standing of last in this division. Most likely, these Panthers are now where they’ll be all year.
Predators-5-0-3/13 points-Has any team ever done so much with so little at their dispense year after year like the Predators do? First Pekka Rinne, but now Anders Lindback? Where do they keep pulling these goalies from? The only team without a regulation loss earning points in every game they’ve played, and not only first in the division, but first in the League? Expectations exceeded beyond reason at this point of the year.
Red Wings-5-1-1/11 points-Many said that this was the last year before the window of opportunity closed itself on the Wings for a few years. And whether they buy into that notion or not, Detroit is playing like it. Off to a strong start compared to the injury riddled slow start they had last year, anyone other team with this record this early would be exceeding expectations, but for Detroit, they’re on par for what we’ve come to expect from this team.
Blackhawks-5-4-1/11 points-Only a single point above .500 for the defending Cup champs, but let’s not overlook the fact that they’ve played more games than any other team so far this year. A lot of changes to the roster over the season means a period of meshing for all the new faces. This is likely just early season growing pains, they’ll be fine in due time.
Blues-4-1-2/10 points-A good young team that had too many injuries to overcome last year, St. Louis is off to a good start. This is the only division in the NHL where fourth is considered a good start because the Central is so strong, so despite being low in the division, they’re high in the conference. Expectations are also high for this team, almost a playoff or bust season for this young squad, so they’re meeting their outlook so far.
Blue Jackets-4-3-0/8 points-A winning record by the slimmest of margins means they are currently exceeding what was expected output wise from this team for the year. However, it’s early and they still have plenty of time to wind up being the bottom of the conference dwellers they were expected to be this year.
Flames-5-3-0/10 points-Jokinen and Tanguay take two wasn’t supposed to yield anymore results than it did the first time around, so the fact that Flames are currently first in a competitive division means they’re doing better than what was expected. But, we’ve seen this year after year from the Flames; have a great start and finally look like the team on ice that they look like on paper, and then come March they pack up and leave with 15 games remaining on the schedule and are left out come April.
Canucks-3-3-2/8 points-A .500 record isn’t what most people were calling for the experienced Canucks to have this early in the year. Perennial Cup favorites by many prognosticators, even though they’re second in the division and only two points out of the lead, their lack of a winning record has to mean Vancouver is thus far below the bar they have set for them this year.
Avalanche-4-4-0/8 points-An even record isn’t bad but is probably below what most thought was possible from the Avalanche. They took large strides forward last year making the postseason and even more was expected out of them this year so a .500 start isn’t what this team was looking for early.
Wild-3-3-1/7 points-Another .500 team in this division, this might be one of the higher winning percentages this team has throughout the year, however. This is the second year of turning a once defense first team into an offensive unit, but like the first year, there are likely to be growing pains ahead. For now, they’re above expectations, but it won’t take long for them to fall down the standings and be more on par with what was expected.
Oilers-2-4-0/4 points-There isn’t much to say here; they were last in the NHL last year and early indications show that they’ll be back in the hunt for the first overall pick again this year. The expectations are quite low, but they’re meeting them so far.
Kings-5-2-0/10 points-Like the Avalanche, LA made the playoffs a year or two before what was actually expected of them. And like Colorado, they were expected to do more than just make the postseason this year. But unlike the Avs, the Kings have gotten off to a strong start and lead the division early. Good things were expected from this team this year, but even this record has to be above what was projected for them.
Stars-5-2-0/10 points-After missing the playoffs the last two years, few probably saw this kind of a fast start coming from Dallas. Definitely exceeding expectations at this point in the year, but let’s see if they can maintain this level of play all season before deeming them a breakout team.
Sharks-3-3-1/7 points-Despite having two new goaltenders, this is too good a team to only be .500. They have the players and the experience to be well above the mark they currently have. It is highly likely that they’ll soon get it together and start to string together wins like they have done for the last several years, but right now they are below par.
Ducks-3-3-1/7 points-They’ve lost too much on the defense in the last two off-seasons to still be considered one of the elite teams. Yes, they do have a solid offense and a strong goaltender in Hiller, but their defense is too weak and will hinder this team. A .500 mark is likely where the team will hover around all year, finding difficulty to string together wins.
Coyotes-2-2-2/6 points-There were two sets of expectations for the Coyotes. One was that last year was an aberration and they’d fall to the cellar of the standings again this year. The other was that last year was just the beginning and they’d not only make the playoffs, but get beyond the first round this year. So far, the former of the two paths rather than the latter is what road they’ve taken.]]>
Matt Martin got the call he's been waiting for from the Isles organization. He got the call up last night and is expected to play Wednesday against the Canadians in Montreal. He'll take Michael Grabners spot as Grabner's listed day to day with a groin injury, via Chris Botta. This must be a big accomplishment for him as he was sent back down to Bridgeport before the season began since the Isles needed to cut down their roster to 23.
He was reported to be practicing on a line with PA Parenteau, who leads the team in assists and Frans Nielsen today at practice. Nice to see him up here. He can play all areas of the game and he'll stick up for his teammates when necessary. He'll always be welcomed at the Coliseum, I'm sure.
The Isles will drop the puck with the Montreal Canadians this Wednesday. I wonder if anyone (ahem, Konopka?) will get revenge on Mike Cammallari since he slashed "El Nino" in the pre season and only got a one game suspension for it, meanwhile Wisniewski got more games than Mike did, and Cammallari used physical violence. But I'm sure the league viewed it differently.]]>
For full story Check out Inside Hockey. Definitely check it out, it's a great read and a heart warming story about perseverance over adversity.]]>
8:45- The second period was a little more action packed than the first. The Leafs took a tripping penalty just 12 seconds into the period but the Islanders could not convert on it. However just seconds after the power play ended the Islanders Matt Moulson scored the first goal of the game off a nice passing array from Frans Nielson and John Tavares. Konopka and Mike Brown got into a fight (if you can call it that) and the Maple Leafs Versteeg nearly tied the game but was ruled no goal due to a high stick. Isles will start the third on the power play after the Leafs Versteeg took a slashing penalty near the end of the period. The Leafs are showing why they are undefeated and forcing Roloson to stand on his head again. plus the Islanders will not get Josh Bailey back tonight due to a hip flexor.
7:51 pm- After one period the Islanders and Leafs are scoreless in a fast paced game so far. Through the first both teams had several opportunities to put points on the board, but due to stealer goal tending and several great defensive plays this game remains scoreless. Both the Maple leafs and Islanders put 8 shots during said period. Mark Eaton lead defensemen in ice time with 7:52, while PA Parenteau lead the forwards with 6:15. Nothing of substance really to report out of the first. The Isles have held their own, protecting Roloson when the puck was in their own zone (which was not often). Roloson also has also continued his dominance over the Leafs from last season. Although the Leafs ended the period creating some good pressure and keeping the puck in the Isles zone for longer than Scott Gordon would have liked.]]>