Thursday, April 16, 2009

Draft Choices

As all Islanders fans know at this point, the Isles indeed won the first overall pick in the upcoming NHL Amateur Draft. As I expected, Garth Snow did not follow the lead of Tampa Bay and announce their intention to draft any particular player, whether it be John Tavares or Victor Hedman or anyone else.

Anyone that has followed the Islanders for the last few seasons should know that Islanders are following a very corporate model of not discussing their internal discussions with the media. They also seem to keep their options open. That being said, unless the team is completely blown away with an offer, expect the Islanders to indeed make the first pick in the draft and pick John Tavares.

If you read between the lines of various interviews with Garth Snow, they expect to use that pick wisely. He has stated in multiple interviews that will be getting a great player. Not a good player, not a player with leadership ability, not a player with promise...a great player. Here is a link to an interview yesterday afternoon with Garth on Toronto's AM640 as an example.

More to come in the next weeks and months folks.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Entry Level Igloo

Per Chris Botta of Islanders Point Blank, the Islanders have signed two of their amatuer prospects to three year entry level contracts in the past two days. Mark Katic (3rd round - 2007) and Justin Dibenebetto (6th round - 2008), who both have been playing for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario (Junior) Hockey League are now both Islanders "property" and will both get an opportunity to play with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers for the end of this season on Amatuer Try Out agreements.

With the season ending wrist fracture suffered by Blake Comeau on Tuesday night, Mike Iggulden gets the call from Bridgeport for tonight's game in Pittsburgh versus the Penguins. Jesse Joensuu, Joel Rechlicz and Mitch Fritz all stay up with the Islanders for tonight's game as well.

The Islanders can clinch the top seed in next Tuesday’s NHL Draft Lottery and are guaranteed a top 2 pick if one of the following three things occur:

1) The Islanders lose in regulation to the Penguins tonight

2) The Islanders lose in overtime or a shootout / Tampa Bay gets one point tonight versus Washington

3) Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Washington Capitols tonight

8:17 PM At 5:06 of the first period, Frans Nielsen scores a powerplay goal to make it 1-0 Islanders. Franzie was assisted by Doug Weight and Josh Bailey. At 14:15, after another juicy Joey MacDonald rebound, Philippe Boucher scores for Pittsburgh to tie the game 1-1. You gotta love Jiggs...Sean Bergenheim just "rang the chimes". Tie game to end the first period.

9:12 PM At 3:51 of the second period, Pascal Dupuis scores for Pittsburgh to retake the lead, 2-1. At 8:19, Matt Cooke scored make the score 3-1 Penguins. That's the way the period ends. Tampa Bay is losing by the same score to Washington.

10:04 PM At 11:08 of the third period, after a nice pass from Sydney Crosby, Bill Guerin scores to give Pittburgh a 4-1 lead. At 12:36, Sergei Gonchar scores a powerplay to make the lead 5-1. At 16:58, Tyler Kennedy scores to add to the humiliation and make the score 6-1 Penguins.

The Islanders have clinched 30th place in the NHL for the season. They are now guaranteed to have the first or second overall pick in the draft. 48.2% chance of obtaining the first pick in the draft lottery to be shown on Versus this Tuesday at 8:00 PM.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Weight

So the 2008-09 NHL season is apparently not Doug Weight's Last Waltz. Per Chris Botta at, the Islanders extended the grizzly center for another year at a reported cost of $2 million for the season with a 200K incentive if the Islanders make the playoffs. This is a solid move on the Islanders part. Fans should not read this to mean that the Islanders prefer Victor Hedman in the upcoming amateur draft. There may be a potential glut at the Center position, but don't forget injuries and the fact that any center on the roster could be asked to play a wing position. I'd rather have that problem than asking a winger to start taking faceoffs (or even worse...asking Brendan Witt to take them).

On to tonight's game versus the red hot Carolina Hurricanes. Jesse Joensuu, Joel Rechlicz and NYI Five Hole favorite Mitch Fritz have been recalled from Bridgeport. Mark Streit returns after a few games off and Sean Bergenheim returns from an eleven game absence. We'll also be keeping an eye on the game across the East River. The Montreal Canadiens visit the New York Rangers in a game with major playoff implications. I think all Islanders fans welcome Jiggs McDonald into the booth in place of Howie Rose for the remainder of the season.

7:47 PM Jack Hillen rushes a clearing attempt which leads to a quick goal by Dwight Helminan at 2:54 of the first period. At 9:07, Eric Staal floats one towards the net, which Yann Danis unbelievably does not grab, to make the score 2-0. At 19:21, Scott Walker glides in on Danis' right and sinks one in the upper right corner of the net. The score is 3-0 Carolina to end the period. Across the river, the score is 1-1 after one period on pretty goals by both Chris Drury and Matthew Dandenault.

8:33 PM As I hoped for but did not expect, Coach Gordon pulled Danis out of the net and Joey MacDonald is in goal to start the second period. At 0:06, Richard Park gets his stick up and takes a double minor for high sticking. The Islanders kill the double minor with a few nice saves by JMac. At 5:12, Eric Staal scores his second goal of the game off a long lob pass by Erik Cole, to take Carolina's lead to 4-0. The Islanders defense looks like swiss cheese tonight and their offense is anemic. Park takes the Islanders first shot on goal of the period just after the 10 minute mark of the period. At 11:06, Mitch Fritz gets called for hooking. At 12:29, Rod Brind'Amour scores a powerplay goal to make the score 5-0. At 16:51, Eric Staal scores to make the score 6-0 and create a mess of hats on the ice. It is his fourth hat trick of the season as compared to the Islanders team count of one hat trick (by Sean Bergenheim which included an emptynetter). Mercifully the score is still 6-0 after two periods and 33 shots by Carolina. Across the river it is 3-1 Rangers with four minutes left in the second period of that game.

8:40 PM 3-1 Rangers to end the second period of that game.

9:27 PM At the 4:00 mark of the third period, after cross checking penalties by Mark Streit and Brendan Witt, Tuomo Ruutu scores a powerplay goal to make the score 7-0 Carolina. At 9:25, off multiple Islander sticks, Jussi Jokinen gets lucky and a shot goes through JMac's legs to add to the misery. 8-0 Carolina. At 14:20, Fritzie takes a roughing penalty which leads to a powerplay goal by Ruutu at 15:50. The final score is 9-0 Carolina. Islanders goaltending faced 57 shots on goal. The Rangers appear to be on their way to a 3-1 win over Montreal with 3:50 left in the third period.

9:32 PM The Rangers win 3-1 and are still in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Habs Invasion II ?

Will tonight be another evening where the French-Canadien throngs take over NVMC? I'm kind of doubting it. Les Canadiens other visit to Long Island this year was on a Saturday night. That being said I'm sure there will be a few hundred of them in old barn.

What are the surprise injuries tonight? We have Kyle Okposo and Mark Streit out with bad cases of Islanderitis also known as a Strained Groin. Dean McAmmond is out sick. That is right...out sick. Nice and vague, boys and girls. Trevor Smith and Sean Bentivoglio have been recalled from Bridgeport on an emergency basis. It will be Bentivoglio's Islanders/NHL debut. Joe Callahan is sticking around for another game.

Expect the Habs to come out of the gates strong tonight. I'm sure they will try to catch us on our heals and take a quick lead since the Isles were on the road last night. Unlike the Islanders, they really need the two points. More after the game.

Update - 10:40 PM

It would seem that my estimation of Habs fans loyalty was a little off. I'm estimating there were about 1500 fans in the house in the classic Red, White and Blue jerseys (if I get a better estimate, I will update). They were not disappointed as Les Canadiens spanked the Islanders by a score of 5-1.

Here a few bullet point notes:
  • Bentivoglio looked pretty good in his NHL debut. He registered a pair of shots on goal. He also took a holding penalty. One of mny penalties taken by the Islanders.
  • Georges Laraque and Joel Rechlicz fought early in the second period. It was mostly dancing and few punches thrown by Laraque before they both fell to the ice.
  • Doug Weight and Glen Metropolit provided a more entertaining fight late in the third period.
  • The lone Islanders goal was a gorgeous unassisted shot over Jaroslav Halak's left shoulder.
  • Five different players scored goals for Montreal.
  • The Islanders are taking a lot of bad penalties in the last two games. Is this how we combat the fact that Colorado is blatantly tanking the rest of their season?
  • Andy Hilbert left the game with bruised ribs and did not return.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Goal Cap

I'm back again after another few days in the hospital. A post-operative infection caused me to squirm in agony, but I feel a lot better now. Joey MacDonald is starting in goal for the Islanders. Mark Streit is day to day with a groin strain. Joe Callahan has been recalled from Bridgeport as an emergency fill in. The cablevision feed is very crisp tonight for a change. At 13:52, Sergei Fedorov takes a holding penalty which leads to a Kyle Okposo powerplay goal at 14:04. Okposo was assisted by Frans Nielsen. That is all the scoring of the first period.

At 0:37 of the second period, Frans scores to make it 2-0 Islanders. Assists for Jeff Tambellini and Radek Martinek. At 1:40, Joel Rechlicz and John Erskine each get five minutes for fighting. After a big hit to the head on Andy Hilbert by Washington defensemen Mike Green (who left his feet) a scrum ensues and Tim Jackman and Jeff Schultz each get five for fighting at 3:16. Green gets two minutes for elbowing which leads to an Islanders powerplay. The Isles do not cash in. At 5:37, Alexander Ovechkin scores his 54th goal of the season to cut the Islanders lead to one goal. At 9:54, after a flubbed clearing attempt by Joe Callahan, Keith Aucoin ties the game for Washington on a wrist shot through JMac's five hole. Yann Danis would have not have let that kind of juicy rebound get back to Aucoin. That's all of the scoring of the second period.

A beautiful backhand goal by Richard Park at 2:12, retakes the lead for the Isles, 3-2. Josh Bailey gets the lone assist. Mike Green scores a powerplay goal at 10:55 after a bad double minor penalties were taken by the Wrecker and Blake Comeau. Tie game. At 12:12, Mike Green scores another powerplay goal after an interference call on Tim Jackman. 4-3 Capitals lead. At 19:04 Nicklas Backstrom scores an empty net goal to seal the deal for Washington. 5-3 Capitals win.