December 30, 2014

Another 3 Goal Lead Blown, but Boychuk Saves the Day

Monday night's game against the Washington Capitals was a huge contest, for both teams really. In his pregame comments Braden Holtby even pointed out that the Isles were a potential playoff partner in the near future. Anyone who watched the game saw how much energy and passion there was, with physical play and a fanbase that once again showed up and ramped up the intensity especially as the Isles built up another 3-0 lead.

December 28, 2014

Halak Returns from IR after Sabres Stun Isles in Shootout

Prior to their game on Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres, the Islanders announced that they had placed goalie Jaroslav Halak on injured reserve retroactive to December 20th. This meant that the Islanders had to be without him through the completion of Saturday's games. So despite getting his maintenance day in the final game before the holiday break, the Isles deemed that it made sense to give him one more game against a weaker team to get over his bumps and bruises.

December 24, 2014

Isles fall 3-1 to Habs; 23-11-0 at Holiday Break

The Islanders were looking for another five game winning streak to head into the break with, but the Montreal Canadiens stood in their way and provided one of the biggest tests the Isles have had in weeks when it comes to understanding how they stack up with the beasts of the East. Despite a nice start, the Habs build a small lead and the Isles comeback bid ultimately fell short.

December 21, 2014

Isles get late Comeback vs. Tampa, Win Fourth Straight

This year is different in the sense that even when the odds are against them, the Islanders seem to find a way to pull out a win. We're seeing the Isles get the better of play on teams and actually end up on top, which is a reversal from some of what we've seen in previous years as well.

December 20, 2014

Isles Extend Wings Loss Streak to Five

The Detroit Red Wings have struggled since starting off the year on a hot streak, but that didn't mean they weren't dangerous. The Islanders had the task of going into the Motor City in an attempt to keep their Eastern Conference foes at bay and searching for answers. They succeeded in doing so, winning 2-1 as Detroit fell to an opponent for the fifth time in a row.

December 14, 2014

Isles end Three Game Skid, Hawks Streak

And now, everyone breathe.

After dropping their previous three games including blowing two 3-0 leads, the Islanders completed a thrilling come from behind 3-2 win against the streaking Chicago Blackhawks, restoring some of the good vibes around the team after some fans began to worry and wonder about about a team that still had plenty of room to play with.

December 5, 2014

Halak Wins 11th Straight to Break Record as Isles Sweep Home-and-Home with Sens

Clearly, the Ottawa Senators are one of those pesky teams with a good grasp on defense and not a whole lot going on offensively. If you're going to beat them, you have to capitalize on any of the mistakes they make. The Islanders didn't do that often but did it just enough where they eked out two wins over them, sweeping the home-and-home series between Long Island and Ottawa.

November 30, 2014

Halak Stands Tall Again in 3-1 Win over Devils

We knew when the Isles brought Jaroslav Halak in to the fold in May that we could reasonably expect a step up in what we saw out of the crease in several years prior. But I don't think anyone would have expected him to show us the goaltending skills he has here in the early going, and we all walked away completely amazed at what we saw from him again on Saturday night as he single handily won the game for the Isles. Halak stopped 34 of 35 shots, including all 16 that he saw in the 3rd period to give the Isles the win and hopefully start off a new winning streak.

November 29, 2014

Caps end Isles Latest Win Streak at Five

The Washington Capitals learned from some of the mistakes they made on Wednesday night, and stopped the Islanders latest winning streak at five games on their way to a 5-2 victory on Friday night.

November 27, 2014

Plenty to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving


Ok, I'm done... have a great weekend.

In all seriousness boys and girls, this is perhaps the best November in the history of our New York Islanders (not including Novembers in which we were still buzzing from a shiny new Cup banner). As it stands right now, the New York Islanders are 10-2 in the month of November. Let me say that one more time so that you can absorb this: The ISLANDERS, are 10-2 in the month of November. It is amazing to me that so much can change over the course of a year.

 Photo Credit: Getty Images

When a fan of the Islanders turned the calendar from October to November, it usually meant turning off your televisions, shutting down your twitter, and ignoring any notification on Facebook from your Ranger fan buddies. Last November, the Isles were 4-10-1. We went on a 10 game losing streak, which lasted from November 19th to December 10th, nearly a month. It was the return of the dreaded no-win-November. Many had joked that we had made the playoffs in 2012-2013 because we didn't have to play in November (lock-out), and last season did very little to prove otherwise. Let's take a look at the last few Novembers for the New York Islanders:

2011-2012: 4-7-2
2010-2011: 1-7-3
2009-2010: 6-6-2
2008-2009: 8-6-1 (Yes, it's been 6 years since we had a winning record in November)

Photo Credit: Getty Images

So that combines for 23-36-9, 55 points, over the last five Novembers. We have over a third of those points, and nearly half the wins in this November alone. Take a second and really think about that. We are talking about the last five Novembers combined. Make no mistake about it, the page has turned, and this is a dawn of a new day for our Islanders.

The Islanders have four players who are scoring nearly a point per game: Tavares 21 points, Nelson 20 points, Okposo 19 points, Strome 17 points (and is a +10), each in 22 games. Oh and by the way, the average age of these four players is 23 and a half, can you say longevity? It also seems like after many years of fillers, we finally have a legitimate starting goaltender. Jaroslav Halak has hit his stride, going undefeated in his last seven starts. So far this season, his record is 11-4-0, and his 2.21 GAA and .923 SV%, top his career numbers (2.37 GAA, .918 SV%, respectively). We finally have a defensive core with a real top four. Hamonic and Lubo seem to be back and healthy (knock on wood), and the additions have Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk have propelled this team to a new level.

Today, we should all be thankful for Garth Snow, and the additions he made this offseason. Of course, we just mentioned Leddy and Boychuk. Leddy is the puckmover this team has lacked for many years, and as a 23 year old RFA to be, you can bank on him being a New York Islander for a long time. Johnny Boychuk is showing the Boston Bruins why NOT putting him on the Power Play was a mistake. He can stand you up at the blueline, win board battles, and makes a good first pass out of the zone to start rushes the other way. While he is a UFA in the summer of 2015 and is likely to test the Free Agent market, he has gone on record saying that he is willing to discuss an extension to stay with the Islanders moving forward. He believes the team will be strong moving forward, likes the idea of playing in Brooklyn, and to say he has chemistry with Nick Leddy would be an understatement.

Former Toronto Maple Leaf teammates Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolay Kulemin seemed to be picking up where they left off, for the most part, in Toronto. Grabovski has opened up the ice surface for his teammates, giving them excellent opportunities (Brock Nelson agrees). When he has had the puck on his stick, he's finished the job (4 goals, 5 assists, +5 in 19 games). By the way, he has not committed one penalty yet this season, which is huge for the Isles, considering how rough their penalty kill was last season, and even through the beginning of this season. Nikolay Kulemin has hit his stride playing on the first line with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. He has 4 goals and 11 assists, and most of those goals have come in the last few weeks. His physical play, defensive play, and speed have been something that the Islanders had been lacking with Michael Grabner, whether he was on the ice or not.

Josh Bailey, welcome back! 7 points in 14 games. We are happy to see you shooting that puck again. It's a shame that Bailey was injured when he was, as it probably hurt his momentum. What was amazing though in all of that, was how well the Islanders played, despite having him out of the lineup. In fact, it is extraordinarily encouraging. What this tells you is that this team will find ways to win in the face of adversity. It is not the only adversity we have faced this season, and due to the physical grind of an 82 game campaign, it is likely not the last. Late October saw a three game losing streak, which most people, and admittedly myself, were left saying, "Here we go again". 11 games later and we are 10 wins and 20 points richer.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

 There is probably no better fourth line in hockey right now than the line of Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck. They are putting points on the board, even on the Power Play. They are forcing opponents to make mistakes, throwing the bodies around, and wearing teams out. This is good news, especially for Martin. He was in the doghouse of far too many Islanders fans who had forgotten why they had loved him so many years ago. Similarly to Bailey, welcome back Matt. Let's not forget about the third member of the "kid" line, Anders Lee. The young forward faced his own adversity, when he was unable to make the team out of the pre-season. He went back to Bridgeport disappointed, but determined, and it wasn't long before the talented winger found his way back to the Old Barn. He scored his first goal of the year in late October against the Stars, and has found the net four more times since then. He also has one assist. With a full season ahead of him, there's no reason to believe why he will not get it going, picking up where he left off last season. He's feeling it, and you can tell.

Frans Nielsen, what else can you say about a guy who had a career year last year? How about the fact that he too, seems like he is picking up where he left off. Is he on pace to put up the points he did last season? As of now, not quite, but that is still not a bad thing. His 12 points in 22 games are par for the course with him, but where he is contributing most of all is in the shootouts. He and Kyle Okposo have almost single-handedly gotten this team a much needed 10 points in shootouts alone. Every point will count this year. The Islanders are tied for first place in the Metropolitan Division, along with the Pittsburgh Penguins (who at this point also have a game in hand).

Photo Credit: Getty Images

 Yes, we are tied for first with the Pittsburgh Penguins. We are over a quarter of the way through the year, and frankly, it is OK for us now to get excited. Admittedly, in any sport, you tend to be cautiously optimistic when your team gets off to a good start. So many teams are hot early, then tailspin. This team is certainly used to it. Every October we look like contenders, but then November exposes us as pretenders. Make no mistake about it, this team is now a contender, and no longer a pretender. So enjoy your turkey today. Enjoy the presence of your friends and loved one. Enjoy slipping into those elastic band sweatpants by 8 PM. Happy bargain hunting tomorrow, but make sure you get your goodies early, so that you can get home to watch the Islanders at 5 PM EST as they take on the Washington Capitals, live from our nation's capital on MSG (hey, don't the Rangers usually play on that channel?)

Happy Thanksgiving.


November 23, 2014

Crosby held Scoreless as Isles Sweep Home-and-Home with Pens

We are still early in a season that's already been full of statements for the Isles, but no statement has been as big as what they just accomplished on Friday and Saturday night against one of their biggest rivals in the Metropolitan Division - perhaps even their biggest rivals.

November 7, 2014

Isles get Overtime, Shootout wins to Sweep SoCal Series

The Islanders found a way to stop their losing skid, but who would have thought it would come when playing two beasts of the West in the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings? In fact, it was perhaps the best effort on both sides of the puck that we've seen from the team this season.

November 2, 2014

Sharks 3-1 win gives Isles Third Consecutive Loss

The Islanders improved play against the San Jose Sharks gave hope that they'd be able to score a 3rd period goal and get back on track, but ultimately it was a Logan Couture re-direct that would prove to be all the Sharks needed to give the Isles their 3rd loss in a row as they continued to shuffle lines and search for answers.

October 31, 2014

Isles Blanked in Colorado

With their 5-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night, the Isles situation has become a bit of a concern with four games still remaining on a very tough road trip.

Obviously it's still early and a season is not made or broken at this point, however when you consider what's happened in past years as this team has gone into the beginning of November it makes the situation a bit precarious.

October 26, 2014

Isles Defeat Stars 7-5 Behind Nielsen's Hat Trick

The Islanders really like those track meets, don't they?

On Saturday night it was another high scoring affair, and for the second consecutive season an evenly matched Dallas Stars team came into the building and gave up a hat trick to an Islanders center.

October 19, 2014

Isles Lose First Game, Fall 3-1 to Pens

The Islanders started off playing well, keeping things simple and steady while getting save after save from Jaroslav Halak against a Penguins team that seemed a bit apprehensive.

October 18, 2014

Grabovski Out Indefinitely

Infamously, we do not know why one of our star players is out, but all we know for sure is that he is hurt.

 Photo Credit: Getty Images

Going back to the days of Scott Gordon, the Islanders have been very hush-hush in regards to injuries. They never really tell us what is going on, leaving us to wonder what the injury is, the severity of said injury, and the timetable for a players return. To anyone who watched the game against San Jose on Thursday night, the early indication would have been that Mikhail Grabovski had suffered a concussion. He took a hit high, fell to the ice and in the process smacked his head again, and then lied there motionless for what felt like an eternity. I was sitting in section 208, roughly 20 rows up from the injury, and to say it was gruesome would be an understatement. To be honest, it was frightening.

Thankfully, he was able to skate off the ice, and we soon found out that he had not suffered a concussion, but was suffering from an "upper body injury". No kidding. Yesterday, it was Newsday's Art Staple who broke the news about Grabovski not making the trip to Pittsburgh for tonight's matchup against the rival Penguins:

I'm going to go out on a limb here and make my own prediction for what is ailing Mikhail Grabovski, who had three points in his first three full games with the Islanders: Bruised Sternum, out 2-4 weeks. This will prove to be a tough loss for the Islanders, who have been to their best start in 12 years. Missing Michael Grabner has proven to be a blow to our penalty kill. Losing Mikhail Grabovski, who has produced early on and has provided depth as scoring, will only make things more difficult for a team who is trying to silence their critics, and who also calls upon Colin McDonald and Eric Boulton off the bench, as it seems that Anders Lee will not be called up just yet. Let's just hope that Josh Bailey's production so far can sustain, at least for as long as Grabno is out of the lineup.

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October 15, 2014

Isles Defeat Rangers 6-3 in First Meeting of Rivals

The Islanders were nowhere near the best team on the ice on Tuesday night when they played the New York Rangers at MSG, but they were the better team in the only period where that mattered. It helped of course that the Islanders got great goaltending out of Jaroslav Halak that kept them in the game, allowing them to tie late in the second and score four in the 3rd to give the Isles the 6-3 victory.

October 12, 2014

Isles hold off Tlusty, Canes to Win Final Coliseum Opener

The Islanders opened the home schedule of their final season at the Nassau Coliseum in the only possible way you could have scripted it, with a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in an atmosphere that certainly had a playoff vibe.

October 11, 2014

Nelson and Boychuk Shine in Season Opener

After making two huge trades last weekend, the level of anticipation for the 2014-15 season reached heights that no one can remember in recent years to the point where every passing day seemed like it was taking more than 24 hours. On Friday, we finally had our first look at the new look Islanders and they made a nice statement in their 5-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.

September 27, 2014

Isles Second go Against Devils at Barclays Results in a Win

The second game for the Isles at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn went much better than the first one. However, this was not hard to accomplish given that last preseason the Isles lost 3-0 to the New Jersey Devils and didn't give their fans much to get excited about. Friday night was a little different as the Isles came out flying and put the first two goals on the board on the way to their 3-2 shootout win over their rivals from New Jersey.

September 24, 2014

Isles Fall to Canes in Coliseum Preseason Game

The Islanders dropped their only preseason game at Nassau Coliseum on Wednesday night, losing 4-2 to the Carolina Hurricanes thanks to some strong special teams play by their division rivals.

July 3, 2014

Isles Busy on First Two Days of UFA: Add Grabovski, Kulemin, Johnson

Although the first day of free agency didn't go the way as many had planned, by the end of day two the Islanders entire body of work looked much better and made many who were gloomy at least smile a bit as the Isles showed some life.

July 1, 2014

Free Agent Frenzy - Potential Isles Targets

It's that time of year again, where hockey fans all across the country pray that their teams are the ones landing the top names out on the open marking to better position themselves to make the playoffs - or in some rare cases, maybe even become a contender for The Cup.

The Islanders got off to their start rather early, trading for the rights to free agent goalie Jaroslav Halak in early May and signing him a few weeks later to a 4-year, $18 million deal.

March 5, 2014

Isles beat Jets after Sending MacDonald to Flyers

The Isles had one more game to play before the trade deadline, but they were already in the mindset of it being life after March 5th, with Andrew MacDonald (traded) and Thomas Vanek (waiting to be traded) both out of the line-up.

With a lean roster, the Isles had a chance to see what they had in guys who haven't had extended looks with the big club as of yet. It resulted in a 3-2 overtime victory in Winnipeg.

The Isles had some solid contributions from Ryan Strome and Anders Lee. Lee scored his third goal since being called up after the Olympic break ended last week.

Anders Nilsson got the start, to the chagrin of many fans out there who were left scratching their heads as to why he's get the nod after a less that stellar effort in the 3rd period of Sunday's tilt vs. Florida. For me, it's easy to understand.

The NHL is going through a musical goalie campaign, evidenced by Tuesday's trades. The Islanders are at a crossroads in net. They know what Evgeni Nabokov can provide and it's still back-up worthy for the NHL. But what about Kevin Poulin or Nilsson? We've seen a good sample out of Poulin to realize he isn't much of an answer. So that leaves Nilsson.

The Isles won't have much room for error going forward with their goalies. With so many names of younger guys flying around, they need to understand what they have in these two sooner rather than later. If you sign a starter, do you need to sign guys for Bridgeport? The Isles could add anywhere from one to three new goaltenders to the organization this summer and now is the time for them to decide.

Having said all of that, I thought Nilsson played pretty well. Some of the angles are a bit off, but you can see that he has his moments - both good and bad.

Despite looking strong early on, the Isles allowed the Jets to slowly get back into the game as they allowed plenty of scoring chances. Lots of scrambling in front of Nilsson only yielded two goals, however, and gave the Isles the chance to win on Michael Grabner's overtime breakaway.

Grabner has been playing better of late too, at least on the offensive end. All season long he seemed to have the defensive side of his game up to snuff and now it's nice to see the confidence increasing with each goal scored - including the ones from the Olympics.

But enough about this game. We'll get to the more important stuff...

A-Mac's Isles tenure ended on Tuesday. Photo by C. Hessel
Andrew MacDonald to Flyers: Yes, as alluded to earlier the Isles already moved one of their trading chips, shipping MacDonald to the Philadelphia Flyers for a 3rd round pick this summer, a 2nd round pick in 2015, and forward Matt Mangene - who isn't much of a prospect, and never really was.

I like the fact that the 2nd round pick is in the 2015 draft, which by all accounts will be very deep and full of talented players in the first few rounds. The 2015 picks will have value and the Isles can package them to try and get more immediate help for next season, that is if they choose to do so.

It's frustrating to be going through yet another year of this however, and I'll go out on the limb and say I'll be upset if some of these assets are not used to make the team better in the more near term. With holes throughout, and now a glaring one next to John Tavares, this team seriously needs to figure out what their plan is going forward because having disappointing seasons and accumulating picks year after year isn't much of a plan.

So the Isles have one more player to move in Vanek. Everyone else will likely stay for now. I wouldn't expect the goaltending holes to be plugged on Wednesday either. That will be something the team addresses more in the offseason when they can see their options.

We'll see what Wednesday provides. I'll have some thoughts on the deadline as a whole after we hit 3 PM and see the dust settle.

- Chris

January 28, 2014

Isles Fall Flat as Bruins Pounce on Miscues in 6-3 Win

The Isles small rut continued as they dropped their third straight game, falling in a back-and-forth game that the Bruins ended up having the last laugh in. They had lots of trouble, particularly when it came to trying to contain the line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Reilly Smith. Marchand lead the way with four points.

January 22, 2014

Another Game, Another two goal Comeback for Isles - This Time vs. Rangers

If there's one really positive thing we can say about the way this Isles team is playing right now, it's that they never panic when they get down early in games.

Once again, the Isles found themselves in a very familiar position, and once again much to the chagrin of Sean it happened early on in the first period. But after less than stellar defensive plays by Matt Donovan, Calvin de Haan and John Tavares allowed Chris Kreider get control of the puck and find a wide open Rick Nash, there was no doubt he was scoring and the Isles were going to be chasing from behind early once again.

January 21, 2014

Isles Battle Back to Split Home-and-Home with Flyers

I think we've all finally figured out the Isles strategy for winning games. They cannot have a lead going into the third period.

Once again, the team found themselves trailing after two, with the Flyers holding a 3-1 advantage. While it's tough to say two goal leads are commanding even in today's NHL, this was a game where the Isles did not look too crisp. As a matter of fact, both teams looked a bit sluggish, and the Isles caught a lot of breaks just because of miscues by the Flyers in the offensive zone.

January 17, 2014

Nielsen, Isles Slide Past Lightning in Shootout

The Islanders found themselves in a tight game with the Tampa Bay Lightning for pretty much the duration of the contest, and were able to overcome an early powerplay goal by Isles killer Martin St. Louis to defeat the improved Lightning in overtime as they continue to try and put together a long successful streak that will propel them back into playoff contention.

January 15, 2014

Isles Streak Ends as Turnovers Plentiful; Strome Sent to Bridgeport

The Isles came back down to Earth on Tuesday night as their hot stretch came to an end in Florida, as they dropped a 4-2 decision to a team that has given them some trouble in recent years. And for the Isles, it was a collapse in a big way.

January 11, 2014

Isles Remain Hot in OT Victory over Avs

When you're hot, things always seem to go your way. And for the New York Islanders, the past week couldn't have gone any better. It started with a huge win over the Dallas Stars on Monday, and ended with an overtime win last night against the Colorado Avalanche. In between the Isles found out they had multiple players named to Olympic teams, including John Tavares getting the nod for the Canadians in Sochi after a five point night and hat trick against the Stars (even though he didn't need all of that to be named, anyway).

January 3, 2014

Isles, Okposo Each Make Statements in OT Win Over Hawks

After another impressive come from behind win on Tuesday against the Boston Bruins, the Islanders were coming back home to face the other team from the Stanley Cup Finals, the Chicago Blackhawks. Unfortunately for the Isles, they were on an 0-4-4 run at home, so it's been anything but an advantage.