March 31, 2007

3/31/07 - Islanders at Sabres Postgame; Senators at Islanders Pregame

What a terrible twenty minutes. That first period was really something. I don't think most teams in this league could have pulled that sort of thing off. Dunham: take a break. Go on vacation. Go see Europe. As bad as Dunny was, the other half of the blame is the defense in front of him. Let's hope the addition of two guys from the German league is a wake-up for the whole D unit.

Even the pseudo-rally that was the third period couldn't make up for the first. We can't make these kinds of mistakes and expect anything. And against Buffalo! Geez, what a night.

Moving on, Ottawa tonight. If we could look at any game thus far and use it as the sole judge of if the team still has a chance at the playoffs, this should be it. If we can pull off 2 points against a higher-up conference rival now, then I believe we can still do it. If we fall yet again, we're probably done. Even I can't look at this game and not see the hopelessness if we lose.

Need to cut things short. Game time 7:00.
Let's go Islanders.

March 30, 2007

3/30/07 - Islanders at Sabres Update

A mere five hours before the drop of the puck, and we have little as far as new information regarding Smyth and Hilbert. We do have, however, some more developments in goal and as far as help from Germany.

It seems Dunham will start again tonight, and Dubie will be riding shotgun. I'm really fine with that, both are great choices. Give Dunnie a break; he makes some great saves. It's just the easy ones that sort-of throw him...

Anyway, Greg Logan brings us some more inside developments, as the Isles have signed Deron Quint, a 2-way defenseman who spent this year in Berlin. Additionally, Simpson has cleared waivers, and should play on Saturday. Get the full story at On the Islanders Beat.

Logan also reports that Teddy Nolan will sit down with Smyth and Hilbert later on this afternoon and figure out who is or isn't playing from there. We can only cross our fingers for both to feel better.

Notwithstanding any more late breaking developments, this should be what we are looking at for tonight: a do-or-die game against a monster of a team with every perceived advantage. But we're desperate, and we have the potential. It should be a great game of hockey, win or lose. Let's cheer our Islanders on and forget the standings for the time being. Just win.

Go Isles.

March 29, 2007

3/29/07 - Islanders at Sabres Pregame

So, uh... I'm not sure if you've heard or not, but uh, we're a little bit shorthanded for tonight.
...
It seems that DiPietro cannot fly to Buffalo, which is an inauspicious sign of more bad things. Adding to the general sense of blown confidence, the Islanders finally admitted that he is suffering from "mild concussions". Ryan Smyth is also out, with an apparent leg injury. He is listed as day-t0-day for the time being. Furthermore, Andy Hilbert's shoulder is giving him trouble, and he is another question mark for gametime.*

So, taking these recent developments, and adding in recent rumors that Richard Zednik will not return before the postseason, and that leaves our Isles out an entire line of forwards since last Saturday.
Are we weakened? Duh.
Are we frustrated? Oh yeah.
Are we out? No.

It's hard to explain what I see in the team at this point in the season, especially in the face of these odds.** Buffalo is the East's powerhouse club that nobody wants to play against. We're a scrappy 10th place club that seems to have crashed a truck carrying 13 mirrors and 13 pounds of salt into a graveyard on Friday the 13th after swerving to avoid 13 black cats. But I really do believe in what we have right now, and what we can do with it. Call me naive, call me crazy. Instead of offering a bunch of statistic and trend analyzation that somehow seems to give the Isles the upper hand (which, admittedly, would be difficult to do against Buffalo), I'm just going to go with gut feeling and faith in the heart of our team.

This is how I support my team. Shouldn't it be, though? Shouldn't a fan (a real fan) be with the team all the time? That's the very reason I'm writing this blog- I want to be close to my favorite team, even though I'm limited by where I am. There are so many fans out there that are excited and proud when the team is winning, yet loathing and criticizing when the team is not (as is the case with many, many Islanders fans, particularly). A true fan should be optimistic and faithful at all times. I believe this is how anyone supports anything that they love- with hope for the future, and faith in the process.

This is how I support our team, and I hope I'm not the only one.
Tonight is huge, and we need the points. Let's all have some faith for a change and enjoy a game of hockey.
Let's go Islanders!

*Check back for updates on the injury situations closer to gametime, as well as further commentary and crackpot theories.

**If you really must get into
some statistics, we did win the last matchup, do have a better penalty killing unit, and do have more shutouts. There I said it. (Those are terrible!)

March 28, 2007

3/28/07 - Devils at Islanders Postgame

3-2 L
Well, it's time to get up, dust ourselves off, and focus on tomorrow night. We played a tough game against a good team, and we lost. If we want to remain in the chase, we need to move on as fast as possible.

What was great, however, about last night, was the intensity in which the Islanders played. Now, I know some of you are pointing out that we had limited offense and very few quality shots, but for what it's worth, that's Devils hockey, and for that, we did well. The second and late third periods were a good example of this, and also when we got the most chances.

It's good- no, let me say great to see Yashin producing. His work ethic seems higher, and it's showing in the points column. Maybe he's about to prove us all wrong about him yet. Blake did his job, too, and that's exactly what we should expect.

Let's hear it for a great game from Allan Rourke, who was called up to replace Freddy Meyer. He brought a lot of energy on D, and that undoubtedly helped the overall drive of the team. While we can point again at Dunham for some questionable goals against, I still think he did a good job in net and made some key saves. Gotta remember- it's much easier to remember the goals against than to remember the goal that never happened. Dubie was solid when he was called upon, and that's a great sign for us.

In all, we did what we needed to do and lost. We can't ask for more than that, and it's a waste of time to lament the lost points. Tomorrow is Buffalo: we need a huge effort from everyone, but it is definitely a possible win. Let's hope for DiPietro's return, as well.

Stay tuned, and thanks for reading.

March 27, 2007

3/27/07 - Devils at Islanders Update

So it seems more than the NHL has it out for our Islanders.
DiPietro will be sitting tonight, suffering from post-concussion syndrome. To make matters worse, there are reports that Freddy Meyer has a broken finger. Dubielewicz has been called up, and honestly, I hope he starts. I really love what I've seen from him in the past, and his great season in B-Port seems indicative of his maturation and readiness to play at the NHL level.
On the other side of the divider, the Devils will be getting star center Patrick Elias back tonight after a week out.

I mean really, come on.
Someone out there hates the thought of the Isles making the playoffs.

Regardless of these extremely unfortunate events, we can still win tonight. Like I said, the Devils are not a high scoring team, and that should take the pressure off whoever gets the start tonight in goal. As long as we can play solid D and pour it on for Marty, we should still be okay. Let's NOT despair and throw in the towel. There's every reason we should have 2 points at the end of the night.
So shut up with the white flag, season-over crap and support your team; they are going to do it.

Let's go Islanders.

March 26, 2007

3/26/07 - Devils at Islanders Pregame

I hate the Devils.
I hate everything about how they play their game, and I most of all I hate a game against Martin Brodeur.

That said, I am going to take a look at this game very objectively. After all, it's fairly well known that Brodeur hates the Islanders too (read his book), but we very well aren't going anywhere, and neither is tomorrow night. So here's an optimistic, yet fair, look at tomorrow's do-or-die match.

As outlined in Greg Logan's On The Islanders Beat which, of course, you should already have bookmarked, the Islanders are staring down some disheartening figures about the next few games. Against the Devils, specifically, we've been goalless in the last two, and winless in the past five.

If you've seen the Devils play any of their other games on TV, you'll know what I mean when I say that the Devils play "Snore Hockey". They are 27th in the league in goals per game, yet have the 3rd fewest goals-against per game. It really is awful, not only for the fans, but for the league's potential fanbase. Nobody wants to watch their (or any) team lose 1-0. Is it really that great to win a game like that anyway?

Well, that aside, if the Islanders want to get ahead, they need to first find away to break through the Devils' trap and really pour it on in front of Brodeur. And we will. It totally can be done, too: as much as I hate comparing games from so much earlier in the season, our 5-2 win on Nov. 2 was quite convincing. Another reason tomorrow will be different: this will be the first game facing 'em Devs since our trade-deadline acquisitions. You gotta love Smyth's attitude. In response to Logan's noting that he hadn't played against Brodeur at all this year, Smyth simply replied, "Nope, not this year. He’s going to see me, though." When I read that, my skin crawled a little. It's great to see that type of hunger and anticipation from one of our boys.

So, the usual wrap up, ne?
Big game! Must-win! Playoffs!

Really, though. We can't look at the next four games and bargain with ourselves. We need 16/16 points, and if any team in the East can make it happen, it's our Islanders. We have the talent, and we have the heart, all we need is the fire and our passion, and we can down all four conference rivals and power ourselves back into the playoffs.

I'm sick of having to end my thoughts with "we'll see" and qualifying my predictions with "if they can do X, then maybe". I'm an Islanders fan and dammit I'll go out on the limb for once. We can and will win tomorrow night. I'll live and die with our playoff push, and that's all there is to it.

Let's go Islanders!

March 25, 2007

3/25/07 - Rangers at Islanders Postgame, the Road Ahead

2-1 L, OT
Well it's hard to argue with a lot that happened this afternoon. Both teams brought their best, and it showed. It seems we just (dare I say?) got beat. Of course anyone could look at Hill's late penalty and scapegoat him, but that isn't fair to Hill or to the rest of the game. The Islanders were 6-for-7 on the PK today, but the Rangers were even better at 8-for-9. Hill played well today as well, making several great play-ending moves, including some good Jagr stoppers.

DiPietro played his usual good game, too, but (I'll say it-) he should have had Orr's wrap-around. He's much too fast to have allowed Orr to even get a look at the other side. In spite of this, he silenced Jagr and made some brilliant saves. Now only if he will start making the easy saves as well as the hard saves, we could feel a little better about his play.

So now, we are in 8th, and the Rags are in 6th. As much as it pains me, that's the facts. And honestly, I don't care if the Rangers make the playoffs; actually I'd rather see a shot at an Isles-Rags playoff series than have the Rangers end up in 9th.

Sorry for the lack of pregame coverage - these afternoon games are far too early for me to wake up on time. We have a tough week ahead, Devils, Sabres, Senators, and then Rangers again. Which, of course, makes today's lost point even more painful, but if you're like me, you'll be looking at our decisive win against the Pens last Thursday for some hope. If anyone got to see the NBC broadcast of the Penguins-Bruins game during the breaks today, you'll know what the Penguins are capable of. We found a way to beat that, and we can find a way to win the next bunch of games.
Keep your heads held high, Isles fans, there is much more to come.

March 24, 2007

3/24/07 - Islanders at Flyers Postgame

4-3 W
Ah, yes. That felt good.
After a great game of back-and-forth hockey, such a win can only be described as:
Powerful.

Yes, I choose the word powerful because that's how the Islanders looked at times this afternoon. Yes, there were some odd-man rushes I'm sure were avoidable, but man, o' man what a show when it was our turn to rush. Hats off to -my favorite- Richard Park once again for putting in 100% and reaping his returns. Andy Hilbert also got his goal, and to that let me say: You earned every bit of that point. The poor guy skates his heart out every game, and let me promise you: next year at this time he will have well over his current eight goal mark. I'd say that signing guys like Hilbert and Park is every bit as important as signing Smyth and Blake. It takes a whole team.

Besides the delightful work of our 3rd and 4th lines, it was great to see Yash put in a solid effort, even without Satan. Hunter worked his ass off as well, and it's just a shame he couldn't bury it.

Gotta cut it short, more to come soon. Huge game against the Rags tomorrow, it should be interesting to say the least.

3/24/07 - Islanders at Flyers "Pregame"

Well, not actually pregame. Turns out, I slept in too late, and the game is on right now.
Oops.

Postgame to come tonight.
Let's go Islanders!

March 22, 2007

3/22/07 Penguins Postgame

3-1 W
Reason to believe. Everything came together tonight beautifully. Not only did the Isles find their 'fire' that was so crucial to their success this season, but they did so against one of the best teams in the East right now.

Tonight was a scrappy, emotional, fight to the finish that we needed so badly. Not only was everyone involved physically, but the place was buzzing with activity right from Hunter's opening faceoff's attack. DiPietro was well on his game, and it really proved to be the showstopping factor in at many times.

Good for Hunter, by the way. It was clear that he wanted it badly tonight, and it was good to see that sort of effort. Yashin got his point, too. Which is good for him, too; now he can go back to cruise control.

In short, I'm still very excited about where the team could be going. And tonight's win was not only great in terms of the playoff hunt, but it's a huge confidence and momentum builder for the next few matchups.

Next up: Last-place Philly. Don't say anything yet -- we've right out lost to 'em on several occasions this year.


3/22/07 - Penguins Pregame

While I was thinking about what to say for tonight's game against Pittsburgh, I realized that my usual 'advice' might be useless. I'm a big proponent of moving on after a tough loss. In my own experience, one can play much better if he removes all prior stress. This might not be best tonight, however.

Instead, tonight the Islanders need to remember the last four games. If giving up two games against lesser teams, blowing a lead to lose in OT, and being kicked out of the last playoff spot isn't enough to get this team motivated to play with desperation, I'm not sure anything else will.

With that said, there are several keys to tonight's game that are absolutely vital if the Islanders want to get some points out of tonight:
First off, they need to tighten up the defense. Letting DiPietro - regardless of how well he's played - face 40+ shot in a game is just unacceptable. There isn't a goalie today that can handle 40 shot games every night and manage to keep his head. That's another reason I'm a big fan of players like Park; they won't think twice about blocking the shot 5 on 5.

Secondly, they need to loosen up the offense. Is it me or does the regular 5 on 5 offense seem very rigid to anyone? In any event, the puck needs to be moved more smoothly. Chase the dump-ins and make the pass out to the point. Gotta get that rotation started up again.

Lastly, stay out of the box! Let's hope that last game's undisciplined horror show is just a freak event. It really cost us, not just in terms of the PP goals against, but in the net amount of time we spent not scoring. (Yes, I know, SHG. That isn't going to happen a lot.)

As for our chances against the most talented team in the league, we will just have to see. If we can play with intensity and desperation, and get back to the more disciplined game of hockey that we've seen brilliance with at times this year, it will be quite a show. Nevertheless, let's keep our heads up and hopes high. Win tonight, and we're back in the playoffs.

Let's go Islanders.

March 20, 2007

3/20/07 - Lightning Postgame

4-3 L, OT
So, did we lose a point or steal a point?
It's all about your point of view.

The second point was lost on the obscene amount of penalties taken in the first period, the lack of physical play, and the overall funk that seems to have ensnared the team on this road trip.
The first point was won by the good work of the PK unit, the brief moment of fire that we found in the 2nd period, and the return of DiPietro.

Regardless, if anything, we have some good reason to keep our chins up. Despite the fact that we now lay in lowly 11th place, we are still one win away from moving back up. The trick is converting our games-in-hand into wins, and actually converting the advantage we're offered. Another reason to smile: Richard Park. I've loved this guy since that game against the Capitals in late November where he single-handedly stopped a half dozen or so shots without his stick. The guy is a real dedicated player, and a great defensive forward. His SHG today was a huge momentum swing, and it's just great to see the guy smile. He's got no teeth. More congrats for Richard Zednik, who scored his first as an Islander. If he can get going like he has for the Caps, we could be looking at a lot more offence.

Anyway, someone was going to break a losing streak tonight. A good matchup was played, even if the Islanders couldn't get their heads on straight and end theirs. If the Isles make any sort of actual move soon, we might have seen a preview of the 4th place-5th place playoff round in a few weeks. Who knows? It is our turn to find the winning side of our streak cycle, after all.
Penguins are next ... we'll see what happens.

3/20/07 - Lightning Pregame

This might be the definitive do-or-die matchup of the 2007 Islanders playoff run.
So we've dropped the last three games, two of which against teams below us in the conference. So we could have been in 6th tonight, instead of the Lightning. Ugh*

Forget it all, because tonight is key. A win tonight puts the team back in the 8th spot, and helps mitigate yet another possible losing streak in this season of streaks. It seems we have every reason to be optimistic about tonight as well. DiPietro -and his scrambled brains- will (probably) be between the pipes tonight.

What's even more interesting, perhaps, is that the Lightning are in the very same rickety boat that we find ourselves tonight. They have lost their last 3 matchups, giving up a total of 13 goals, only to respond with a total of 5. Difference is, they haven't had a goaltender injury, they've just been unstable in net.

With any luck, tonight will be a scrappy fight and we can disrupt Lecavalier and St. Louis to keep DiPietro's head on straight. Or just on his head.
Let's go Islanders.

*I'll be doing a lot of this- don't get me wrong, though. I'm really quite optimistic.
[For an 90's-era Islanders fan.]

Welcome; A running start

So it's two weeks until the end of the regular season. A whole season - nearly done. That was fast. Like, really fast. Maybe it's just me; you see, I find myself in hockey captivity, far away from my beloved Islanders and the television broadcast area. That's right - I'm in Boston. I'm here for college, which -naturally- keeps me here for the entirety of the hockey season.

But it's okay! I've gotten the chances to see our Isles play on TV when I went home for winter break... I'm sure you all remember the 6-game losing skid in early January? Oh right, and I just got back from spring break, too. You know, the past week of games? Great...

But I've resolved to not let it get to me. I still have Chris King and Steve Mears on internet radio to keep me going up here. There's also the familiar internet ring of Islanders thoughts and banter, of which I'm hoping to add to. Check out the links on the side sometime, there are some great voices out there.

I suppose that's the whole point to this blog. I am quite stranded here- there's nobody to talk to, and nobody wants to hear me rant anymore. So, like the cliche message-in-a-bottle, I'll be throwing my thoughts on the Islanders out there, and hopefully someone will be reading.

Thanks for reading,
Andy