April 21, 2007

4/21/07 - Season Over - Thank you

As the last few seconds ticked off the clock in Buffalo last night, I crumpled down and groaned in frustration. Only this season, with this Islanders team, could things have come down to such a close margin.

Last night, and in fact, for the entire season, the Isles fought an uphill battle. Despite being written off in September, the Islanders banded together and played with heart. After leading the division in late 2006, the team fell to their lowest point just after new year's day. From there they faced a steep climb out of their hole. But Garth Snow came through for the team, adding some real talent and leadership just in time for the playoff push. Again, the Isles were written off as a contender, but one more time they would prove everybody wrong. The team came together again, and with the help of some unlikely heroes, the down-and-out Islanders won four elimination games in a row to clinch a playoff birth in the last moment possible.

It's true, the playoff series with Buffalo was full of controversy and drama, as was much of the regular season, but nobody can deny that the series brought some of the best hockey anyone's seen from our team in years. Don't look at the score, but look at the game as a whole. I know that I was actually standing for most of the game last night, and it wasn't just in the third period. I grew up in a time where it was embarrassing to be an Islanders fan for a long time. This year, I'm proud to support the Isles. Even though we were eliminated in 5 games, we accomplished so much more than the statistics will reflect.

There is a lot to be said about this year's team, but I feel like I should mention a few players that really stood out in the fight against Buffalo.

Ryan Smyth - He brought so much more to this team than anyone else in the short time he's been here. He worked hard, was vocal on and off the ice, and set the tone for the entire team in the postseason. He should be priority no. 1 for the off-season.

Trent Hunter - Trent won nearly all his battles on the forecheck and consistently made that skill pass in the zone, which was, quite honestly, the sole reason for dozens of Islanders scoring chances. He is an invaluable piece of the puzzle, and must also be signed as soon as possible.

Mike Sillinger - Enough can't be said for the team's top worker. He worked powerplay and penalty kill, forecheck and backcheck. There is almost nothing he can't do, and he works well with everyone.

Victor Kozlov - Sure, he is streaky, and sure, it seems that he can disappear at times, but in this series, he really came alive. Kozlov was responsible for dozens of Isles' carry-ins, taking chops and slashes as he pushed the rush forward. He has eyes in the back of his head, and can retain the puck better than anyone on the ice.

Andy Hilbert - God bless him, he's trying. No, really though, he is literally inches away from 20 or 30 goals per season. He works so damn hard; it's just a shame he seems to have a knack for finding the goalpost or otherwise missing his shot in confounding ways. Let him develop, and we will have a very strong forward very soon.

In any case, this season is over. As sad as it is, I find it to be strangely relieving to finally be done. No more NHL drama (I hope), no more heart-attack third periods. I love this sport, and I love supporting our team, I really do. It just feels now, that it might be time for a rest. Haha, I know it sounds strange, but hopefully someone will know what I mean.

I'd like to take this time to thank the entire team, as well as all my fellow fans this year. This year was the first time I really felt any real connection to the players and to the community, and that really made the entire season so much fun and so memorable. Honestly, I'd really love to get the chance to talk to some of the players, and let them know how much this season meant to their fans. I hope that next year will be even deeper, and that the Isles can play with the same great sense of team and spirit that was present this year.

So finally, a heartfelt thanks to all who have read my blog over the last short month. I am really glad that it has become somewhat of a success, and all of it is due to my fellow fans (and occasionally, enemies). I don't plan on going anywhere. This summer, I'll be back (probably on some sort of weekly/monthly basis) to discuss Islanders news, rant about the league, and/or share some random thoughts about the organization.


So to the team, the fans, and everyone out there reading, thank you.
Andy Facini


April 20, 2007

4/20/07 - Game 5 - Isles at Sabres

I can't even handle all the fraudulent moves by the NHL in this series. In case you haven't kept up, here's a summary from last night:
  • NHL botches a goal scored by Witt in game 4, ultimately leading to the Isles' loss.
  • Isles' administration and fans defy the NHL and speak out against the biased ruling.
  • Contradictory stories are issued by the NHL and by the game's referees regarding the events that transpired leading to the no-goal call.
  • NHL tries to cover up all video evidence of the goal, even having a fan-uploaded video of the goal removed on YouTube.
  • Read Greg Logan's blog for Newsday; he did a great job covering the call, and has another video uploaded there as well. "The Smoking Gun" is particularly intriguing - On the Islanders Beat
In any case, it's over 50˚ for the first time in weeks, and I'm going to cut my 3:00 class and play soccer. I recommend that everyone find something to do outside, if even for a little bit. Let's clear our heads and move on from game 4. The Isles are again in a win-or-die situation, but we've already seen how they've performed in that situation 4 times this season.

Try to forget the NHL and the frustrations of games 3 and 4. Tonight is another game, and we should all be happy to watch our Isles compete with the best team in the league. Hopefully, we they get to play on and return home for game 6.
Keep the faith, everyone. We can do this!

April 19, 2007

4/19/07 - Game 4 - Sabres and NHL at Isles Postgame

Why?
Why must every game that the Islanders play be surrounded with controversey and drama?
The league messed up big time tonight. The botched ruling in the third was only the begining.
Let's take a quote from NewYorkIslanders.com, a site hosted by the NHL and is, by default, supposed to be very level-headed and withdrawn:
"THE BATTLE VS. BUFFALO
Wednesday, April 18, 11:50 pm: The Non-Goal That was a Goal

Let's try to make this clear and simple, sticking only to the facts:

* After the puck went in the net, Islanders center Mike Sillinger was told by the referees that the decision of “goal or no goal” would ultimately be made by NHL headquarters in Toronto.

* In a phone conversation after the game, Stephen Walkom, the NHL VP and Director of Officiating, told Islanders general manager Garth Snow that the call was made by the referees on the ice.

* Walkom told Snow the referees disallowed the goal because Islanders defenseman Brendan Witt crashed into Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller, causing the puck to cross the goal line.

* There is at least one clear, definitive replay that shows the puck sitting on the goal line between Miller's legs and then Brendan Witt, uncontested, skating in and slamming the puck into the net. Not a player on either team touches Miller until well after the puck crosses the goal line. Witt never touches Miller at all.

* The Islanders practice at the Coliseum tomorrow before traveling to Buffalo. Game 5 is Saturday at 7:05 at HSBC Arena. "

Even Ted Nolan spoke out after the game: "I don't care what anybody says, that was a goal ... we got three different explanations from the referees."

He will probably be fined for speaking out like this, but give the man some credit. He and his team has been defrauded by unfair and biased officiating.

This is disgusting. Something MUST be done. I had a list of notes and observations about tonight's game, but I'll write about them tomorrow, after things settle down a little.

April 18, 2007

4/18/07 - Game 4 - Sabres at Isles Pregame

After a very long day of dealing with classes, writing assignments, and the terrible New England weather, I find myself exhausted.

Not as exhausted physically, rather, I am exhausted of reading, writing, and thinking about the events of Monday's game. I wrote my last post in anger, and it's true- I was extremely angry. It's not that I've exactly 'come to terms' with what happened, it's more of a general state of apathy at this point. There has been so many voices on the subject, saying so much, that it might actually be impossible by now to determine what, if any, the general consensus is, even after a day of brooding.

Well, I for one am finished with it. I may keep last night in the back of my mind for a long while, but I'm not going to comment on it any further. Nothing is going to change, even if Larue and Pollock come out and admit to some crazy conspiracy.
Did we get gypped? Maybe.
Does it matter? Not at all.

What matters is that the Isles have a ridiculously important game tonight on the Island. A tied series 2-2 is hundreds of thousands of times better than returning to Buffalo down 3-1 in the series.

The keys to the game won't lie with a certain player or group, but with the entire team. We've seen time and time again with the Sabres that we need to not only shut down their offensive play, but simultaneously pour the shots on their end. In game 3, we did both, but not at the same time. If the forwards can keep the forecheck going, and the defensemen can hold the blue line and force the dump-in, we will be in brilliant shape.

DiPietro has been handling those dump-ins beautifully, and we've proven that we can win those all-important battles in the Sabres' end to keep the puck in. Enough can't be said for Smyth and Hunter in that respect; they've been able to dominate the boards and set up chances by the dozens per game.

On a slightly different note,

I'd like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all the people who have begun to read this blog of mine. As I write this, we are approaching the one-month mark, and should surpass 700 hits sometime today. Daily readers is consistently increasing, and I am starting to get more and more feedback through comments and emails. It is the most gratifying feeling to know that there are people out there reading and responding to my random thoughts about our team. I love writing about the Isles, and I'm just overjoyed that others can share my thoughts as well.

Pretty soon I plan on implementing some artwork and sprucing up the site a little, and I already have some ideas for pieces I can write over the summer break. Stay tuned, and remember to tell your friends! There's much more to come.

Thank you to all who have read!
And of course,
Let's go Islanders!

-Andy

April 16, 2007

4/16/07 - Game 3 - Sabres at Isles Postgame

I'm pissed.
Any fan of the sport should be.
As this season came down to the wire, the Islanders were "given the shaft" countless times. Of special note to all New York hockey fans, the non-goal call against the Rangers on March 8th that cost the Isles the game. I was able to let that go, however, since we fought our way into the playoffs anyway.


NYR @ NYI, Mar. 8, 2007 (puck shadow removed, goal line emphasized)


What happened tonight, though, is inexcusable. This is playoff hockey, and every measure should be taken to preserve the game's equality. I don't know what the referees and/or the league have against the Islanders, but nobody can argue that tonight's game was unbiased.

Vanek's "goal" in the second period:
In all honesty, this shot was inconclusive, and worthy of the video replay. But, according to the NHL rulebook, that is exactly the reason that the shot must be ruled a non-goal. It's clear that at every angle, the puck is still on the line, albeit barely, but there is no way that the puck could have been 100% over the line, even if DiPietro's stick was blocking the line from the furthest spot. I don't want to hear the excuse "Vanek had the best position to see it, and he clearly thought it was in." Yes, the Versus announcer actually thought it would be a good idea to rely on Vanek's perspective. If something happened that quickly, and at this spot in the series, of course you'd think it would be in, too.
Something to ponder: DiPietro was clearly pretty far in the net, and he nudged his way back forward as the play unfolded. Take a look at offical NHL rule 75.8:
"Apparent goals shall be disallowed by the Referee and the appropriate announcement made by the Public Address Announcer for the following reasons: ~~ (sec. ix): When a goalkeeper has been pushed into the net together with the puck after making a save."
Just something to think about.

Robitaille's "penalty" late in the third period:
This really got me steamed. The Versus announcers critiqued the Isles' fans' throwing of their towels on the ice in protest, but this was outright fraud. In case you missed it, the Islanders were scrambling for the equalizer late in the third, when Chris Campoli grabbed an opportunity and cut into the net. He was blatantly hooked, held, and thus, fell to the ice. No call was made, but in the ensuing chase seconds later, Randy Robitaille was called for "tripping" with 1:34 left in the game. Only problem with this call- Robitaille never touched the Sabre. He was in-chase, when the Sabre fell under his own skates. The Islanders and their fans showed their disgust as the so-called referee made the call.

This is exactly the thing that any Islanders fan will complain and lament about, but yet, it keeps happening. The NHL is clearly defrauding the Islanders in many ways, though there will never be anything said or done about it. Thoughts immediately go back to the Edmonton-Dallas game early in the season where referee Mick McGeough blew a call, yet apologized to the fans after the fact. Will the Islanders ever see such apology? Ever?

It's time for the league to give the Islanders a fair chance, and stop this charade. We've proven that we belong in the playoffs, why can't we prove what we can do on a level sheet of ice?

Updates to come as I search for video and photographs from the game.
Thanks for reading.


April 15, 2007

4/15/07 - Game 2 - Isles at Sabres Postgame

What's in a coach?
I believe the Islanders did everything right last night. The team came out with an entirely different face on. None of that get-and-dump offense from game one... and finally some forechecking. I really have to hand it to Teddy, he saw when change was needed, and the team responded beautifully. The heat was put on, and shots started going in. Their goalie isn't that great; we just needed to put the pressure on the offensive zone and make him work.

What's in a goalie?
On the other end of the rink, we had the return of Rick "I'll get that" DiPietro. He played sharp- extremely sharp, and he was a key factor in the win. I suppose that everyone knows by now how much I loved Dubielewicz, but I can't deny that things probably would have ended differently if DiPietro hadn't been able to play yet. I was a little scared when he got run into late in the third, but he got up and was ready to make a save right away. Let's just hope he stays in net and makes smart decisions the rest of the way.

What's in a game?
The Islanders split the series in Buffalo with the win last night, which now brings them home to the Coliseum with not only the home field advantage, but the momentum from beating the Sabres on their home ice. Honestly, going down 2-0 to the Sabres would not have been a good place to be, even at home. The Sabres are probably stunned right now; they don't lose at home often- only 10 times all year, and not to to the 8th seed in the playoffs. Let's take them to Long Island and bury 'em. If we can pull off both home wins, the series is ours.

It was great being able to watch the game on television, though people didn't seem to understand why I was yelling at a TV. Bunch of morons. Anyway, game 3 is on Monday, and again it will be on Versus. More updates to come on Monday. Thanks for reading.

April 13, 2007

4/13/07 - Game 1 - Isles at Sabres Postgame

This is going to be a very long series.

The Sabres came out swinging tonight, and peppered poor Dubielewicz with ten shots before the Islanders could keep it in the offensive zone long enough for a shot. Much to Dubie's credit, though, he made several fantastic saves in the first period; if he hadn't been as sharp as he was, it could have easily been a repeat of March 30th's 5-goal shellacking.

It became overtly clear that if the Islanders want to compete with the Sabres, they are going to have to not only shut down the Buffalo offense, but also do more than just shoot the puck down when they get postseason. Keep the pressure off our end by keeping the pressure on theirs. You can't just expect to clear the puck and maintain the game. They're going to get through and score; the only way to keep on-top is to score yourself, and that's something the Isles just could not do tonight, either for lack of strategy (1st period) or lack of luck (3rd period).

I know this has been a problem all season, and it has bitten us on the ass countless times, but maybe it needs to be said again. Stay out of the box! True, some of the calls tonight were questionable and the refs even took a pre-emptive strike against both teams after the 4th Sabres goal, but other ones were just inexcusable. For instance, Hill's botched clear that caused a delay of game penalty is something that you just cannot do in the playoffs. Period. Stop taking penalties and we'll be in good shape.

Other than that, the Islanders did, in fact, play a very patient and disciplined game. I think that, to a certain point, that's how you have to play against Buffalo. Play it safe, and wait for your chances. The Sabres have so much depth, it's almost impossible to play down one line and attack the next. I really enjoyed the fiestyness the Isles showed towards the end, but it was too late for the physical game to show up. The Sabres aren't a physical or aggressive team, and the Isles didn't exploit that advantage until very late in the third. Hill wanted to get into it, too, really going at Pomenville towards the end. (I'm not sure if I'm the only one to notice this, but Pomenville insulted Hill and pulled his hair after he got pushed in the third. I'm looking for a clip of this online.) Let's hope that the physical game set some sort of tone for game two.

Saturday night should be very interesting, to say the least. It's on national television, finally. It's Versus, I know, but it's shocking how much you appreciate channels like Versus after not having anything. I suppose it's even more shocking that the BU's residential cable hook-up carries the channel. Anyway, it should be a great change up from tonight; I saw the broadcast from the Buffalo channel.

I would have to say that their play-by-play was the worst I've ever heard, in all of sports. Their play-by-play call was erroneous, their commentary was biased, and they did not back up a single statement with any kind of fact or figure. There was also a strange lack of info given about who scored or took a penalty. Also, their "GOAL!" call was upsettingly annoying. Somehow he put the emphasis, not on the "GO-" part, but on the "-AL!" part. Ugh. Can't get that guy's twangy yell out of my head.

Anyway, enough complaints. The next game is of infinite importance. Tie the series up in Buffalo, and we'll be in a great position coming home to the island. The last thing we want is to dig ourselves out of a 0-2 deficit against a team like the Sabres. Come out with an edge, take the body, and let's hope that DiPietro's head isn't scrambled anymore. Let's show the hockey world what our team can really do. Maybe next time they'll think twice about leaving the Isles entirely out of the playoff-preview issue of The Hockey News.

Let's go Islanders.

April 11, 2007

4/11/07 - Game 1 - Isles at Sabres Pregame, Series

Well, here we go.
It's finally time for the NHL Playoffs to begin.

I think that we've, as fans, have had way too much time to ponder this series. I've seen literally hundreds of predictions, both game-by-game and series-wide. Honestly, it's all getting a little droll. The series, as I see it now, is pretty unpredictable. Right now we are 0-0-0 against the Sabres, and, as we've seen in the last 4 games, the Islanders are not the team they were in October.

All I can really add to the discussion is a simple note that this series is going to be a dogfight either way. Don't expect the blowout scores or series sweep from either side, and pay close attention to the details.

Get ready for some great hockey.
Let's go Islanders!

April 8, 2007

4/08/07 - Playoff Bound

An open letter to all hockey fans, sportswriters, and the NHL:

Funny, isn't it?-Scott Burnside on the Islanders, ESPN.com | Oct. 2, 2006

Today the New York Islanders clinched the 8th playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by defeating the New Jersey Devils 3-2 in a shootout. The Islanders, who were predicted to finish in last place, have fought their way into the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fourth time in twelve seasons. True, the Islanders fans are not proud of these past seasons, but they have always believed and rooted their team on. Don't believe the Isles' attendance records, the lack of attendance is due to lack of mass transportation to the arena, and not for lack of interest. The fan base is real, and support for the team has never been higher.

We look at this season as a turning point, in which the Islanders debuted new management and a whole new team, as only five players remained from the previous season. The Islanders faced intense ridicule for placing Garth Snow at the GM position, and many believed that this management situation could never work. Throughout the season, the Islanders worked and fought, and at times reached first place in the Atlantic Division. At the trade deadline, General Manager Snow made headlines as the Islanders brought Ryan "Captain Canada" Smyth, as well as other illustrious players to Long Island. Despite this, the Islanders faced unbridled skepticism and an unquestionable negative bias from many within the press, and arguably, the league. After several damaging losing skids and many injuries, including the loss of franchise goaltender Rick DiPietro late in the season, the Isles' situation looked bleak. With almost impossible odds, including four win-or-die games, and some necessary situational help from rival teams, the Islanders are now preparing for a battle with the first-place Buffalo Sabres in round one.

Despite many past embarrassments, including ownership fraud, the Gordon's Fisherman as a logo, and some purely hapless seasons in the 90s, the Islanders are finally beginning to restore credibility and respect to the organization. It is a shame that the hockey press and the rest of the league is failing to recognize the accomplishments of this team.

So, hockey fans, don't discount the "other" New York hockey club. The Islanders are showing their true grit, dedication, and ability. Perhaps it's time to stop qualifying all the Islanders' achievements with disrespectful and biased reporting at the national level. True, the Islanders' season was plagued with controversy and drama, the kind that one might find in Hollywood, even. But the entire organization worked to overcome their growing problems and overwhelming public spotlights to continue on as a legitimate hockey club.

The Islanders have defied huge odds and cleared countless obstacles in order to reach the position they are in now. Through it all, they have
earned their playoff birth. Give the team the respect they deserve, and please stop the senseless bias against a team that has shown nothing than pure drive and determination this season.
Remember this as the Islanders compete with the Sabres in the coming weeks.

Sincerely, a true hockey fan and an Islander to the end,
Andy Facini

April 6, 2007

4/06/07 - Islanders at Flyers Pregame

And now we look to the 'new' biggest game of the season tomorrow afternoon. Our Isles face last-place Philly in yet another win-or-die situation. Don't count the Flyers out just yet, they are still playing with fire, and still winning their matchups.
I'd like to forward this pregame to Gary Harding, who wrote a very interesting and confidence-inspiring article after checking out the Isles' practice at IceWorks.

Check it out at http://www.viewfromsection317.com/
Thanks again Gary, for putting in the extra effort and coming up with some real insight.

Let's go Islanders!

April 5, 2007

4/05/07 - Maple Leafs at Islanders Postgame

It's getting closer. A very convincing win against Toronto, coupled with the Rangers' win against Montreal, and we find ourselves very close to the playoffs.

Tonight was great on so many levels. Everyone stepped up and played - what can only be described as - playoff hockey. Big goals from all scorers; it's great to see Smyth pick up a tally. And maybe it's me, but every time Sillinger scores, things just feel better. That guy works his ass off and it's good to see it paying off. Dubie was the great goalie the Isles needed him to be. In the last 2:00 alone, he made some great saves that could have easily been goals to a more relaxed goalie, given the 3 goal lead. Big performances from the defensive warriors: Witt and Hill. If you really want to find the meaning of teamwork and passion, look to these two.

Philly coming up, another must-win for us. At this point, all we need to do is win our last two, and if Toronto beats Montreal, we're in. It's more than possible. Keep the faith, everyone.

4/04/07 - Maple Leafs at Islanders Pregame

Of all the things to come out of Tuesday's win, this is one that I had not expected:
Read the article here.
For those of you who want a quick re-cap:
Islanders' Ice Girls go out to clean ice, Lundvquist doesn't want to move- allegedly hit the squeegee out of ice girl's hands, hurting her, and other Ice Girls claim to be verbally harassed and spit on by the Rangers.

First of all, we all have to accept now that we will probably never know what really happened. If what they are saying is true, then shame on the Rangers for showing their classless nature, and shame on the league for so quickly dismissing the issue.
Two things there are true in that statement, however. The Rangers are classless, and the league is shameful. Another truism: the Ice Girls have to go.

This is independent of Tuesday night's incident, but the Ice Girls bring nothing to the Islanders and only further allow the other teams, the league, and every sportscaster out there to ridicule the Islanders and write them off. Yes, cleaning the ice in between play is important, but let some youth hockey players do it, or have arena workers do it. The Ice Girls bring nothing to the team, and simply debase whatever credibility the Islanders are trying to gain.

In all, that is what this team lacks. Think of it like politics and foreign affairs. If you're trying to negotiate with other nations, you're not going to come dressed up like a clown. If your aim is to gain respect at the international level, you're going to do things by the book and have a positive relationship with your citizens and other nations.

Islanders: lose the Ice Girls, ditch the "Family Guy" clips at the goal celebrations, and don't try to win your fans over with cheap promotions. This isn't Vegas, this is New York, and it isn't Football, it's hockey. We don't need cheerleaders, we need respect. It's something I thought we would gain when Blake had a breakout year, when DiPietro started playing number one goaltending, when we pulled into 1st in the division, and when we acquired Smyth and Bergeron. I guess none of that was good enough for the team to finally stay away from the drama and controversy. It's really a shame.

Anyway...
Tonight we have Toronto. Now that the last Islanders-Rangers game is done, this is the biggest game of the season for us. A win here would put us in outstanding position to come roaring back... well, okay... to sneak back into 8th place. At this point though, that's all we want. Get to the playoffs and see what we can do. We weren't swept by Buffalo, after all.

Dubie in net again tonight. You know how that makes me feel. Like a guy that has little to worry about tonight, that's what.

Other games tonight:
NYR (7) at MTL (8)

So, after all the bitterness, we root for the Rangers now to beat Montreal. Strange, how this time of year works. With any luck, we win, the Rags win, and at the end of the night we're within two points of the playoffs. With Philly next, we can't feel too bad about that placement.

Let's go Islanders!

April 4, 2007

4/04/07 - Rangers at Islanders Postgame

3-2 W, SO

What a game! As Chris King put it, "Tonight promised to be the best game of the season, and it has not disappointed." Only in a situation with so much on the line could this type of 'thriller' hockey be played. Right from the opening minutes and Asham's goal to the last save in the shootout, I was beside myself as I listened in.

In the grand scheme of things, tonight's win is just what the Islanders needed.
Duh, right?
Right. But I'm talking about momentum. Confidence. The passion. It's been missing for a while, and it's about time the Isles found it. Of course, though, we need to already be looking to the next game to continue the same level of game. After an emotional win like tonight, it's too easy to forget that. Dubielewicz knows this:
"I'm not going to lie - I'm very excited right now. At the same time, I know I have to bring myself right back down to Earth, because we have to do this all over again in 48 hours." (tsn.ca)

Speaking of Dubielewicz, let me be among the many to chime in on this: Dubie should be the permanent backup goalie for 2007-2008. That said, let me be the first to go crazy and say: Dubie and DiPietro should get equal playing time next season.

"Blasphemy!"

Yes, I know. Crazy. But really, how many times is he going to show that he can rise to any challenge the Isles throw at him? Tonight he made some saves I'm not even sure that DiPietro would have nabbed. Look at the last save in the shootout vs. Jagr. The puck was literally next to him when he had the reflexes and presence of mind to swipe it aside with his blocker. He literally saved our entire season against one of the best shots in the league.

If you look at the Isles Dynasty years, Billy Smith got all the action in the playoffs, but during the regular season, it was just about every other game alternating with Melanson and Smith. This kept both goalies sharp, as well as fresh for their next game. Trust me here, give Dubie some real good time playing next season, and you will have a top-notch goalie develop right alongside DiPietro. Wouldn't it be nice, not having to worry about DP running out and getting his brains scrambled?

Which reminds me: Dubielewicz is no idiot! Did he once decide to go for a stroll and shoot the puck down the center of the ice, endangering the team (and causing the older Isles fans to flatline)? Didn't think so. DiPietro can make the saves, that's for sure-- but boy, is he dumb.

Back to the playoff push- Montreal and Toronto both won tonight, so we didn't get all that much help. Carolina did lose, though, which means our Isles are now in 10th: two points behind Toronto, and three behind the Habs and the last birth. This is SO completely possible. We play Toronto on Thursday, and a win there puts us within striking distance of 8th. This, of course, means absolutely nothing if we can't beat Philly and the Devils to pass Montreal, but it is the first step in the "build-a-playoff-birth" do-it-yourself instructions. Let's just hope it wasn't from Ikea. (trans: Let's hope we don't fall apart in a week.)

Thursday's game against the Leafs is probably more important than tonight's was. It's hard to think that way, but at this point, every team should be the Rangers to us. We can't lose.

Pregame banter coming soon.
Thanks for reading.

P.S. - If you're one of those ...people... who abandoned the team last week during our freefall, don't bother coming back now. We don't need the likes of you fair-weather fans.

April 3, 2007

3/04/07 - Rangers at Islanders Update

Three hours to go until the drop of the puck. Am I the only one that is a nervous wreck already? I suppose it's less because I can't watch the game on TV, but I'm very excited nonetheless to listen on the radio. As I'm sure you all know, this game is necessary if the Isles want to make the playoffs after all. Here are tonight's crucial games:

Canadiens (8) vs. Bruins (13)
Maple Leafs (9) vs. Flyers (15)
Hurricanes (10) vs. Lightning (7)

Going strictly by the numbers, the Habs, the Leafs, and the Lightning win. That puts the Islanders in a position where we can move up to 10th if we win. If we lose, well, we're done.

Interestingly enough, if the Bruins squeak by the Canadiens, and the Flyers find a way against the Leafs, we could pull into 10th, but be within one win of 8th place when we face Toronto on Thursday (provided MTL loses some more).

Assuming we win tonight (which we are), we are still going to have to look for some help from other East teams down the road. We're even going to look to the Rangers to beat Montreal on Thursday. So don't count us out yet, but make sure to watch the scores tonight. We'll take anything we can get.

In other words, win. It's all the Isles can do to help themselves. The rest isn't up to us.
Let's go Islanders.

April 2, 2007

4/2/07 - Rangers at Islanders Pregame

The loss to Buffalo was, well, horrible. I didn't even feel like writing about it.

Moving right along, then...

Rangers at Islanders. "Big game" doesn't cut it. It's the only game for the Isles right now. If you were to play one game for the entire season, you would want to win, right? Well that's where we are. Win or elimination. It's more than just speculation at this point, too. Even if we do win the remaining four games, we would need some help on the part of the Canadiens', Leafs', and Canes' to lose their games. It's not impossible, but... yeah...

Some stranger news from the Isles camp today, however. The team just signed UNH forward Trevor Smith to a two-year deal. Heh, Hockey East. This is my department. I got to see Smith play my BU Terriers a number of times this year, and, as much as it was hard to remember specific players' names, Trevor Smith forced himself in. He scored 2 goals in the last game against BU, in a game that resulted in a tie, which then resulted in BU's drop in standings and changed the playoff positioning. Needless to say, he's a menace. But now that he is on the Islanders, his UNH-borne crash-the-net tactics seem less stupid. In fact, that is probably the one thing the Islanders aren't doing that could really take advantage of Smyth's tenacity in front.

He did well for UNH in the playoffs, too, scoring some major game-changing marks. With any luck, this is Nolan looking to build "his" version of a hockey team, which would be good reason to believe he wants to stay. As Patrick Hickey, Jr. put it, "losing Nolan would be catastrophic."

Not for nothing, Smith is in Bridgeport now, and I suspect he will stay there unless injury strikes again. Though, of course, there isn't much time, so we probably won't see him at all if the Islanders don't pull out an Easter miracle. Yes, that one. Rising from the dead.

So, the Rangers know that they can eliminate us from playoff contention by winning, and you can damn well be sure they are going to want it. The only question left, really, is do the Islanders want it more? Going by the past four games, no, they do not. Perhaps if Nolan's team meeting at Iceworks yesterday stirred up some emotion, we might just be able to collapse through the finish line. We'll see, but really, that is the game in a nutshell.
Don't stop believing in the team. If you're a fan, you'll be a fan no matter what happens tomorrow. If you're a crappy fan, you'll complain and go watch baseball.

Updates will come tomorrow.
Let's go Islanders.