Saturday, March 28, 2009

Isles Make Flyers EARN It

Isles continue to impress with another great effort tonight against the Flyers. A small blip during the first 10 minutes of the 3rd period (when they collapsed & gave up 3 quick goals) -- but unlike earlier in the season when they would have just rolled over and faded away -- the Isles fought hard, got the tying goal, and took the Flyers to overtime. It was impressive to see them battle back and tie it up. And the physical play tonight was awesome. Give Doug Weight an extension --- he set the tone when he jumped to the defense of Nate Thompson about 4 minutes into the game. The Isles played like a team battling for a playoff spot - not the first slot in the draft. That is, at least until the shoot out.

Then the Isles gift-wrapped the extra point. Look - I believe in rewarding guys for hard work - and I am a big fan of Brendan Witt, but there really wasn't a person in the building who thought Witt had a good chance of scoring on the shoot out tonight. Wouldn't it have been great if he did!! And while Streit is the team's leading point man -- he's not really known for his breakaway skills. Personally, I think Streit should have taken it a few strides inside the blue line and then let a slap shot rip.

While Isles may be a last place team - they have played with HEART and with passion all season. 25 of the Isles 41 losses this season have been by a mere ONE goal. That is 62.5% of their losses -- so they have rarely been blown out and seem to be in most games.

One last parting comment before turning in for the night. The new goal song SUCKS. It is the worst piece of crap -- it has no beat, the fans are utterly confused, there is not rhythm to help with figuring when to shout "HEY" and there is NO opportunity to yell "YOU SUCK" after the "hey." I think they need to play something that is much more fan friendly.

Good game tonight boys.
Next up: Roster for 2009-2010.

Looks Like They Can Play with the Big Boys

"Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning." (Ben Franklin)

Those young, talented, and hardworking Isles showed that they can play with the big boys. Last night's 2-0 victory over one of the best teams in the NHL was very impressive. Joey MacDonald's shutout was his best performance of the season. He made two TREMENDOUS saves that kept the Isles in the game and gave the young guys time to put a few in the net. Again - the players of the future - Neilsen & Bailey (and even Okposo and Jackman with the assists) were the guys that came through for the Isles. They didn't just beat perennial powerhouse Detroit -- they outplayed, outworked, and out hustled them. This was one of the best efforts of the season all around and maybe provides a little window or glimpse into the future.

There were very few things to complain about -- with the exception of spending a little too much time in the penalty box early in the game. But the penalty-kill unit came through. All throughout the game the Isles aggressive forecheck led to turnovers and poor choices on the part of the Wings. They seemed unable to adjust to the Isles aggressive attack.

Let's see if they can keep it up tonight against the Broad-Street Bullies.

Next up: I promised - evaluation of the roster for next season.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Going Wild

Live from the Coli -- Isles v. Wild (although a big part of me still wants to call them the North Stars -- yes, showing my age). On that point -- the Wild is really a stupid name. Wild what? It makes no sense to me -- but then again, lots of other sports teams have stupid names -- take the Rangers -- then again, everything about the Rangers is stupid.

I digress. Anyway - end of one and the score is 2-1 Minnesota. Isles played a spirited first period and started out strong, then in the last 7-8 minutes they got a little sloppy, spent some time in the penalty box, and paid the price. Minnesota got a last minute goal to take the lead into the dressing room.

Let's talk about something that really matters --- like how unprofessional and silly Kate Murray is being with the Lighthouse Project. Let's see - the economy is in the toilet, people are losing their jobs, the Isles are in integral part of LI's identity and are the only local professional sports team, and she is playing petty and semantics (i.e., I said they could renovate the Coliseum, just not re-develop the whole site), letting her ego and pride stand in the way of an economic boon to the local job market & economy (i.e., not answering the public's questions and just avoiding any appearances to discuss the issue like the public servant she is supposed to be). Nassau voters --- I hope you are all paying attention to this poor excuse for leadership when she comes up for re-election. Real leaders -- one's who understand economic re-development -- would understand that the Lighthouse Project NEEDS to be looked at as a whole - not a piecemeal patchwork job. That is not how sane, professional, environmentally friendly and rational redevelopment occurs.

Back to the game -- Let's hope the Isles come back and the game is 4-4 late in the 3rd, we go to OT and the Isles lose. This way they put some pucks in the net, get a point, keep the fans interested, and don't do anything to screw up the race to the bottom (a/k/a - the first pick).

In the 2d period ---- Heavyweight bout at about 7 min into 2d period -- Witt goes a few rounds with Sheppard. Mostly a draw although Witt did land 1 or 2 nice pounds to Sheppard's head. Game has gotten really physical. End of the second -- Isles down 3-1.

Third period -- the wheels come off the wagon & the Isles look bad. Sloppy play, stupid penalties, lazy passes, and running around in their own end. It will cost them. Game ends badly. Final score - 6-2 Minnesota. Hilbert with a garbage goal. Hope that doesn't do anything to solidify his roster spot next season.

Quick question for all you readers --- assuming the Isles get the first pick --- is there any package from another team (players, other picks) if you were Isle's GM, that may make you consider trading the first overall pick? Of course - you gotta suggest something rational -- nothing like Ovechkin for the first overall pick because that just isn't happening. Washington never makes that deal - so don't even suggest it.

Let's see what you can come up with.

Next up -- looking at roster slots for next season

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Hey Guys -- Please Don't Try Too Hard

"Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing?" (Shakespeare)

Take it easy boys! I know we want, or desire, that the Isles young guys show improvement, development, that they belong in the show, and that we have something to hope for over the next few years. But please don't try so hard. It may sound CRAZY to say that -- but over the last 8 games, the Isles have played some of their best hockey of the season. That could be a problem for those of us that have bought into the "rebuilding" plan and those of us that are hoping that one of the foundation blocks to that rebuild is named John Tavares.

As of the writing of this post - the Isles were still 5 pts ahead in the race to the bottom (a/k/a - the first pick in the draft). But... if they keep playing this good - they could blow it and end up missing out on Tavares/Hedman lottery. As it is, even finishing dead last is not guarantee (the last place team has approximately a 48% chance of getting the first pick). So nothing is guaranteed here. But the likelihood of winning the draft lottery plummets the further away from the #1 position you land. I agree with some of my blogging comrades that it would be tremendous for the organization (and pretty good for the Lighthouse project) if the Isles got the first pick. They desperately need something to go their way. I also agree that losing the first pick could be devastating for the team. I know Garth would disagree ---- but Garth doesn't have to shell out several grand for season tickets like I do -- and I, like a lot of fans, are a little tired of putting our money where our mouth is and then getting our teeth knocked out by the lousy product that has been on the ice for several years now.

Most of us (me included) have been willing to give the team the benefit of the doubt this year - knowing it is in the rebuilding phase - and giving Garth a break. But we do need to see progress and results - and getting the #1 pick would be a huge boost to fan confidence.

So -- keep playing hard guys. Just hard enough to pick up an occasional point and not embarrass yourselves, but not hard enough to blow the lottery. I know that many people think that is not the right thing to say. Screw-em. I want a superstar, a dynamic scorer - something we haven't seen in an Isles uniform in years. I want another legitimate reason for getting excited about going to the games.

Next up: Decision time for Season Tickets.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Young Guns Emerge

"Leadership can be thought of as a capacity to define oneself to others in a way that clarifies and expands a vision of the future." (Edwin H. Friedman)

The Isles have looked like a completely different team the last few games. Hanging in tough against the Rangers, then kicking the Devils' asses and beating the Coyotes over the last 4 days. It has been a pleasure to watch this collection of "young guns" play. A few more games like this and other teams will have to start taking notice. All ye doubters of the "rebuild plan" and the commitment to playing the younger guys may soon have to eat some crow.

The spark, consistent physical play, offensive creativity & results have all contributed to a very positive outlook for the Isles for the future -- particularly since it is all coming from the likes of Okposo, Bailey, Comeau, Tambellini, Neilsen, Bergenheim, and even Joensuu and Iggulden. With the ankle injury to Hunter -- it now looks like the Isles will be comprised of primarily the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

With the departure of Guerin - Gordon is also faced with an interesting dilemma. Who will be the next captain? Some point to Witt (I cannot say this is a bad choice) and Park (I can say this is a ridiculous choice) or one of the other veterans. That may seem like the logical thing to do --- however there is no denying that this team is now "the young guys' team" and as such - I think one of the young guys should be considered for the captaincy. But not just any young guy as clearly some have not truly established themselves yet. Playing well for a handful of games does not a season, a career, or a slot as a captain make!

But I think a very good case could be made for Okposo. He has clearly led by example with his tough physical play, his creativity & puck-handling, his consistent all-out skating when on the ice, and of course - he is also PRODUCING. I think it is important to have a leader, a captain, to whom the team can turn for "results" and production when the going gets tough. The Isles don't have a sniper or a natural goal-scorer - but they do have a consistent point generator in Okposo.

So what do you say Gordie -- give Okposo some consideration when the decision is made about whose sweater will have the "C" stitched into the chest.

Next up: Success is nice -- just not too much success.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Update on Former Isles

Quick footnote to the Isles recent trades:

Last night - Comrie had a goal & assist and Campoli also scored for Ottawa.
Guerin had an assist on Sidney Crosby's goal for Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile - the Isles picks did nothing in the game against the Rangers.
I'll keep you posted on how Mr. 1st round (for Campoli) and Mr. 5th (but possibly a 4th or 3rd) rounder (for Guerin) do for the Isles in the last 18 games.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ranger Fans are A-holes

I just got back a short while ago from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (oops, I mean Isles) v. Rangers game. Sound Tigers lost 4-2.

Despite the loss - it was a good game for the Isles. Not so impressive for the blueshirts. BTW -- Ranger fans are truly A-holes. I guess they should be overjoyed that they squeaked out a win against a team that is essentially a minor league club. Rangers were out-shot, out-hit, and quite honestly, out worked tonight. They got a few lucky breaks (Martinek's tip-in into his own net; and the McAmmond/Hilbert collision that resulted in a 3-1 rush) and really didn't do too much on even strength. In fact, 2 of their goals were with the man advantage against a penalty killing unit with guys that have less than a year of NHL experience. Nothing to brag about.

Rangers fans (because along with being A-holes they are also incredibly stupid) will assume my rant is the result of sour grapes. Nothing could be further from the truth. If the Rangers were my team (then I'd also be a loser & I'd suck on the end of a hose hooked up to a car's exhaust pipe) then I wouldn't be impressed with tonight's win. They have one of the highest payrolls in the league, and they are the wonderful NY Rangers from the awesome MSG -- and they just aren't that good of a team.

Case in point -- there were only 4 players on the Isles roster tonight who did NOT log time in Bridgeport this season. So YES - the Rangers struggled against and barely beat a glorified farm team. No disrespect to the Isles -- I know that they are rebuilding. They played without Witt, they have no Andy Sutton, and 2 of their D-men were recent minor league call-ups. And all the Suck-ass Rangers could manage was a mere 4 goals.

Then to top it all off -- those ignorant, half-retarded, imbeciles (a/k/a Ranger fans) started chanting "Kansas City". How stupid can they be to chant for their biggest rival to leave town. What dumbasses --- I don't imagine Ranger morons (I mean fans) will be frothing at the mouth and running to buy tickets when their arch-rival Kansas City whatevers come to town. They should be smart enough to realize that if the Isles leave town it is not only bad for Long Island, bad for NY, bad for Islander fans, bad for the NHL -- and yes, bad for the Rangers. Who would ever be so simple-minded to root for their best rivalry to be ruined. Oh that's right, I am talking about Ranger fans so I should probably lower my expectations.

Go ahead and chant that Potvin "beats his wife" or "sucks" and we'll continue to sing the "If you know the Rangers suck clap your hands" song and we'll boo that jack-a** Sean Avery. That's all good old-fashioned hating the enemy kinda stuff. But to actually chant for the team to disappear. It is beyond words.

One last parting note to Ranger fools (I mean fans). Yes, we are not a very good team this year -- but when we end up with Tavares this summer - this down time will be worth it. Plus -- despite all of its money & prestige --- your team has only managed to win ONE Stanley Cup in the last 70 years!!!!! My team not only has FOUR cups --- but also is identified as a DYNASTY. Isles won their cups before they could be bought.

Next up: Captain, my captain -- who will wear the "C"

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Only One Deal -- with Guerin to the Penguins

Guerin is dealt to the Penguins for a conditional draft pick.
It starts out as a 5th round pick and moves up to 4th round if they make the playoffs. Then it can go as high as the 3rd round if they make it past the first round of the playoffs and Guerin plays at least half of their games.

Some view this as a weak deal --- and I would agree if there were no other factors at play. Remember - Guerin could have walked at the end of the season & the Isles would get nothing. Plus he is 38 yrs old and had a no trade clause. I think Garth did a pretty decent job on this deal under the circumstances, especially if it ends up as a 3rd rounder. On the open market - with none of the above factors - maybe you get a 2d rounder & prospect for the captain. But that is not reality. As for why this deal took so long -- this apparently wasn't the deal that caused Guerin to be benched. Guerin was quoted as saying he believed a deal was done with another team a few days ago. So that is what pulled him off the ice -- and it appears that deal fell through.

On another front -- Sim gets 3 assists & plays his ass off (I still don't care much for him) and he is sent to Bridgeport? What's a guy gotta do to impress? So Witt, Martinek, Hilbert, and Weight are all still here. It will be interesting to see who is wearing the "C" on Thursday night against the Rangers.

Up Next: More analysis of other deals to come later (when I have time)

Trade Update

Well - its not 11:15 am -- trade deadline is about 3 hours & 45 minutes away -- and there is nothing of substance to report.

I imagine many of the deals will get announced after the deadline has passed since there are several steps that need to take place before a trade is announced - including league approval and discussion with the players themselves.

So I expect to be announcing trades until late in the afternoon & perhaps early evening.
Garth has apparently been very busy at the phones - but no announcements yet. We have sources inside the Coli to keep us updated - so I will get the info to you all as soon as I get it.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Everyone Pitches In

"It is amazing how much you can accomplish when it doesn't matter who gets the credit." (Author Unknown). Good game last night -- the Isles didn't need to look for the "big boys" as other guys chipped in on offense last night.

First - an observation about the rookie - Joensuu. He didn't look lost, he seemed to be fine with the very limited ice time he got. But he did impress me on his goal because he DROVE TO THE NET - something that the Isles have not done a lot of this season. His size & physical play enabled him to be in the right position to slam home the rebound for his first NHL goal. His line -- with Sim & McAmmond played well all night, were constantly putting the pressure on the Avs, and they had a combined 5 points on the night. Hopefully Sim has been showcasing himself so we can get good value back in a trade and I think McAmmond is a keeper. He is that veteran presence they will still need but he doesn't seem to have lost a step and is flying all over the ice.

Goal scorers -- McAmmond (his 2d in just 3 games for the Isles); Gervais (his first of the season - finally); Tambellini (using that wicked wrist shot & banking one off the post); and the rookie Joensuu (result of hard work in front of the net).

Kudos to the Isles BTW -- a few minutes into the game they made announcement to allow everyone to move down to the 100's and 200's since the Coli wasn't full as a result of the 12-15 inches of snow. On top of that -- anyone who came could turn in their ticket & get a free one for any one of 3 upcoming games. The Isles continue to impress me as an organization with their fan friendly approach & constant give-backs.

Still no updates on the status of Guerin. My take - there is more than one team involved, more than one player involved, and at least one of the teams has to address cap issues before the deal can be completed. I have no inside info here -- just going out on a limb with a guess.

Next Up: Thurs the Losers (I mean NYR) come to town.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Joensuu Makes Debut

Isles called up Jesse Joensuu to fill Guerin's roster spot for tonight's game against Colorado. I expect him to get very little ice time - probably on the 4th line, I suspect. He is a power forward, stands at 6-4 and weighs in at about 210 lbs -- this season he has 17 goals & 13 assists for Bridgeport.

Some history on Jesse:
Joensuu was elected at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islanders in the 2nd round (60th overall)Last Season: Made his North-American hockey debut when he dressed in the Sound Tigers’ final game of the season … Played his final year in Assat and finished with his best numbers in the Finish Elite League, 35 points (17g/18a) while totaling 89 penalty minutes. 2006-07: At the halfway point of the season, he was already on pace to pass career-high marks in goals, assists and points … He eventually went on to set new career numbers with 26 points (9g/17a) in 52 games played ranking him fifth on the team … Averaged a point every other game with Assat who ranked at the bottom of the standings all season … Played for Team Finland at the World Junior Championships and had two points (1g/1a) in six games. 2005-06: Played in 51 games for Assat and totaled 12 points (4g/8a) while compiling 57 penalty minutes … Named to the Team Finland WJC team where he played in seven games and scored four points (2g/2a) and was a +3 in the tournament. 2004-05: Skated his first full season with Assat and scored his first professional goal … Competed on both Team Finland’s WJC and Under 18 WJC teams … Scored a goal with the WJC Team Finland team and with the Under 18 WJC team he tallied three points (1g/2a).

PointBlank weighed in on Joensuu back on February 15th and had this to say:
Joensuu is not a serious candidate to play a regular role for the Islanders next season, but he is the Bridgeport prospect with the most upside potential. His modest stats aside - 14 goals in 47 games - the 6-4, 210-pound right wing has had an outstanding first year of pro after coming over from Finland and dedicating himself to the North American game. He has even had a few scraps with opposing heavyweights. Joensuu’s education must continue in Bridgeport next season. If his development is a success, he could make the Islanders’ depth chart look a whole lot better in 2010-11.

Upside: Top-6 forward with a chance for first line.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

As the Guerin Trade Turns

"A market is the combined behavior of thousands of people responding to information, misinformation, and whim." (Kenneth Chang)

The saga that is the Bill Guerin trade has come to a temporary (or possibly permanent) halt. Isles have released a message to the media that (1) there will be no news tonight on his status, and (2) that there is no timetable in place for when there will be news.

Some of my media colleagues have interpreted this to be some kind of media blunder or snafu and poor handling on the part of Garth & the Isles. I disagree --- this assessment completely eliminates their own role in the mass of disinformation & rumor that currently exists. The Isles are not the ones (at least to my knowledge) putting out rumors about Guerin's status or where he may end up landing. All of this hoopla has been generated by the bloggers & traditional media types.

People - let's remember that there are human beings involved - not mere commodities. Guerin has family and career considerations and the Isles -- I can only assume -- have some level of sensitivity to that. Plus, Guerin did the Isles a favor by even making himself open to the idea of being dealt - so can anyone blame the Isles for being a little close-mouthed on his status.

I get it -- we are all impatient and in this era of the Internet, bloggers, alleged "insiders", and where nothing is sacred and instantaneous gratification is expected - many of you out there feel ENTITLED to know what is going on here. Well... WAKE UP -- you ain't entitled to this information until the Isles & Guerin and whatever team is involved FEEL like giving you this information. How many of you were in possession of "inside" information when Goring came to the Isles more than 2 decades ago. You learned about the deal when the Isles felt like telling you about the deal. And I don't think any of us were any worse for not knowing ahead of time.

So let's give everyone a little breathing room. The world will still be in economic shambles, people will still be defaulting on the mortgages they should have never been given, and employers will continue to lay off hard-working Americans whether we know about Guerin's whereabouts or not. Remember that people are involved -

Next up: Hopefully the final destination - when they feel like telling me.