Saturday, February 28, 2009

All quiet on the Eastern Front

Witt gets suspended for the elbow in the Toronto game. I think this was excessive - considering Mottau was only given 2 games for his hit to Nielsen's head earlier in the season. Seems like Colin Campbell has a bit of a hard-on for the Isles. I think 2-3 games would have been sufficient.

It is Saturday - a few hours before the start of the game against Buffalo and there has been no movement on the trade front. All has been QUIET. Is that quiet before the impending storm? I think it will be more of a rain shower and not quite a real "storm."

Let's hope the boys put on another good show tonight against our fellow New Yorkers to the north.

Next up: Meet me at the Lighthouse

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Isles v. Toronto

Live from the Isles v. Leafs game.
End of the first - Leafs 1, Isles 0
Here is a pic of one of the Leaf's fan right before the game. He said something about wanting someones Ponikarovsky??

First Period:
Anyway -- for the first 10 minutes or so, Isles looked sloppy and slow. Lot's of chasing Leafs in their own end. Joey Mac is in goal and he doesn't look sharp. Flopping around a lot. Maybe Gordie should have stayed with the hot hand of Yann Danis. In fact, at about the 15 minute mark Mac almost put the puck in his own net!! Egad.

Ian White got the goal for the Leafs. Fortunately, for the last 8 minutes of the period the Isles picked up the tempo and looked like a completely different team. Some really good scoring chances -- at least 4-5 -- and the lines of Okposo, Bailey, Comeau and Bergenheim, Hunter, Nielsen looked real good. I was also impressed with the hustle of McAmmond as well.

Hopefully they can carry this into the 2d period.

Got the 1st period stats --- Isles had 14 hits to the Leaf's 3. Hilbert led all Isles forwards with ice time and # of shifts -- so either Gordon is insane or Hilbert's being showcased for trades. Let's hope its the latter.

Second Period:
Well.... this sucks - less than a minute in and Leaf's get a shorty. Isles came out flat despite having a power play. They did nothing with it.... except give the Leaf's another goal. Joey Mac is giving up too many rebounds.... smells like trouble.

Bergenheim is given a chance at the most exciting spectacle in the sport -- a penalty shot. And.................. he chokes, right into the pads.

OUCH - Kubina just took a Streit slapshot in the wrist or forearm. That's gonna leave a mark! He limps to the bench holding the arm - when the puck hit him you could hear a crack. Let's see if he comes back on the ice.

McAmmond cuts the Leaf's lead in half with a nice goal. He is playing well and setting himself to probably be moved again before March 4th. Teams trade goalie interference penalties but don't do anything with their respective man advantages. kubina is back out there -- so the Streit shot must not have caused any permanent damage.
End of 2 periods -- Leafs 2 - Isles 1.
Second period stats -- Isles continue to dominate in the physical play stats - Isles 23 hits to Leafs measly 8. Pansies. Teams are even on shots and Okposo now leads in ice time - makes more sense than Hilbert. One interesting stat - Leafs blocked 21 shots so far - so Isles have had their chances.

Third Period:
Isles need to come out showing a little more if they are going to stay in this game. Uh oh -- Witt just got a 5 minute major & game misconduct for elbowing Niklas Hagman. Hagman had to be helped off the ice -- no clue where he is -- bell was seriously rung. Not sure this was a good call - I missed the hit. Nice long PP for Toronto. Blake is out - continues to be a selfish puck hog. Took another shot from a ridiculous angle instead of passing. Bergenehim just razzle-dazzled on a breakway shorthanded and buried one. Its all TIED UP.

Leafs still have the man advantage..... and........... they score. It's now 3-2 Leafs with a little more than a minute left in Witt's major. Leaf's just took a stupid tripping penalty. And while teams are four-on-four, Leaf's bury another one. Now its 4-2 with about 13 minutes left in the game.

Prediction - final score Leafs 5, Isles 3.
I'll finalize recap after the game.

WOW - the Isles made a dramatic comeback. Old reliable Streit slapping one through Toskala and into the back of the net. Then Sim - hopefully a tradebait showcase, makes a nice wrist shot & beaks Toskala - who quite honestly he should have made the save on this one.

Lots of action in the final minutes -- but looks like OT. The overtime had some nice action but nothing too scary, and on to the shootout. Is it possible to keep Tambelli as a shoot out specialist???

Okposo keeps trying those fancy moves but has nothing to show for it yet... yet. It's only a matter of time before he starts to bury a few. In the end, my prediction was close - and the Isles put on a nice show for the fans, got one point, and did no harm in their march toward the first pick.

Next up: Tracking Trades

Tonight From the Blog Box

"Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words, it is war minus the shooting." (George Orwell)

We are a mere 6 days from TD-day... trading deadline. Over the next 6 days GM's around the league will use their best (and for some, their worst) negotiation skills in the game of "trade wars." The air is thick with rumor, hyperbole, assumptions, guesses, prognostications, and outright lies. Imagine what it's like for the players -- going to work everyday and not knowing if it's your last day there. Oh that's right - most Americans can relate to that fear in this day-and-age.... except we're not lucky enough to get traded and get a paycheck from someone else. Lot's of us just get laid off. So let's put these next 6 days in perspective... yes, guys will get traded, tears will be shed, but at the end of the day, they all still get paid.

That being said - I am going to crawl out on a very thin limb here, take a chance with my reputation (to the extent I have one outside my own delusions of my place in the world) and say... yes, I will dare to say.... that the most likely guys to get traded from the Isles are: Witt, Guerin, and Weight. I know... you think me crazy. I am probably the only one putting these guys out there.

OK - reality time. Who hasn't predicted that these guys are trade bait. Maybe some jackass in a turban hiding in a cave in the Pakistani mountains plotting his next act of terror --- but beyond him, any hockey fan that has a pulse (including a hockey-loving monkey) knows these guys are available. So, I am going to spin off on a tangent here and suggest 4 guys that SHOULD be made available & traded instead of the big three. Here they are:

Andy Hilbert: yeah, maybe you get a mid to low round draft pick for him - say 3rd or 4th rounder. But I just think I've spent enough money in the past several years watching him either underachieve or listening to the Isles overstate his abilities. The league is filled with 3rd & 4th line wingers... so he is easily replaceable -- get rid of him.

Radek Martinek: maybe a glass company will take his body (particularly his legs!!) - he's just plain fragile. I think he has more value on the trade market than Hilbert because he's a big D-man capable of moving the puck, is fairly cheap in salary, and I cant' stand to see him out there anymore. I think he's worth a 3rd or 4th rounder.

Jon Sim: please... somebody take him. I'll take a bag of pucks at this point -- although I think a lower middle rounder is all you'll get back. He has just been a major disappointment in his 2 yrs here. Granted, he gets a pass for last year since he missed pretty much the entire season to injury. But since his return - 8 goals (OK, not awful, but certainly not what you expect from a 2nd line winger) and a MEASLY 2 assists. You gotta be kidding me. There are goalies with more helpers than him!!!

Jeff Tambellini: we'd have a better chance of finding Sasquatch or the Loch Ness monster than he has of finding his groove on the NHL level. On RARE occasions he shows a flash of promise -- like that wrister in the shoot out last week. But he spends the majority of his time skating in circles with pretty much nothing to show for it (2 goals and 4 assists in 43 games). I think you could get another struggling prospect back who needs a change of scenery or at best a 4th rounder.

So - for my money... I get the "rebuild" concept - and I support the philosophy - but, the team cannot be made up of all rookies and teenagers. They should keep Witt and Guerin -- they are excellent role models ON & OFF the ice and their mere presence would be a great influence on the younger guys this year and next. These other guys, we can collect a few more mid-round picks and maybe a prosepct or 2. It fits with the plan.

6 more days.... and then we'll all know how this ends.

Next Up: Live blog during Isles v. Leafs.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Some Family Fun

I know in the past I've written in a very negative fashion about the Coliseum. It is a dump you know. But my assessment of the facility is not a reflection on the Isles -- they are stuck playing in that horrible round eyesore. That said -- I do enjoy going to the games. The "unpleasant" part of going to games is being forced to enter that hideous mausoleum. I'd rather the Isles played on some outdoor pond or even a frozen puddle in some parking lot. At least the ambiance would be better.

That being said -- the actual "game experience" has been good this year. That is a credit to the Isles. Now, by nature I am NOT a lucky person. I generally don't win raffles, 50/50's, door prizes or even a measly $2 from lotto. Now I am not complaining here -- I've been blessed in other ways. A terrific family, a job I love, good health. But those things are more the result of hard work & personal choices. You know - like I'll date that nice girl instead of the easy lay, or I'll pass on the second slice of cheesecake and maybe do a few dozen crunches in the morning instead of stuffing my pie hole with all kinds of crap.

But this year -- for some odd reason -- I've hit a bit of a lucky streak. Of course, naturally, the pessimist in me is sure that my increased luck in situations of chance means I'll be getting cancer or things at work will take a horrific turn south. But that's just me.

Here are some of the "lucky" things that have happened this year -- all Isles related -- that have made my trips to the Coli a little easier to stomach.

1 -- Over the summer, at the open house for season ticket holders (of which I am one) I won a lucky drawing that gave me a luxury suite for a game this season.

2 -- About a week and a half before the start of the season -- I get an email from the Isles that I have been accepted as one of the bloggers for this season.

3 -- At the Isles/Rangers game a few weeks ago, as me and my boys take our seats, we are approached by a "Game Ops" person and told we will be the lucky fan seat upgrade winners. I moved from my seats in section 318 down to the 200's near where the tunnel is where the Isles enter & leave the ice.

4 -- One recent game, my sons & I caught 2 tee-shirts from the wicked Gatling gun.

5 -- I got a letter in the mail from the Isles about a month and a half ago telling me I could have one of the new 3rd jerseys for free since I was both a full season & partial season ticket holder.

6 -- 2 weeks ago I got another letter from the Isles that as a season ticket holder, they were giving me for free a copy of the DVD containing the "great" Islander games of the past.

I've had a few other odd things occur - unrelated to the Isles or hockey -- that has given me pause and a reason to think about my status as a "lucky person." So yes, I broke down and bought Mega Millions lotto tickets the last several weeks -- no winners yet, its now at $171 million. Hey, you never know.

Now that my luck has turned --- maybe the same will happen to the Isles. I think some of the good luck that is out there is self-created. Garth seems to have a plan for this team. I think it is one that makes sense. Now they just need a little luck and maybe there will be some really good reasons -- like the product on the ice instead of merely a fancy barn -- to come to the Lighthouse in a few years.

Next up: Roster Merry-Go-Round -- yes, trade talk

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Charity Begins at Home

"It is always better to give than to receive."
from - The Bible, Acts 20

But it is pretty cool when you can ALSO receive while giving. The Isles are giving everyone that chance.

Go to the Isles website and look up 3 incredible auction opportunities. These are terrific opportunities for you to help some very worthy causes - and at the same time - get yourself some great Isles memorabilia & experiences.

These terrific opportunities help benefit the Islander's Children's Foundation -- this charity works with other children’s charities on Long Island that focus on the areas of education, youth hockey development, and health.

The Auctions are:
1) Sticks out of Hands Auction: Here is your opportunity to bid on game used sticks of the current Islanders team during their February 28th game versus the Buffalo Sabres. The highest bidders will receive two tickets to attend the February 28th Islanders game as well as the opportunity to take the stick out of the hand of the Islander player they bid on as they get off the ice post game.

2) Private Skate on Coliseum Ice: You can bid on
the opportunity to have a private skating event on the Coliseum ice following the Islanders February 28th game versus the Buffalo Sabres. The highest bidder for this auction item will receive the following: 1 Hour of private ice time for a group of 12 people following the 2/28 game, 12 tickets to the Islanders game on 2/28, and a visit from a special Islanders guest during the post game skate.

3) Be in the Team Photo:
From now through February 26th Islanders fans will have the opportunity to bid on a chance to join the Islanders in their team photo scheduled on March 6th. The winner of this auction will be invited down to the Nassau Coliseum prior to the Islanders practice and join the team for the end of season photo. The winner will receive a framed copy of the photo that will be autographed by members of the 2008-2009 team.

These are some GREAT opportunities to not only GIVE but to also RECEIVE. You get some pretty cool experiences up close & personal with the players and share a special moment with members of your family or friends.

Go to the Isles website and bid on one of these VERY COOL auctions. You'll be helping to raise money for some very worthwhile charities here at home.

Next up: Staying Positive

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Games Have Begun - Isles Trade Campoli & Comrie

Dean McAmmond
Mike Comrie
Chris Campoli

Well......... here we go. The trading wars have begun.
Earlier today the Isles traded Chris Campoli & Mike Comrie to the Ottawa Senators for Dean McAmmond and Ottawa's 1st Rd pick - which started out as San Jose's 1st Rd pick. Right now, San Jose is the 2d best team in the NHL - so this pick will end up being somewhere between 25th through 29th overall. While I understand the strategy to "stockpile picks" - that strategy only works if you stockpile good picks, you don't send away too much talent, and then you of course have to actually draft correctly.

In light of the Isles long and sad draft history (keeping this to the last decade or so) I am not sure I am excited about more picks. We will have to wait to see what Campoli ultimately develops into and what the Isles get for this pick to see if Garth was a winner.

Comrie for McAmmond was essentially a salary dump and two teams throwing away players. Comrie probably wasn't going to re-sign and quite honestly his production has been disappointing so I am not sad to see him go. I am not happy about Campoli leaving. I am concerned that ultimately this could look like Chara, Redden, McCabe, etc --- where the Isles dump a young, puck moving defensemen who comes to play - and play hard every night - and then he develops into a star elsewhere. Only time will tell.

THANKS to Chris Campoli for his years of hard work here on the Isle. My middle son is crushed again. First - he loved Bergeron. Then Fedotenko. Next Campoli. He has been cursed by the trade bug. I told him he needs to root for Hilbert !!!!!

I think this is only step one for Garth. Let's hope he knows where he is stepping and its not into a pile of you-know-what.

Next up: Charity!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Glass Half Full

"Dwelling on the negative simply contributes to its power" (Shirley MacLaine)

I know she is a wacko - but her words are true. I am as guilty as many of my brethren -- focusing on the negative aspects of the Isles season. God knows, there has been enough to complain about & critique. But henceforth (at least for a few blogs) I going to view the glass as "half full." Look at the bright side of things.

Bright side #1 -- the KIDS. Let's face it - the future has some beams of hope to it. Okposo has really developed into a consistent and hardworking forward - and he has had some nice results as well. Consider that he has 10 goals and up until recently he was relegated to approximately 10-12 minutes per game. Ever since he was put on the PP and given more ice time he has done nothing less than impress.

His line mates have been playing well too. Bailey still shows some dazzle with the puck - and remember folks - the KID is only 18 yrs old!!! Remember yourself at 18 - better yet, don't. It's probably an ugly picture. Neilsen has been playing well and has shown flashes of scoring touch of late. Campoli stepped into the PP point when Streit was out and held his own --- and I love when he jumps into the play and buries one in the back of the net. There are some reasons to come to the games. More importantly, they don't get blown out. Even though they are last in the NHL, and have a lot of issues - they are still "IN" most of the games.

So yes - there are some difficult things about this season. The Isles have single-handedly kept the sports medicine industry in business on LI with all of their injuries this season, there seems to be a lot of nonsense that is delaying the Lighthouse project and they have a lot of trouble scoring goals. But looking at the glass that is half full -- there are things to be excited about.