Thursday, November 27, 2008



Here we are again folks. The Isles up 3-0 with 18.8 seconds left in the 2nd period and then a couple of deflections a tenth of a second later and the puck was through Joey MacDonald's legs and the onslaught to come was given life. The deja vu that occurred for the fifth time this season took shape in the form of a Crosby-Malkin combination that completely outworked the Isles in the third period of last night's 5-3 loss to the Flightless Birds. What amazes me the most about these losses in the third period is the absolute lack of fire that the Islanders have in the final stanza. Maybe it's the system, maybe they got trapped in their own zone the latter half of the second and tired themselves out, maybe they got too comfortable, it still doesn't excuse the effort that just wasn't there.

The personification of the pure frustration that the Islanders have shown in third periods where they fell flat occurred with 7:19 left in a 4-3 game. Bill Guerin marauded through three separate Penguins players before he finally received a penalty for roughing. The adage among officials is: "Give them enough rope to hang themselves". Well in the case of Guerin's roughing penalty, he got away twice with tactics that should have gotten him a penalty the first time. My question to the Captain is "Why?". Why is the captain of a professional sports team taking a penalty with his team on its heels late in a game? There is simply no good reason that Bill Guerin should have done what he did. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to call out the Captain for what I'm sure was just frustration, but the team as a whole needs to collectively stand up for themselves. It should not have to fall on one man and it should absolutely never be something that puts the team at a disadvantage. Hopefully, the Islanders can quickly forget and get back to business tomorrow afternoon against the Bruins.

I'd like to wish everyone a very Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving with their families. I'd like to thank those who have gotten me here and who give me the best things in the world: Love, Respect and Friendship. Eat lots of turkey, drink lots of wine and have a merry time with you and yours.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008



No, this is not Sudden Death Dodgeball and Vince Vaughn isn't kicking the crap out of a really over-the-top villain in Ben Stiller. This is the tale of a young NHL defenseman who plays for the most highly regarded team on the continent. Ryan O'Byrne a 2nd year D-man out of Cornell made a mistake that most likely will haunt his entire career in Montreal. As the wise men say. "Hockey players and fans have memory like elephants". In other words, they never forget. Ask any hockey player about an incident that happened to them last year and they can recall the number, the name and when they're getting back at them. This case however, is a little different.

What happened last night that gave the Islanders life in what seemed to be a game headed towards defeat was one of the rarest happenings in all of hockey; Whether Ryan didn't know there as a delayed penalty or Doug Weight's use of the Overspeed tactics utilized by Scott "Flash" Gordon forced the egregious mistake, it's still something the Islanders had been working towards and had yet to get the benefit of...until last night. The entire system employed by Gordon is based on to forcing the opposing d-men to make quick decisions and force them into mistakes. Well, the gaffes don't get any bigger than scoring on your on goal. It has only happened a handful of times in the past and the research I did led me to Give it a read. You'll be amazed that most of them occurred during the playoffs.

However, the most amazing thing about last night was not that the Islanders tied the game at 3 on one of the flukiest plays in all of sports, but that they won the game in a shootout, literally stealing the 2 points and ending their road trip in dramatic fashion. If that's not a momentum boost for a team that got pretty beat up on Friday (losing to the Devils and losing Franzie to injury) then I don't know what will get them going.

Now with their record improved to 9-10-2, the boys in orange and blue go up against the Flightless Birds tomorrow evening. It should be a pretty packed house and if you're thinking of going, STOP THINKING AND GO. I'm sure it will be one heck of a game.

Pictures courtesy of and

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UPDATE: It's been brought to my attention that I should probably explain the rule associated with the O'Byrne own goal. During a delayed penalty the team that is not being assessed a penalty has the option to remove their goaltender in favor of an extra attacker. Play will not stop until either the offending team gains possession, the puck goes out of play, the non-offending team ices the puck, the non-offending team goes offside, the non-offending team scores during the delayed penalty or the non-offending team inadvertently shoots the puck in their own net. That's why when Guerin poked the puck along the boards, he was not deemed to have possession and control of the puck and play was allowed to continue and the pressure from Weight caused O'Byrne to play the puck quickly. Without noticing that Price had already gone to the bench in favor of the extra skater, O'Byrne threw the puck back to what he thought would be his goaltender. Unfortunately for him, there was no one there.

Monday, November 24, 2008



Update: Franzie is out 8-12 weeks as I predicted in my Anatomy of a Knee Sprain post. However, what I forgot to mention was the potential for a high ankle sprain. Due to the fact that the Islanders are reporting multiple leg injuries, this is the only logical conclusion. Luckily, Frans didn't crack open the melon or shake around the marbles otherwise I would be down at the league office right now picketing outside Colin Campbell's window (actually that sounds like a good idea).

In response to last night's hit to Frans Nielsen by Mike Mottau the NHL's Colin Campbell handed down a 2 GAME SUSPENSION! I'm sorry but this is by far the biggest slap in the face I have ever seen in recent history in regards to a suspension. Whether or not Frans Nielsen has a head injury, there is a definite deficiency with the NHL office and their decision to only give a wrist slap to Mottau. I will be back for the game on Monday but I need to cool down from this absolute atrocity by the league office. Take a look at Chris Botta's blog that broke the story on the suspension.

Here is Billy and Howie's take on the Frans Nielsen injury from last night's telecast:

As I'm trying to think this out, I think it's time that Islanders fans and the organization stood up for the players. It might be time for some kind of petition or some questioning that really needs to happen as soon as possible.

Enjoy tonight's game in Buffalo who are on a 4 game slide of their own and will be coming out flying. I hope the boys put their working skates on.

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Friday, November 21, 2008



It's never easy watching a player go down with an injury but it certainly hurts more when you've had it happen to you. Last December, I was reffing a game and had a similar motion of my left leg, where my left skate toe-picked into the ice and turned the knee out. I felt a very sharp pain and basically my left leg became a useless piece of dead weight hanging off of my body. If you happen to think the Nielsen will be back anytime soon, think again. His recovery time might be between 6 weeks and 3 months. If the ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) is torn, which in this case most likely happened it will require surgery and will be closer to the maximum of 3 months.

The basics of a ligament tear in your knee usually begins with a very violent twisting or hyper-extending motion that is unnatural for the knee to endure. The resulting pressures that are exerted on the ligaments holding the two major leg bones together can stretch, tear, rupture or completely sever the tissue. I know that might be graphic but that is the truth. The problem with a knee ligament tear is the inability to utilize the leg as a whole, i.e. it's is nearly impossible to put any weight on the injured leg. Hopefully for Franzie it's not as bad as it looked.
As I'm listening to Billy Jaffe and Howie Rose talk about the hit as the game nears an end, it almost certainly should be looked at by the league as a high hit. Mike Mottau led with the butt-end of his stick and hands causing an injury to Frans Nielsen. I will be very disappointed in the league if Mottau receives less than 5 games. In fact, if the NHL wants to send a message against high hits, 10 games sounds like a better option.

This is a huge blow to the Islanders as Nielsen was bringing his game up over the past several weeks and quite correctly Billy Jaffe remarked that Franzie's speed is an asset that it will take time to get back. Hopefully, he will have a speedy recovery and the Isles will have him back in the lineup as soon as possible. It's a really disappointing way to finish a game.

Photo courtesy of Best Bucs Blog
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More poetic words could not have been uttered by a grizzled veteran in the midst of trying to keep his teammates awake and in the game. In fact, Doug Weight has been taking his own advice lately and leads the Isles in points with 16 on the season after the 2-1 shootout win again the Canucks on Monday night. How does this apply to what my opinion revolves around you may ask? Well, how about less costly penalties....?

In the past 2 weeks the Isles have shown a decrease in the number of bad penalties they've taken per game (4 against the Pens on 11/8, 4 against the Flyers on 11/11, 8 against the Sens on 11/13, 7 against the Sens on 11/15 and 5 against the Canucks on 11/17 for a total of 28 penalties over the past 5 games). Compare that to the previous 5 games where the Islanders took the same number of penalties (28) but had a 2-2-1 record as opposed to the 3-1-1 record of the last 5. What changed causing more consistent play? As I've shown it wasn't the average number of penalties per game but rather penalties that did not come at critical points in the game (i.e. the last 5 minutes of a period or in the 3rd period with the game on the line). Plus, it certainly helps when the PK unit has been on top of it's game.

But what else could cause the more positive attitude and winning ways of our favorite team? You need only to look to the work ethic and the adoption of the system as second nature to truly define the turnaround this team is currently experiencing. For veterans like Doug Weight and Bill Guerin to be doing their part to lead the team on the ice and in the locker room is a positive intagible that can't be measured by any statistician. It's CONFIDENCE ladies and gentleman! Confidence in the teammate next to you and the confidence that the system will work. But most of all it's confidence in your goaltender to make the first stop and not create too many rebounds.

Joey MacDonald has proven all of his naysayers wrong so far this season with stellar play and a positive attitude. It has been this solidifying presence that has kept the Islanders together amidst all the injuries and learning the concept of the new system. Without Joey Mac this team would still be buried at the bottom of the pile in the NHL and vying for the Hedman/Tavares sweepstakes nearly two full months into the season. Instead, the Isles are 2 games from .500 and are surging with three wins in a row against two very solid, elite teams.

Tonight, the boys face a depleted Devils team without their franchise goalie in Martin Brodeur, but don't count them out either. The tandem of Kevin Weekes and Scott Clemmensen has done admirably in #30's absence and with Zach Parise already with 12 goals in the young season the Devils still pose a major threat to sink this Islanders streak.

Here's to hoping the boys prevail tonight at the Rock in Newark and keep up their angelic ways with the officials instead of cutting ruts toward the penalty box.

Photos Courtesy of and

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Friday, November 14, 2008



The NHL Disciplinarian, Colin Campbell, brought down a fairly large axe on Thomas Pock, New York Islanders defenseman, at a hearing at 2 PM today. As reported by TSN and the NHL, Pock received a 5 game suspension without pay. Honestly, I believe this is being used by the NHL as a warning to others in the NHLPA that might incur the same penalty that Pock took in last night's game in Ottawa.

This is a truly severe suspension for an elbow that although it was high and caused Shannon to wobble a bit, the hit never caused him to actually go down. However, Shannon did require assistance to eventually leave the ice surface. I guess I can understand the 5 minute major and the game misconduct but more than a 2 game suspension is using Pock as a scapegoat.

Hopefully this action taken by the NHL has the desired effect by limiting hits to the head in future contests beginning tonight. Unfortunately, hits like Pock's can never be truly eradicated from the game because of the very nature of speed and contact that is the purpose of the competition. One question I do have, is if Pock gets a 5 game suspension for his elbow...why didn't Doug Weight receive a similar or lesser suspension for his hit on Brandon Sutter? Was that hit not as vicious? As far as I can tell the open ice hit by Weight (also an integral part of the game) was more dangerous in the sense that both players came together at a much higher rate of speed. The fact that Pock got his elbow up should not warrant the kind of disciplinary action that was handed down. Just my opinion.

Photos courtesy of and

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Saturday, November 8, 2008



This has been a really stressful week. My uncle passed on Tuesday afternoon and the wake, funeral arrangements and proceedings have dominated my thoughts this week. I haven't even really been able to watch any games let along blog about them. I had intended to go to Point Blank Night but that little sojourn was promptly replaced by the wake hours on Thursday night. So considering I haven't been around hockey too much this week I figured that I'd just blog a little about the trials and tribulations of our favorite team and go into this latest trend of surrendering 3-4 goals in the third period 3 out of the last 4 games.

"Here we go again" say the fans of these New York Islanders every time that 3 goes up on the scoreboard to indicate the beginning of the 3rd period. Boys and girls are in their seats celebrating after two periods an imminent Islanders victory with only 20 minutes to go. Then...all hell breaks loose! Opposing players are sailing through seams fans and players haven't seen for the first 40 minutes. Turnovers come in bunches, penalties are all aplenty. Then before you know it the opposing team has already tied it up and the Isles are back on their heels. Sounds like a horror story right?

Well if you've been leaving in Isles Country for the past 2 weeks this is the scenario you've seen 75% of the time. I touched on how penalties were the downfall in the Montreal game and they are still present now with this latest loss to a Thrashers team that is just as bad as the Islanders this season. The blame however, in my opinion, does not lie with the coaching staff. They have done an exceptional job of getting the team ready for the challenges that lay ahead. Where the blame does have residence is with the players in the locker room. There are certain players in this locker room that are slowly turning into a cancer for this "younger" team . I will call out one whom I really believe does not belong in Scott Gordon's system: Mike Comrie.

Unfortunately, it just doesn't seem if MC is interested at any point in games this season. He glides around the ice, not moving his feet and circling around the perimeter waiting for others to do the work for him. It's this kind of attitude that will destroy the psyche's of the young players on this team. This is not a veteran that they should look up to. I'm not sure what steps Coach Gordon has taken to quell the negative attitude of someone like MC on the team but I do know that something has to be done soon. Either through trade or personality adjustment. The latter doesn't just involve the coaching staff, it involves the teammates in the room as well.

Tonight, they face the powerful Penguins, Crosby-less apparently. So a battered Isles team that has figured out how to play 40 minutes still is trying to figure out how to play a full 60. It should interesting to see how the team responds after the latest 3rd period collapse. Enjoy the game tonight folks.

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Monday, November 3, 2008



It has happened in season's past. The Islanders have taken costly penalties at the wrong time in games and it has cost them a chance at a win. On Saturday night, if you were watching the debacle that was the 3rd period against the Habs, you might not point to the two consecutive penalties the Islanders took to open the period as the start of any trouble. However, when Mark Streit took an interference penalty at 19:39 and Thomas Pock was called for tripping at 15:40, in my mind these two penalties represent what was the imminent collapse of the Islanders system that led to the 4 goals that were subsequently scored by Montreal.

As Scott Gordon has said in the past, his system is based on an aggressive forecheck and it means that the players have to keep their feet moving. These two penalties above are evidence that the system was breaking down even before Tomas Plekanec netted his first goal of the season and started a roll that 4,000 Canadiens fans in attendance were more than happy to urge on. Gordon himself even confessed at the post-game press conference that he had been looking to take the timeout he utilized after Plekanec scored even earlier in the period. He even recognized that the boys weren't skating and the collapse had already begun.

What is going to take to get players to realize that they have to keep their feet moving? Laziness and reaching with your stick will only land you in the penalty box and put your team down. In this young season it still hasn't hit home for the Islanders and it's about time they figured out that playing within Gordon's system will keep them from sitting somewhere other than the bench. It's time for sweeping change.

Yesterday, Gordon ran the boys through the paces with a little more physicality in practice and extra time watching Gordon's "high-angle" video. This is something that Ted Nolan was never seen doing with the players after a tough loss. Maybe this will give the players something to rally around. Tonight they have a chance at some mild redemption against the Columbus Blue Jackets. It's time to stay out of the box and put the puck in the net boys.

Saturday, November 1, 2008



I'd like to address some comments that I've seen on message boards and comment sections of numerous Islanders blogs about the penalty call against Frans Nielsen at the end of OT on Thursday against the Flyers. What many fans do not understand is the need for officials to clamp down early in the season on penalties. That may not explain the call on Nielsen in the waning moments of OT on Thursday but it does explain why the Islanders have found themselves down a man on average of about 6 times a game since the beginning of the of the season.

The call on Thursday was based on the fact that Nielsen made a conscious choice to put his stick in a certain area (around the midsection of the Flyers player) and that automatically signals the referee to look in that area. When the Flyers player tried to pull away Nielsen's stick got caught under his arm. Nielsen did not intentionally take a penalty in this situation but took one because of poor body positioning and not moving his feet. This kind of play is what Coach Gordon is trying to eliminate from the team's psyche. They need to keep plugging away. As soon as they start reaching with their sticks and do not keep up with the play, they will draw penalties like Nielsen's.

I'm going to be starting some new weekly blogs (hopefully) that will cover the week in preview and "The Call of the Week". In the first edition that I will try to get out after the game tonight will involve the fantastic call by Paul Devorski at the end of the Carolina/Islanders game last Saturday. I hope to see everyone at the Coli tonight supporting the boys in their new/old duds and with Les Habitants in town.

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