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Islanders blown out against Red Wings
Detroit Red Wings right wing Tomas Jurco celebrates after scoring a gold during the first period of the game against the New York Islanders at Joe Louis Arena. (Leon Halip/USATSI)

Dylan Larkin and Tomas Tatar each had a goal and an assist, and the Detroit Red Wings routed the New York Islanders 5-1 for their first home win of 2016, a game delayed 36 minutes by a malfunctioning Zamboni that chopped up a section of the ice.

The Red Wings, who were 0-4-1 at home since Dec. 20, also got goals from Tomas Jurco, Mike Green and Kyle Quincey. Petr Mrazek made 28 saves to improve to 8-2-1 in his last 11 starts.

John Tavares had New York's only goal. Jaroslav Halak was pulled after allowing four goals on 13 shots.

The start of the third period was delayed after a Zamboni ripped up a line of ice stretching from in front of the Red Wings net past the blue line. As a result, the teams changed ends at the midway point of the third so that neither team would get an advantage from the bad ice. >> Read more...

Tags: Detroit Red Wings , Jaroslav Halak , John Tavares , Johnny Boychuk

Crossing the bridge for the latest Sound Tigers update
New York Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock high fives the bench after scoring during the first period against the New Jersey Devils at Barclays Center. (Anthony Gruppuso/USATSI)

Michael Fornabaio is the Bridgeport Sound Tigers beat reporter for the Connecticut Post and has been covering the New York Islanders AHL affiliate expertly.

There have been some questions relating to the Tigers all season from Islanders fans mostly revolving around why Ryan Pulock has still not gotten his cup of coffee in the NHL, being overlooked for the opportunity by first Adam Pelech then Scott Mayfield

But there is more to these baby Islanders than just a blue chip defenseman with a powerful slapshot. There are some good hockey players looking for their chance while others enjoy playing the game they love so much knowing that chance for them, will likely never come. 

I had the opportunity to ask Fornabio some questions relating to the Sound Tigers with only one (and a half) being centered around No. 6. Let's see what he had to say.

1. Who has been the most impressive Islanders youngster in Bridgeport this season?

Pelech for good or ill. His progression over a year from 6/7 guy to shutdown guy (and, had he stayed here, a guy who looked as if he might be getting another crack on the power play) was pretty neat to watch. 

To tack on another, Alan Quine's all-around game has come along greatly over his three seasons. I think he's in the mix if a call-up is needed. That probably would've surprised me two years ago. 

2. With Pelech and now Scott Mayfield being recalled before Pulock, what is your sense as to the possible reasoning why?

Their defensive games were more mature than Pulock's. They were Bridgeport's top penalty-kill pair, the matchup pair. Pulock was, for instance, the fourth or fifth PK guy.

That said, Pulock has kind of seized the moment with those two guys up and has taken advantage of more ice time and more-important ice time. 

3. What has been the most impressive part of Pulock's game and, subsequently, the most disappointing thus far?

I don't know that there's a really disappointing aspect. He's developing. Over the past month or so he has tried to be more assertive, and it shows, whether moving the puck, carrying it himself, taking it to the net. 

4. Brent Thompson had this team flying out of the gate and they have now dropped to 5th in the division. What led to the slump and do you see this team as currently being constructed being able to make some noise in the playoffs, should they make it?

Early in the year, Josh Weissbock's estimated FC and PDO had Bridgeport in maybe not quite early-season New York Rangers territory with a quadrant to themselves, but something like it. Considering their shooting percentage since, you could say that they are, now, more or less what their record says they are. This remains an inexperienced defense overall, too. Inconsistency happens. 

Could they make noise? Hey, anything can happen in a best-of-five series, and then you go from there, but their most likely opponents for that are a good if decimated right now Wilkes-Barre team, a really good Hershey team or a phenomenal Toronto team. Not easy. That said, Bridgeport hasn't been in the playoffs since 2012, hasn't won a game since 2010, hasn't played in May since 2003. An opportunity would be different. 

5. What was your sense of Kirill Petrov when he was here, prior to his returning to the KHL.

I was kind of waiting to see him take over. You saw flashes. It's an adaptation, obviously; different culture, different everything. But then he was hurt, came back for that one game on his way out the door, and then was gone. Too bad, really, as long as we all waited for it to happen. 

6. Stephon Williams might be more talked about, but Christopher Gibson has taken the starting job and performed very well. With the JF Berube situation on the big club, it seems like the team now has a glut of qualified goaltending prospects. Which one makes the cut in your opinion and why?

Anybody who's ever asked me about goaltending can probably tell you it's not worth it.

Stockpiling is not a bad idea -- see which one emerges. Williams has shown potential, if inconsistency as a rookie. Gibson has been very solid here and has a couple of years' experience. Berube has been the man for a really good AHL team that won a Calder Cup. Reasonable odds on any of them, with no clear cut favorite right now.

If that did not satisfy your thirst for Pulock news, you can read Fornabio's full story with quotes from Sound Tigers head coach Brent Thompson here.


Today's Game: Islanders at Red Wings
New York Islanders center John Tavares plays the puck against Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba during the second period at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner/USATSI)

The New York Islanders face the Detroit Red Wings on the road Saturday at 2 p.m.

According to STATS:

  • The Islanders have won five of their last six road games against the Red Wings, after winning just three of their previous 17 games in Detroit.
  • The Islanders have not allowed a power-play goal in 11 of their last 13 road games. Their 91.4 penalty-kill percentage on the road since November 27 is the fourth-lowest in the NHL entering the weekend.
  • The Red Wings have not been shutout once over their last 74 games -- the longest active streak in the NHL.
  • The Red Wings, who have allowed multiple power-play goals in back-to-back games for the second time this season (also December 31 -- January 2), have not allowed multiple power-play goals in three straight games since March 28 -- April 2, 2011.
  • Dylan Larkin, who scored a pair of goals in Florida against the Panthers Thursday night, has now scored the most goals by a Red Wings rookie since Henrik Zetterberg had 22 during the 2002-03 season.
  • John Tavares has recorded six points over his last six overall road games, and has dished out 10 assists over his last nine games against the Red Wings.
Tags: Detroit Red Wings , John Tavares

Hickey, Islanders face Red Wings on the road
New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey shoots the puck against the Washington Capitals in the second period at Verizon Center. (Geoff Burke/USATSI)

The Detroit Red Wings' most recent win came against the New York Islanders in their final game before the All-Star break. Back-to-back road losses followed, but the start of a five-game homestand might not provide much relief.

Detroit has dropped five in a row at Joe Louis Arena and looks to avoid its longest skid there in two seasons in Saturday's rematch with the Islanders.

Justin Abdelkader and Danny DeKeyser scored in a 1:11 span of the second period to lead the Red Wings to a 4-2 victory over New York on Jan. 25. Detroit (25-18-8) was then outscored 9-4 in back-to-back games in Florida.

They allowed their most goals this season in a 6-3 defeat to the Panthers on Thursday. Jimmy Howard gave up five - three in the first 11:06 - to give him an 0-4-3 record and 3.93 goals-against average in his last eight starts.

Detroit has allowed four goals on seven power plays in its two defeats after killing off 25 of 28 penalties in its previous 10 games.

"We've just got to keep grinding," coach Jeff Blashill said. "We've got a big game against the Islanders on Saturday. ... We've been in these playoff-type games the whole year. It's going to continue to be like this for the last 30 games. We have to buckle in and be ready to grind it out every day."

Petr Mrazek was in goal for a 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Wednesday and is expected to return to the net Saturday. He stopped 27 shots Jan. 25.

New York (26-17-6) has split its two games since the All-Star break, topping Minnesota 5-3 on Tuesday and losing 3-2 at Washington on Thursday.

The Islanders allowed Alex Ovechkin's go-ahead goal with 2:40 remaining in their third loss in four road games, but defenseman Thomas Hickey was pleased with his team's showing. >> Read more...

Tags: Detroit Red Wings , Thomas Hickey

Johnny Boychuk will return on Saturday afternoon against Detroit
New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk (55) against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. (Timothy T. Ludwig)

Johnny Boychuk will make his return to the Islanders' lineup on Saturday afternoon when New York visits the Red Wings.
 
Boychuk has missed the team's last 11 games sustaining an upper body injury on December 31.
 
"We never want to rush guys back, obviously, and the few extra days were important," Jack Capuano said of Boychuk on Friday, who originally was said to be close to returning on Thursday. "Our defense has been playing pretty well, too."

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

Boychuk's original timetable was four-to-six weeks, and his return on Saturday would be just over five weeks since he got hurt in Buffalo. That's right on schedule, and the Islanders' light January certainly helped the team limit the impact of losing Boychuk for over a month. The team went 5-5-1 without one of their top d-men, but his return couldn't come at a better time.
 
We saw on Thursday just how badly the Isles miss Boychuk, a player who can step up in those final minutes. Don't get me wrong, the defense has done a solid job in holding down the fort, but with the Islanders back at full strength on the blue line, it should help them tighten up some of the slip ups. New York will play five games in a span of seven days this week, and having Boychuk back for it feels like a godsend. 

Tags: Johnny Boychuk , Brian Erni

Isles can take some solace in a hard-fought loss
New York Islanders left wing Josh Bailey (12) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Washington Capitals in the third period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 3-2. (Geoff Burke)

The Islanders came away without a point in Washington, but the effort was there.

"One of the best games we've played in this building and still come away with no points," coach Jack Capuano said. "Hard-fought game, it's tough to come away with nothing."

The Islanders fought back from a 2-1 deficit to get even in the third period on Josh Bailey's eighth goal of the season. But Alex Ovechkin buried a Nicklas Backstrom feed with just 2:40 to go in regulation to give Washington a 3-2 victory.

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

Don't get me wrong, the Isles need every win they can get. The Metropolitan division is so tightly packed that any time there is a chance to get points in the final minutes of a game on the road, you need to get them. That said, this game had to help New York's confidence.

The Islanders held the Caps to 26 shots. They kept Washington's vaunted power play off the board. They even held Ovechkin in check until he was afforded way too much space to shoot on his game-winner. I liked what they did on offense, carrying in the puck and gaining the zone with relative ease most of the night. It's just one of those nights where the end result doesn't tell the full story. The Islanders, however, are in a results-oriented business, and good efforts aren't going to keep the Devils and Penguins from picking up points in the race for one of the Metropolitan playoff slots. Thursday gave the Isles something to build off of, but they need to finish against the good teams in this league when they get the chance.

Tags: Josh Bailey , Brian Erni

Islanders lose it late against Caps
Islanders defenseman Brian Strait is chased by Washington's center Nicklas Backstrom (19). (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Box score

WASHINGTON --Alex Ovechkin scored the winning goal in his return from a one-game suspension for skipping the All-Star Game, and the Washington Capitals avoided a third straight loss by beating the New York Islanders 3-2 on Thursday night.

Ovechkin scored off a pass from Nicklas Backstrom with 2:40 left to help Washington end a rare two-game skid. The Capitals hadn't lost three games in a row all season.

T.J. Oshie and Andre Burakovsky also scored for the Capitals. Braden Holtby stopped 24 of the 26 shots he faced for the victory in his return to the net.

The Islanders' Jaroslav Halak made 20 saves. Mikhail Grabovski and Josh Bailey had New York's goals in a rematch of a first-round playoff series from last spring.

Read more. . . .


Islanders to take on Capitals in DC
(Brad Penner)

Missing their two most important players, the Washington Capitals hardly resembled the team that dominated the season's first half in their return from the All-Star break.

With Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby back in the fold, the Eastern Conference leaders attempt to avert a season-high third straight loss Thursday night against the visiting New York Islanders.

Ovechkin was ineligible to play Tuesday against Florida after dropping out of the All-Star game to rest a lower-body injury, while Holtby was given the night off after participating in this past weekend's festivities in Nashville. Both were missed as the Capitals fell behind early in a 5-2 defeat to the Atlantic Division-leading Panthers that gave them only their second losing streak this season. >> Read more


Mailbag: What is Garth Snow doing?
(Anthony Gruppuso)

Jerry F. writes

Brian, I agree that building the Islanders to win now should be the name of the game. However, Garth Snow has done absolutely nothing either now OR last off-season to indicate that. He got a very good backup goalie in Griess, but what else did he do? The Tavares line is lacking a sniper besides JT. He added Zidlicky on defense. What else?? I can only guess that his thinking was a year's more experience and being in the playoffs would suffice. Well…it doesn't! They are inconsistent game to game, and the coach is not to blame. Additionally, I don't understand why they have so much of this talent sitting in the minors and are never willing to bring them up?? Would you rather be seeing Zidlicky or Pulock??

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

Jerry, I get where you're coming from. Last offseason, Snow certainly staked a great deal on the continued development of his young players. But honestly, I think that was probably the best course of action. Ryan Strome has the potential to be that sniper, Anders Lee just needs a few more bounces to get the score sheet to be a fair representation of his level of play, and Brock Nelson has developed very nicely. Why try to add something you may already have in-house?

You also have to remember that the modern NHL is constantly about working around the cap, and the Isles have some key guys that need deals next season. Obviously, Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, and Matt Martin are the pending UFAs. Strome and Casey CIzikas will be RFAs.

As it stands now, the Isles have just over $5 million in cap space. So if the Isles did go out and add a piece on a long-term commitment, they would ultimately end up sacrificing someone. Personally, I feel like the Islanders have come too far along in this rebuild to subtract from it now. Let's see where this goes first before we start casting off pieces.

As far as development of the younger players, I have to give the Islanders the benefit of the doubt here. Their successes have far outnumbered their failures during this rebuild. For every Nino Niederreiter, there are a ton of homegrown guys who are now the established core of a very good hockey team. So if the Isles don't think Pulock is ready, I have to trust that's the case. 

Tags: Brian Erni

Yormark: In an obstructed seat? Watch the game on your phone!
(Brad Penner)

Brett Yormark says there are ways to still enjoy the game for fans in obstructed view seats.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, the Barclays Center CEO talked about the Islanders' transition in Brooklyn and brought up the topic of limited view seating.

"Our seating capacity is over 15,700. Within that capacity there's a lot of great seats," Yormark said. "Do we have some obstructed seats? Yes we do. Are fans aware of those obstructed seats before they purchase them? Yes they are. There's really nothing we're going to do from a capital improvement standpoint. You can watch the game on your mobile device. The game is on the scoreboard. There are many ways to view the game if you're in one of those obstructed seats. We aren't going to be able to change the seats in the building. That is what it is. But there are certainly other ways we can enhance the experience."

Yormark also said that since the first nine games of the season, attendance is up 23 percent, and revenue since the first game is up 10 percent.

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

This is why people lose their minds. It's one thing to have obstructed seats. It's just how things are in Brooklyn, and it's never going to change. But don't tell people to watch the game on their phone. That's such a typical marketing guy thing to say. I don't want to watch the game on my phone! I'll just stay at home, watch the game on a screen larger than five inches, and drink my free beer if that's the case.

I don't expect Barclays Center to be perfect for hockey. I'm past asking the question, "Why try to woo a hockey team while building an arena that isn't dual purpose?" I think most fans just want a good product on the ice, and to not have their intelligence insulted when their complaints are brought up.

If you're going to "enhance the experience" with auxiliary scoreboards or TVs or a free t-shirt for sitting in obstructed seats or whatever, just do it. But an answer can't be that I'm better off watching it on my phone, because that's just so disconnected from reality its laughable.

Tags: Brian Erni

Brian Compton and Mike Carver are steaming over Jack Capuano and Garth Snow's decision to start J.F. Berube in net vs. Minnesota. They discuss how this will impact Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss, and if Berube has trade value come the deadline.

Plus, Brian chats with Craig Custance of ESPN about the trade market, focusing on Kyle Okposo, Thomas Greiss, and Travis Hamonic.

Tags: Jaroslav Halak , Kyle Okposo , Thomas Greiss , Travis Hamonic

The Kyle Okposo conundrum
(Jay LaPrete/AP)

What will Garth Snow do with Kyle Okposo?

ESPN's Scott Burnside recently broke down the issues facing each team in the Metropolitan division ahead of the NHL's trade deadline and, unsurprisingly, the question on whether to trade Okposo is on top of the Isles' agenda.

"With contract talks regarding Kyle Okposo at a standstill, what is general manager Garth Snow going to do with his leading points producer," Burnside asks. "Can he afford to see Okposo walk on July 1 without getting anything in return? But can he afford to trade a top power forward when the team might face the hated Rangers in the first round? The short answer is that Snow can't afford to have either of those things happen, which means he must find a way to fill Okposo's void if he does move the winger."

The trade deadline is February 29.

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

I think Snow has to hold on to Okposo and roll the dice. There's no way Snow is going to get full value for him as a pending UFA, so what does he really stand to gain? A prospect that could help them three-to-four years down the road? It's always nice to add to your system, but the Islanders' window to win is open right now.

Outside of the Capitals, nearly every team in Eastern Conference is on the same level. If the Islanders can find a way out of the Metropolitan division, would you really be surprised if they wound up in the Cup Final? Bearing that in mind, there's just no way can I convince myself that moving your top scorer is the best way to go. I know that no one wants to see Kyle walk away at the end of the season with nothing to show for it. But with a realistic chance at playing deep into the spring, the Isles can't cut bait on what has a reasonable chance to turn into a special season.

Tags: Kyle Okposo , Brian Erni

Anders Lee may finally be getting some puck luck
New York Islanders center Anders Lee (27) plays the puck in front of Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon (46) during the second period at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner)

Anders Lee finally saw some results for his hard work this season.

Lee deflected home a Travis Hamonic shot from just inside the blue line to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead in the second period. It was Lee's first goal in eight games.

In 48 games, Lee has scored seven goals and 14 assists. Last season, he had 25 goals in 76 games.

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

Lee has been an analytics darling this season (54.1 Corsi For Percentage, 54.9 Fenwick For Percentage), he just hasn't found the back of the net with as much consistency as many of us thought he would. To give that some perspective, Lee's 5-on-5 Individual Fenwick (shots on goal plus shots directed at net that missed net) is third-best among forwards on the team (127), but he is averaging only 1.32 points per 60 even strength minutes. John Tavares, for example, who has a 128 iFenwick, has 2.07 points per 60 of 5-on-5. That's a good example to show that Lee has been teasing an offensive break out, he just hasn't cashed in on his opportunities. But that might be about to change.

Lee's deflection was well done, possibly even done purely on instinct, as Butch Goring said on the telecast. But what I liked even more than the deflection was the screen Lee provided on Frans Nielsen's goal. That's Lee's bread-and-butter: get in front of the net and cause a problem. He was a huge factor on two goals, and if he can just get a few more breaks, he might still give a second consecutive 20-goal season a run for its money.

Tags: Anders Lee , John Tavares , Brian Erni

Using Berube to spell Halak, Greiss could be a masterstroke for Capuano
New York Islanders goalie Jean-Francois Berube (30) makes a save against the Minnesota Wild during the first period at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner)

J.F. Berube earned his first NHL win in the Islanders' 5-3 victory over the Wild on Tuesday.

Berube, who was tabbed with surprise on Tuesday afternoon, made 40 saves, including 20 in the first period. He was named the game's third star.

"When we announced [Berube was starting] this morning, a few people looked at me like I head three heads," Capuano told reporters. "But he played real well last week in Bridgeport, he was ready. He's part of the team. We have three goaltenders and it's not going to change. He played great."

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

I had the same reaction as some of the reporters. Why Berube, especially coming off such a long stretch of rest for Halak and Greiss? But as I watched the game unfold on Tuesday, and the more I thought about it, it could be a brilliant move by Capuano.

Halak played in 59 regular season games and seven playoff starts for a career-high of 65 appearances. Greiss has never played in more than 25 NHL games in one season, and he's at 21 right now. So while the goaltending has been one of the Isles' saving graces in this rather uneven season, it doesn't mean they can afford to run them into the ground, especially with the taxing schedule down the stretch. The only teams the Isles don't have a game in hand on in the East is Washington and Philadelphia. As a result, their schedule is packed in the final three months. They'll play 12 games in the remaining 27 days in February, and 16 games in 30 days in March (which includes two back-to-backs).

So if Berube can earn the trust of Capuano, the coach can use J.F. to spell his top two goaltenders, keep them fresh, and have them both ready for the spring. The way Berube played on Tuesday, there's no reason why he can't get four or five more spot starts, and that extra rest for Jaro and Greiss could mean all the difference come playoff time.

 

Tags: Jaroslav Halak , Thomas Greiss , Brian Erni

Berube makes 40 saves as Isles top Wild, 5-3
(Brad Penner)

Brock Nelson's team-leading 20th goal broke a tie late in the second period, Jean-Francois Berube made 40 saves for his first NHL win, and the New York Islanders beat the Minnesota Wild 5-3 Tuesday night.

Mikhail Grabovski and John Tavares each had a goal and an assist, and Anders Lee and Frans Nielsen also scored for the Islanders.

Charlie CoyleJason Pominville and Nino Niederreiter had the goals for the Wild, who have lost eight of their last nine (1-7-1). Devan Dubnyk gave up five goals on 30 shots, and Darcy Kuemper stopped all eight shots he faced.

After the Islanders took a 2-1 lead on goals by Grabovski and Lee early in the second, Pominville tied it with 1:34 left in the period. Nelson put New York back ahead for good with 42 seconds remaining. >> Read more

Tags: Anders Lee , Brock Nelson , Frans Nielsen , John Tavares , Mikhail Grabovski

Tonight's Game: Islanders vs. Wild
(Aaron Doster)

The Islanders return from the All-Star break to host the Wild on Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m.

According to STATS...

  • This will be the first meeting between the Wild and Islanders this season. Minnesota swept the season series last season, just the third season all-time in which the Wild swept the season series versus the Islanders, and the first since 2008-09 (also 2000-01).
  • The Wild were 22-11-8 (.634) through January 9, the sixth-highest win percentage in the NHL over that span. However, Minnesota is just 1-6-1 (.188) since January 10, the worst win percentage in the NHL. The Wild now find themselves outside of the Western Conference playoff picture, one point behind the eighth-seeded Predators.
  • The Islanders went 21-12-5 in the first three months of the season, outscoring their opponents by 15 (102-87) over that span. However, New York went just 4-4-1 in January and were outscored by three goals in the month (28-25), the first month in which the Islanders have been outscored since being outscored, 34-30, in March of last season.
  • Mikko Koivu failed to score a goal in January, the first month in which Koivu has played at least 10 games without scoring a goal since October of 2011.
  • Charlie Coyle entered the All-Star break having scored a goal in three consecutive games, tied for the longest streak of his career (also March 22-26, 2014). His last goal before the break was his 13th of the season, a new single-season career-high.
  • Brock Nelson scored a goal in his last game played before the All-Star break on January 25 versus Detroit, his sixth goal scored since the first of the year, tied for his second-most goals scored in any month over his career (had seven in January of 2013). Nelson has totaled 19 goals this season, one shy of his single-season career-high (had 20 last season).
Tags: Brock Nelson

Isles enter the second half primed to make a playoff run
New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic (3) is injured in a collision with Ottawa Senators left wing Shane Prince (10) in the first period at the Canadian Tire Centre. (Marc DesRosiers)

The Islanders (25-16-6) find themselves in third place in the Metropolitan division and three points out of second place in the Eastern Conference as they begin play in the second half on Tuesday. 

They entered the break with a 4-2 home loss to Detroit last Monday, and despite going 3-1-1 in their last five, feel uneven efforts are holding them back.

"Hopefully we can find our game in the last 30-some odd games heading into the playoffs," forward Matt Martin said. " ... It's a tight race but we have to play more consistency. The way we've played haven't been consistent enough."

Brock Nelson scored his 19th goal against the Red Wings, giving him six in his last seven games and getting him within one of the career high he established in 82 games last season. >> Read more…

Tags: Brock Nelson , Matt Martin

Isles start Berube in goal, rather than Halak or Greiss
New York Islanders goalie Jean-Francois Berube (30) reacts after allowing a goal scored by Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane. (Kamil Krzaczynski)

New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano announced that Jean-Francois Berube will start in goal on Tuesday against Minnesota, rather than Jaroslav Halak or Thomas Greiss (Islanders, Feb. 2).  

Berube is the hot hand, going 4-0 with a 0.97 GAA and .967 save percentage over the last two weeks with Bridgeport.

He allowed four goals in his only start this season with the Islanders in October against Chicago.

Andy Graziano, SNY.TV: I don't buy the 'keep a good thing going' excuse being used here by the Islanders. Sure, Berube has been lights out since returning from an injury and getting some regular reps in Bridgeport (4-0-0, 0.97, .967%) but it's all about results. 

If Halak and Greiss are both healthy, and there are zero indications to say they aren't, you are going with one or the other. The only logical reasoning behind this, other than the fact it's a good choice of opponent (Minnesota as opposed to Washington or Dallas for example), is that they are showcasing the young goaltender for a trade.

Halak is signed for another two seasons, Greiss for next season. Berube is probably good enough to see, at minimum, backup reps on an NHL squad. It just doesn't appear it's this one. Typically, teams maximize trade value by showcasing talent at the NHL level. With the trade deadline approaching February 29 at 3pm ET, it appears general manager Garth Snow is trying to increase what he could potentially get in return for Berube, either singularly or as part of a larger package.

Tags: Jaroslav Halak , Thomas Greiss , Tim Reilly

Johnny Boychuk could return on Thursday
New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk (55) goes off the ice with a trainer during the third period against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center on Dec. 31. (Timothy T. Ludwig)

New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk could possibly return on Thursday, according to Arthur Staple of Newsday (Feb. 2).

Boychuk, 32, has been out of action for the Isles since suffering a shoulder injury on Dec. 31.

He has scored three goals and has 11 assists this season in 38 games played. 

Tags: Johnny Boychuk , Tim Reilly

Islanders' youth looks to mature in second half
(Ed Mulholland)

Even though the NHL All-Star game was held after the Islanders had already played 47 games, the unofficial second half of the season begins Monday when teams are allowed to resume practicing.

Head coach Jack Capuano and his staff will welcome the players back at IceWorks -- some returning from lavish winter skiing vacations, some from rest and relaxation back home and captain John Tavares from the game itself. The Minnesota Wild await Tuesday evening at Barclays Center in what will kick off a frantic 29 games in the next 59 days.

They Isles will also embark on their longest road trip of the season as the month closes and enters March, with a seven-game swing that will take them through western Canada before culminating with a game at Madison Square Garden on March 6.

New York is seventh in the Eastern Conference but have two games in hand on every team ahead of them with the exception of the Washington Capitals. They also have one-to-three games in hand on teams below them all the way to 13th place. They are three points shy of second place in the division (behind the Rangers) but have two games in hand. Winning those games is another story but they are there for the taking.

Glancing at February, the schedule shows two games apiece against the Capitals, Red Wings, Wild and Oilers, with single games against the Devils, Blue Jackets, Flames, Hurricanes and Kings. Now, even in today's NHL where it seems to be 'any given night' in terms of unpredictable outcomes, you would at least look at that and think it doesn't look too daunting.

I have written plenty about the offensive consistency the Islanders still seem to be searching for -- a perfect marriage, if you will, to their newfound commitment to defense. But that all starts with the faith general manager Garth Snow showed in his stable of young talent when he made no moves to change or improve an offense that finished fourth last year in goals scored. And while some may look to that as a fault, who could blame him with the way that youth performed at such high levels in 2014-15?

It starts with Ryan Strome, the gifted 22-year-old who followed up a 7-11-18 in a 37-game cup of coffee with a spectacular 17-33-50 in 81 games while leading the team at +23 last year. The young forward then showed some immaturity, as he had to be spoken to during training camp regarding his work ethic and battle level in early season practices and exihibitions. Being the fifth overall selecton in the 2011 draft and excelling in the AHL are one thing. Bringing it each night against the best competition in the world is another, as Strome soon found out, being sent to the AHL in early November.

Since his return, Strome's willingness to compete has been noticeable, and he is back on a line with captain John Tavares, where he started the season. The points are coming, with 12 in 24 games since his recall, more in line with the 0.61 point per game pace he set last season. But the Isles will need a lot more of this going forward from him and running mate Anders Lee.

Lee is another story of a sophomore slump or simply 'gripping the stick too tight'. After a superb rookie season in 2014-15, where he notched 25 goals and 41 points in 76 games, he came into this year seemingly overflowing with confidence -- 35 goals in your first 100 NHL games and a new contract extension will do that to you.

But Lee has found the going a lot tougher in his second full pro campaign, a season where many players before him have banged their heads against the proverbial wall. Even though he is doing a lot of the little things right, such as battling hard along the boards and going to the front of the net to cause screens and overall chaos in a zone unfamiliar to many Islanders forwards, the team certainly needs more than six goals in 47 games from him.

For Lee, one indicator that points to bad luck is that he is shooting almost at an identical rate to his breakthrough rookie season -- 2.48 shots per game after averaging 2.59 shots last season. But after 12.7 percent of those shots found the back of the net in 14-15, only 5.1 percent has yielded the same result this season. League average is about 9 percent.

With Johnny Boychuk very close to returning after suffering a separated shoulder and Travis Hamonic now healthy after fracturing a bone in his foot, New York needs to bring their game to another level with very little time in between for rest. The rest period is now over.

To a man, the players and head coach have admitted at one point or another that the team plays their best when their schedule is daunting.

We shall see if that holds true as a frenetic finish awaits. But in order to take the next step to potentially winning a playoff round, the Islanders need their young talent to rediscover their mojo and start partying like its 2015.

Tags: Anders Lee , John Tavares , Johnny Boychuk , Ryan Strome , Travis Hamonic

Islanders recall Mayfield and Berube from Bridgeport
(Eric Bolte)

The Islanders have recalled D Scott Mayfield and G JF Berube from Bridgeport, according to Artur Staple of Newsday (Feb. 1)

Mayfield, 23, played in two games for the Isles earlier this season, failing to register a goal or assist. 

Berube, 24, has started one game for the Isles this season, allowing four goals in a loss to the Blackhawks on Oct. 10.

 


Islanders' Tavares wins All-Star accuracy shooting event
The Islanders' John Tavares (91) won the accuracy shooting event in the NHL All-Star weekend's skills competition. (Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports)

Islanders captain John Tavares won the accuracy shooting event in the NHL All-Star Weekend skills challenge Saturday night in Nashville. He knocked down four of five targets in 12.29 seconds.

East: Patrice Bergeron: 23.36 seconds; Claude Giroux: 17.25 seconds; Evgeni Malkin: 16.179 seconds

West: Patrick Kane: 20 seconds; Joe Pavelski: 14.08 seconds; Corey Perry: 13.77 seconds; Jamie Benn: 16.66 seconds.

Tavares shot after taking passes from Jaromir Jagr and Nicklas Backstrom. Last year in Colorado, it took Tavares 26.122 seconds.

P.K. Subban of the Canadiens won the Breakaway Challenge, wearing Jagr's jersey to honor the 43-year-old All-Star.

Dylan Larkin, 19, of the Red Wings won the Fastest Skater event, going around the rink in 13.172 seconds - breaking the record of 13.386 that Mike Gartner set at the 1996 All-Star Game, before Larkin was born.


Tavares will participate in the All-Star weekend skills competition
Jan 14, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) lines up for a face-off against the New York Rangers during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

New York Islanders center John Tavares will participate in Saturday night's NHL All-Star weekend skills competition (Jan. 29).

Tavares will take part in the Accuracy Shooting and Shootout competitions.  

This season Tavares has 18 goals and 16 assists for the Islanders.

Tavares and Jaromir Jagr are the captains of the Eastern Conference team.

Tags: John Tavares , Tim Reilly

Isles At The Break: Need, trade, 2016 and beyond
The New York Islanders celebrate a goal against the New York Rangers during the third period at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner)

With the Islanders off through the All-Star break, the Islanders Point Blank team took a look back at the first-half of the season. Next up, the team's biggest need, a trade deadline acquisition question, the 2015-16 season and beyond...

Biggest need

Brian Erni:

Secondary scoring. While some players have better analytics years than their traditional stats would imply (I'm looking at you, Anders Lee), the second and third lines have to up the productivity. The Isles' goals per game currently sits at 2.76. That's down from 3.07 overall last year, and 3.17 through 47 games in 2014-15. If some of the forwards don't start putting the puck in the net, you have to wonder how long the goaltending can keep carrying the load.

Andy Graziano:

Depth defenseman (5/6). It's clear that Marek Zidlicky and Brian Strait are not the answer. Adam Pelech was a revelation before coming down with a mystery illness/injury that has cost him the season and we all saw what a lack of depth that far down the chart did last year in the Islanders loss to the Capitals. Snow would be wise to scour the market and try to patch this up heading into March.

Trade deadline acquisition

Erni:

None. Let's face it: this team is pot-committed to what they have. When healthy, their top-four defensemen are as good as any in the league. And with quality d-men so hard to come by around the league, they're not finding a serious upgrade anywhere. At forward, the team is going to go as far as their young forwards take them. Brock Nelson has stepped up, and now it's time for Ryan Strome and Lee cash in on some of those dangerous shot attempts and start finishing with consistency. Fans seem to feel the team needs that "Butch Goring move": the one swap that puts a young, talented team over the top. I really don't know who the Isles could realistically get to fill that role, nor who they would cut bait with in doing so. I think it's just up to the guys in that room right now to take this as far as they can.

Graziano:

It's always fun to play general manager and when you have followed a team as closely as we have, you draw your own opinions based on who might be available. Snow has a little over 6 million dollars to play with and in addition to shopping for that depth defenseman I mention above, Andrew Ladd could be a nice fit for a draft pick. He would likely come for just the remainder of this season but bring with him a boat load of Stanley Cup experience. You can never have too many winners in the locker room. Bigger question if that was to happen? Who exits the lineup?

Prognosis for balance of 2015-16

Erni:

It's going to be a fight to the finish. After the break, the Isles' schedule is going to really pick up, and they're going to have to separate themselves from the Wild Card teams in the East as they play these games in hand. Before the season, I predicted a second place, 103-point finish. They're on pace for about 97 points right now, and I think they may need to get to the 100 mark to ensure themselves a playoff spot. I think they'll get there, but we're going to sweat down the stretch.

Graziano:

I agree Brian, it doesn't look as if anything is going to get easier for this team and they have really made a lot of things harder on themselves. Sure, there's the adjustment to Barclays and all that entails as well as this new found commitment to the game they were playing in their own end. But 35 games in 67 days? Gonna be a sweaty, nervous sprint to the finish line.

Looking into the future

Erni:

Win a playoff series. The legitimacy of this organization begins and ends with winning a round for the first time since 1992-93. There was a strong case to be made for continuity after last year's giant step forward, Game 7 failure notwithstanding. This season, the measuring stick is very clear. Win a round, or expect some turnover.

Graziano:

You used the perfect word there, Brian: expect turnover. With this team, you can never guarantee it but I would be very surprised if many would survive another first round ouster or at worst, missing the post-season totally. This team is built to win and are most certainly talented enough. Just need to put the intangibles together and blend it all properly.


For Part 1, click here.
For Part 2, click here.

Tags: Anders Lee , Brian Strait , Brock Nelson , Marek Zidlicky , Ryan Strome

Isles At The Break: What's been good and what's been bad
New York Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss (1) during the third period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Barclays Center. (Anthony Gruppuso)

With the Islanders off through the All-Star break, the Islanders Point Blank team took a look back at the first-half of the season. Next up, what's been good and what's been bad for New York...

What's been good?

Brian Erni:

The goaltending. Thomas Greiss (who nearly got my vote for MVP) has been a revelation, and Jaro Halak has been excellent when he's been on the ice as well. If this team was playing more consistently and capitalizing on their chances, they could easily have 10-15 more points in the standings thanks to how well this goaltending duo has played.

Andy Graziano:

Overall team defense. I wrote yesterday about how the team is struggling to 'marry' their offense with the new found commitment to team defense, which wins championships. Team is allowing less scoring chances overall, keeping slot clear and that penalty kill is fantastic. Eighth in blocked shots is also showing a renewed commitment to their own end. If they can only get the transition game figured out, very dangerous team.

What's been bad?

Erni:

The power play hasn't been great. Its 17.5 percent success rate is in the bottom half of the league (tied for 18th). By contrast, the Devils - who don't score at all - have cashed in 19 percent of their opportunities. I'm sorry, but you're not going to seriously contend for a Stanley Cup without an upper echelon power play. What's more, the Islanders aren't drawing a lot of penalties either. Through 47 games, they've gotten just 137 power play opportunities. That's tied for 26th in the NHL. That leads me to believe that they're not putting enough pressure on their opponents, and their forecheck hasn't been nearly as aggressive as last season, something the eye test corroborates.

Graziano:

Inconsistency in every facet of the offensive game. One game they dominate an opponent, shots are finding their targets and everyone is happy. Next, the complete opposite. Ties to your point I believe, Brian, about the power play as well. Last year, finished second to only the Blackhawks in shots per game (33.8). This season, down to 30. And that's with more of their offensive zone play being on the perimeter also. I'm not sure the defense is at the level, YET, to be able to win 1-0, 2-1 playoff games. Only time will tell. They have to get there first.


For Part 1, click here.

Next up, the team's biggest need and a possibly trade-deadling acuqisition. 

Tags: Jaroslav Halak , Thomas Greiss , Brian Erni

Isles At The Break: MVP, Comeback Player and Best D-Man of the first half
New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (center) celebrates with his team after he scored a goal against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period at Honda Center. (Kelvin Kuo)

With the Islanders off through the All-Star break, the Islanders Point Blank team took a look back at the first-half of the season. First up, MVP, Comeback Player and Best Defender.

MVP

Brian Erni:

Brock Nelson. Where would this offense be without Brock? While his advanced analytics may not be as strong as some of the other wingers, he's leading where it counts: in putting the puck in the net. His 19 goals (14 at even strength) lead the team, and not only is he scoring, he's doing it from beyond the circles with a wicked wrister, something we hadn't seen to date from him. While John Tavares will always be the engine that makes this team go, Nelson has been firing on all cylinders even through JT's cold streaks, and he's really been an offensive answer on a team searching for some.

Andy Graziano:

Really can't go wrong with your selection Brian (although I think the shooting percentage (17.4%) is unsustainable) but I'm taking Frans Nielsen for my money. Corsi jump of over 2.5% from last year (one of only two to show improved analytics) and leads team in scoring chance differential (53.3%). In fact, only 4 Islanders regulars have been on ice for less 5v5 scoring chances against in total. Throw in 14 goals and 30 points and he's my MVP of the first 'half'.

Comeback Player

Erni:

Kyle Okposo. Coming off the detached retina surgery and a fairly lackluster series against the Caps, no one was really sure what to expect of Okposo in his walk year. But Kyle has been quite good, leading the team in points (35), assists (23), and in 5-on-5 Individual Corsi (177). He's also been one of the more productive power play members, with two goals and six assists with an extra attacker. It's clear Okposo's eye isn't a problem, and that has to be a sigh of relief to him and Islanders fans alike.

Graziano:

Calvin de Haan for me. After struggling through his sophomore season, as many before him in this league have, he has rebounded to be the consistent, steady blueliner that Garth Snow thought he could be. Has taken last year's benching in stride and used it as motivation. It's the toughest position to master at this level and the development arc for de Haan is trending in the right directly right on schedule. He is turning into a steady, #3/4 defenseman for this club and will actually be counted on more once Travis Hamonic moves on.

Best Defenseman

Erni:

Travis Hamonic. Not only have Hamonic's peripherals been great, but he's exuding a confidence that I don't think we've seen before. Hamonic has worked through injuries while offsetting some of the uneven play on the blue line, all while going through something deeply personal. I think he's playing the best hockey of his career right now, and it gives the Islanders some incredible depth to match up in the playoffs should everyone remain healthy.

Graziano:

You know what? That's impossible to argue there Brian. Hamonic for me also. With all the negativity surrounding him after his trade request was inexplicably made public, he has handled everything, on and off the ice, with class and professionalism. Has never made a demand that Snow move him within any time frame and has never taken a night off in an Islanders uniform. Once the inevitable happens, will be sad to see him go.


Up next: What's Been Good?, What's Been Bad?, their biggest need, best trade deadling acquisition to make and looking to the second half. 

Tags: Brock Nelson , Calvin De Haan , Kyle Okposo , Travis Hamonic , Brian Erni

Islanders still searching for consistency at the break
New York Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak (41) looks on during warmups prior to the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. (Aaron Doster)

The New York Islanders knew they had adjustments to make this season before it even began with training camp back in September of 2015.

A new building, new game-day ritual and new transportation options just to name several.

"Today was the first day the guys couldn't take the train in. Every day, there's something. It's the first year, you have to find your way. We ran into a problem with transportation down and the players had to figure it out." is how head coach Jack Capuano described the LIRR issues post-game after a listless 4-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. And that's off the ice.

On the ice, it seems the coaching staff has made some adjustments as well after analyzing the results of 2014-15, which, ironically, was the team's best regular season in 29 years. The point total shouldn't have been, and seemingly wasn't, enough as the team lost in a seventh and deciding game of the playoffs opening round to the Washington Capitals.

But after five seasons of a consistent approach that has yielded mixed results with Capuano behind the helm, it was time to conform to what the NHL's secret of success seems to be…defense.

Last season, the Islanders scored 245 goals, fourth in the league, three behind the New York Rangers, 12 behind the Dallas Stars and 14 shy of the Tampa Bay Lightning. They scored four goals or greater 27 times (32.9%) and were shutout in only three appearances (Vancouver, Philadelphia and Colorado).

However, they allowed 230 goals, which placed them 22nd in the league ahead of only eight other teams, including such historically rock solid defensive clubs as Toronto, Arizona, Buffalo and Edmonton. There was a need to tighten it up and lock it down. As playoff teams who have withstood the grind before them had all done. The philosophy has been tried and come true in mostly all sports, not just hockey. Defense wins championships, pitching will always beat hitting, etc….

This year, the Islanders have focused more on their efforts in the defensive zone and especially on the penalty kill, which ranked 26th last year at only 78% efficiency. They have seen their special teams when down a man rise to new heights, all the way to second (87.2%) behind only the Anaheim Ducks. They have focused on blocking shots (8th) and keeping the crease clear with a collapsing mentality for Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss to face less second and third chances which has led to a combined save percentage of .919, above the league average (.915) and eighth in the NHL. They are also eighth in total goals allowed with 115.

What that has led to however when you watch the team play is a clear downturn in their Corsi possession numbers (Only two players, Frans Nielsen and Travis Hamonic, are up over last year to date) and a struggle to move the puck consistently out of their own zone in transition, which happens to be the biggest driver in generating consistent offense. Nick Leddy has really struggled in this capacity so far after being so stellar just 12 months earlier. He has seen the third largest drop in possession statistics, leading only Johnny Boychuk and Mikhail Grabovski for the unwanted honor.

Offensively, New York has slipped to 12th in goals scored with 127, their 2.70 goals per game down from last season's 2.99. If you subscribe to the eye-test, it's clear to see New York is struggling in the neutral zone and spending way too much time on the perimeter. Last season, they were second in the league with 33.8 shots per game. This year? 13th at 30.3.

Captain John Tavares, speaking after last night's loss in a game that wasn't as close as the final score, made mention with his post-game comments.

"It's been a little different story for us this year, certainly…last year, we scored a lot of goals and played with a great pace but struggled keeping the puck out of our net, especially at crucial times. Our penalty kill was up and down. This year, it's been completely the opposite. Trying to get our offensive game going and build on some of the good things we are doing in our own end. Hopefully, we can match those two together and we can be really dangerous."

Last year, the penalty kill and power play, as one example, were never on the same page, each producing at their own pace but independent of one another - one going while the other struggled and then flipping. The pace of the Islanders offense led to too many odd-man rushes against and high quality scoring chances were finding their way to the back of the net off second and third chances.

Matt Martin, speaking off the fact that the team has played only two games in eight days, also spoke of the consistency needed…"You kind of get into a rhythm during the season and I don't think, as a group, we were very sharp overall. In the second, especially, just not good enough. That is not an excuse. We didn't play hard enough and were not physical enough. With a team that has that much skill, you need to get in their way. We need to be able to match all facets of our game and we need to find that consistency between our offense and defense. Last year, our last 20 games weren't great. We need to find our complete game coming out of the break here."

Brock Nelson summed it all up perfectly and very simply…"We have not really played our best. We need to come back from this break rejuvenated and ready to go. Lots of games coming up".

Lots of games indeed. The Islanders will play their final 35 over a span of 67 days. Upon coming back from the break, next Tuesday against Minnesota, they will have played only two games in 15 days. Plenty of time to get rested and fully healthy.

Tavares closed out his comments with "one game at a time, one day at a time." Those games and days seem to go by very quickly, almost as fast as you can blink. New York needs to marry its new found commitment to defense with its offense and transition of last year.

Nobody wants to think of the potential result if they can't.

Tags: Jaroslav Halak , John Tavares , Matt Martin , Thomas Greiss

Islanders fall short, lose to Red Wings 4-2
Detroit Red Wings defenseman Alexei Marchenko and New York Islanders center Mikhail Grabovski tussle for the puck during the second period at Barclays Center. (Anthony Gruppuso/USATSI)

(AP) -- Justin Abdelkader and Danny DeKeyser scored 1:11 apart in the second period to lead the Detroit Red Wings to a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Monday night.

Brad Richards scored in the first period and Petr Mrazek stopped 27 shots to give the Red Wings their second win in five games (2-2-1). Luke Glendenning added an empty-netter in the final minute to seal Detroit's third win in the last 11 meetings (3-6-2) against the Islanders.

Brock Nelson and Mikhail Grabovski scored for New York, and Jaroslav Halak had 22 saves while the Islanders lost in regulation for the first time in five games (3-1-1).

Both teams were playing for the last time before the All-Star Game this weekend in Nashville, Tennessee. >> Read more...

Tags: Brock Nelson , Detroit Red Wings , Jaroslav Halak , Mikhail Grabovski

Isles can extend point streak against Red Wings
New York Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy reacts after scoring a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period at the CONSOL Energy Center. (Charles LeClaire/USATSI)

The Islanders face the Detroit Red Wings Monday at Barclays Center at 7 p.m.

According to STATS...

  • The Red Wings lost, 4-3, at home to the Ducks on Saturday night, and have now dropped three of their last four tilts (all three of which came at Joe Louis Arena). Detroit is 6-1-0 on the road this month -- best in the Eastern Conference.
  • New York defeated Ottawa, 5-2, at Canadian Tire Centre on Friday night, extending its point streak to four straight games overall (3-0-1 record). The Islanders are 3-1-1 in five home tilts this month.
  • Tonight marks the first of three meetings between these clubs in 2015-16. Including taking two of three from the Wings last season, the Isles are 9-2-1 (.792) since 2005-06 vs. Detroit overall -- the best mark of any NHL club.
  • Pavel Datsyuk was held without a point in his second straight game Saturday night for the first time since November 29-December 1. Datsyuk has three goals and one helper in his last two road skates against the Islanders.
  • Nick Leddy lit the lamp Friday night, giving him two goals and an assist during his current three-game point streak, and three markers in his eight skates this month (had zero goals in first 38 games of the season). Leddy has six points (2g, 4a) in his last seven games vs. the Red Wings (since beginning of 2011-12).
  • The Islanders have not allowed a power-play goal in six straight games -- tied for the second-longest active streak in the league. Detroit's opponents have not scored with the man-advantage in four straight contests.
Tags: Detroit Red Wings , Nick Leddy

Islanders notes from practice
(Brad Penner)

Jaroslav Halak will be in net on Monday night against the Red Wings.

Meanwhile, Johnny Boychuk participated in the team's optional skate and could return from injury next week.


Andy Graziano

The Islanders come in 3-0-1 in their last four and could have easily defeated Vancouver had it not been for some Ryan Miller heroics. More importantly, they have only allowed six goals in those four games and just got Travis Hamonic back for the 5-2 win in Ottawa on Friday.

Missing their top two defensemen, the Islanders have managed to tread water, going 4-3-1 without Boychuk and 2-1-1 without Hamonic. They will need to keep up that disciplined play on Monday against an explosive Red Wings offense led by Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and super rookie Dylan Larkin.

After Monday's game, they will have only played two games since January 18 heading into the All-Star break. However, they'll play 13 games in 28 days (including eight in 14 days) in February, culminating with a seven game road trip -- their longest of the season -- that rolls into March.

Boychuk skating in the optional is a sign he should be ready next Tuesday against Minnesota, and that's a good thing with the Islanders needing all hands on deck as they head down the home stretch.

Tags: Jaroslav Halak , Johnny Boychuk

Road warrior Red Wings ready for Brooklyn
Detroit Red Wings left wing Tomas Tatar (21) celebrates his goal with teammates during the third period against the Anaheim Ducks at Joe Louis Arena. (Tim Fuller)

While winning at home has proved difficult lately, the Detroit Red Wings haven't experienced too many issues earning victories on the road with Petr Mrazek playing a prominent role.

The Red Wings haven't fared as well in most of their recent visits to the New York Islanders but will try to change their luck in their first trip to Brooklyn on Monday night.

Detroit (24-16-8) showed a little more spark offensively in two games this weekend, scoring three goals in each after averaging 1.8 in its previous 11 contests. The Red Wings used one of those performances for a 3-0 win in Buffalo on Friday but fell 4-3 to visiting Anaheim on Saturday.

They've won six of seven on the road and have lost a season-high five straight at home.

"I'm not sure why that is. I know (against Anaheim), we didn't play well enough to win and the next game we play in New York, we better play better," coach Jeff Blashill said. >> Read more…

Tags: Detroit Red Wings

GEICO SportsNite: Islanders 00:00:53
The Islanders are preparing to face a tough Red Wings team in Brooklyn on Monday night.

The Islanders are preparing to face a tough Red Wings team in Brooklyn on Monday night.


Playoffs loom as hurdle for Capuano, Snow
Islanders coach Jack Capuano will be under pressure to win a playoff series this spring -- providing the team gets there. (Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)

There seems to be no question that general manager Garth Snow and coach Jack Capuano face a serious crossroad when the Islanders take the ice this spring in the Stanley Cup playoffs. And yes, I realize that nothing is guaranteed in today's world of professional sports where the strange and wacky happen every day, so consider this positive reinforcement of something that, at this stage, looks likely to happen. For if it doesn't, then there really is nothing to discuss, in all likelihood, about future employment status for more than just the two.

The blizzard that blanketed the East Coast Saturday and caused the postponement of the Islanders-Flyers game at the Barclays Center gave the players an unexpected day off following their complete 5-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Friday. After arriving back on Long Island late and in the middle of heavy snow bands and 50-mph wind gusts, who could have blamed any player for wearing their pajamas inside out.

Capuano has made the postseason in two of his previous four seasons and is being counted on this year to get over the hump and win a series. The Islanders have not won a playoff round since 1992-93 when the late Al Arbour was commanding the ship and New York lost in five games to the Montreal Canadiens in the conference finals. That has left a sour taste in the mouth of long-time fans who have craved to see their team celebrate and lead the handshake line once again and newer, younger fans who have never been able to witness such an event.

How much of that falls directly on Capuano's shoulders is up for much debate. There are two schools of thought to which people seem to subscribe.

The first is the coach bears a huge chunk of the responsibility for results on the ice, that his decisions in practice, pre-game and in-game have an impact on the final score that is second to none.

The other is that the coach really just sets tactics, implements a system and then demands that grown men making millions of dollars go out and execute it like they've been taught their entire lives. Most of you who read me regularly or follow me on Twitter know which school I've been following for some time now.

Look at Capuano's record over his last 4 1/2 seasons as coach of the Islanders. In his two losing seasons, he has gone 68-74-22, for a .482 percentage. The other 2 1/2 he's gone 96-60-20 (.602). That record has largely been accumulated during 2014-15 and the first 46 games of 2015-16 with the roster you see on the ice each game (72-43-13).

So, who bears more of the responsibility and subsequent automatic blame in social media circles when the team falters? The coach who simply sets the system and asks men to play it, or the general manager who gives him said players in the first place? Is there a third option? The players, perhaps?

I am not suggesting any of the above to demean anyone's particular opinion on the topic. Just offering another, more objective way of looking at it. There are very strong thoughts within the Islanders fanbase that invoke tons of reaction without a tried and true right or wrong answer.

I am not looking to solely pin the responsibility on the players either, as I believe, albeit not as strongly than most, that the coach does play a role in the final outcome. But it's a combination ripple effect that starts with the general manager's ability to put together the roster, the coach's system which plays to the strength of the skaters.

Finally, and I feel most critically, the players need to go out and simply do their jobs

At this stage in their lives and career, do players really need a cheerleader to get them 'up' for each game? Do they really need to be taught in practice how to clear the zone? To shoot the puck on the power play? There is one lesson that was taught to me as a young player which struck such a chord it has stayed with me off the ice and through my adult years. Keep it simple.

Finally, ask yourself a couple of questions to see just how deep the rabbit hole could go. Go back to last spring's Game 7 against the Washington Capitals, when the Islanders lost 2-1. They managed 11 shots on goal in one of the most feeble offensive performances anyone can remember.

Was that Garth Snow's fault? I'd say the team was constructed to win, but could not survive a battered blueline which slowed the transition game to a halt. Frans Nielsen, arguably the Islanders' best two-way forward, was playing on one leg.

Was it Jack Capuano's fault? If you blame him or his system for the defeat, who do you credit for the wins? Did they win those games 'in spite' of him? To me, that's always been a weak argument.

Did the players just severely underperform in a game of the most ultimate magnitude, one that almost all of them had never participated in before? Were they just beaten up to the point of surrender, in what was one of the most physical playoff series on record (average 80 combined hits per game)?

In professional sports, the bottom line is pretty simple, even though getting there, is not as clear cut as some would believe it to be. Who's to say it's not a perfect combination - perfect storm if you will - of all three factors coming together. You can't fire the players, so the general manager and coach always seem to feel the brunt, regardless of which theory you subscribe to -- making this spring crucial for the Islanders braintrust more than anyone else.

Tags: Andy Graziano

Islanders vs. Flyers game postponed
Dec 17, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano on his bench in the first period against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports (Ron Chenoy)

The NHL has announced that Saturday's matchup between the Islanders and the Flyers has been postponed due to the severe snowstorm impacting the New York area. No makeup date has been set as of yet. 


John Tavares breaks through in Isles win
Jan 22, 2016; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) splits the Ottawa Senators defense of Mark Borowiecki (74) and Erik Karlsson (65) in the first period at the Canadian Tire Centre. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)

Welcome back, John Tavares.

The Islanders captain scored his first goal since Jan 2, and notched a multi-point night for the first time since Dec 29 in the team's 5-2 win over the Senators.

Tavares' assist came on Travis Hamonic's eventual game-winning goal that broke a 2-2 tie just 2:58 into the third period. Then, four minutes later, Tavares found a rebound down low and backhanded his first goal in seven games home to give the Isles a comfortable 4-2 lead.

"Overall it was a good road win, especially coming off a bit of a layoff, and it will be good if we can carry this momentum forward," Tavares told reporters after the game.

Erni, Brian Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

While the story will be the JT finally got himself a goal, the more impressive play was the assist to Hamonic. John basically made Patrick Wiercioch look like a cat chasing a string, as he darted back and forth on the far boards inside the Ottawa zone to keep possession of the puck. By the time the outlet pass came out to Travis, who fired a laser on goal, it was a foregone conclusion to what was going to happen. We haven't seen Tavares be that strong on the puck in a while, and it shows that it's just a matter of time before he starts to dominate again.

The goal has to be a weight off his shoulders, because we know how much pressure John puts on himself. But like a said last week, you can't keep the great players in this league down for long. Tavares showed that on Friday, and it got the Islanders a big two points on the road inside the Conference. 


Islanders hope to play through storm vs. Flyers
Jan 22, 2016; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) skates with the puck setting up a wrap-around shot on Ottawa Senators goalie Andrew Hammond (30) in the third period at the Canadian Tire Centre. The Islanders defeated the Senators 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports (Marc DesRosiers)

(AP) -- The New York Islanders are turning things around since being soundly beaten by the Philadelphia Flyers to cap a sluggish stretch two weeks ago.

The weather, however, may prevent the Islanders from another victory.

With Winter Storm Jonas bearing down on the East Coast, it's unknown if the Islanders will get a chance to extend their home winning streak over the Flyers to five games Saturday night.

New York (24-15-6) lost for the seventh time in 11 games after being pounded 4-0 at Philadelphia (20-17-8) on Jan. 9. The Islanders were outshot 11-2 in the first period and 31-20 overall while being blanked for the second time this season.

Avenging that defeat may have to wait since the region is about to be hit by a blizzard, with forecasts calling for up to 18 inches of snow in New York.

If the games goes forward, it'll give the Islanders a chance at a fourth win in five games since last facing the Flyers. New York scored three unanswered goals in the third period of its 5-2 win at Ottawa on Friday.

"Overall it was a good road win, especially coming off a bit of a layoff, and it will be good if we can carry this momentum forward," captain John Tavares said.

Tavares is looking to build on his two points from Friday, when he ended a six-game goal drought. The center's 16 goals are two behind Brock Nelson for the team lead, but Tavares has gone eight home games without finding the net.

He has five goals and four assists in his last nine home meetings with Philadelphia, setting up a tally by Kyle Okposo in a 3-1 win Nov. 25.

Copyright 2016 by the Associated Press


Late goals by Hamonic, Tavares lead Isles over Senators 5-2
The New York Islanders celebrate a goal scored against the Ottawa Senators in the first period at the Canadian Tire Centre. (Marc DesRosiers/USATSI)

(AP) -- Travis Hamonic and John Tavares each had a goal and an assist in the third period and the New York Islanders defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-2 on Friday night.

Hamonic beat Andrew Hammond with a slap shot at 2:58 of the third to give New York a 3-2 lead and Tavares slipped a backhand past Hammond at 7:03 for some insurance.

Kyle Okposo scored on a bank shot off the backside of Ottawa defenseman Jared Cowen to finish the scoring.

Nick Leddy and Cal Clutterbuck also scored for the Islanders while Jaroslav Halak made 28 saves for the win.

Bobby Ryan and Erik Karlsson had goals for the Senators, who were coming off a five-game, 12-day road trip. Hammond had 29 saves. >> Read more...

Tags: Cal Clutterbuck , Jaroslav Halak , John Tavares , Kyle Okposo , Nick Leddy , Ottawa Senators , Travis Hamonic

Tonight's Game: Islanders at Senators
Dec 12, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; New York Islanders center Ryan Strome (18) against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Islanders won 3-2 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports (Aaron Doster)

The Islanders face the Ottawa Senators on the road Friday at 7:30 p.m.

According to STATS...

  • The Islanders lost, 2-1, in a shootout with the Canucks at Barclays Center five days ago, taking at least one point from their third straight tilt in the process (2-0-1 record). New York has participated in six shootouts this season (3-3 record) -- tied for third most in the league (behind Ottawa and Toronto -- 8).
  • Ottawa was pummeled, 6-3, by the Devils at Prudential Center last night, snapping its two-game win streak with the setback. The Sens are just 2-6-0 (.250) in the second of back-to-back tilts this year -- tied for third worst in the league.
  • The Senators took the first meeting of the season with the Isles, 3-2, in overtime at Canadian Tire Centre on December 5. Dating to the beginning of 2012-13, these clubs have played 10 times, and each has skated off with five wins.
  • Ryan Strome scored the Isles' lone goal in last Sunday's setback, lighting the lamp for the second time in his last three skates (had three goals in first 31 games of the season). Including Strome (5), the Isles have 11 different players with 5+ goals in 2015-16 -- tied for second most of any Eastern Conference club.
  • Mike Hoffman lit the lamp last night, giving him 21 markers on the season -- second most of any Eastern Conference skater (Ovechkin -- 28). Including one this year, Hoffman has two goals in five career skates vs. the Islanders.
  • The Isles have killed 94.0 percent (63/67) of their opponents' power-play opportunities in the last 23 games -- best of any team in the league since Thanksgiving. Ottawa's penalty-kill percentage is just 72.0 since Turkey Day (third worst in hockey).
Tags: Ottawa Senators , Ryan Strome

Islanders square off with the Senators on Friday
New York Islanders center Ryan Strome (18) celebrates his goal with teammates during the third period against the Vancouver Canucks at Barclays Center. Vancouver Canucks won 2-1 in shootout. (Anthony Gruppuso)

The New York Islanders are showing signs of turning around a sluggish stretch. The Ottawa Senators aren't, and a lousy first period their last time out only solidified that.

The Islanders may have a chance to move into second place in the Metropolitan Division as they try to beat the Senators for the fourth time in five tries on the road Friday night.

New York (24-15-6) is one point back of the Rangers for second place in the division despite going 6-7-1 following an 8-0-2 stretch.

The Islanders, though, have momentum following a 2-0-1 homestand. Ryan Strome scored with 51 seconds left in regulation Sunday, forcing overtime only for New York to fall 2-1 in a shootout to Vancouver. The point provided some solace.

"It's a little disheartening, but we just have to keep going," right wing Kyle Okposo told the team's official website. "Five points out of six (this week). We came from behind in a couple of them. We can't be too upset. ... We played pretty well."

John Tavares is having a tough time getting on the score sheet lately. The center has failed to score in a season-high six straight games, chipping in just two assists with a minus-4 rating over that stretch.

Tavares has four points in 10 visits to Ottawa, none in the last four overall matchups.

The Islanders might have defenseman Travis Hamonic (lower body) in the lineup for the first time in five games.

"If he feels that he can go, there's no reason I'm not going to put him in the lineup," coach Jack Capuano said.

Hamonic's return will force Capuano to decide if he's going to continue using Calvin de Haan and Nick Leddy together as his top defensive pairing. De Haan was filling in for Hamonic in that spot. >>> Read more…

Tags: John Tavares , Ryan Strome , Travis Hamonic

Islanders doing just fine, even if analytics tell a different story

As the New York Islanders head into their final three games prior to the All-Star break, they find themselves near the top of the Eastern conference in fourth place and one point - with a game in hand - behind the rival New York Rangers for second place in the Metropolitan division, which will determine home ice advantage in the first round of this spring's annual tournament to capture the greatest trophy in sport.

With little chance of catching the Washington Capitals - even if the Caps went on a Montreal-esque tailspin of 5-16-1 over their next 22 games, New York would have to go 15-7-0 just to tie them in points - the battle for second and third place in the division and third to sixth place in the conference is heating up as we head down the home stretch.

Did I also mention that Jack Capuano has his team eighth overall in the entire league? Your eyes and analytics might be telling you a different story.

Whether you subscribe to the theory that advanced statistics matter or that they can be thrown in the garbage with little more than a glance at their contents, they do show some interesting trends when it comes to certain analytics that have proven their point over the last couple of seasons. Corsi, or puck possession, tells of a teams shot attempts (typically at even strength) using the basic premise that the more shot attempts you generate, the more you have the puck, and is one such statistic. Out of the last ten Stanley Cup winners, seven have finished in the top ten in Corsi.

Click here to read more

Tags: Andy Graziano

Snow's phone could remain silent at trade deadline
The New York Islanders raise their sticks to the fans after defeating the New York Rangers at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner)

Here I was, over the weekend, writing about how the emergence of Adam Pelech could mean Garth Snow was freed of his demand of an equal top 4 defenseman in return for asset Travis Hamonic (which, as we are quickly learning, is virtually impossible anyway given all factors). Could Snow move onto the more plentiful forward market and possibly snag someone like Jordan Eberle, who was talked about on the IPB podcast with myself, Brian Compton and Mike Carver yesterday?

Nope. Scratch that. Back to the drawing board, as they say. That's the beauty of journalism: What you write about one day could be proven insignificant within days, sometimes even hours with no warning or apologies. Oh, well.

Today, it was learned through Newsday's Arthur Staple, that Pelech's mysterious injury suffered after the 3-1 victory over the Rangers on January 14 will almost certainly keep him out for the remainder of the regular season. Multiple sources told Islanders Point Blank the rookie defenseman could be looking at a recovery time of over three months.

In an offsetting bit of good news, Hamonic was present for full contact practice today, an excellent sign that he will be ready to play shortly, maybe even as early as Friday night in Ottawa against the Senators. Head coach Jack Capuano indicated he would not hesitate putting him back into the regular rotation as long as he says he is ready.

What all this means is that New York will roll with a healthy seven of Hamonic, Nick Leddy, Calvin de Haan, Thomas Hickey, Marek Zidlicky, Brian Strait and Scott Mayfield until the all-star break, granted there are no more roster adjustments. Right now, the Islanders roster is full, at 23, with Pelech already being placed on injured reserve yesterday to activate Jean-Francois Berube for a conditioning assignment in Bridgeport. The only adjustment that can even be seen, as distant as it might be, is Mayfield for Ryan Pulock.

Three right handed shots, four left handed shots at present and that bears mentioning, since Capuano himself mentions it every chance he can in regard to players being comfortable on their 'correct side'. Everyone might have to be a little uncomfortable for the next two to three weeks before Johnny Boychuk rejoins the squad. Leddy is not getting scratched ever, and neither is de Haan, the way he has been playing this year. Hickey is a mainstay and has been a reliable, trusted contributor to the bottom pairing. That leaves Brian Strait as the seventh defenseman with Mayfield (Pulock?) playing the Pelech role going forward. When Boychuk returns, the defense likely goes back to its configuration from the beginning, with Strait and Zidlicky alternating as 6th-7th defenseman.

In terms of how this affects Snow at the trade deadline, which is now just 41 days away (3 p.m. ET, February 29), there are still a couple of trains of thought. The Pelech injury makes it that much more likely that Snow will have to hold onto Hamonic, especially if the Islanders are still in playoff contention as they are expected to be. You are not giving him away for anything less than your original demand and shouldn't given the look of the current defensive alignment and the transition game struggles that have been apparent all season.

Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen are unrestricted free agents next season and no general manager likes to take a chance he might lose a valued asset for nothing in return. But, like Hamonic, Snow isn't just going to give Okposo (the more likely of the two to walk by all accounts) away and forwards are more plentiful in the market than defenseman, which could lessen the return. Plus, the exact same thinking applies to moving Okposo while in playoff position as it does for Hamonic. Why would you potentially weaken your lineup? You wouldn't.

Unless Snow was to get real creative and start reaching into the stable of young talent the Islanders have simmering in the CHL, NCAA and European leagues, his options do appear a little limited. That young talent is proving itself ten-fold for their respective clubs with Matthew Barzal (11-34-45 in 27 games), Michael Dal Colle (14-24-38 in 36 games), Anthony Beauvillier (19-24-43 in 23 games) and Joshua Ho-Sang (13-39-52 in 39 games) leading the way.

If he was to start off-loading youth for a run now, what is he looking for? Does he take a run at a playoff tested performer like Jarome Iginla on a rental (who Carver mentioned yesterday)? Eric Staal is another battle tested player who would come for only a short time. Andrew Ladd, who Brian Compton suggested yesterday, brings tons of Stanley Cup experience. Perhaps Radim Vrbata slots nicely next to John Tavares, but like the others, is an unrestricted free agent at age 34. I'm highly skeptical that Snow would move any young talent for a rental, as it just doesn't fit the script he has stayed true to all these years.

Dustin Byfuglien is likely too expensive in both asset cost and contract extension cost - said to be seeking 6+ years at 6.5 million to start. And I don't buy any of the whispers coming out of Toronto that James Van Riemsdyk is even remotely available. News that the Edmonton Oilers would even listen to offers for Taylor Hall are comical, to me at least.

What the Islanders truly need in many observers eyes - a puck moving defenseman and finishing winger - do not look to be readily available at the present time, for the right price. Doesn't mean those types of assets won't suddenly be in play closer to the deadline but right now, they are just far-fetched dreams in the minds of many fans.

There are no easy answers in the NHL trade market. There never were and never will be. It's rough, choppy waters to navigate, especially when trying to determine, at the same time, just how ready your team is for prime time.

At the end of the day, in my opinion, Snow's options are slightly less today than they were yesterday prior to the Pelech news. Where he goes from here….only the tide will tell.


Adam Pelech's injury is believed to be season-ending
New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech (50) controls the puck against Washington Capitals right wing Stanislav Galiev (49) during the third period at Barclays Center. (Brad Penner)

New York Islanders rookie Adam Pelech is suffering from an upper body injury that is almost certain to be season-ending, according to Arthur Staple of Newsday (Jan. 20).

Pelech took a skate to the face in last Thursday's game against the Rangers. He did not play the following game on Sunday against Vancouver due to his injury.

The promising 21-year-old has appeared in only six games this season.

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

What a gut punch this must be for Pelech, who was playing well and earning the trust of Jack Capuano. As we await official news on what the injury could be, it's hard not to think how difficult this must be for him, who obviously had made a big statement the last two weeks or so.

It makes you wonder if Ryan Pulock's time may have arrived. The front office obviously believed Pulock needed some more seasoning, thus the call ups of Pelech and Scott Mayfield. But with Pelech now on the shelf, it might be time to give Pulock a look before the All Star break, especially if Travis Hamonic has any kind of set back and isn't ready to go for the weekend.

Tags: Travis Hamonic , Brian Erni , Tim Reilly

Barclays not a bust for Islanders, but needs improving
New York Islanders celebrate a goal during the third period against the Vancouver Canucks at Barclays Center. (Anthony Gruppuso)

When the New York Islanders officially moved to Barclays Center, dropping an overtime decision to the Chicago Blackhawks on October 9 to kick off the 2015-16 National Hockey League Season, nobody quite knew what to expect. Fans, media, players, team personnel and, it seems, Barclays operations as well.

The game ops 'experience' was lacking pizazz and the players were loosely getting accustomed to their own experience, that being the Long Island Rail Road. Arena staff, so used to the workings of the NBA tenant, the Brooklyn Nets, couldn't answer many questions outside of how someone finds their seat. A crude Islanders team shop was set up in the spacious opening that would house the new set of the pre and postgame shows starring Shannon Hogan and the wonderful tunes of the Coliseum organist, Paul Cartier.

The team started out well, going 8-4-2 in their new home through the end of November, but nobody noticed. An average of 12,393 to that point had made the trip from all walks of the New York metro area, for 78.4 percent of capacity, as the Islanders would once again be the butt of league attendance jokes. Every visiting team's columnist or beat writer made sure to comment on it when they came through town. But something strange was happening while the negative feedback was reverberating -- Barclays was improving.

The building was getting the hang of this hockey thing. Game ops was ramped up with a new pregame video introduction that payed homage to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the teams storied history. The new in-game host was keeping fans engaged with a variety of contests and giveaways (albeit with questions that even a non-Islanders fan could probably get correct most of the time). Even though Roger Luce was no longer behind the microphone at center ice, the announcements were clear, with just enough excitement, to earn a passing grade. I was starting to get more questions from arena staff who actually wanted to learn the game, one even telling me "I need to learn all I can to be more help to them."

Soon, attendance numbers started to reflect the changing tide within the building. Since December 1, 2015, the Islanders have maintained their solid home ice play with a record of 7-3-1 and have averaged 14,361 for a capacity of 90.9 percent. They have also recorded four sellouts in their last 11 games, after earning only one in their first 14 - which happened to be on opening night. Now, you can argue for the fact that in their last season in Uniondale, the Islanders averaged 15,334 at 95 percent capacity and you would be correct…at least statistically. Before garnering a 'finale' season jump, the Islanders played to over 90 percent capacity only three times in 25 years - 2001-02 (90%), 2002-03 (92%) and 2013-14 (91%).

Now, that's not to say everything's perfect, mind you. There are still issues that need to be resolved as New York winds up their first season in Brooklyn.

Security still needs more lessons in how to deal with the public coming to see Islanders hockey, as we saw in a couple of occasions that left a lingering memory -- not a good one -- in the minds of some fans. As much as game ops has improved, many would like to see them take another step forward and start introducing some newer-age technology into the mix, like the Rangers do at Madison Square Garden and the Devils at the Prudential Center. It would do the team justice for Brett Yormark to bring in someone with true 'ice' experience to improve the quality of the sheet the team plays on at home. The team has already changed its pre-game routine, now opting to hold gameday skates home on Long Island rather than trek to Brooklyn and stay in a hotel day room.

But to crave perfection is to also keep in mind that the deal Charles Wang struck with Yormark was truly one for the ages as far as the Islanders organization is concerned. Fifty million in guaranteed annual payments, regardless of who shows up or how the team gets to the rink for their scheduled games. While every player will tell you they absolutely thrive playing in front of large crowds and it truly is a 'seventh' man on the ice, the organization, to be honest, couldn't care less. They're still getting paid. That is primarily why the future of how Barclays handles Islanders hockey, from all aspects, is the sole responsibility of Barclays.

Who knows what the future brings. If the numbers are accurate that Barclays made only $31 million last year - this being before Islanders payments are due, but also before Islanders revenue is included - it will be interesting to see where the bottom line on the balance sheet will fall next year, and in subsequent seasons, leading to the mutual opt-out at the five year mark. Also, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that they will likely have some extra time to contemplate their future, as the game will probably be locked out again at that point, anyway.

My last request would be: Could we please do something with that car? I mean, even the apple at Citi Field moves up and down when the Mets hit a home run. If it absolutely has to be there, let's see some creativity with it. I'm sure Honda wouldn't mind the extra attention.

For now at least, Barclays has hardly been 100 percent ideal but one thing it has not been… is a bust.


Pelech to IR, Berube activated and sent to Bridgeport for conditioning
New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech (50) knocks Dallas Stars center Mattias Janmark (13) to the ice during the third period at Barclays Center. (Andy Marlin)

The Islanders have placed Adam Pelech on injured reserve with an upper body injury, the team announced.

The team activated Jean-Francois Berube off IR and sent him to Bridgeport for conditioning. Berube is on the team's active roster, which now stands at 23.

The team does not play until Friday night against the Senators.

Brian Erni, SNY.TV Twitter | Archive Posts

While the Pelech injury is a tough blow, it's encouraging to hear how quickly Hamonic is on the mend. The schedule has really helped the Isles here, giving them the better part of a week between Sunday's game against the Canucks and this weekend's back-to-back to get Travis right.

I wouldn't be surprised to see the team go with the same defensive personnel that played Sunday when they skate in Ottawa on Friday, and wait to bring Hamonic back on home ice the next night against Philadelphia. Either way, after next Monday's game against Detroit, Hamonic will have more than a week to see how the injury responds and rest it, thanks to the All Star break.


Pelech out indefinitely due to upper body injury
(Andy Marlin)

Isles D Adam Pelech is out indefinitely due to an upper body injury, the Islanders announced on Monday.

Pelech was hit in the face by Derek Stepan's skate during Thursday's game against the Rangers, but returned.

However, Pelech did not play on Sunday against the Canucks.

Pelech, 21, had been recalled from Bridgeport when Johnny Boychuk was placed on injured reserve.


NOTES:

Johnny Boychuk and Travis Hamonic both skated before practice on Monday.

It was reported last week that Hamonic was expected to miss two-to-three weeks.

It was reported on Jan. 4 that Boychuk would miss four-to-six weeks.

Tags: Johnny Boychuk , Travis Hamonic
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