Lots of big hits, fights, and nice plays coming from the TD Garden last night. From what I saw, the Isles rookies played very physical. You couldn't go five minutes without a little scrum. Even though they took the loss, they're still pretty impressive.
Camp opens tomorrow and these rookies have one more game to show they deserve to attend it. The Isles will faceoff against the Burins again tonight at 6:55. You can watch it live on the Isles offical website.
***Also, no word on any NHL players attending training camp on a tryout basis with the Isles, but if anyone accepted, we should know tomorrow morning***]]>
The John Tavares we don't know
It was a pleasant surprise to see the new face of the Islanders, John Tavares, grace to front cover of today's Newsdaysports section. The full page feature took a look at the life off the rink that the fans do not get to see. From his time spent living at the Weight's household, his development into a star and his relationship with teammate and mentor Doug Weight. The interesting and sometimes funny article gives a personal look at John.
We now see the numerous roles John has, hockey star, teammate, video game lover, big brother and peace keeper. Fans can now see that the serious, all business John Tavares is equally balanced by a fun loving, teenage John Tavares. Like a regualar member of the Weight family, John is like the older brother or that crazy uncle we all have. Not to mention he's a competitor in NHL 10, no matter how old you are. Just another prime example of how hockey players may just be the most down to earth people.
If pigs fly
The New York Post is reporting an "eastern" team is in the hunt for Ilya Kovalchuk and mentions the Islanders somewhere in the article. Columnist Larry Brooks was the first to report that Islanders GM Garth Snow made an inquiry into Kovalchuk.
Tough Guy, Trevor Gillies arrived o join the Islanders in Philadelphia after signing an NHL contract yesterday with the team. The 6'3, 220 pound, Gillies racked up 123 penalty minutes (ranked 13th in the AHL) and has a goal in 18 games. Sound Tigers beat reporter, Michael Fornabaio, had this to say about Gillies; tough as advertised. Not many of those PIMs by accident. Turns 31 Saturday; knows his way around. Good teammate, well-respected around the league. The soon to 31 year old is sure to add toughness, especially since the Isles will face a very gritty Philadelphia Flyers team on Saturday.
The other day I mentioned two possible trade options for the Islanders in the wake of losing Jack Hillen. Here is Hockey Bay Blog's thoughts on a possible trade with the Isles for David Hale;
I think a trade would be very possible as Hale has been edged out of the Lightning lineup recently. He has been sent down to the Norfolk Admirals for a 2 week conditioning assignment as he has been a healthy scratch lately on the Lightning as other defencemen have been playing better. In addition, if Paul Ranger returns to the line up soon (has been away on personal leave), the Lightning will be looking to move some of their surplus defencemen. As for what they would want for in return, well as long as you gift wrap it nicely, the Lightning management wouldn't know the difference between a bag of pucks and a good deal, either way, they'd just waive the player eventually.
As for a deal with Edmonton here is Low On Oil to explain; I haven't heard the Islanders mentioned in any potential Oilers trades yet. The Oilers are in sell mode with names like Moreau, Staios, Visnvosky, Souray, Cogliano, Nilsson, and Horcoff frequently named.Now, Horcoff's contract makes him completely unmovable. Moreau and Staios probably have negative trade value given their age, contracts, and performance.Souray's children live in Los Angeles with his ex-wife and he has a no-trade clause until July 1st, so it's more likely that he would head to Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, or Dallas if he's traded before this year's trade deadline (march 3).The Islanders have an extra goalie with Dipietro back and there were some previous rumors that the Oilers might be interested in Biron. However, the Oilers won't likely pick up a goaltender this season any more. Both Deslauriers and Dubnyk are pretty mediocre, but they are getting evaluated while the Oilers head to a top 3 draft pick.
Bobby Hughs criminal case
Last and certainly least, Bridgeport Sound Tiger, Robert "Bobby" Hughes turned down a plea deal in his criminal sex act case in Albany. The deal would have had him plead guilty to committing a third-degree criminal sex act in October 2008. He declined however because he feels that no crime occurred. Hughes was arrested in November in Bridgeport following a game at the Arena at Harbor Yards and could face up 25 years in prison if convicted.
But with "every day like this" comes a new day and renewed hope, this time in the form of Dustin Kohn, who tallied his first NHL point in his first NHL game. Kohn was well received in his first stint on Long Island and will now get an extended opportunity due to the extent of Hillen's injury. "I really don’t know how long I’m going to be here,” Kohn told Newsday. “So I just want to make the most of the opportunity and just contribute the best I can and just play solid. Continue to get better every day.” Kohn performed at a -5 with 2 goals and 15 assists down in Bridgeport and was a +1 during his 2 games on Long Island. The Islanders have had several pleasant surprises on the blue line with Andy MacDonald and the now injured, Jack Hillen, and hope to find the same luck with Kohn.
The Isles did get one lucky break last night with Hillen's injury, it comes close to the Olympic break which will limit the amount of games he will miss.
Another issue that has now been thrown back into the spotlight for fans is the need to bring in another veteran defenseman before the trade deadline passes. With Sheldon Souray on the open market fans would love for management to make a move on him, but Chris Botta has already put the axe in that. You never know though. HockeyBuzz, the leader in hockey rumors, is reporting that the Islanders have shown some interest in Lighting defenseman, David Hale. The 28 year old American blue liner's stats do not jump out at you as he has only managed 4 point in 35 games.
The most appealing player on the trading block, other than Souray, would be another Edmonton Oiler, Lubomir Visnovsky. Visnovsky was featured on TSN's top "10 players expected to be traded" and would be a good asset on the Isles blue line. His 9 goals would lead all Islanders defenseman and his 29 points would tie him with Mark Streit for most points by a defenseman. Also 4 of those 9 goals came on the Power play along with 15 power play points, something the Islanders could desperately use on their less than stellar power play unit.
Take away all the injuries and take away the fact they've primarily featured a rookie in goal. Just look at their supposed mold as a hockey team and nothing else.
Detroit is supposed to be a strong defensive team with capable players on offense, but not a juggernaut like Washington or San Jose. A defensive team that, last night and throughout all season, gave up a game they should have won.
Up 4-2 late, they take a penalty. Give up a goal with 90 seconds left, then allow Phoenix to pull their goalie and tie the game. And then they go to overtime and lose it; gaining only one point in a game that with two minutes left looked like they'd definitely be banking two points.
Yes, injuries have plagued them, but good teams overcome that. And starting a rookie goaltender is hard enough, but it has been helped by the fact that they're a defensive team. But there have been too many lapses in their game, and while Howard has played very well, he isn't at a level of play where he is capable of doing it all by himself.
Detroit currently sits in 8th place in the West, one point ahead of 9th place Calgary. If the playoffs started today they'd be in. But watching last nights game and seeing them do this time and again all year long, you have to wonder come April, if they'll still be in that position.]]>
As fans we've watched boys become men and a team grow together so much so that this team knew from the start of this year that they were playoff material. "when April comes around, I expect us to be in position to compete in the playoffs." That was Richard Park told Islanders Point Blank back in September and everybody looked and laughed. I guess the jokes on them, since a young up and coming group of hockey players have found ways to win.
The Coliseum has even become a place to help develop talent that was given up on, as highlighted by Newsdays Mark Herrmann. A combination of patience, responsible spending, and a coach who know how to nurture young talent have all worked to put together an on ice team that's entertaining, fun and most of all competitive.
Now those words that Park said back in September are being echoed in a much more specific way by the captain. "We're good enough to beat a team in a seven-game playoff series," Weight said, "and we're good enough to be in the playoffs." The team believes this, they've felt this way for a while and you players like Rob Schremp and Matt Moulson, who have both worked hard to get here, would love for that hard work to pay off and make the playoffs. The fans have also regained faith, highlighted this past week by 2 sellouts and a strong showing during Thursday's match up against the Panthers. Not to mention that ticket sales are up 20% and team revenue is up 11% according to Islanders Point Blank.
I go back to the phrase "YA GOTTA BELIEVE" because somehow that has been the rally cry for both the Jets and Islanders, both of which coincidental sent their rookie stars to throw out the first pitch at Citi Field. The point being is even when things looked over for the Jets they perceived on using a core of rookie and vets to lead the way and nearly went all the way. Sounds familiar to the Islanders, minus a few factors, but the core is simulare. Rookies and young guns leading the way backed by some experienced vets who know how to motivate a team. So Islanders Country, "YA GOTTA BELIEVE!"]]>