Post Deadline Thoughts

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Rather than waste time talking about last night’s game, which exemplified the fact that the Islanders need to finish more [especially on the powerplay], I figured I’d discuss the deals that went down yesterday.

First off, I, like my other people watching this team, knew that Marc-Andre Bergeron to be traded. He just had to go. Despite his impressive offensive numbers with the team, 15 goals and 39 points in 69 games, he needed to be on a team with a deeper defense that could cover up his mistakes. Sure it would have been nicer to get a second round pick for him, but Bergeron could flake out there as well and Anaheim could still end up the loser in the deal.

Deadline Day

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When I think of the trading deadline, I usually think of the 80s band Crowded House. Not because they kick arse and I’ll use any excuse to talk about them, but because two of their best songs epitomize the feelings felt by fans during the trading deadline.

“Don’t Dream, It’s Over.”

Isles Memories: Robert Reichel

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With no game today and having already discussed my thoughts on the trading deadline, I figured I’d bring back another old segment on the website.

”When I’m old and gray, I’ll probably look back on two moments in my career. I’ll remember how nervous I was in my first NHL game and how great things turned out in my first game as an Islander.”

It might have been March 19, 1997, but I still remember that night like it was yesterday. I was so pissed off that the Isles gave up on Marty McInnis that I didn’t care who they got back for him.

Deadline Thoughts

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In my 15 plus years of watching the Islanders, I’ve usually found myself on the short end of the stick during the trading deadline. Seeing guys like Pierre Turgeon, Bryan McCabe, Todd Bertuzzi, Derek King, Marty McInnis and at least a half dozen more useful and talented players traded away for picks or players way past their prime has put a whole in my hockey loving heart and has been partly responsible for consistently getting my posterior partially stuck in the seats in Nassau Coliseum. It didn’t matter who the GM was, things just never went to see to go the Islanders way at the trading deadline.

Isles Fall to Devils, Hunter Resigned, Sillinger out for Season

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Well, it happened. The Islanders lost one. It was bound to happen, but it was fun while it lasted, right? While the need to keep a winning streak is obviously an exhilarating one for athletes and fans alike, with today’s loss the Islanders can get back to business. They won a few games this past week without putting a 60-minute effort in and they did the same thing today. However, today it cost them.

Islanders Continue to Suprise

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Two weeks ago, the Islanders looked like anything but a playoff team. Getting inconsistent goaltending, sloppy defense and not nearly enough scoring, the season looked all but finished. However, after a 4-3 overtime loss against the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 9, the Isles have gone on a six-game winning streak and currently find themselves in the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference.

“As a great mind once said, the harder you work, the luckier you get,” Islanders head coach Ted Nolan told the Associated Press after the team beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Wednesday. “And we’ve been working very hard the last couple of games.”

Comrie Scores in Shootout, Marty Rocks the House, Isles Win Fifth Straight

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The Islanders defense is still without Brendan Witt, Chris Campoli, Bruno Gervais and Andy Sutton. Against an offense like the Capitals, which consists of marquee players like Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin and sexy [I mean that in the sense that he’s a good player for you un-hip readers] rookie Nicklas Backstrom, the chances of an Isles victory wasn’t even a bet a compulsive gambler would take. Nonetheless, behind solid goaltending from Rick DiPietro, a few goalposts and amazing defense by Radek Martinek, the Isles continued to get back into the playoff hunt.

Fata Called Up, Questions on Defense

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With Andy Sutton missing the next four to six weeks and Brendan Witt out at least another two, the Islanders were forced to call up rugged defenseman Drew Fata yesterday. Bruno Gervais is still day to day with an oblique strain, which means Fata could get ice time much sooner than we all think.

Four in a Row thanks to a Toe Drag and a Snapper

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Crazy game, eh? I think Isles play by play announcer Howie Rose said it perfectly when he said this team is impossible to figure out. After a disgusting seven-game losing streak a week and a half ago, the Isles now find themselves just one point out of a playoff spot with 22 games remaining.

Like I’ve said a few times over the past week, the Isles control their destiny much more than the media and rest of the NHL think they do. It’s pretty simple, keep winning and make the playoffs. Lose your consistency and play golf in late May and June. .500 hockey just isn’t going to cut it down the stretch and I think this team is beginning to understand that. They can’t control how the Rangers, Bruins, Capitals and other teams jockeying for position play, but they can keep winning. If they do that, the rebuilding process may be on hold.

Pregame Thoughts, Deadline Options

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The sense of urgency is there. The Islanders know they have to keep winning or else their season is finished. They’re starting to score and the defense is playing their best hockey of the season, despite serious injuries to defensive stalwarts Brendan Witt and Chris Campoli. Rick DiPietro has been facing fewer shots as of late and should have the energy needed to keep the team alive over the last 20 plus games.

With three consecutive wins, the Islanders couldn’t have asked for a better opponent than the San Jose Sharks, who have been dealing with offensive and injury problems of their own. All the Islanders have to do is try and mirror their performance against the Thrashers, which means play physical, draw penalties, get traffic and then finish. If they can do that, there aren’t many teams in the NHL that can stop them.

Isles Destroy Thrashers, Exelby Goes Fishing

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For the Islanders to go on the ice and defeat a team that not only won a huge game the night before against the Devils, but one that features two of the top snipers in the league in Marian Hossa and Ilya Kovalchuk was simply amazing.

To look at the score sheet afterwards and see that the Isles held the both of them to a combined three shots on goal and Trent Hunter and Sean Bergenheim had a combined 14 shots, put a smile on my face that I can honestly say had been missing for a while when it came to this team.

More thoughts on Simon

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Rather than give pregame analysis of today’s contest with the Atlanta Thrashers, I figured I’d discuss the Chris Simon situation a little with you guys. He started practicing with the team on Wednesday and could be in the lineup much sooner than we all think. Here’s what he said the other day to the press, [courtesy of Yahoo Sports]:

“I know what I did was wrong and the league did what they thought they had to do for me to realize that they’re not going to accept those type of actions. I wish I would’ve learned the first time, but I’ve got to focus on being the best I can be and to help my team to do whatever it takes to win and to move forward, but to learn from the past.”

Tank Fuels Isles 5-4 Win

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It’s happened a few times this season and it happened again last night. When the Isles powerplay gets hot, they find ways to win. Add in a few huge penalty kills and they got the two points they needed and are keeping their bleak playoff hopes alive. Now four points out of a playoff spot, the Isles will have to continue to win games like this at a breakneck pace, or else there season is over.

Isles Leafs Pregame Thoughts

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Coming off an impressive 4-3 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, where they racked up a season-high 47 shots on goal, the Islanders face-off with another conference rival in the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight. However, that is pretty much the only thing the Flyers and Maple Leafs have in common. As a matter of fact, the Maple Leafs are in the same situation as their Valentine’s Day opponents. Not getting the offensive support from their newly acquired talent, the Leafs have to string a couple of wins together or else they could be sellers at the deadline and looking to rebuild.


Isles Win at Home?

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Last night’s game produced a mishmash of feelings in me that leave tons of questions that need to be answered. I figured I’d address them and see if we can find the answers together.

1-Why can’t the Islanders defense play that way every night?

The score might have said 4-3, but the Islanders defense was much better than they have been as of late. Scott Hartnell chipped in a goal and so did Danny Briere, but those weren’t exactly the Islanders fault. Keeping Philadelphia to 26 shots may not seem like a big deal, but most of the shots were of the harmless variety or from bad angles. The Islanders penalty killing also rebounded after a few bad games and kept the deadly Flyers powerplay in the mud. Overall, it was a performance I’d like to see more of.

Go Time

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Here are just a few quotes from the Islanders last game that I found quite interesting:

“We’re definitely not happy with the result, but the game itself: I don’t know how much better we could play. Our guys gave what they have.”

Those words are from Islanders coach Ted Nolan. While they originally seem like the generic quotes you’d expect from a coach in the situation Nolan is in right now, I think there’s something more there. “Our guys gave what they have” means to me that Nolan is beginning to understand that this team is done. Sure, the Wild are a far superior team than the Isles, but if they could have played better defense and converted on a few golden opportunities [Jeff Tambellini’s immediately comes to mind] they could have come out on top.

Addressing the DP “Situation”

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Over the last few games, the Islanders play on defense has gotten consistently sloppy. Nonetheless, I stick to my guns when I say that Rick DiPietro’s play has not been the reason why this team is stuck in a rut.

Defense Can’t Hold Lead in 4-3 OT Loss With Wild

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Considering how long it’s been since the Islanders were able to take a point away from a game, I guess they should be happy they coughed up a lead and then took the game into overtime, right? Probably not. Nevertheless, a point is a point and despite the loss in overtime, the Islanders offense is showing signs of life. Unfortunately the defense was craptastic once again.

For instance, James Sheppard was allowed to walk right into the slot on one of Minnesota’s goals, while Miroslav Satan was schooled worse than a fat white kid at Rucker Park in overtime, effectively costing the Isles the game. DiPietro did his fair share to keep the Islanders in the game, but the combination of sloppy defense and missed opportunities on offense signaled the end.

The Fight With Reality

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Imagine how I felt this morning on seeing the Islanders only six points out of a playoff spot, despite playing their worst hockey since the year after the lockout. Despite injuries and ineffectiveness, this team still has a chance to turn things around. However, it’s all in their hands. If they can find a way to start scoring and limit their mistakes on defense, this season might still be worth saving.

Lackluster Penalty Killing Dooms Isles

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Well, the effort was certainly better than it has been over the past few weeks, but the defense allowed a pair of back door goals that led to a 4-3 loss against the Penguins. Pittsburgh goaltender Ty Conklin was also extremely erratic and the Isles could have ended up with much more than three goals. If you haven’t noticed by now, this is a team that is headed in a downward spiral that looks like it can’t be stopped. It didn’t help that they were as close to scoring a goal as you can possibly get in the third and the zebra blew his whistle when he lost sight of the puck. When you’re playing as badly as the Islanders have been playing lately, you really didn’t expect the Isles to get the benefit of the doubt right?

While the game ended in loss though, I really thought they might have had enough moxy to get by with a win.

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