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Blog: What Would You Do If You Were Isles GM?

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I’ve, talked about the graduates, the professionals and the drafted prospects of the New York Islanders all week long and I’ve given my five players who could be taken at number 19 should the Islanders draft at that spot. Now this is my once-a-year treat where I play arm-chair GM and I try to improve the team while still trying to stick to what Garth Snow could do, meaning keeping things on a budget and not spending all the money and “Going all out” in the end of June. I do believe that will be his goal, improving the team while still on a budget, which is why I have never written anything on Steven Stamkos coming to the Islanders. It’s just nice to think about, but there are other teams more desperate for him and the Isles should take advantage. So let’s set the scene: You’re watching the draft or you’re in Buffalo, you tell the Toronto fan next to you to stay quiet for one second because they’re still cheering about tanking this season to get their savior, Auston Matthews.

Blog: Who Will Still Be There At 19?

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We’ve gone over the prospects in the New York Islanders organization and now it’s time to see who might be joining them starting on Friday at 7pm. In earlier years I would write about 10-15 different prospects leading up to the draft. By Friday morning, I’d predict who the Islanders would take in their respective slots. This year, I’m narrowing it down to five players. Mind you, I’m not necessarily putting players in here for the sake of what the Islanders need, but who should be around number 19 should the Islanders be drafting at all, more on that tomorrow. Now if there is a player who you were hoping to see when the Islanders select, it’s probably because they’re going to go top 15 or they should fall well into the 20’s. The five players to keep an eye on are as follows (no particular order):

Blog: The Barzal Effect

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Part three of the Prospects are the ones who are not yet old enough or talented to make it to the professional teams. With another year of development, each of these players should be making their way to either Bridgeport or the Islanders in the near future. I’ve selected five players who will either see time in Bridgeport next year or may just make the Islanders sooner than later. Now this list could change after this weekend, but I’ll say this now, I don’t think the players ranked first or second will change after this weekends draft in Buffalo, that’s how good they are and it’s also a reason why I’m reading/hearing Islanders general manager Garth Snow is looking to trade the 19th overall pick, but more on that in another piece. So in this finale section of prospects, here are my top five players.

Blog: The Professional Prospects

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In the second category of prospects that I’ll go over will be five players who are entering or are already into playing professional hockey either in the ECHL, AHL or NHL. The main criteria to this list is potential, who has the best chance at seeing legitimate ice time in the NHL. Let’s get to them.

Blog: The Graduating Prospects

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Usually around this time of year I am writing up different draft eligible player profiles for Isles Talk and by the morning of the draft, I’ll pick who I believe the Islanders will take. I got pretty good at it in recent years as I have predicted Ryan Pilon, Michael Dal Colle, Ryan Pulock, Griffin Reinhart, Calvin de Haan and I let my pit bull pick John Tavares. That prediction article will be coming up later on this week, but after the Islanders did not have a first round pick, Islanders general manager Garth Snow made a huge trade (Reinhart for what would eventually become Barzal & Beauvillier) at the draft last year, I was unprepared to give any info. This time around for the Islanders, as I have stated before, is a transitional period for the franchise so I will be going over some of the prospects the Islanders currently have, and then by the end of the week I will go over the different scenarios the Islanders could make at the draft.

Blog: Ranking The Best Islanders Backup Goaltenders

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Since I started blogging about the New York Islanders back in 2008, I always write at least one article a year stressing the importance of the backup goaltender for this organization. Around that same time I also began writing about the draft and covering it since the Islanders went into the rebuild and that I knew that it would another element for myself and prolong my writing about the Islanders into the summer. For this blog I’m doing both as The Islanders enter this years draft with very few picks, the lowest I’ve seen the Islanders start in years. So let’s go back in time and show you my rankings of the best Islanders backup goalies. My criteria for the top 5 is simple: Must have played at least 40 games for the Islanders; Of course I take the goals allowed average and the save percentage but I also take into account the years that the goalies played because just because their numbers were ok, didn’t necessarily meant that the team was.

Islanders Season Review And Looking Ahead

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My sincere apologies for not getting this out earlier as I’ve missed this party of discussions by a week at least, but I wanted to briefly go over the Islanders season and do this in one blog and not analyze each player on the team as I feel there is just no need to do so anymore. As I wrote back in 2014 after the drafting of Michael Dal Colle and Josh Ho-Sang, the Islanders had completed their rebuild of the franchise. It was then time to improve on the depth of the organization and see what kind of talent the Islanders had. Starting last year, some of those draft picks ended up turning into getting players like Nick Leddy, Johnny Boychuk who improved the talent of the team and the Islanders went on to a seven game series loss with the Washington Capitals. Last summer, the Islanders traded another depth defenseman draft pick and got forwards Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier, both of whom look to be future NHLers.

Hockey from the Blind Side, The Sting hasn’t Quite Left Me

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Yes, the sting of having witnessed the New York Islanders eliminated from the 2016 playoffs a week ago still has not completely subsided in me as of yet. I don’t know exactly why, but I think this time was even sharper a hit to me than the game 7 lackluster effort that ended the Isles playoff run in the first round last season.

I have been asked by a few people what my thoughts on the season happen to be. Do I consider the season a “success” or “failure”, or what should Garth Snow do in the off season, are some of the things I have been asked.

To be honest, I have yet to really sort my thoughts out as of yet. I really am not sure how I feel about the season or the future of this team. I am hoping by writing this post that I will gain some perspective myself as to what I am thinking or how I feel.

The “New” New York Islanders Booster Club

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We are getting the website back and running again soon.  Stay tuned.

Hockey from the Blind Side, “You’re Never Out of a Fight”

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If there is a simple reason why the New York Islanders are facing elimination Sunday afternoon when they travel to Tampa for the 5th game of this series, they need only look collectively in the mirror to find that reason. This series has become one of lost opportunities and one team cashing in on theirs like a playoff ready, battle tested team does in such situations.

I really don’t like to jump on the negative train. Those who have read my posts in the past know that I always try to take the positive view of things. Sometimes, I can be a bit harsh and blunt, but I never like to throw in the towel.

The “Hit” Was a Factor – but not the Reason They Lost

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I did not notice it when it happened. Being in my office was one reason, and was not seriously looking at the monitor as much as I could.  Also the play happened so fast and was literally out of ‘camera shot’.

However, the hit on Thomas Hickey by Brian Boyle was a brutal hit to the head, keeping a defenseman out of the play, as the puck was shot in by the forward that took him out.

It has all of the ingredients of a huge downer to the home team, as they lost game 3.

However, should that have been the main reason for the loss?

Hell NO!

The reason the team is where they are now – the reasons we are watching Islander hockey in the month of May, were definitely the reason why this team did not win last night.  The first line was a complete bust.

Blog: Leddy, Isles Could Take That Next Step

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So far in this second round playoff series between the New York Islanders and the Tampa Bay Lightning it’s been a battle of 2009 draft picks. John Tavares, the first overall pick in 2009 scored two points in the Islanders game one victory. Victor Hedman, the number two overall pick in 2009, also scored two points in the second game to lead the Lightning to a 4-1 victory. Both teams will be making adjustments for the next two games in Brooklyn and both players from the 2009 draft class will be leading their respective teams, as they should. However, another first rounder from that 2009 draft, 16th overall by Minnesota, that could tip the scale to the Islanders favor is Nick Leddy. During the regular season Leddy will get you anywhere between 35-40 points a year. The earlier part of his playoff career started when he was in Chicago playing behind defenseman like Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.

Hockey from the Blind Side, Still Playing Hockey in May … Somehow

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So the 23 year “curse” or whatever you want to call it ended last Sunday with the New York Islanders defeating the Florida Panthers in game 6 of their opening round playoff series. Words could not describe how good that made me feel. I would even say that when JT scored the overtime game winner, it was a rather emotional experience for me personally, as my mind looked back on the years since David Volek’s overtime winner against the Penguins and all that has happened to the Isles since then.

Then, on Wednesday after I had spent the day walking the fields and hills of Gettysburg and was awed by the history and the solemnness of those 25 square miles of American history from what was the turning point of the Civil War in 1863, I was thrilled and, yes, surprised by an Islander 5 to 3 victory over the Lightning to open the second round. Well, let me say that I was thrilled by the first two periods of play …

The Curious Case of Josh Bailey

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Throughout my three decades of following this team, fans have always seem to find guys to hate, no matter what their performance was:

Mikko Makela

Jeff Norton

Alan Kerr

Derek King

Sean Bates (minus penalty shot goal)

Oleg Kvasha

Andrew MacDonald

Brian Strait

The list can go on and on.

The one for the last couple of seasons that really comes to the top of the list, is on Josh Bailey.

Now – for this piece, I will say that I have zero ill will for this player; I am sure that he will feel that if you asked him, he would hope that his numbers and stats would be better.  We can debate that until the cows come home.

I will say this, from what I see in practices and games, I really feel that Josh is hard-working player.  I really feel that he tries to leave everything on the ice.

Blog: Isles Take Game One In Tampa

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The New York Islanders managed to keep their momentum going by defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3 last night in Tampa to take a 1-0 series lead. Shane Prince added two goals and John Tavares came up with the game winning goal again. Travis Hamonic scored his first career playoff goal while Ryan Strome returned to the lineup and assisted on both of Prince’s goals. Tampa Bay pressed in the third period and managed to cut the deficit down to make the score 4-3. Nikita Kucherov and Valtteri Filppula but Cal Clutterbuck made it 5-3 with less than a minute to go on an empty-netter. The Islanders continue their series against Tampa on Saturday afternoon at 3pm.

Key to Game 1 – Stop the Triplets

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Tonight is the start of the second round (doesn’t that have a great ring to it?)

The Tampa Bay Lightning have had a great deal of time to relax and wait for the winner of the Isles/Panthers series.  They had a good 5 game victory against the Wings, with their top forward and top defensemen on the shelf.

And with Steven Stamkos and Anton Stralman still out of the lineup, the Bolts made easy work of the Wings with the “Triplets” lineup of Nikita Krucherov, Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn.  20 points and 8 of the 12 goals scored were compliments of the number one line.

The Isles and Lightning are similarly matched in the fact that the primary line has been responsible for most of the scoring to date.  Getting involvement from the secondary lines will be crucial to the success of the winner of this series.

Ryan Strome – Will he be Possessed?

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When I was a kid, I was a pitcher.  Our town had a “Little League” as well as another baseball organization for which I belonged to.  One year, they had a ‘exhibition’ matchup of our two leagues.  I was the starting pitcher that night (even then in the mid 1970s, having a lefty pitcher was a good thing), and I was at the mound.  There was going to be a picture taken before the first pitch.

Sports Talk 1240 – Sunday 4/24/2016

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Here is a link to the SportsTalk1240 show that John and I did last night.

We were STUCK in the studio while Game 6 was going on.

The utter relief from John and I when JT scored his goal…

Click on the logo below to listen…


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For the Isles – What to do About Tampa?

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Round 2 – Isles Bolts.

It is so nice to get to talk about ROUND 2. When I last could talk about it – I wasn’t even 30 years old…. (Guess my age!?)

Are we Tired from Celebrating, Islander Nation? Yes! Yes! Yes!

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