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Isles Quarter Season Thoughts: Forwards

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After the first three weeks of the season, I expected this team to go head first into the John Tavares sweepstakes. They played with no passion, had no offense, their franchise player and a host of other vital pieces were injured and the youngsters looked like they didn’t belong. [some still do. Jeff Tambellini, cough]

Then something started to happen. After blowing a handful of third period leads, they woke up and decided to play as a cohesive unit and since then, they’ve won four out of their last five games.

Sure, they still don’t have a legitimate sniper or a point a game player, but they have enough pieces and have enough depth at defense that if they continue to play this way, they can surprise a few people.

Hilbert and Joey Mac Take Down Buffalo 4-2

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If you would have told me Andy Hilbert would have been that good at 6:59 last night, I probably would have slapped you upside your head.

Nevertheless, like I said yesterday, in order for this team to continue it’s winning ways, people are going to have to contribute more.

I guess it was just Hilbert’s night.

Speaking of nights, Joey MacDonald wasn’t too shabby either, huh? With an 8-7-2 record, MacDonald has gotten better with every game under his belt and should create a juicy situation once Rick DiPietro gets back. For the time being though, Joey Mac is proving just how smart Islanders GM Garth Snow was when he let Wade Dubielewicz go to Russia.

Isles Lose Tough One to New Jersey, Buffalo Next

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A bad goal here, a deflection there, one in traffic. Simply put, this is how the New Jersey Devils operate. Do they have the greatest offense since the ‘84 Oilers? No, but they do scratch, bite and claw their way to victory on most nights they play. The Islanders weren’t ready for that last night, as a three-game winning streak was halted after a 5-2 loss to the Devils.

It just seemed like every time you thought the Islanders had learned their lesson on defense and got the offense going, the Devils came back and put an end to their party. That’s usually he case when a team like he Islanders that is slowly starting to find their identity plays a team that already has one like the Devils.

Nevertheless, the Islanders feel they are just starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Islanders Memories: Todd Bertuzzi

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Over the past 15 years, Islanders fans have dealt with bad trades, poor draft choices and lackluster decisions that have fragmented a once proud organization. One of the players that slipped away that is still brought up to this day is Todd Bertuzzi.

While his star has dimmed substantially over the past few seasons, to the point where he’s bounced around the league at an almost Mike Sillinger-esque pace, five years ago, the power forward was arguably one of the best in the league. Playing with players the likes of Marcus Naslund and the Sedin twins in Vancouver, Bertuzzi was a steady 40-goal scorer with the kind of toughness and desire that made many think he was the next incarnation of Cam Neeley or Clark Gillies.

A few years before that however, he was a fresh face on a young Islanders team full of them.

What’s in store for the Islanders?

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With Mike Sillinger rehabbing with the Sound Tigers in Bridgeport and Brendan Witt already back, things look to be changing in the Islanders favor very quickly.

Sure, Mike Comrie is still nursing a hip problem and Kyle Okposo will be out for at least a week with arm problems of his own, but as I’ve said before, this team’s defense is much more important than the offense. The way Comrie and Okposo have played this season as well makes their absence from the lineup not as big a deal as it could have been if they were producing.

MacDonald Super-Sizing Isles Chances

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With a 7-6 record, a 2.68 GAA and a .915 save percentage this season, it’s fair to say that New York Islanders goaltender Joey MacDonald has been much more than a pleasant surprise this season.

As a matter of fact, I think he’s been a savior of sorts.

Up until the season started, no one thought MacDonald was capable enough to serve as the team’s backup goaltender. Much like Islanders Jeff Tambellini and Andy Hilbert, MacDonald had several solid seasons in the AHL under his belt, but had problems sticking around at the NHL level. This season however, MacDonald has been rock solid, getting better and better after every game.

Isles ‘SHOCK’ Vancouver and Media in 2-1 shootout victory

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Final Score: Islanders 1, Vancouver Media 0.

Seriously, what kind of journalist says something along the lines of the Islanders don’t stand a chance and Roberto Luongo and the Canucks can get away with playing decent and still win?

This is the NHL baby. Every game in this league never has a clear-cut winner. All it takes is for a hot goaltender or someone with a wicked backhand to get an opportunity in the shootout and it’s lights out, regardless of how good your team is.

Luckily, the Islanders got both last night, as Joey MacDonald and Frans Neilsen played superb games, leading New York to an “unlikely” win.

Isles/Canucks PreGame Thoughts, Bailey Sticking Around?

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Coming off two consecutive wins against the Senators, the Islanders don’t look anything like the team that has had problems holding leads in the third period all season. Even in giving up two goals in the final period against the Sens in their last game, the Isles have finally started skating with the type of personal accountability they’ve lacked all season.

Regardless of what the pundits think, I think it’s fair to say that this team is starting to understand what they have to do in order to win.

On top of that, Joey MacDonald is playing his best hockey of the season and with Andy Sutton and Radek Martinek both back in the lineup and the return of Brendan Witt looming, the Isles defense will be as close to 100 percent as possible.

Isles Skate Skate Skate Over Ottawa

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“Skate Skate Skate boys.” Those were Doug Weight’s words during the third period according to Islanders head coach Scott Gordon’s postgame press conference. Aside from leading the team in points so far this season, Weight, to me, has been a leader in the locker room and has been on top of his young teammates who have to produce in order for this team to stay above water.

That’s exactly what happened last night.

Islanders/Senators go at it Again Tonight

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As 80s super group Whitesnake once said: “Here I go Again.”

After the powerplay and Joey MacDonald ran rampant the other night, Islander fans now a tiny morsel of hope. Can the powerplay continue to produce? Can Joey MacDonald do his best Wade Dubielewicz impersonation? Can Trent Hunter pretend he’s in .38 Special and “Get Back to where He Belongs” [being the 20 goal scorer every Islander fan knows he should be]? Alright, enough with the 80s music references. In all seriousness, if the Isles can commit themselves to playing smart defense and can take advantage of mistakes on the powerplay, they can play with any team in this league.

It’s just a matter of the stars being aligned properly for those to happen on a consistent basis.

Isles Take Care of Business in 3-1 Win Over Sens

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See what happens when the powerplay works?

It’s almost like a different team out there.

Add in a much better third period as well and the Isles now have some positive momentum for the first time in a few weeks.

With Radek Martinek’s return a possibility on Saturday, things have the possibility of getting even better in the near future as well.

Overall, the defense was solid and Joey MacDonald was extra sharp. For most of the season, despite the injuries, the defense has been solid, but has had lapses in consistency, which hasn’t made things easier for the team’s struggling offense.

Not last night.

Andy Sutton was solid in front of the net and the other veterans on the Isles really held their ground. If this team is going to save their season, that’s going to have to continue.

Good stuff.

Islanders, Senators PreGame Thoughts

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Over the past few years, the Ottawa Senators have pretty much had their way with the Islanders.

However, things haven’t been going all that well for them and if the Islanders play smart, they may just be able to sneak out of dodge with a win.

Isles Mistakes Cost Them in 3-1 Loss to Philly

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What’s worse than working all day and coming home to watch an Islanders game?

Working all day and coming home to watch a game that you already knew the score to.

Ah man.

If I was the Incredible Hulk, my first words on this game would be: “Hulk want powerplay goals, NOW!”

Seriously, it’s actually gotten the point this season where I have to quote superheroes I can’t stand [I'm more of a Spider-Man kind of guy] to depict the way I feel about this team.

Islanders Memories: Ray Ferraro

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The first season the Islanders and I became buddies was way back in 92-93 and it is a season I’ll remember for the rest of my life. While guys like Pierre Turgeon, Derek King and Steve Thomas were my favorite players, my father was always a huge Ray Ferraro fan. I never quite understood it until later that season. Spending a huge portion of that season on the shelf, Ferraro wasn’t as big a part of the team’s success as he was the year before, when he scored 40 goals and added 40 assists and was the team’s lone representative at the All-Star game. Nevertheless, when the chips were down, Ferraro was money in the bank and after a while, his card had a spot on my wall over my bed right next to Turgeon’s.

Islanders Flyers PreGame Thoughts

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The Shenanigans the Islanders have forced their fans to deal with this season essentially started after the Islanders lost in overtime to the Flyers on October 30. Ever since then, watching this team play the final 20 minutes is worse than a prostate exam.

So what does this team need to do in order to get out of the rut they’ve gotten themselves in?

Here are a few of my thoughts:

Same Old Song, Same Old Result in 4-3 loss to Pens

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I’m starting to wish that the NHL took a note from the NBA and played 48 minute games. At least then this team would have more of an opportunity to come out with a win every night. Out shot 18-1 in the third period, it’s past the point of wondering why things are going the way they are. It’s one thing to have something happen one, twice, even three times. But as of right now, this is a serious problem for the New York Islanders.

Something needs to be done so this team can hold a lead. They play well for 40 minutes and then fall to pieces like a house of cards. They seem so oblivious on the ice, that I’ve seen Kevin Federline speak at Harvard with more poise.

Isles, Penguins PreGame Thoughts

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I think first and foremost, the Islanders have to play 60 minutes of consistent hockey to stand a chance against this team. The Penguins have a ton of depth on their forwards lines and without Brendan Witt [who owns Evgeni Malkin by the way] and Radek Martinek, the Isles have to be perfect on defense tonight. Any lapses will result in a letdown worse than any the Isles have experienced so far this season.

For starters, Miroslav Satan seems to be reborn in Pittsburgh, and already has eight goals, compared to the 16 he had last season with the Islanders. Another former Islander, Ruslan Fedotenko hasn’t enjoyed that same amount of success, but with Crosby out of the lineup for a tad, it’s obvious that’s played a part. Speaking of Crosby, he will be in the lineup tonight, making things that much more difficult for the Isles.

Isles Dump Another Lead in Third in 4-3 Loss to Atlanta

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I said yesterday that this was a game the Islanders had to win and for 40 minutes, it looked like they were going to do just that. Well, not exactly.

The first period was a toss up, but the Islanders were holding their own. Aside from a bad change that resulted in Slava Kozlov’s goal, the Isles were in fact the better team out there. Over a 17-second span in the second period however, the Isles took control of the game behind Frans Neilsen, who has to continue to play this way if this team is ever going to back to .500 this season and Trent Hunter, who hasn’t been this solid since his rookie year.

Nevertheless, the Islanders found a way to cough this one up.

Tambellini and Okposo Must Step Up Against Thrashers

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When I think of the way Jeff Tambellini and Kyle Okposo have played so far this season for the Islanders, I think of the old Tommy James & The Shondells song, “Crimson & Clover,” minus the snazzy guitar solos.

“My mind’s such a sweet thing
I wanna do everything
What a beautiful feeling”

That’s what is going on in the heads of these two youngsters. They want to do everything, all for that beautiful feeling that comes from seeing the red light above the glass behind the goal go off when they hit twine. However, “Over and Over” this season they’ve failed to capitalize on great scoring opportunities.

MacDonald and Park Lead Isles Past Rangers at MSG

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I said a few days ago that Isles forward Richard Park needed to finish more, and over the past two games, he’s done just that, paving the way for two consecutive victories.

If hearts grew on trees, the only person who would be able to grow said tree would of course be number 10 himself.

After starting their season in most dismal fashion, Park and the boys from Long Island have rebounded quite nicely, playing well enough to win and providing some spunk in the process. Despite some bumps in the round in the third period on Monday and a scary last minute at MSG last night, the Isles have their first winning streak of the season.

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