Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Hockey Life of Matt Moulson

Please click the above title to read a great article about Matt Moulson written by Chuck Gormley of NHL.com. It starts from his childhood, all the way up to his current success as a member of the Islanders. Great read.

Matt Moulson is turning into the prized "steal" of this years off-season for Snow and the Islanders. Moulson is on pace for 35+ goals as of this entry, and it appears that he and John Tavares have no intention of stopping anytime soon. Moulson may be a core player by years end.

Isles A Playoff Team?..........Not Yet

With the Islanders beating the Bruins 4-1 last night, they improved their record to 8-6-7. Believe me, no one saw this coming. But with their winning ways, 7-2-2 in their last 11, the Islanders are no longer the cellar dwellers of the NHL. So which category do we put them in? Are the Islanders playoff bound? For now, the answer is......not yet. There are still some factors that must be considered before crowning them a playoff team.

In the off-season Garth Snow has been sensational at finding the right free agents at the right time. Matt Moulson, Dwayne Roloson, and Martin Biron all have helped build up this club to where they are now and Moulson specifically has a really big upside on offense while Roloson has only one regulation loss in net. As for Biron, I will leave that one alone until my next blog but he will be important down the road. But can these three continue this trend for the rest of the season?

We're starting to see a young Islanders team mature in front of our very eyes. Bergenheim, Okposo, Hillen, and Neilsen to name a few, are blossoming into good point producers on a consistent basis. What I like about this team is that they're full of young talent mixed in with the right amount of veteran experience. Some young players can still be benched while learning how to play Gordons system and when their time has come to play, they don't miss a beat. But can this young team continue to score at a higher level for the rest of the year?

Heck this teams defense is healthy (I never counted Martinek, he was just a given to be injured), and probably will play more games together than ever before. That alone will help get the Islanders close to the top 8. But is there enough talent on the defense to make such a strong push? What happens if this defense gets injured? It's too soon to tell yet with this team.

What about some other teams below the Islanders who have had more injured players? If the players come back, Boston for example, you would think someone like a Marc Savard would improve the Bruins chances at a playoff spot. Even Montreal can keep it close when Markov makes it back. Let's not forget that the Lightning, and Thrashers are also on a resurgence this year, and are making a great push as well.

For now fans, it's too early to see where the Islanders will finish, too many question marks. But know this: the Islanders do have enough offense to make the playoffs, and compete. If the Islanders can get themselves another top 6 defenseman to replace Martinek and his minutes and improve the overall team defense, there is no reason to believe the Islanders won't be in it come March. They may need help getting in but the Islanders, as of 21 games into this season, have gone from cellar dwellers to a bubble team and are really fun to watch.

Isles Continue To Win: NYI 4 BOS 1

Friday, November 13, 2009

DiPietro Speaks Out

A great article by Dan Martin of the NY Post. Just a few quotes from DP.

"I have to keep telling myself that I have a lot of years left and not to push too much and put myself in jeopardy," said DiPietro, who is in the fourth year of his 15-year deal and is still recovering from knee surgery after being limited to five games last season. "The one thing that frustrates me is when people say I can't stay healthy. It's not like anyone goes out there and tries to get hurt. It would be one thing -- and I would accept the criticism -- if I came into camp out of shape, fat and lazy, but I consider myself a pretty hard worker and I come into camp in great shape."
"I think everyone realized coming in that at some point, there'd be a logjam of goalies," DiPietro said. "Right now, I'm the odd guy out and hurt. But there's nothing etched in stone. I've still got to work my way back and do everything I can to get back in the lineup. I don't want to be handed anything and told, 'This is your job again.' I want to earn it."

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Okposo Out With Swine Flu, Weight Also Out

According to various sources, Kyle Okposo has the H1N1 virus and will not be skating for the next three games.

Also reported is that captain Doug Weight will be out 4-6 weeks with the same "upper-body" injury sustained in a game against New Jersey a few days ago.

This will put a damper into things with Okposo being out and Weight will be missed on the powerplay. Once again, as stated in my previous blog, Comeau and Bergenheim need to step up and fill in for Okposo. Maybe a nice contribution from Tambellini would not hurt either. More to come.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Islanders Begin Long Road Trip

So with the 6-3 beating of the Thrashers on Saturday, the Islanders record remains at 6-6-5. They will now embark on a 7 consecutive road game schedule, the longest of the season. That sounds bad but not if you look at their opponents. Let us start with this week only. First up: the Caps. Washington should be their toughest opponent of the schedule.  After a date in Washington, they move on to the depleted Carolina Hurricanes and finish the week with the Florida Panthers. That first part of this long schedule does not sound too intimidating and if the Islanders lose, they only have themselves to blame. They need to be ready like they were against Atlanta, and not be flat like they were against the Devils.

Blake Comeau, Sean Bergenheim and Jack Hillen all scored their first goals of the season against Atlanta. If the Islanders really want to make a statement during this stretch, those three players must continue to do the same style of work and effort if they want to see regular ice time. Sean Bergenheim has been doing everything but score, & I would not be surprised if he got a few more during this road trip. Also look for Trent Hunter to be back in the lineup, which means either Comeau or Sim may actually sit for a while.

As for Hillen, he now must replace Martinek for the rest of the season. Some people have said that may be hard to do, but I disagree. Granted a torn ACL is no laughing injury, but the fact remains that Martinek is always injury-prone and that most fans saw this coming. Hillen needs to continue his play, and shoot the puck often. This will be his make or beak year and if he does produce,  fans are looking at Martinek's replacement.

If the Islanders truly want to be mentioned in the playoff hunt in December or by the Olympic break, the Islanders need to win in November. Winning the next three games in a row would be a nice start and the end to this long road trip may take the Islanders into a place they haven't been considered for in a while.

With Martinek Gone, Look For A Trade

From the NY Post:

Martinek's loss certainly will be felt. The oft-injured defenseman was replaced in the lineup by Freddy Meyer. "To me, he's one of best kept secrets in NHL," Gordon said. GM Garth Snow agreed and wouldn't rule out a trade: "It's a big hole for us to fill. If something makes sense, we'll do it."

Isles Win 4th In A Row At Home

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Media News: Islanders Are Force

From Dan Martin of NY Post:

Injuries limited Andy Sutton to just 23 games last season, and even though this year is only 14 games old, the defenseman already sees a difference in this group of Islanders.

"Something happened partway through this season," Sutton said after practice yesterday in Syosset. "We figured out our identity, and it's showing in the way we're playing."
And the Isles are getting results, bringing a four-game winning streak into Buffalo tonight.

"We're making simple, hard, effective plays and being tenacious," Sutton said. "We've been pretty disciplined. I think is a young team that's getting smarter."

Monday, November 02, 2009

Islanders Need To Ride The Wave

If you asked me at the start of the season: a) If the Islanders would be .500 by the end of October; b) That Matt Mouslon and Jeff Tambellini  would be leading the team in goals; c) The Islanders would only have FOUR regulation losses by this time; I would be saying "NO!" to every question. Not only would I say "No" but I would be wondering what you were smoking and wonder why you're not sharing those happy thoughts. However, here they are sitting with a 4-4-5 record and a chance to really make other teams lives miserable.

Before Trent Hunters return to action, the Islanders have won three straight against some formidable opponents: Rangers, Capitals, and Buffalo. Each team has had some bumps and bruises, but the Islanders took advantage and ran with it. This seems to be a trend entering November. Their upcoming schedule is this: Edmonton, Buffalo, New Jersey, and Atlanta.   All four teams are either recovering from injury or illness and the Islanders once again must take advantage of others shortcomings and continue to ride the wave of renewed confidence and winning.

By no means am I saying the Islanders could make a run at the playoffs. It's just too early right now. But If they continue winning, they will force the other teams recovering to win sooner rather than later, and the goal is to get those teams feeling desperate quicker. From here on out, the Islanders will not be taken lightly. The Islanders will be a team to be dealt with, and if they continue their development, will be very difficult to beat down the stretch. Adding to that, if this team remains healthy adding Hunter to the mix and DiPietro will strengthen a team that doesnt like losing in regulation to begin with.

So ride the wave with your team fans, because it may keep going a little longer than any of us ever thought.

Islanders Videos