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Preview: Islanders Outsider by Ken Rosenblatt

Islanders Outsider by Ken Rosenblatt

Updated: 2018-03-07T15:57:31.033-05:00


Short Take on Rypien's Short Suspension


Here's what the NHL should have considered when handing down its suspension of Rick Rypien of the Canucks for shoving and grabbing a fan: What would the suspension have been if Rypien had thrown a punch?

I have to imagine it would have been a lot more than six games.

Rypien's thought process short-circuited. He and the NHL are fortunate that the circuit that shorted was the one labeled "Shove and Grab" rather than one next to it labeled "Punch." That's how close an NHL fighter came to punching out a fan on live TV with no provocation other than a sarcastic comment.

The result of the loss of control is not what should have been punished. The loss of control is.

And, while we're at it, it's really annoying when Gary Bettman feels compelled to put an everything's-okay-here spin on matters:
"Fortunately, this incident is not typical of the way NHL players conduct themselves and is not typical of the way Mr. Rypien had conducted himself during his career."

It happened. We all saw it.

Hey, these Islanders are pretty good.

Flatley Joins MSG


Neil Best is reporting in his Watchdog blog that MSG has hired former Islanders captain Pat Flatley for its Hockey Night Live! studio program. Flatley takes the seat formerly occupied by Butch Goring, who recently moved into the broadcast booth alongside play-by-play man Howie Rose to replace the controversially departed color analyst Billy Jaffe.

It's an interesting choice for Islanders fans as most still have very fond memories of Flats, including his on-ice style and off-ice personality. But Flatley hasn't been close to the Islanders in 15 years, so it's a little strange to think of him as being the Islanders voice on Hockey Night Live! There's a disconnect there that Flatley will have to resolve by spending some time getting close to the team again. Still, I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what he brings to the table.

Lighthouse Hockey Season Preview Roundtable


Please visit Lighthouse Hockey for an entertaining and interesting Season Preview Roundtable featuring several familiar bloggers, a few singers, a few actors, and a number of fictional characters—including a delicious and structurally challenged gingerbread man.

Gordon Should Name Roloson Starter


While significant injuries to Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo have curtailed expectations for an Islanders playoff run in 2011, the braintrust of the organization has no choice but to proceed as if that run remains very much in the plans. Therefore, all roster and lineup decisions must address the two-headed monster of maintaining forward momentum of the youth development while attempting to win now.

In a sport that breeds constant chatter about players knowing their jobs, roles, and responsibilities, Coach Scott Gordon has not named the owner of one very important job. Who is the Islanders #1 goalie?

Gordon can go a long way toward starting the season with an air of stability by naming Dwayne Roloson his starting goaltender. Right now, it is the best option for the Islanders to play to their competitive peak.

Roloson played his best hockey last season when he served as the team’s undisputed #1. Sharing the duties with Rick DiPietro and Martin Biron seemed to soften what had been a very sharp edge in net.
It is in the best interest of this year’s team to have an established starter, whether it be Roloson or DiPietro. But, for this season, it should be Roloson for roughly 55 games. The soon-to-be 41-year-old demonstrated last year that he is more than capable of holding down the job and leading the team to victories. The Islanders will get the most out of him in this role.

DiPietro has not been a starting NHL goaltender since 2008. The team should not put itself in the position of forcing itself to see if he can do it again now, and risk losing him for another year or more. Let him re-acclimate to the rigors of an NHL schedule by not playing too much of it—let him play enough to show that his body can absorb the beating it will take, restore his technique and reflexes, and re-build his stamina.

If DiPietro has trouble getting into a rhythm due to sporadic starts, so be it. What the Islanders can get out of him this season is still a question mark. Let him answer that question over 25-30 games. Then, next year, Garth Snow can decide whether to re-sign Roloson as a backup or, more likely, promote one of Kevin Poulin, Nate Lawson, or Mikko Koskinen to serve as DiPietro’s understudy.

If it were clear that DiPietro would outplay Roloson this year, I’d say give him a shot to take the job. But I don’t see how you can say that. The Islanders have a greater chance of getting the most out of their goalies, now and in the future, by giving the starting job for 2010-11 to Roloson.

Islanders Find a Home at 30 Rock


Okay, somebody's gotta fill me in. I don't get to watch much TV anymore, and when I do it's usually on the DVR. And I don't think I saw a single episode of 30 Rock last year. I happened to catch a new episode last night. So here are my questions:

1) Is Paul Giamatti a regular guest star?
2) Does his character, Richie, always wear a John Tavares jersey?

Good job by the Islanders getting their brand some high-profile exposure. The episode also featured an Islanders pennant on a background wall about four minutes in, which is when I turned the show on. At that point I hadn't even seen Richie in all his home-blue-91 glory, which he wore for the duration of the show. Later, the show's dialogue even had Richie describing himself as an Islanders fan.

To answer one of my own questions, it seems that this was Giamatti's first appearance on the show—at least according to IMDB. But, as chronicled here, it certainly was not the first appearance of an Islanders jersey on the show.

Maybe we can have an escalating battle between Entourage and 30 Rock to see which show can feature the most Isles paraphenalia. If only Hockey Night Live! were this friendly to the Islanders! (I filled out a blogging survey yesterday saying that my style wasn't snarky.)

Update: Here's a good thread on the topic from HF Boards, including a screen cap. I was making dinner while this on and completely missed the Matt Moulson part.

Update: Things are coming in fast and furious now. I'm not surprised that this was also discussed on Twitter, where it was suggested that the mention of/slagging on Moulson may be due to Giamatti being a Yale grad. Yale and Cornell are picked to finish first and second, respectively, in the ECAC this year. I also had no idea that Giamatti is the son of the late Bart Giamatti, former President of Yale and Commissioner of Major League Baseball.



I realize that this is a completely strange reason to come out of hibernation, but something had to do it sometime.

For all of those who felt that Newsday replacing veteran beat reporter Greg Logan with former intern Katie Strang was a purposeful thumb to the nose aimed at the Islanders and their fans, here's an amazing parallel from another market.

Tarik El-Bashir of The Washinging Post is leaving the Capitals beat after five years of top-notch coverage. Dan Steinberg of the Post's D.C. Sports Bog describes El-Bashir's replacement (thanks to Kukla's Korner):
"Katie Carrera, a former Post intern who has covered high school sports for us the past two years, will become the new Capitals beat writer. Katie is a rarity - a sports journalist who actually knows something about hockey. She has assisted Tarik on and off with the Capitals for the past two seasons and now she has the whole show to herself."

Sometimes things change. People get deserved opportunities as a result of those changes. While the circumstances that brought about the change at the Post may be vastly different than those that moved Logan off the Isles beat at Newsday, the effect is the same. Such a succession can and did happen in another market, and it doesn't have to be a reason for the fanbase to feel disrespected or bullied.


I've been mulling over a meta-post for this blog to explain what is happening with it and what can be expected in the future. The truth is, I really don't know. All I know is that I can't do it the way I used to do it. There is simply not enough time to watch the games the way I used to watch them, to keep up with all that is being written about the Isles and the NHL, to formulate posts, and to execute them properly.

Other blogs are setting the bar pretty high these days. It's debatable whether what I can offer still has a place among them.

I have come close a number of times to just announcing the end of this blog. But here I am once again. And it feels good to be back.

NYI Classifieds


FOR SALE – SOLD – LARGE-BODIED NHL DEFENSEMAN. Surprisingly mobile and good hands for size. Good soldier, may not stay around past springtime. Some wear and tear.

FOR SALE – SHOOTOUT SPECIALIST – Fleet-footed part-time NHL winger. Laser-like wrist shot. Good pedigree. Will score at the AHL level. Some rust.

FOR SALE – VETERAN #1 GOALTENDER – "Lot 1A" Savvy presence in net. Capable of leading team deep into the playoffs. Battle tested, prospers under heavy workload. Atrophies in presence of "Lot 1C" or equivalent.

FOR SALE – VETERAN #1 GOALTENDER – "Lot 1B" Respected and adored by peers. Priced to move. Bags packed and ready to move since September. Also experienced as a No. 2 and No. 3.

FOR SALE – VETERAN #1 GOALTENDER – "Lot 1C" Refurbished former NHL All-Star. Dedicated and tireless worker. Not afraid to make a commitment. Been in the shop a few times. Palatable cap hit, when healthy. Service records currently "misplaced."

FOR SALE – FINNISH FLASH – Young forward with size, hands, and speed. Total package power forward. Slight fear of success. "Poised for breakout."

FOR SALE – VETERAN GRINDER – Winger with agitation mode. One-time 17-goal-scorer. Knee only two years old. Will dominate in AHL. "Depth."

WANTED TO BUY – 2010 AND 2011 DRAFT PICKS As many as possible. Preferably in third round or better. Will pay in cash.

WANTED TO BUY – GOALTENDER – Warm body, possibly two, needed to fill net for remainder of 2009-10 season. Must be prepared to play every night, or not at all.

WANTED TO BUY – YOUR FULL CAP SPACE – Collector with openings in storage. Will accept your bloated contracts for "high-quality draft incentives." We'll turn your mistakes into our roster-hole plugs!

Witt Waiver-Wired


Katie Strang reports that veteran defenseman Brendan Witt as been activated from the injured reserve list and will be placed on waivers at noon today. If not claimed by another team, Witt will report to Bridgeport.

This is certainly a case where you have to be impressed at Garth Snow's willingness to make a very tough call. While it was obvious that Witt was no longer serving the team adequately in his role, it would have been very easy for Snow to give him several more opportunities to work things out on the ice. You don't decide to waive a player of Witt's character, experience, and performance record like you're deciding which pair of shorts to leave home when you're packing for vacation and your suitcase is full.

Snow is paid to make difficult decisions in order to put the Islanders in the best position to win. Having Witt in the top six was not in the team's best interest. Nor was letting him accumulate dust in the press box. Perhaps Witt will show enough in his time at the Bridge to convince another team to take a chance on him as we get closer to the trade deadline.

While the Islanders can move on without Witt in the lineup, there is no doubt he will be missed around the Coliseum. Of course, as we've seen with other players, being waived and sent down doesn't necessarily mean the end of the line.

Milestones for the Moulsons


Fresh on the heels of older brother Matt Moulson recording his 20th goal of the season for the Islanders, Cornell freshman Chris Moulson on Saturday scored his first career NCAA goal as the Big Red defeated Clarkson 5-3.

The younger Moulson had only tasted the lineup once this season before being called upon by coach Mike Schafer for both games this past weekend. On Friday night Cornell defeated St. Lawrence 2-1. The 4-point weekend on the road puts Cornell all alone at the top of the ECAC standings and solidifies its top-ten ranking in the NCAA.

Moulson's goal on Saturday night gave Cornell a 3-1 lead early in the second period. After the game, he told The Cornell Daily Sun that speaking with his older, NHL-experienced brother had provided him with some focus for breaking through:
“I talked to my brother before the game and he just said to shoot more pucks and be around the net more,” Moulson explained. “The one thing he always tells me is to do the extra things. Everyone on the team is going to work hard, but you have to be the guy who does the extra things and works hard when everyone else is taking a break. He always told me to remain positive, you’ll get your chance, and you’ll be great.”

If that doesn't sound like the Matt Moulson Islanders fans have come to know this season, I don't know what does.

The Daily Sun reported Chris's goal thusly:
Just 3:32 later, Cornell was once again able to capitalize on a rebound opportunity. Junior defenseman Mike Devin wristed a shot on net from the slot, but Karpowich went down in butterfly position to deflect the shot away. Chris Moulson then picked up the rebound, skated to his right, and flicked a backhand over a sprawling Karpowich and into the back of the net. In giving his team a 3-1 lead, Moulson scored his first ever NCAA goal in just his third career game.

“I can’t even really remember what happened,” Moulson said. “It was a shot from the point … the puck was just sitting there and the next thing I knew I was on my stomach and the puck was in the net. I was trying to get up to celebrate but [Nick] D’Agostino was holding me back.”

If you recall, the elder Moulson had this to say about his brother just a couple of months ago:

"I try to talk almost every day to him. He's working hard. Hopefully he'll get a chance and I think he's probably a better player than me, so, hopefully he just needs a chance and he'll get in there and do well."

Congratulations to both Matt and Chris on reaching these gratifying career milestones.

Two-Minute Minors for 1/20/10


I've been considering doing some daily posts that are more like Twitter feeds where I just add thoughts as they pop into my head throughout the course of a day. Why not just join Twitter? I don't know—I just kind of like it here.It then occurred to me that I already sort of do that occasionally with these Two-Minute Minor posts, though without the day-long aggregation. Anyway, we'll see what happens. Let's move on before I get called for delay of game...Last night the Isles went toe-to-toe with the offensively gifted Penguins and came out a little stubbed. When Sidney Crosby drops a six pack of points on you and Evgeni Malkin emerges from his funk with a hat trick, you just have to tip all those hats and get ready for the next one. Isn't it nice to be in a position to take the positives from a loss and still feel good about what the team is doing? It will feel even nicer if the four-game winning streak is not followed by a losing streak of any kind.Richard Park finally convinced an official that a shot off his stick is capable of being a goal.Here's my guess at how Colin Campbell handles Andy Sutton's boarding of Pascal Dupuis: "Well, I just gave Jovanovski, a star, a two-game suspension—I have to suspend Andy Sutton." You know, just a guess, because that's all we can really do at this point. It was a bad play by Sutton and it's refreshing to see a player admit as much. It doesn't matter if you didn't intend to hurt another player—you have to be able to make the split decision that stops you from putting another player in danger. When you don't make that decision correctly, you pay the consequences. In this case a major and a game misconduct suffice, but I actually wouldn't be too surprised or too upset to see Sutton sit out a game or two. But I can't wait for the explanation. Update: I was wrong. Sutton has been suspended for two games and I actually am a little ticked. Why? Because...Prediction: Sometime in the next 12-18 months, Sutton will board someone else and get suspended for five games. You know, because he'll be a repeat offender.The larger issue is, how long does Gary Bettman let this go on? It's not good for the league to have one of its top officials, especially one who impacts game play, constantly called out. I'm not even saying that Campbell has to be dismissed. But the issue does need to be addressed or the integrity question will continue to fester.You know what really made an impression on me last night? Very quickly after Sutton hit Dupuis, Dwayne Roloson waved to the Pittsburgh bench for the trainer to come out. Then he skated out of the crease, and out of the TV picture. The next time you see Roloson, he's skating back to Dupuis with the Pens' trainer in tow. Classy move by an opponent.Yesterday, Uni Watch mentioned John Tavares's bet-losing practice appearance in a Team USA jersey. Uni Watch proprietor Paul Lukas made mention of the mysterious slits in the back of the jersey and wondered about their purpose/origin. I e-mailed Paul to tell him that I had read that the jersey belonged to Sparky the Dragon, and the slits where there to accommodate his wings. At the time, I couldn't remember the source of that information. Paul published my note as an update in today's edition, so I want to make sure to give credit where credit is due. After a little searching, I can now confirm that my source for the Sparky information was none other than blogging pal Dee Karl. Good scoop, Dee!Finally, it's always good to remind yourself just how obsessed you are with sports. Yesterday, I got lunch from Five Guys for the first time. My order number was 57. While waiting on line, I kept thinking how cool it would be if, instead of calling out my order number when my food was ready, the line cook instead shouted, "Comeau!"[...]

Reason to Believe: Islanders 6, Red Wings 0


Just some things I'm thinking about following a joyful night of joyful hockey...

Matt Moulson's offense is heating up again. And he's finding the net while playing with Frans Nielsen. Both circumstances help negate the ideas that Moulson is a flash in the pan who got off to a hot start and that his production was due mostly to his pairing with John Tavares.

How nice it is to once again be able to legitimately pin the future of the Islanders on Kyle Okposo, Tavares, AND Josh Bailey. Bailey looked like a boy last year. Suddenly he looks like a man, and plays like one too.

Despite his slow start in the goal column, Okposo will surpass his goal total from a year ago. Watch him light it up in the second half.

Seeing my favorite player of his era, Kenny Jonsson, back in the Islanders family for one night.

The part of NHLer Rob Schremp now being played by...Rob Schremp.

BD might be right that keeping Martin Biron on ice (as opposed to on the ice) might improve his trade value. At the very least, it won't harm his value and it will also protect him from injury (as much as that recalls the awkwardness of the Bill Guerin situation last year).

At first I was opposed to the idea of keeping Biron out of the rotation. I thought he deserved to at least dress on occasion and his exclusion reflected poorly on him and reduced his perceived value. But this is going to be all about Dwayne Roloson and Rick DiPietro, and who gives the team the best chance to win night in, night out. That's clearly not Biron.

I would, however, not be so quick to pull the trigger on a deal for Biron. Let's see DiPietro get the rigors of a few NHL games under his belt before the team puts itself one more injury away from last season's goaltending carousel.

It was a shame that the 6-0 domination of the Red Wings had to occur on the same night as a thrilling shootout (in more ways than one) between the other locals. Not good for getting the deserved local press. On the other hand, it was the kind of win that the rest of the league's cities will notice.

It's good to see some old friends still plugging away in the Blog Box.

I resisted doing this for a long time, but I finally caved.


Let Okposo Hear You


Just a thought as this New Year's Day draws to a close: It would be a great thing if everyone who attends Saturday night's game channels his or her anger and disappointment at Kyle Okposo being left of the U.S. Olympic team toward a show of support for #21. Let him know how you feel about him—when he comes out for warmups, when he steps over the boards, and every time he touches the puck. The Coliseum could use a night of frequent, loud ovations.

And keep this a positive thing about Okposo and the fan base's appreciation for the kind of player he is and the kind of player he will be. No need to invoke the names Drury, Callahan, Burke, etc. Make it all about Kyle on this night.

Two-Minute Minors for 12/17/09


Jeff Klein, writing in the Times off last night's 2-1 Islanders win at Madison Square Garden:
"Wednesday’s game was not the first time Tavares had set foot in the Garden. That happened on Nov. 28, when he and his Islanders teammate Matt Moulson watched Moulson’s brother play for Cornell against Boston University. No one recognized him at that game, he said."

I had wondered if Tavares would go to that game with Moulson, and figured he would seeing as how it was through Chris Moulson that Tavares and Matt Moulson became acquainted. At the time, I didn't ask Moulson if Tavares was going with him because a) I already felt like asking him whether he was going bordered on too personal, and b) I swore to myself I would make it through my first conversation with Moulson without mentioning Tavares.

But it's nice to know now that they did make it to the game, even if they didn't actually get to see Chris play (he wasn't in the lineup).


In Ottawa, Chris Campoli has now gone from power play point man to healthy scratch to...fourth-line winger? (Ottawa Sun via Rotoworld)


Let's give the Islander credit for this. It's the middle of December and they're still gripping onto this season with all five fingers on both gloves. Despite a thin defense and inconsistent scoring, there are still multiple reasons to watch them day in and day out. You couldn't say that about some Islander teams in the last 15 years, nor could you say it about a lot of NHL teams with this kind of roster.

As this week has shown us, expect more highs and lows. And if the season is going to gradually turn one way or the other from a winning/losing standpoint, I'd still be surprised to see them start winning more consistently than losing more consistently.

But I can also see this team taking that perception as a challenge and pushing themselves to remain prominent in the Eastern Conference's messy lower half. If they can do that at least through the Olympic break, I don't think it's lowering expectations too much to consider it an accomplishment. Not for a fan, anyway. The goal in the locker room should always be to solidify eighth, then climb into seventh, and so on.


Kudos to Blake Comeau for being in the thick of things once again. It should be easier for him playing with Tavares and Moulson. But, like Moulson has done, you still have to produce.

Learning's More Fun When You Win; DiPietro Aches—No Fun at All


Blake Comeau has been universally praised, and rightfully so, for his performance in Saturday night's 3-2 overtime win over the Boston Bruins. He capped of a solid game by delivering a near-exquisite backhand pass to Frans Nielsen that resulted in a breakaway game-winning goal for the Dean of Danes.Yet, my lasting memory of that game, apart from Rob Schremp attempting to pole dance on Mark Streit, is a replay that shows there's always room for improvement—even when your play impressed people all game long and you created the OT winner.From the view behind the play, what you saw on Nielsen's goal was that Comeau didn't follow up his pass by going strong to the net. Instead, he glided in and watched to see what would become of Nielsen's attempt. In doing so, Comeau allowed two Bruins to get between him and the play.By going hard to the net, Comeau would have been in position to pounce on a rebound if Nielsen didn't convert. He also could have given Tim Thomas something else to think about, either as a second option for Nielsen or as a distraction.As it turned out, the additional options weren't necessary because Nielsen took care of business. And I'll also grant that the speed with which Nielsen attacked the goal may have precluded Comeau from being a realistic second option. But he still could have put himself in position to compete for a rebound.Anyway, my point here isn't to kill Comeau. It's that this Islanders team has already taken a step forward in its development this season, and learning from plays like this one is what will help them take the next step forward. Being relentless and taking nothing for granted goes a long way toward winning more games. I have confidence that this is the type of play Scott Gordon doesn't leave on the cutting room floor after he reviews game tape.By the way, John Tavares demonstrated what I'm talking about on the Islanders' second goal. After making his no-look backhand pass out front to Matt Moulson, Tavares continued skating around the back of the net and came out on the other side. If Moulson hadn't been able to get a shot off right away, Tavares was wide open at the far post for an easy tap-in.****All tightness aside, were the Islanders seriously going to let Rick DiPietro back into the goalie rotation after only three rehab appearances? I realize they have to operate within the framework of conditioning assignment restrictions, but for the amount of time he's been away, how could three appearances have been considered sufficient for him to return to game action at the NHL level? I would think five games, minimum, would be more on the mark. He hasn't even played five periods yet.I may have said this before, but I'm at the point where I feel nothing but bad for DiPietro. For someone with so much talent and drive to be unable to use these attributes because of physical problems—well, I can just imagine the emotional ache that goes with it. Some will say, "What does he care? He's raking in $4.5 per year into the 2020s regardless." I assure you, that's not enough for DiPietro.We're past the point of worrying too much about the impact of his injuries on the Islanders. As shown by Dwayne Roloson this season, there is life after DiPietro. Or between DiPietro injuries. Even the long ones. It would just be a shame to see him never quite make it back. We're probably a long way from that happening, but the return has been anything but smooth. It's only natural to think about it.[...]

Moulson 12, Moulson 13, Moulson 14


Just a quick hit to say congratulations to Matt Moulson on his first career hat trick. And in a big road win to boot.

It wasn't quite Mario's five goals five ways, but there was something special about this hat trick. Moulson scored on a booming slap shot from above the circles, a deke on the goalie, and a deflection. This is no one-trick pony scorer.

It's so easy to root for this guy to do well, and I continue to be thrilled as he continues to make his mark on the NHL. With all the talk on tonight's Point Blank chat about locking him up, I couldn't help but think that Moulson is one guy I can't wait to see get paid.

And, yes, he still reminds of me Ryan Smyth out there.

Disappointing Tie for Cornell; Trivino Makes a Point


In a Red-Hot contest before a (legitimate) sold-out crowd of 18,200 at Madison Square Garden, Cornell and BU played to an exciting 3-3 draw Saturday night.For the 10,000+ members of the Lynah Faithful in attendance, it was hard not to walk away feeling that their team came out on the short end of the tie. This was a great opportunity for Cornell—to avenge the 6-3 loss to BU at this event two years ago, and to earn a feather in their beanies for taking down the defending national champion, even if this year's version of the Terriers struggled out of the gate and must come from behind to get back in both the Hockey East and Frozen Four races.Cornell, despite its storied history and a recent decade of strong results, always seems to be standing just outside the velvet rope of the NCAA Elite Hockey Club. A win over BU certainly could have helped mitigate that perception.When Cornell jumped out to a 2-0 lead inside five and a half minutes on goals by Sean Whitney (Ryan's brother) and Locke Jillson (not Jeff's brother) and BU appeared a little sluggish, thoughts of a blowout even bubbled up in the Big Red end of the arena.But midway through the game, the Cornell offense slipped into a state of satisfaction and its effective cycle mostly sputtered and then disappeared. The open shots the Big Red did get were harmless snap shots from outside the dots. Meanwhile, BU came alive and showed that with Kevin Shattenkirk, Chris Connolly, and Nick Bonino, there's still plenty of talent left at BU.By the end of the second period, Cornell still held a 3-1 lead thanks to a Blake Gallagher tally despite being outshot 19-11. Goaltender Ben Scrivens probably should have stopped the BU goal, but overall was far more composed and effective than in his Garden start two years ago.In the third, the ice continued to tilt the wrong way for the Big Red. The Terriers made it 3-2 at the 4:03 mark when Bonino looked for Connolly on a 2-on-1 and saw his pass deflect past Scrivens off Cornell defenseman Brendan Nash's stick.In an ending that only an Islanders fan could appreciate, Cornell found itself down two men with 1:58 remaining and a one-goal lead. To up the ante, BU head coach Jack Parker pulled goalie Grant Rollheiser, giving his team a 6-on-3 advantage for 38 seconds. Cornell actually survived that onslaught.But with Brandon Nash just out of the box, the Terriers converted the 6-on-4. Connolly followed up a Vinny Saponari shot that Scrivens appeared to have stopped. If Scrivens did squeeze the puck at some point, he didn't get it long enough to satisfy the referee. Connolly found the loose puck and poked it home with the ref pointing emphatically the whole way. The play was followed by a discussion amongst the officials, but the goal stood.In overtime, the Cornell offense re-ignited, generating numerous good scoring chances. But nothing got by Rollheiser or Scrivens. Final shot totals: BU 35, Cornell 17.For the record, no riots followed the game ending in a tie.Ah, yes, there is more to this story. Do you think it's good or bad that I did that entire recap without mentioning 2008 Islanders 2nd Round Draft Pick, #10, Corey Trivino? It's neither, really—just building the suspense. Here, then, are my impressions of Trivino...For a while, it was looking as though the theme of this report was shaping up to be that Trivino didn't strike me as particularly special. To be honest, that never changed. But leaving it at that would be seriously shortchanging his play.Early on, the best thing I could say about Trivino was that he wasn't afraid to play physical hockey. At 6-1, 180 lbs, he looks lanky out there. But his lack of a large frame didn't stop h[...]

Isles Impressive in 3-2 Win Over Pens: Live Blog DOA; Quick Hit with Moulson


Today's live blog is brought to you on tape delay. See why below. I decided to carry on as though I were live anyway because I needed the practice. As for the value of still posting it nine hours later? Well, I'll leave that to you to decide. I know I always appreciate the opportunity to go back and see the game through someone else's eyes whether or not I've already seen it myself.In other news, I finally got the chance to talk to Matt Moulson this afternoon, although only under the chaotic circumstances of an open locker room with victory music blaring and players scrambling to pack their equipment for a quick turnaround tomorrow in New Jersey.I had a more extensive interview planned out, and maybe I can get back to that one day because I'm really interested in hearing what he has to say about playing at an Ivy League school, playing in the ECAC, what the exact events were that brought him to the Islanders, and more. But given that we were just over 24 hours away from his alma mater, with his brother Chris on the roster, facing off at Madison Square Garden, I just went right for the most pressing issues:Will he have a chance to get to the Garden Saturday night to see Cornell take on BU?I'm not sure, I think so. As of now, yeah.Does he talk to his brother about breaking into Cornell's starting lineup and what advice might he be giving him (Chris Moulson did see action in Cornell's 6-0 win over Brown on 11/14)?Yeah, I talk to him. I try to talk almost every day to him. He's working hard. Hopefully he'll get a chance and I think he's probably a better player than me, so, hopefully he just needs a chance and he'll get in there and do well.Is he (Matt) still in touch with his college coach, Mike Schafer?Yeah, I talk to him every now and then. Talk to him and e-mail.What kind of contributions did Coach Schafer make to his development as a player?I learned how to play solid both ways when I was there and the importance of working hard and discipline. A lot of discipline.What does he think about so many other Cornellians such as Byron Bitz, Ryan O'Byrne, Douglas Murray, Ryan Vesce and last year Mike Iggulden all contributing or better at the NHL level?Yeah, I think it's good for the program. Guys have done well out there. Hopefully we can keep it going.Moulson also shared with me that his mom made the trip into New York and said, "I'm sure I'll be over there (at the Garden)."One thing that I forgot to mention to Matt Moulson was that Chris's bio page at still says that Matt plays for Manchester. Let's get someone on that!I just want to thank Matt for taking the time to answer some slightly unusual questions--unusual, at least, for a post-game following a big win over the conference leader. And based on his scouting report, maybe Garth Snow, Ryan Jankowski, and the staff should keep an eye open for another Moulson.And, now, for your time-traveling entertainment...Plausibly Live Blog 11/27/09: Islanders 3, Penguins 2Good afternoon and welcome to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Today the 9-9-7 Islanders host the 17-8-0 (how pure) defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins for the second time this season. The first meeting was a 4-3 shootout loss for the Islander in their first game of the season on October 3rd.It's very Pittsburghy here today at the Coliseum, but that's something we've grown accustomed to when a division/geographic rival comes calling and good seats are easy to come by.Today's first jumpout stat of the day: John Tavares leads all rookies in points, goals, and power play goals. That's the way it was supposed to be, and it's so satisfying to see things p[...]

Watch This Space


Whoa, hey, there's a blog here.

First of all, a very happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving to everyone.

Now, here's what to come...

Friday: The long overdue first live blog of the season from Islanders Outsider. The Isles take on the Eastern Conference leading Pittsburgh Penguins featuring Matt Cooke, Mike Rupp, Chris Kunitz, and some other guys at 2 PM at the Coliseum. You bring the rubber, we'll bring the Roloson.

Saturday: Red Hot Hockey returns! Two years ago, this blog took you rinkside for a look at the renewal of the Cornell-BU hockey rivalry. Saturday night the Big Red and the Terriers meet again at Madison Square Garden in front of a packed house of current students and alumni. Cornell will seek to avenge a 6-3 loss in the last go-round. The matchup should be a little more even this year. Cornell has a more seasoned team and a top-ten ranking (#4, 6, or 7 depending on the poll—got polls? Yeah, we got'em.). Defending National Champion BU has struggled out of the gate with an overall 4-7-2 start (2-6-1 in Hockey East). But you can never count out a Jack Parker team, especially this early in the going.

Cornell defeated Colgate 4-2 last night at Lynah Rink to move its overall record to 6-2, 5-2 in ECAC conference play. Leading the Big Red in scoring is senior forward Blake Gallagher with 8 goals and 6 assists in 8 games. Cornell, normally a low-scoring, defensive-minded squad, has been lighting it up this year to the tune of 4.12 goals per game. Backing up the offense, senior goaltender Ben Scrivens sports a .927 save percentage to go along with a 2.01 GAA.

An added bonus to this year's contest is the presence of Islanders 2008 2nd round draft pick Corey Trivino on the BU roster. The sophomore currently sits tied for 4th in scoring on the Terriers with 2 goals and 5 assists in 12 games. Trivino is +2 with no penalty minutes and a 96-95 record on faceoffs. He will be watched. He likely will not be interviewed.

And for further intrigue, we have the Moulson question. #23 in your program for the Big Red is freshman forward Chris Moulson. He may have a connection to an Islander. Or two. However, Chris has yet to see any ice time so far this season on a deep and talented Cornell team. So the big question is, will big brother Matt (a four-year star at Cornell) and pal John be making the trip to the Garden?

The Isles have a 1:00 game in NJ on Saturday, so the opportunity is certainly there. My intent was to do a piece on the elder Moulson, with the emphasis on his college career and what brought him to where he is today. Part of that was to include talking about his brother and this game in particular. Required, then, would be talking to Matt. Been working on that. Still working. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, have a great holiday and get ready for some great hockey this weekend.

Let's Give 'Em Something to Talk About


I don't know if there are any Bonnie Raitt fans in the Islander locker room, but it sure seems like they've been singing that refrain lately. Just over two weeks ago, I had nothing more to say about this team. (Okay, to be honest, I did have some things to say about breaking up the top line, burying Jeff Tambellini in the press box, and Bruno Gervais not playing with Mark Streit—but work craziness and a childcare crisis have buried me far away from the press box.)But seemingly out of nowhere, the Islanders have won three in a row against three of the top teams in the conference. They are giving their fans and the rest of the league something to talk about.At 4-4-5, the Islanders have reached the magical false .500 mark. Those 5 OT losses don't look nearly as bad when coupled with four regulation wins. The 13 points put the Isles on the cusp of the playoff picture.What does this mean? It means that Scott Gordon and his coaching staff have demonstrated the ability to get something out of this team in its current constitution. It doesn't mean that the Isles will still be knocking on the door come March. But a season that was quickly slipping away into oblivion, for the time being, is interesting and fun again. And, furthermore, there is more reason—at least an impressive three-game winning streak's worth—to believe that with a deeper roster, Gordon and company can be serious players in this league.And if you want something to talk about, look no further than Tambellini. Released from nosebleed purgatory seven games ago, the lost action hero has re-emerged with his scoring touch at the NHL level. With two multi-goal games, including a hat trick Saturday night against Buffalo, Tambellini is now tied for the team lead in goals. Bold for how unlikely it was that we would ever be able to say that, and how fun it is to say it now.And to anyone who might minimize the hat trick due to the nature of the third goal, I would offer two suggestions:When there is a loose puck in front of a gaping net, you take no chances even if it the puck is most likely on its way in already.If it were up to Kyle Okposo, he would have done whatever was necessary to make that Tambellini's goal.Also, count me in as one who was shocked that Tambellini wasn't named 1st star. Giving it to Martin Biron in recognition of the shutout and his 200th career win was nice, but the fans would have appreciated the opportunity to laud Tambellini more.Several Islanders have emphasized how much they're enjoying coming to the rink this year due to the camaraderie that has built among the players. How much more fun are they having now that they're winning? They're certainly not a difficult team to root for.And that's your fun hat trick for the evening.As for me, I'm looking forward to talking more.[...]

Losering (Yes, More Whiskeytown)


"And, of course, sadly, the Islanders lost to the Los Angeles Kings 2-1." --Sports update Tuesday morning on WRXPThe Kings weren't built in a year, nor will the Islanders be. But, oh (and woe), the losing. The beginning of a new season has optimism programmed into it, regardless of whether the team finished 3rd or 30th the previous year. Even if you know in your heart that the bottom five is overwhelmingly more likely than the top 16, there is always the hope that things will click this year—that the development of the next generation of Islanders will take a leap forward instead of a step.And then four games go by without a win.Suddenly you are awakened from your October honeymoon by the cold reality that if the ship is ever going to be headed in the right direction, it is still hanging around the pier looking for a clear lane.The Islanders are not in an adjustment period. They are not off to a slow start. They are still dangerously thin on talent. They have shown an ability to compete, but not a sustainable one.They have not shown a knack for winning when the game is on the line and a win is in reach.The second half of last year was productive in that it resulted in John Tavares becoming an Islander. It was not, however, enjoyable.Could it be that, not even at the midpoint Of October, we are already in the position in having to endure a season the way we endured that second half '08-'09?The thought of it seems insufferable. But it is painfully obvious that the Islanders need another high lottery pick. We want these guys to be good because they're our guys. But most of them are never going to be as good as we want them to be.For the Islanders to enjoy success in the standings this year, the following would have to happen (forget about Kyle Okposo, John Taveras, and Mark Streit—you know what they are and you can just enjoy them):Trent Hunter would need to go 25-25-50.Josh Bailey would need to go 15-25-40.Frans Nielsen would need to 15-30-45.Doug Weight would need to stay healthy and perform at the same level he did when healthy last year.The team would have to get its goals against per game under 2.90, at least.A defenseman other than Streit would need to score double-digit goals.How many of those things are likely to happen?Streit had 16 goals last year. Do you know how many goals the other six defenseman on the Islanders' roster had last year? 16. Granted neither Andy Sutton nor Freddy Meyer played in as many as 30 games. But Streit cannot be the only offensive threat from the blue line.Hunter is already missing several weeks of games due to a pec injury. Weight has been in and out of the lineup with a groislander injury (did you already do that one, Dom?). And Bailey has looked nothing like a player who's going to sniff 15 goals or 40 points.So my optimism bubble has burst early this year. The good thing is that they have virtually an entire season to prove me wrong, or get the difference-maker draft pick they have to have again.But right now I don't care for the pain and the drudgery of another season with little to cheer about. I have losing fatigue. I'm actually thinking about steering my son toward the Yankees. Or, you know, Civil War battle re-enactments. Those plans always turn out exactly how they built 'em.[...]

10/08/09: Senators 3, Islanders 2, OT


A few quick thoughts off last night's game...
  • According to The Daily News hockey page, the Islanders game last night in Ottawa did not happen. If you look hard enough on the hockey page of The New York Times, you at least can find a link to an AP article.
  • You still get the feeling that Matt Moulson needs to put up a point per game in order to stick. But there's a good chance he'll do what Mike Iggulden did last year—start to tail off after a fast start. Then what? Do the Islanders have any inclination to invest some time in him? Or is he only here so they can see what they have while other guys are healing or establishing their claims to spots in the lineup. It will be interesting to watch. But the guy that skates to the front of the net on the power play and then bangs home the nifty feed from the vet behind the net? I like that guy.
  • The team that gathered around Scott Gordon during a timeout toward the end of last night's third period displayed all the right body language. The players looked engaged, hungry, and ready to win. That being said...
  • At the conclusion of regulation in each of the first two games, I thought to myself, "All right, a point against the defending champs," and "Okay, a point on the road." In each case, shortly thereafter, I felt like a point was no longer good enough. This team has made a lot of progress in learning how to play together. Next up: learning how to win together.
  • Before this season, having Kyle Okposo on the team provided a sense of optimism. Getting John Tavares through the lottery also created optimism. After two games of them playing together, having both of them should make you downright giddy.
  • I'm not thrilled about going into Boston two days after the Bruins got smoked. But they're off to a slow start, so maybe the Bear will remain Smokey.
  • The Islanders currently sit one point out of a playoff spot and four points off the division lead. (What, too early?)
Note on the blog: The two blog rolls (Blog Box and Additional) are horribly out of date. A lot has changed since last season. My apologies to those of you who have moved. I will get to updating the links as soon as I can—probably after my son learns to sit up on his own. (Don't worry, he's a fast learner.)

Islanders Milking It (Updated)


Warning: This will not go down as one of the more insightful posts in the history of Islanders Outsider. Anyway...

Those of you who have been reading here for a while know that I like to point out sightings of Islanders presence near the places that I work and live (i.e., not Long Island).

This morning, as I was approaching my office building in midtown Manhattan, I noticed a Tuscan Brand dairy truck parked on a street corner. There was nothing particularly unusual about the white truck with the red Tuscan lettering on the side—except that affixed to each side of the truck, near the cab, was a placard that immediately caught my eye.

The matching placards featured an Islanders logo with the words OFFICIAL PARTNER below it. Is this one of those things that I'm just not aware of due to spending limited time on the Island? Are Islanders-branded dairy trucks a common sight east of the RFK Triboro Bridge (I'll take both names, thank you)? Are there other vehicles roaming the LIE with official partner designations?

I don't know, this may seem mundane to some. But seeing Islanders logos on the side of a milk truck in NYC certainly provided an unusual start to my day.

Anyone have any knowledge of the nature of this partnership? I'd like to guess that the Islanders and Tuscan work together to promote healthy eating and drinking in the schools. Or maybe Tuscan simply supplies milk for the Coliseum (which wouldn't necessarily have much to do with the Islanders).

Can you tell that five days off between Game ONe and Game Two is too long? OK, let's get back to figuring out who sits in favor of Weight and Comeau on Thursday. Right now I'd have to lean toward Recker and Tamby. But Sim may also want to double-check the lineup.

Update 1: One spot cleared: Recker sent to Bridgeport

Update 2: Later on today I saw a guy wearing an Islanders hat at the same intersection where the Tuscan truck was parked. I've obviously discovered the nexus for Islanders presence in Manhattan. Feed the fever!

Yesterday's News...

2009-10-02T14:48:09.299-04:00 what I have been readin' (title hat tip to Whiskeytown)Wang and Rechler Play HardballIn comments at yesterday's announcement of a lease agreement between the Lighthouse Development Group and Nassau County for the development of the 77-acre Coliseum Property, the developers declared that they are no longer open to suggestions for changes to the scope of the project from the Town of Hempstead.For months now, Charles Wang has insisted that he is willing to consider such changes if the town would just sit down with him and say what those changes might be. This is an unfortunate turn in strategy because it eliminates a significant pathway to making the Lighthouse, in one form or another, a reality. It was the prospect of such discussions that always caused me to believe that this project would eventually get done. With the option of negotiating the development eliminated, I'm far less optimistic. It was the one major chip that Wang and Scott Rechler could offer, and it has now been pulled off the table.Not that you can really blame them. The impression one gets is that the town board could go on for at least another year doing what they're (not) doing without realizing that engaging in such a negotiation had become critical. With Wang's deadline of certainty for the project scheduled to pass tomorrow, he had to make a bold statement to acknowledge the lack of progress. Yes, Wang is playing by his own rules, which don't always seem conducive to helping the cause he professes to care so much about. But anyone who has followed his style over the last ten years know this wasn't going to go any other way.Weight Named CaptainI'm a little turned off by the trend of handing over the leadership reins of a team to the young star before he's old enough to rent a car. So I'm pleased to see the Islanders (players or coach/GM) not do something showy like name Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, or even John Tavares captain at this juncture. On the other hand, in addition to all the other things Islanders fans are starving for, I'd like to see the team with a captain who's going to be around for more than a couple of seasons.Obviously, then, the player vote that awarded the captaincy to Doug Weight leaves me with mixed feelings. His tenure could be as short as six months. But when you consider the makeup of the team, as well as the makeup of the player, it's clear that Weight is the best man for job right now. The fact that Weight is so enthusiastic about his service makes the choice all the more appealing.That Kyle Okposo received an 'A' ahead of someone like Trent Hunter did cause me to raise an eyebrow. While I understand the inclination to give the younger players representation in the team's leadership structure, and I've stated previously that the team already seemed to gravitate to Okposo in his first full year, I'd rather see a more veteran presence in that role while Okposo focuses completely on being the best player he can be. Will it really affect his development? Nah, probably not. But I'm all for the idea of guys putting in their years of service as a way to earn such an honor. To that end, I'd prefer to see Mark Streit take over from Weight before seeing a Bailey, Okposo, or Tavares ascend to the captaincy.Matt Moulson and the RosterThis year, the role of former Cornell Big Red player who has toiled mostly in the minors but now has his best chance to stick in the NHL will played by Matt Moulson, following on the heels of the successful, yet [...]

Schremp Quotes from Newsday


I had to laugh a little at the quotes from team brass in Katie Strang's Newsday article about the Islanders claiming Rob Schremp off waivers. This is what you want to hear about the gifted player with upside who has yet to fulfill his potential:
"He's a highly skilled, offensively gifted player with great vision. He's at an age where he is still maturing as a hockey player and a person, so there's upside there for our organization," Islanders general manager Garth Snow said. "To take a chance on a player like this, it seemed like it was a no-brainer to claim Rob."

This, not so much:
"He's got incredible skill," Gordon said. "On a breakaway, he can make a lacrosse-style goal. His hands are really good."

Let's not start out by setting expectations so low that a trick shot is one of Schremp's main selling points. Leave the scoop-n-shovel to the NCAA kids and the minor leaguers. We want to see if Schremp can actually cut it as an NHL regular without being known as a one-shot wonder who encourages labels of immature and unprofessional to be cast the Islanders' way.

On the other hand, he would probably get along really well with John Tavares's uncle.

Schremp Will Try to Make It on the Island


The Islanders have claimed 23-year-old Rob Schremp off waivers from the Edmonton Oilers. Schremp, described in the club's press release as a left wing, is more commonly known as a highly skilled centerman who has yet to break through at the NHL level. Schremp has logged seven games total in the NHL, accumulating 3 assists, all in four games last season.

In the AHL, Schremp has been a steady scorer with totals of 47-124-171 in 216 games with the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Springfield Falcons. The Syracuse, NY, product also made his mark in the OHL. As a junior player, Schremp piled up 154 goals and 230 assists for 384 points in 247 games as a member of the Mississauga Ice Dogs and the London Knights. His final season in junior hockey resulted in a 145-point season on 57 goals and 88 assists, in 57 games.

The Oilers drafted Schremp with the 25th overall pick in the 2004 draft.

With the Islanders already short a few regulars up front, this is precisely the kind of opportunity that could allow Schremp to prove that his minor league feats can translate to the NHL. There is little risk for the team, which suddenly has an interesting replacement to look at while Franz Nielsen recovers from his knee injury and Doug Weight gets back up to speed after nursing a groin. While of the classic criticisms of Schremp may play out, this is the perfect time to see if there's something there.