October 22, 2011

From sizzle to fizzle as Isles fall to Panthers: 4-2

Things started out well for the New York Islanders (3-3-0) in their game against the Florida Panthers (4-3-0) in hockey action on Saturday. The Isles had great energy, and immediately started to swarm the offensive zone.

The Isles could not maintain that energy, falling by a final of 4-2 to the hungrier Panthers’ squad. Florida dominated the puck possession, while also displaying great puck movement throughout the game.

In the beginning it had seemed as if it’d be the Isles game to win, as New York was immediately rewarded for their hustle. The Isles were able to bait the Panthers into taking a penalty. Captain Mark Streit cashed in quickly on the extra-man chance, on a wicked 59 foot slap shot, for the 1-0 lead.

Keeper Evgeni Nabokov (29 saves) stood on his head to keep the Islanders in the game, but it wasn’t enough to stop Kris Versteeg (4) from tying the game at the 14:39 mark of the first period.

The Panthers took the 2-1 lead in the second period, as Florida had great puck movement to find the back of the cage. Matt Bradley scored his first goal for the Panthers at the 13:39 mark, on a pretty backhanded shot.

It was in this frame, that the Islanders regained a burst of energy and speed, which eventually led to their second goal of the game. New York cashed in on their second power play opportunity when Streit set-up John Tavares (6) to even things up at 14:32.

New York had the momentum when the horn sounded to end the second period, as Nabakov made the save of the game at the 14:57 mark when Matt Bradley tried for a 38 foot snap shot. ‘Nabby’ was aggressive, playing up in the cage to stoning the scoring opportunity.

All of the momentum for the Isles was countered when rookie cager Jacob Markstrom entered the game for the Panthers in the third period. Florida then proceeded to put on a clinic of pretty puck movement, for the 3-2 lead.

Tim Kennedy scored his first goal of the season on a give-and-go play, tipped-in the pass from Shawn Matthias (2). Florida iced the game at the 19:39 mark, as surviving an Islanders 5-on-3 offensive chance in the winding moments of the third period.

New York will return home to Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum for a Tuesday face-off against the Pittsburgh Penguins, with the game scheduled to air on the MSG Plus Network at 7:00 p.m. The Isles and Pens built up a bit of a rivalry last year, so the media hype is starting to build already for the much anticipated rematch.

Stacy Podelski

Historic Rivalry Renewed As Leafs Take A 5-4 OT Win Away From Les Canadiens.

In one of the most storied rivalries in professional sports, the Toronto Maple Leafs (5-1-1) travelled to ‘La Belle Province’ to battle the Montreal Canadiens (1-4-2).
1:15 into the game Gionta was called for goaltender interference after running right through Reimer knocking off his mask and leaving him looking visibly shaken. This would eventually lead to a short handed goal by Moen as he out muscled Steckel to the net.  Roughly five minutes later Steckel made up by tipping a nice point shot from rookie bright spot Jake Gardiner.
Jonas Gustavsson began the second period in place of Reimer as the concussion rumours begin to swirl.  He was tested 29 second in but was unable to stop a Kostitsyn wrister.  Shortly after Kessel continued his hot start by potting his eighth of the year. Then Dion Phaneuf scored for the Leafs as a busy first five minutes to start the second left the score at 3-2 Toronto. A chippy period led to continued penalty trouble for both teams.
Montreal began the third strong with a goal by Toronto area native Michael Cammalleri, blasting a shot past Gustavsson. Montreal then took the lead 4-3 with a savable shot from Gorges. The Habs dominated the first half of the period as it looked like a Montreal win was becoming the more likely scenario. Then at 13:07 Mikhail Grabovski cleaned up a rebound in front giving the Leafs life. Originally the goal was given to Kulemin but upon further review Grabo beat his teammate to the puck.
At 1:23 into OT Grabovski completed a skilful backhand to forehand spin move to beat Price top corner blocker side from a nice feed by Liles.  A special goal from the former Hab who has grown as a player and person since his move to Toronto.
By: Liam Niven


The Leafs and Habs face off tonight in a game which is critically important to both squads.  We expect a heck of a clash !!!

Montreal is an early season slump which threatens to become a full scale collapse.  The team is in disarray because of early season injuries coupled with the poor play of key players like Subban and Price.  The Habs playing in front of Price seem to have lost confidence in their goalie.  If the Habs fall behind ; it is almost a guaranteed lost.  Tonight; Price will have to be on top of his game and hope and pray that the weak offense of the Habs can get him a couple goals.  

We expect Montreal to fall to Toronto tonight.  The Leafs are not yet a top tier team in the NHL but they are certainly steadier than Montreal at several positions.  Reimer is what price used to be and Phaneuf is the kind of blue liner that PK Subban might become someday.  We should see fireworks from Lupul and Kessel tonight and the Leafs should put the Habs away on their home ice.
A Maple Leafs and Canadiens matchup is always a crowd pleaser.  The teams despise each other and the fans feel the same as well.  We hope for both teams that the intensity generated by this historical rivalry shows up on the ice tonight.  What teams lacks in skill, they can make up with heart.  If Montreal plays with heart they might squeeze thru and beat Toronto.  If Toronto plays with heart; their superior skill will destroy the Habs. 

RedWings Bomb Blue Jackets and Look Forward to Capitals

The first game for Detroit for almost a week against a Columbus team that haven’t won a game all season to date. If the Redwings win they will go 5-0 going into Saturday’s game against a Washington team that are 6-0 so far. Columbus have won 1 in 28 regular season games over this season and last.

Mason got the start for the Blue Jackets and Howard for the Redwings and it was Howard who had to make the first save, smothering the puck after only 15 seconds. Mason then made a big save 15 seconds later on Zetterberg as both teams came out fast.

Both teams exchanged powerplays in the first 10 minutes and it was Franzen who took advantage on Detroit’s PP as he put the puck high, glove side on Mason to make it 1-0 Detroit.

Howard made a huge save on Mackenzie just over the 10 minute mark to keep the game at 1-0 as the Redwings defence made a mistake to cough the puck up to leave him free infront of the net.

Mason made a good glove save on Franzen with just over 7 minutes left as Detroit tried to take a 2-0 lead. Columbus were still sticking with the Redwings but Detroit were starting to get on top.

Detroit made it 2-0 as they took advantage on another powerplay. Franzen again getting the goal as he cut in at the side of the net and managed to fire the puck in past Mason off the defenseman infront.

Brassard quickly made it 2-1 only 57 seconds later as Howard deflected a shot against the post but the Columbus forward was quickest to react to put the puck behind the Redwings netminder to halve the deposit.

Detroit finished the period on the powerplay but Mason came up big again and Detroit took a 2-1 lead into the 2nd with a handful of seconds remaining on their 3rd powerplay of the game.

It took 27 seconds for Datsyuk to make it 3-1 to Detroit as First White and then Zetterberg had shots saved by Mason only for the rebound to leave Pavel an open net to fire the puck into to make it a perfect 2nd period start.

Ericsson and Dorsett decided to drop the gloves around the 17 minute mark as Dorsett tried to spark his trailing Blue Jackets team but Ericsson came out on top, landing some good blows to the back of Dorsett’s head.

Columbus had the best of the 2nd period as they outshot the Redwings early in the period 11-4 and finished the period outshooting Detroit

The 3rd period started with Lidstrom in the box and a 2 minute powerplay for Columbus. The 1st chance of the period went to Detroit as Darren Helm used his pace to go from blue line to blue line and in on Mason, with the netminder staying strong.

Johnson made it 3-2 on that powerplay though as he got a free shot from the edge of the circle and placed the puck past Howard to make the game closer than it should be at the start of the third.

A 5 on 3 powerplay led to Detroit dominating the offensive zone and as the 5 on 3 finished with Detroit still in the ascendancy, Captain Nick Lidstrom got the puck inbetween the circles to fire a 3rd Redwings powerplay goal of the night high past Mason to make it a 4-2 game with just over 12 minutes left.

The 3rd period calmed then as Detroit had the game in the bag after that 4th and they made it 5-2 on an empty net goal as Filppula set up Franzen for his hatrick. Franzen got caught on the back check though and had to make a great pass back to Filppula as he scored on the open goal to make it a 1 + 3 night for him and a 2 + 2 game for Franzen.

So, Detroit go 5-0 to start the season and face the Washington Capitals tomorrow who are 6-0 so far this season. An early clash of the titans?? Lets hope so!

- Adam Yates

Things Can Only Get Better - These NHL Teams Need Help

Many fans are currently singing the praises of the likes of the Capitals, Flyers, Redwings, Stars, Avalanche and Maple Leafs. Praise where praise is due. All these teams have had very good starts and if they can keep it up will be in the mix come playoff time. However, some teams haven’t been as fortune. Let's take a minute to look down the bottom of the Conferences and spare a thought for the fans of the teams that have made the worst starts to the season.

Columbus Blue Jackets – Played 6, Lost 5, Lost 1 (SO)
Columbus can count themselves to be unlucky to be sat at the bottom of the Western Conference. They may have only managed to get 1 point from 6 games so far but have lost 4 of those by 1 goal (1 by SO) and the others by only 2.They have conceded 20 goals in these 6 games – a GAA of 3.33 a game whilst only manage to score at a rate of 2 GAA. Infact, they have scored exactly 2 goals in every game played so far. It is no surprise to see Rick Nash leading their scoring with 2+4 but they are not getting scoring in depth at the minute which is showing in the low scoring results they have had so far. They have played 2 games against Dallas so far, Minnesota, Vancouver, Nashville and Colorado. Not the easiest of starts but they need to start finding points from somewhere before they get 20 games in and still below 10 points. At the minute, that could be a possibility.

Winnipeg Jets
It was always going to be hard for the Jets. They haven’t set any sort of expectations of making the playoffs but must have been thinking somewhere, it would be nice if we did make it. The start of the season doesn’t look like they will. This is a rebuilding process and one that could take 3 or 4 years and this is the start of it. Winnipeg have lost to Montreal, Chicago, Ottawa and Phoenix and also to Toronto via a shoot out but had an impressive win against Pittsburgh. They have managed 3 points from their 6 games played so far. Neither Pavelec or Mason have impressed in between the pipes so far, both posting under .900% SP and the team conceding 21 goals so far. Hopefully the enthusiasm of the city and the fans will start pumping through the players and they can grind out some more results and get some more points on the board.

Montreal Canadiens
The first of two teams you may not have thought would have been mentioned as being a poor team at the start of the season. Montreal have lost to the impressive Toronto, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Calgary and via a shootout to Colarado whilst beating Winnipeg. Mike Cammalleri has missed 3 of the 6 games and the Canadiens will hopefully be welcoming him back to the line up in the next few games to try and create some scoring for the team as they have only managed 13 goals so far. Price has played all 6 and is below .900% SP which is not what you would expect from a netminder who was outstanding last season. Montreal shouldn’t be down here for long and expect them to pick their game up and climb back up the standings over the next 2 weeks.

San Jose Sharks
San Jose find themselves in 14th place in the Western Conference. This may be due to the fact they have only played 4 games so far but they are 1-3 and would have hoped for more in their opening games.
Antti Niemi has been missing from 3 of the opening games and Martin Havlat is yet to feature in a Sharks uniform which has contributed to the start they have had. Joe Thornton has yet to bring his A game to the ice this season and once that comes back and players start to click,  the Sharks have plenty of firepower to get themselves back up the standings. Anaheim have beaten the Sharks by 1 goal on 2 occasions, the young St Louis blues have beaten them but the Sharks did start with a good 6-3 win over the Coyotes and expect a few more results like that once San Jose get their wheels rolling.

That covers 15th and 14th places in both Conferences but I feel a special mention for the Ottawa Senators is needed in this article as in the 7 games they have played they have managed to concede 31 goals which is an outstanding 4.42 GAA. They have managed to win 2 games which currently keeps them out of the bottom 2 in the East but my god have they struggled defensively. Philadelphia and Colorado put 7 past them, Toronto 6, Detroit 5 and Minnesota 3 (although the Sens took that game on a SO). The Caps made it tough work but took a 2-1 win and Ottawa managed a 4-1 win over Winnipeg – one of the teams that make up the bottom 2 in the East. Craig Anderson and Alex Auld have both been pretty awful so far, so those having a go at the likes of Tim Thomas, Roberto Luongo and Carey Price this season – be thankful you haven’t got one of these guys between the pipes!

- Adam Yates

October 21, 2011

Ilya Kovalchuck is Raising Money for Victims of the KHL Tragedy

Everyone is familiar with the disaster which struck the KHL this season:


Superstar Ilya Kovalchuck has taken action to try and help with this tragedy and  he would like you to help out.

Donations are accepted by check and should be written out to the :

"KHL Yaroslavl Family Fund"

and sent to:

PuckAgency LLC
C/O the KHL Yaroslavl Family Fund
555 Pleasantville Road
North Building, Suite 210
Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510
United States

Please include your name and mailing address with your donation. Any individual who makes a donation of $17.00 USD or more will receive an 8"x10" autographed photo of NHL All-Star Ilya Kovalchuk. The first 71 donations of $71.00 or above will receive an autographed & personalized Ilya Kovalchuk player t-shirt. Said photo & t-shirt are only
eligible to individuals within the United States and Canada and will be
mailed 5-10 business days after the donation is received.

Did someone say McDonagh? Blueshirts capture 3-2 OT victory over Flames

The New York Rangers (2-1-2) captured a 3-2 overtime thriller over the Calgary Flames (2-4-0) in late Thursday night, Friday morning hockey action. Blueliner Ryan McDonagh ripped the game-winning goal with half of a second left in the extra period.

In what was a thriller in Calgary, which saw fireworks and firepower throughout the course of the game. Things got physical early between the two teams, as Mike Rupp had a spirited exchange with Tim Jackman at the 2:07 mark of the first period.

Feeding off the fire of his teammates, forward Marian Gaborik tallied his fourth goal in five games on a 29 foot power play snap shot at the 4:53 mark. Helping to set 'Gabby' up on the first score of the game was Brad Richards, who recorded his 500th career assist with the helper.

Calgary responded when Captain Jarome Iginla (2) made the game 1-1 at the 5:51 mark. Iginla was set-up perfectly in front of Rangers cager Henrik Lundqvist, to push home the first score for the Flames.

New York attained the lead at the 13:42 mark when Brandon Prust (2) helped the Rangers regain their shorthanded scoring ways.  Setting Prust up on a beauty of a play was Brian Boyle, who continues to shine in his play for the Blueshirts. Kris Newbury is another player who has impressed since being called up from the Whale of the AHL.  The forward dropped gloves at the 14:59 mark, finished with three hits in the game.

The Flames tallied their second goal of the game, when Mark Giordano recorded his first goal of the season-on a beautiful set-up by Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay at the 15:51 mark. Both teams did a stellar job shutting down the other team, forcing the overtime frame.

Ryan McDonagh worked his magic with five tenths of a second left for the Rangers, recording the game-winning goal off a shot that went wide from Dan Girardi. McDonagh took the puck that rattled off the boards and immediately snapped it in, to lead the Rangers to their second win of the season.

The tour of Canada will continue for the Rangers, as the next stop will be in Edmonton on Saturday. Face-off is slated for 10:00 p.m. with the game slated to air on the MSG network.

Stacy Podelski

Isles winning streak snapped by turnovers in 4-1 loss to Bolts

The New York Islanders (3-2-0) had a three game winning streak snapped by the Tampa Bay Lightning (2-3-2) in hockey action on Thursday. The combination of four days off along with costly turnovers in their own zone cost the Isles a shot at their first victory on the road.

New York had plenty of momentum to open the first period of play, but all of the shots the Isles took were just wide of the cage.  Meanwhile the Lighting got all sorts of shots on the cage of Al Montoya-ringing the pipes on several occasions.

Montoya did everything he could on his part to keep the Lighting off the board, making 26 saves in the cage. It was just the turnovers on the defensive end that cost his team the victory.

Tampa Bay cashed in on their first goal of the game, on a power play opportunity when Ryan Malone struck for a 20 foot wrister at the 16:32 mark.  The Isles just did not have the legs to keep up with the speedy Bolts, who had the ice tilted in their favor for most of the night.

The Lightning cashed in on their first goal via the turnover when Vincent Lecavlier (3) found the back of the net on a 26 foot wrister at the 15:14 mark. Tampa Bay scored twice in the third, thanks to Steve Stamkos and Brett Clark, both off the lack of hustle by the Islanders.

New York found their only goal of the game, at the 7:55 mark, when Michael Grabner (2) scored on an odd-man short-side shot. 'Grabs' used his blinding speed and a wicked wrister, to find the back of the net.

One stat that stands out in the eyes of most fans is the fact that the Isles only had 17 shots in the night. Looking at the bright side of the night, the Isles defense and penalty kill continue to shine, as the team recorded 23 total blocked shots in the game.

New York looks to end the Florida road trip on a high note, as the team will take on the Panthers on Saturday. Face-off is slated for 7:30 p.m. with the game slated to air on the MSG Plus network.
Isles Milestone Moment: The New York Islanders had a milestone moment when forward Brian Rolston played in his 1,191st game, which ties him for 92nd place all-time with Gilbert Perrault and Marc Bergevin.

Stacy Podelski