New York Giants go defense in Daniel Jeremiah’s second mock draft

New York Giants, Gregory Rousseau

Amid others mocking Kyle Pitts or Jaylen Waddle to the New York Giants, NFL analyst Daniel Jeremiah has an entirely different take on their upcoming draft. In his second mock draft, he sees the team addressing the potential pass rush need that will arise if they end up losing Leonard Williams in free agency.

The player that has been linked to the Giants repeatedly as an option to draft on defense is Gregory Rousseau, who has a strong record behind him but skipped out on the 2020 season. The missed time seems to not have impacted his draft stock much, and like wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, Rousseau is still one of the top prospects in this year’s class.

Rousseau is also the player that Jeremiah sees the Giants taking even over receivers DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle, who Jeremiah predicts as being available when the Giants pick at eleven.

I know GM Dave Gettleman has let it be known that he wants to add playmakers on offense. At the end of the day, though, he’s not able to pass up the big, athletic edge rusher.

If the Giants indeed aren’t able to hold onto their top pass rusher, it’s easy to see why they would be interested. During the 2019 season, Rousseau had 15.5 sacks and was one of the top pass rushers in the country. On the other hand, it seems unlikely the franchise would pass on taking one of the draft’s top weapons to help out Daniel Jones next season.

The consensus on the likely pick, of course, is still split. Between Kyle Pitts, Jaylen Waddle, Rousseau, and DeVonta Smith, there’s a lot of names being mentioned as likely options. Until we get closer to the draft, we likely won’t know which has the best odds.

Knicks fall under Magic’s spell in tough loss

Terrence Ross outscored the entire New York Knicks‘ bench as the Orlando Magic rolled to a convincing 107-89 victory on Wednesday night.

Ross fired 18 of his season-high 30 points, presiding over Magic’s breakaway from a tight first half.

The Knicks shot 54 percent in the opening half and led by as many as 11 behind Julius Randle’s 17 points. But the Magic tightened their defense and started packing the paint.

“It was really the second quarter. Normally, our bench is a big plus for us, and we lost an 11-point quickly. We didn’t challenge shots the way we should have, and they got going,” Thibodeau said.

The spark Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley usually provided off the bench went missing. The duo typified the Knicks’ offensive woes, shooting a combined 2-for-22 from the field.

If there is one man in the NBA who can figure out Tom Thibodeau, it’s Magic’s coach Steve Clifford. Both coaches spent years together from the Knicks to the Houston Rockets as assistant coaches under Jeff Van Gundy.

Orlando outscored New York, 30-14, in the third quarter and turned a 53-56 halftime deficit into a 13-point lead.

Led by Ross, who was all over the court with six rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks, the Magic’s bench outscored their Knicks’ counterpart, 42-26.

The loss snapped the Knicks’ three-game winning streak and prevented them from reaching .500. They fell to 14-16 with six games left before the All-Star break.

The Knicks’ offense turned stagnant as they ran into a maze of errors and forced shots. The Magic’s defense held the Knicks to only 26 percent from the field and six assists in the second half.

Randle outplayed Nikola Vucevic in a battle of All-Star candidates but drew little help.

Vucevic got his usual double-double (16 points, 16 rebounds, and five assists) but only shot 8-for-24 from the field.

Randle picked up from where he left off and dropped 13 points in the opening quarter as the Knicks seized a 30-19 lead. Then the Magic zeroed in on him on defense.

Despite that, Randle still came away with 25 points on 11-of-19 field goals, seven rebounds, and three assists.

RJ Barrett and Elfrid Payton were the only other Knicks in double figures with 15 and 13 points, respectively. But they spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench.

“We’re such in a hole, and you want to find a way out. Those guys (second unit) started to make a run, and so that’s basically it,” Thibodeau explained.

A back-to-back three-pointer from Alec Burks brought the Knicks within 10.

But it proved to be their last gallant stand.

Ross, Evan Fournier, and Vucevic put the game away with a 7-0 answer.

The Knicks will have three days to recover.

Thibodeau will face his old team, Minnesota Timberwolves, for the first time since his unceremonious firing in 2019.

The Knicks, though, earned an extra day of rest after their Saturday matinee game against the San Antonio Spurs was postponed after four Spurs tested positive for COVID-19.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Should the New York Giants try to trade for EDGE Chandler Jones?

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The 2021 NFL offseason is gearing up to be one of the wildest offseason periods in the history of the sport. Numerous star players are set to hit the free agent market, but many other stars could be on the move via trade. Stars like Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, and others have been brought into trade rumors.

The New York Giants are a team that will likely be shopping for a stud player in the free agent market. The Giants showed a lot of improvement in 2020, finishing 6-10, just one game away from a playoff berth. But it is evident that the Giants still need a few more pieces on their roster. Offensively, the Giants are making it a point of emphasis to find a playmaker for Daniel Jones. But the defense could use some help, too.

Amongst the star players having their name brought up in trade rumors is one interesting defender in the desert that the Giants might want to inquire about. Arizona Cardinals premiere edge rusher Chandler Jones could be a potential trade or cap casualty this offseason. If Jones is available for trade, he could be a perfect addition for the New York Giants.

Chandler Jones as a potential trade piece

The Arizona Cardinals do have a fair amount of salary cap space entering the 2021 NFL offseason. However, they do have some impending free agents that will eat up that cap space if they re-sign them in the offseason. One player that might command a lucrative contract is Haason Reddick. Reddick is the edge rusher that played opposite of superstar Chandler Jones.

Unlike Chandler Jones, Haason Reddick is a young player that really has yet to hit his ceiling. At 26 years old, Reddick has plenty of room to grow as a premiere edge rusher in the NFL. The Arizona Cardinals could prioritize paying him as opposed to continuing to pay Chandler Jones who is now 30 years old and has a salary cap hit of over $20 million in 2021.

Reddick’s contract likely would not hit that annual average. Reddick might come at a cheaper price for a longer time span and a higher ceiling for the Cardinals. Additionally, trading or releasing Chandler Jones would free up over $15 million in salary cap space for Arizona. This potential influx of cap space could entice the Cardinals to move on from Jones and build around Reddick.

Why Chandler Jones might make sense for the Giants

The New York Giants’ defense was the strength of the team in 2020. Their secondary played at a high level and their interior defensive line excelled against both the run and the pass. However, that is not to say there were no weaknesses within Patrick Graham’s defensive unit.

The Giants’ pass-rush was solid last season, but they did lack a true, consistent edge presence. Chandler Jones could fix that. Chandler Jones was injured in 2020, playing only 5 games, his first season playing less than 15 games since 2014. Jones only recorded 1 sack in those 5 games, but he has been one of the top defensive players in the NFL over the last half decade.

From 2015 to 2019, Chandler Jones recorded 11 or more sacks in every season. He led the NFL in sacks with 17 total in 2017. He also racked up an insane 19 sacks in 2019. The two-time First-Team All-Pro racked up 61 sacks in only 69 career games with the Arizona Cardinals since 2016.

If the Giants traded for Chandler Jones, he would bring a pass-rushing threat off the edge that the Giants have not had in years. Jones would instantly be in contention for the Giants’ best player upon his arrival. He is a turnover-creating machine as well, recording 17 forced fumbles in his five seasons with the Cardinals, along with a league-high 8 forced fumbles in 2019.

Trading for Chandler Jones would not be cheap for New York. They would likely need to give up at least a mid-round draft pick. Plus, the Giants’ cap situation is not exactly ideal, so they would need to restructure and extend Chandler Jones’s contract as part of the deal. But one mock trade for Jones could involve Evan Engram and a mid-round pick in exchange for Chandler.

This is truly a pipe dream for the New York Giants. But a move like this could take the Giants’ defense to the next level and fix a major weakness. But would New York be willing to sacrifice the assets necessary to obtain Chandler Jones and his elite talents? Jones will not come cheap. But at the very least, this is something the New York Giants should explore entering the 2021 offseason.

New York Yankees: Six non-roster invites who can make an impact in 2021

New York Yankees, Adam Warren

On Wednesday, the New York Yankees announced that they signed 20 players to minor league deals with invitations to Spring Training. Six of the 20 have significant MLB experience and could make an impact for the Yankees in 2021.

Kyle Barraclough

Barraclough, a 30-year-old RHP, has the potential to become a middle-reliever with the Yankees. In five MLB seasons, he has an ERA of 3.00 or less in three of them. Over his career, Barraclough has a 3.53 ERA with a 1.359 WHIP in just over 250 innings of action.

Jay Bruce

Bruce, in his prime, was known as one of the most prolific power-hitters in all of baseball. He had his fair share of struggles last season, but at 33-years-old, Bruce could still have a few good years left in the tank. Bruce struggles in the field, but has totaled over 300 home runs in his 13-year career with three all-star nominations.

Jhoulys Chacin

Chacin, 33, has been a starter for seven teams over 13 seasons. He most recently pitched for the Braves in 2020, where he made two appearances. Chacin has a 4.04 ERA in 257 games with a 1.332 WHIP and a 4.22 FIP. In addition to starting, Chacin can be used in long-relief or low-leverage bullpen situations.

Robinson Chirinos

Chirinos could potentially become the Yankees’ back-up catcher if he were to beat out Kyle Higashioka this spring. He has just a .231 career average but is more of a defensive catcher. Chirinos spent the 2019 season in Houston, where he worked well with Gerrit Cole. He’s thrown out 24% of runners attempting to steal over his career and has a 5.8 dWAR.

Derek Dietrich

Dietrich has the potential to become one of the Yankees’ utilitymen in 2021. A left-handed power-bat who can play both infield and outfield, Dietrich has a career .245 average with a 107 OPS+. His OBP has been greater than .325 in each of his last seven seasons and he’s known to frequently get hit by pitches. Dietrich’s only draw-backs are his defensiveive struggles and his lack of speed.

Adam Warren

Warren will be joining the Yankees for the fourth team, re-signing with the team who drafted him. His career ERA sits at 3.53, but has pitched significantly better in New York with a 3.18 ERA in pinstripes. Warren’s career ERA+ sits at 117 with a 1.231 career WHIP in nearly 500 innings. The 33-year-old righty has the potential to find himself in middle-innings once again for the Yankees.

More bad news for the New York Rangers: Jacob Trouba out 4-6 weeks

New York Rangers

The New York Rangers received some bad news when they found out that they will be without defenseman Jacob Trouba for the next four to six weeks because of a broken thumb.

“Unfortunately, we’re going to miss everything he brings from a physicality standpoint, from a competitive standpoint, from what he brings to us from a leadership standpoint,” coach David Quinn said Wednesday. “He’ll be missed. But the good news is it’s not as serious as we originally thought and he’s going to be back sooner than later.”

Trouba averaged over 22 minutes a game, so it will take a total team effort to be able to make up for his absence.

“Everybody on that D corps has just got to play a little bit better,” Quinn said. “That’s all. It can’t be one guy. It’s got to be everybody.”

The Rangers did receive some good news in that it was announced that Artemi Panarin is expected to return Thursday against Philadelphia after missing the past two games with a lower-body injury. Also, Quinn announced that defenseman K’Andre Miller will play after sitting out a loss Tuesday night to New Jersey with an upper-body injury.

 

 

 

 

Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone reveals the starter in left field, with no surprises

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

As our own Alexander Wilson reported earlier this Wednesday, New York Yankees‘ manager Aaron Boone spoke with reporters at length about several important aspects concerning the team.

One of them was who would be the starter at left field. By now, it is clear that Aaron Judge will occupy right field whenever he is healthy, and Aaron Hicks will patrol center field if he is available to play.

But the Yankees’ skipper confirmed 2020 breakout star Clint Frazier as the starter in left field. Let’s keep in mind that the vast majority of his 280 innings in the outfield last season came in right field, spelling an injured Judge.

However, there is an opening in left field after the Yankees revealed, weeks ago, that the plan is for Giancarlo Stanton to be the regular designated hitter. That spot will go to Frazier.

When asked whether he viewed Frazier as the Yankees’ starting left fielder, Boone said: “I do, Clint has obviously come a long way in every aspect of his game and certainly earned his place last year when obviously nothing was given to him. He had to earn everything the last couple years.”

The Yankees’ breakout star

In 2020, not only Frazier broke out with the bat, slashing .267/.394/.511 with a career-high 15.6 BB% and eight home runs in 39 games, but he also was a revelation with the glove and was a Gold Glove finalist in right field.

Frazier’s biggest test in his career will be sustaining the level that he showed in 2020 with the Yankees. He appears to have cemented his place as a long-term piece in the organization, but a full season of excellence won’t hurt.

The Yankees’ pitchers and catchers reported to the spring training complex onn Wednesday after a long layoff. The team will make another run at their 28th title.

UFC books Katlyn Chookagian – Viviane Araujo

The UFC has finalized a big matchup in the women’s flyweight division. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report that the promotion has finalized a matchup between former title challenger, Katlyn Chookagian (15-4), and Viviane Araujo (10-2).

The matchup will take place on May 15th. Araujo has shown a ton of promise in her young UFC career. She made her debut with the promotion back in 2019. After her first win by knockout, the promotion gave her former title challenger, Alexis Davis, in her second bout.

Again, Araujo impressed picking up a unanimous decision over Davis. Araujo made a jump up in competition for her next fight taking on Jessica Eye. That night, Araujo lost just her second career fight.

However, she’s bounced back from that loss strong in the last few months. In September she made her only UFC appearance of 2020 and won by decision. Then, she took on the tough Roxanne Modafferi in January and won by unanimous decision.

Going 4-1 in her UFC career against some stiff competition has seen Araujo rise through the rankings. When she makes the walk against Chookagian, she will do it as the seventh ranked flyweight in the UFC.

UFC title eliminator?

The UFC’s flyweight division has been very fluid in terms of contenders over the past couple of years. However, one staple near the top has been Katlyn Chookagian. Chookagian is currently the second ranked flyweight in the promotion.

In her last 11 fights inside the octagon, Chookagian is 7-4. However, one of those losses was to the champion and the other three were to top competition. Her last loss came against former UFC strawweight champion, Jessica Andrade.

Andrade is next in line to fight for the title, but Chookagian isn’t far away. Back at UFC 255, Chookagian took on Cythia Calvillo. Calvillo looked like she could be a challenger for the title, however, Chookagian was having none of it.

Over the course of three rounds, Chookagian controlled the fight and won by decision. If she’s able to defeat Araujo in May, she could very well be in line for a rematch and another shot at the UFC flyweight title. Should be a fun one in a few months.

New York Jets positional preview 2021: Linebackers

New York Jets, Jordan Jenkins

New head coach Robert Saleh has plenty of questions to address when it comes to the New York Jets’ linebacking corps.

The Position: Linebacker
On the Roster: C.J. Mosley, Blake Cashman, Sharif Finch, John Daka
Free Agents: Jordan Jenkins, Tarell Basham, Neville Hewitt, Patrick Onwuasor, Harvey Langi, Bryce Hager, Frankie Luvu
Reserve/Future: Noah Dawkins

The world was a lot different this time a year ago, unaware of the upheaval and interruption to daily life that 2020 was going to bring. It obviously pales in comparison to other items affected by the past year’s propensity for chaos, but the New York Jets’ situation at linebacker seemed to be trending in the right direction.

C.J. Mosley seemed destined to come back after an impressive debut in Week 1 of 2019, a year mostly most due to injury. Avery Williamson was establishing himself as a leader. Jordan Jenkins, fresh off a career-best eight sacks, was brought back on an affordable one-year deal at just under $4 million. Depth options Neville Hewitt and Blake Cashman were also returning through a new contract and new health respectively. The unit appeared to be trending in the right direction.

But things have drastically changed over the past year, with calamities brought on by both external sources and problems on the homefront leaving the linebacker corps in relative shambles. Mosley (understandably) opted out of the 2020 season due to the ongoing health crisis. Williamson was part of the Jets’ in-season fire sale in a deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jenkins failed to build on the last two seasons and ended up injured reserve with Cashman, who was limited to three defensive snaps by another injury. Hope did emerge in the form of Tarell Basham, who set career-bests in a contract year, but nothing that would truly solidify the Jets’ outlook.

Joining the Jets as defensive coordinator is Jeff Ulbrich, a decade-long linebacker in San Francisco fresh off a defensive coordinator stint under Raheem Morris’ brief watch in Atlanta. Both he and head coach Robert Saleh (having overseen linebackers in Jacksonville for three seasons) have their work cut out for them as they seek to gain clarity on a team in upheaval.

Free Agents-to-be

Tarell Basham

Basham took the most of extended opportunities, setting new career-bests in tackles (36), quarterback hits (13), and sacks (13). He notably served as the main catalyst behind the Jets’ Week 16 win over playoff-participant Cleveland, forcing two fumbles of Baker Mayfield late in the game. At the right price, Basham can serve as a veteran, situational pass rusher.

Bryce Hager

Mostly working on special teams, injuries forced the veteran Hager to start the final two games of the season at linebacker, earning credit for half-a-sack (the first of his six-year career) in the season finale in New England. Brant Boyer’s return could grant him at least a camp opportunity.

Neville Hewitt

Over the past three seasons, Hewitt has established himself as a very reliable depth option in green. Hewitt started all 16 games for the first time in his career last season, leading the Jets with 91 solo tackles (fourth in the NFL). While Hewitt has more than earned a new contract in New York, his strong showings off the bench may lead him to seek more permanent starting roles in a new locale.

Jordan Jenkins

Jenkins’ $3.75 million deal was seen as a steal, especially for a guy that earned 15 sacks over the prior two seasons. But subsequent shoulder issues stifled his 2020 endeavors, causing him to miss four games and earn only two sacks. Fresh off surgery, the Jets will probably let him walk, unless Saleh and Ulbrich view him as a veteran reclaimation project.

Harvey Langi

A restrcited free agent, Langi was another backer who enjoyed career-best number after taking over for fallen comrades (60 tackles) before landing on injured reserve himself. His familiarity with the Jets’ special team works could certainly afford him a new opportunity.

Frankie Luvu

Luvu has turned himself into a bit of a fan favorite over the past few preseasons, earning a roster spot through his tenacious pass rushing from the fringe. As an exlusive rights free agent, Luvu will probably gain another chance this summer in camp.

Patrick Onwuasor

Injuries limited Onwuasor to a mere single game and eight snaps last season…none of which came on defense. The former Raven could get another chance in New York if the team wants to keep some veteran guidance in tow.

Will They Draft?

Depends on what the Jets glean from a sizably talented free agency class, but with so many potential departures, they’ll certainly do their due dilligence this offseason. The threat of seeing multi-talented quarterbacks like Josh Allen and Tua Tagovailoa (who could become Deshaun Watson if Miami convinces the Texans to bargain), outside edge help would likely be the way to go. It’s unlikely that the Jets will use the No. 2 pick on a linebacker, but options with the late first from Seattle could include Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah or versatile Zaven Collins out of Tulsa.

Veteran Possibilities

Matt Judon, Baltimore

Through Mosley and Onwuasor, it appears the Jets have studied the Ravens’ linebackers extensively. It’s possible they could return to Baltimore’s fountain of defensive prowess through Judon, who will likely be the most-sought after linebacker prospect on the free agent front. They could go after Yannick Ngakoue again, but considering Baltimore sent over two picks to get him, they’ll likely be all-in on his re-signing, leaving Judon to test the open market (especially with only one franchise tag). At 28, Judon has plenty left in the tank and can give the young Jets a taste of success. The cap hit (over $16 million in Baltimore last season) could scare some suitors off, but Jets certainly have the funds available.

De’Vondre Campbell, Arizona

A former fourth-round pick out of Minnesota, Campbell got his start under Ulbrich in Atlanta. Prior to Campbell’s departure for the Cardinals last offseason, Ulbrich discussed his appreciation for Campbell and just how personal their relationship grew during their shared time with the Falcons.

“He’s a guy where my daughter watches his kids, babysits his kids and we have a deep connection in that way,” Ulbrich said last March, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “To see him grow as a player and as a man, it’s a guy that I would love to continue on with.”

With Campbell hitting free agency again, Ulbrich may have a chance to reopen that opportunity.

Shaquil Barrett, Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay’s defense, one fresh off stifling the mighty Chiefs in the Super Bowl, is young enough that they could be poised to be a problem for a long time. But Barrett can be the threat off the edge the Jets have been seeking for a long time, a role he filled in brilliantly during Tampa’s championship run. Barrett can be particularly dangerous in the 4-3 set that Saleh desires.

Outlook

The Jets have some big decisions to make at linebacker, a vital spot with defenseive masters Saleh and Ulbrich taking over. There’s certainly some changes to make in this area with so many names up for free agency. Focus has previously centered on offense, but the Jets have the necessary cap room (and could gain more with some releases) to make a play at some of the big names on the linebacking front. Either way, the relative stability they felt at the end of the 2019 toward the group seems like an attainable, if not vital, goal.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Yankees: Major Aaron Boone opening press-conference takeaways

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

New York Yankees skipper Aaron Boone opening Spring Training press-conference TOP quotes:

Q: Do you feel as tho the team is ready to compete for a World Series?

I do, absolutely, talk is always cheap, obviously at this point, but I really like the winter that we’ve had, with some of the additions we’ve made, I think we’re going to be impactful. To go along with the makeup of this team that is of championship caliber. And certainly, that’s what we’re here to try and do, and to try to accomplish, and we get to start that tomorrow. And you know, a lot of the groundwork is laid, a lot of that foundation is laid throughout the winter with guys in their off-season programs, but now we get to come together as a team and start trying to lay what we hope is that championship foundation.

Q: Could you carry more pitchers this season?

Depth is obviously going to be important and we feel like you know, we have 10, 11, 12 pitchers that aren’t just capable of going out there but are capable of going out there and thriving. And I’m excited to see those guys get to work. I feel like my understanding is that by any large those guys are all in really good places as we get ready to start tomorrow.

 

Q: What is Jameson and Corey’s game plan for this week?

I guess yes, we will be monitoring them a little more closely. But this time of year, with all our pitchers, we are gathering as much information as we can. We’re certainly listening to the feedback from their bodies and how they are bouncing back at this time of year as their workload starts up. Jameson and Cory both are ready to go. Obviously, not having pitched a lot over the last couple years, it is going to be something that we not only have to monitor here closely in spring training but as the season unfolds and hopefully they are contributing and pitching well and thriving. But we certainly have to be mindful.

Q: Should there be concerns over players coming off injuries in the starting rotation?

When you look at the names and the track records, you know there’s a lot of talented people and I think everyone can acknowledge that. Also acknowledge some of the risks and the questions that certainly people have when you bring in Jamo and Corey, who haven’t pitched a lot in the last couple years. We feel they’re in a good place and can make us championship-caliber contributors to the team, but time will tell.

Q: How will Miguel Andujar be included this year?

We’ll see, the thing about Miggy is nothing has changed as far as the talent. He’s at an age where he technically should be entering the prime of his career, and obviously, the last two seasons for him, with the injury and the last year not getting a lot of regular at-bats, it’s a challenge. But obviously, he’s got loads of talent. We love the person, and the makeup, we just have to see how things unfold. He’ll get looks at third and in the outfield and at first base, and when those opportunities arise, which inevitably they usually do, you’ve got to be able to take advantage of them and it certainly has the talent to do that.

Q: Have you spoken to Domingo German?

Cash and I have spoken with Domingo, and Carlos Mendoza with us as well. I just, welcoming him back, certainly, and how he’s paid a significant price from a career standpoint. Really having missed a full season plus now. But hopefully, that is behind us. We feel like he’s in a good place coming in. Now it’s on him to go out and kind of resurrect his career and go out there and compete for a spot on the team.

Q: Is Clint Frazier the starting left fielder on this team? 

I do, Clint has obviously come a long way in every aspect of his game and certainly earned his place last year when obviously nothing was given to him. He had to earn everything the last couple years.

New York Islanders: Ilya Sorokin’s first win was exactly how it needed to be

There were a lot of ways to imagine how Islanders stud rookie goalie Ilya Sorokin would secure his first win. Some probably thought it would have come in his first NHL game last month against the Rangers, only for it to become a nightmare after the 25-year-old was given 20 minutes notice he was starting as a result of Semyon Varlamov taking a shot up high in warmups. Others maybe had it penciled in either of his next two starts in New Jersey and Philadelphia. He was unsuccessful in those attempts as well.

But then last night occurred. And Sorokin finally got his first victory in the National (shoutout Kevin Weekes), a 3-0 decision over the Buffalo Sabres. It was also the first shutout of his NHL career and first win in an Isles uniform.

“He was outstanding,” Barry Trotz said following the win. “The athleticism. He made some huge saves.

Sorokin turned away all 20 Sabres shots and made some dynamite stops throughout the night, including his pair of third period robberies of Viktor Olofsson and Sam Reinhart.

Not only was it the kind of performance everyone had been hoping to see from the newcomer with all the hype that’s been around him since his arrival, but it was the exact type of game Sorokin needed to win. He’d played well enough to win in his previous two outings, but last night’s triumph he worked every second for. Especially in the first and third period, Sorokin stood tall and showed off his incredible flexibility.

“I think it will [be a weight off his shoulders],” said Trotz.

Oh it was as Sorokin pointed out himself in the postgame.

“I feel good. It’s good for me that I got my first win,” he told the media.

Now with his first win under his belt, Sorokin’s confidence should be boosted. The fact the Isles gave him the support he needed at both ends of the ice too — last night was the first time Sorokin was given a lead this season — could give him reassurance he is not going to have to stand on his head every time he gets the call. But his individual showing last night was a statement.

Sorokin said after the win that the video review would be what he remembers most about the whole night, which is funny. Funny because what those who watched it will remember is that his win came in the fashion it was supposed to be.

Where he was locked in from the moment the puck dropped.

There might not be an Islander more on fire right now than J.G. Pageau. As I wrote about yesterday, his recent string of performances have been a nice jolt for the Isles during what is now an eight-game point streak.

So what’s been behind his success? Pageau’s answer might be better than his play: “Being a pain in the ass.”

Outstanding response. Just another example of why Islanders fans love him on this squad.

The Islanders continue to keep making history it seems.

One night after allowing zero shots in a period for the first time in franchise history, they recorded their fourth shutout of this season.

It was their fourth goose egg in the first 15 games of the year, marking the first time the team has ever accomplished done that in its 49 years of existence.