New York Islanders: Reviewing heartbreaking Game 2 Loss

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders recently lost to the Philidelphia Flyers 4-3 in overtime to tie the series up at 1. That game was easily the most exciting game of the entire playoffs. Both sides, at one point, felt frustration and jubilation. The Islanders just weren’t awake early enough in the game, and it ultimately cost them their lead in this series. The Islanders won 40 minutes tonight, but that wasn’t enough. Why wasn’t it enough, and what did they do during the four periods?

1st Period

The Islanders dominated the first couple of minutes after the puck dropped. Semyon Varlamov even set a franchise record for the longest time without allowing a goal (previously held by Billy Smith). This wouldn’t matter though, as Kevin Hayes would bury one past Varlamov just minutes in. Before Isles fans could even process what happened, Kevin Hayes buries another goal short side. And just a couple minutes later, Travis Konecny scores to make it 3-0. Varlamov would get pulled and incomes Thomas Greiss. The rest of this period was just back and forth, and nothing happened.

2nd Period

The Islanders finally get on the board with a power-play goal from captain Anders Lee. This was very surprising considering the Islanders have a terrible power-play. Great pass from Mat Barzal and good use of the body from Lee. The rest of this period went back and forth yet again. There was a play where Ross Johnston got decked, but Brock Nelson made up for it.

3rd Period

This was possibly the most exciting 9 minutes in Islanders Hockey within the last ten years. Anthony Beauvillier had an insane goal, slipped right through the crack in Carter Hart’s stick side. Beauvillier continues to impress the entire NHL, and brings the Isles withing one from tying. The Flyers would continue to chip and chase while playing trap defense. The Flyers did not get any offense at all in the 3rd period. The Islanders continued to forecheck with that amazing “B” line, and it paid off for them. Josh Bailey and Adam Pelech hold the line, JG Pageau gets the puck… waits, fires, goal. Right over Carter Hart’s glove. Alan Vigneault challenges it for offsides, inconclusive evidence, can’t turn it over. Islanders get a power-play that, of course, does nothing, to overtime they go.

Overtime

The Islanders had no chances in overtime to score. The Flyers kept pounding and got lucky. Philippe Myers fires one from the blue line, tips off of Anders Lee, and the game ends. The Islanders clawed back, but it ultimately didn’t change the outcome of this game.

New York Islanders: 2 Key Players to Game 1’s Win

New York Islanders, Islanders

The New York Islanders defeated the Philidelphia Flyers 4-0 last night, as they take a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 1 has gone to the Island a lot recently. The isles took game one against the Penguins, Panthers, Capitals, and now Flyers, all in 2 years. This was not your average game one, though. This was not the back n’ forth neutral zone trap play that everyone was expecting. No, last night was domination from both teams. The Isles killed it in the 1st and 3rd period, but the Flyers won the second period. Despite this, the Islanders exercised their second-round demons. No wins in the second round for four years, until last night. And there were two key players who helped accomplish that.

Andy Greene

How many goals did that second-round pick that Greene was traded for, score? That’s right, no one knows. Lou Lamoriello was laughed at by the critics for trading a 2nd round pick for a 38-year-old defenseman. This trade keeps looking better and better for the Islanders. Andy Greene opened up the scoring last night with a wicked shot from the blue line that snuck right under Carter Hart’s glove.

This was the first time in 10 years that Greene scored a playoff goal. It couldn’t have happened at a better time, though. This goal gave the Islanders the momentum they needed to shutout the Flyers. Greene also had an incredible skate save in the defensive zone. Travis Konecny had a wide-open net, and Greene shut it down with his right skate. Andy Greene was phenomenal last night.

Semyon Varlamov

The MVP chants just keep getting louder for goalie Semyon Varlamov. This marks the first time in Islanders history that a goalie had back to back shutouts in the playoffs. Varlamov is less than a minute away from breaking Billy Smith’s record for most time without giving up a goal. Just over 136 minutes played with nothing lighting the lamps. Varlamov has been what every Isles fan wanted and more. Varlamov currently has a 1.50 GAA, and a .941 save percentage. 1.50 GAA is a ridiculous stat for a professional goaltender, especially one in the playoffs. Islander fans used to be afraid when a puck went on the net, but not anymore.

Conclusion

The Islanders have a long road to go if they want to hoist the Stanley Cup, but taking game one will definitely help on their journey.

New York Islanders: Who Should be the 3rd Line Left-Winger?

ross johnston, New York Islanders

The current 3rd line left winger for the New York Islanders is Michael Dal Colle. The Islanders drafted OHL star Michael Dal Colle with the 5th overall pick in the 2014 NHL entry draft. There was no reason to not draft Dal Colle that high. His stats were amazing; Dal Colle recorded 90+ points two years in a row. Somewhere along the road, Dal Colle lost his way. It took him five years to actually make the team and six years to have a real spot. Dal Colle doesn’t provide offense, which is the thing the Isles drafted him for, he just forechecks. Most of the time, it feels like Dal Colle is just skating around out there and not doing anything. There are many other options for the 3rd line left-wingers spot whose names aren’t Michael Dal Colle.

Tom Kuhnhackl

Tom Kuhnhackl was fantastic for the Islanders during their play-in matchup against the Florida Panthers. His forechecking was magnificent, and due to this, Kuhnhackl created countless high scoring chances. JG Pageau’s goal in the first game wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for Kuhnhackl pressuring the defenseman. Kuhnhackl’s passing was on full display during this series too. No Islander fan could forget Kuhnhackl’s through the legs pass to a Matt Martin tap in goal. Kuhnhackl deserves the spot more than anyone else on the team right now. His current play, mixed with his 2 Stanley Cup wins, gives him a leg up on the competition.

Ross Johnston

Who doesn’t love the enforcer, Ross Johnston? Probably not Tom Wilson, but that’s a different story. Johnston does his job, and he does it with maximum effort. He knows he’s there to backcheck, hip-check, forecheck, and then he gets to pick up the paycheck. Johnston is also not a bad skater for a big man. While he doesn’t have amazing speed, Johnston can hop up on the 3v2 rush. If Barry Trotz wants the hits to start coming against the Flyers, Johnston is your man for sure.

Derick Brassard

I don’t believe Brassard did anything wrong vs the Capitals. He isn’t the same player he once was, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a solid winger. He can also win the faceoff when Pageau gets kicked from the center position. Brassard just doesn’t give as much offense as Kuhnhackl or Johnston, but he gives a lot more than Dal Colle.

Conclusion

There are a plethora of wingers that should take Dal Colle’s spot, and for good reason. The Isles are real contenders for the first time in decades, and cannot put people like Dal Colle out there. There’s only so much room for error, and the Isles cannot make mistakes.

New York Islanders: The Adam Pelech Effect

Adam Pelech, New York Islanders

New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech has been absolutely sensational these playoffs. Pelech originally was having a great year during the regular season but ended up going down with an Achilles injury. This injury would sideline him for six months. Pelech would miraculously return for the play-in round and dominate. The Islanders are a totally different team with Pelech.

Pelech’s Impact on the New York Islanders

The Islanders were lacking without their top-line defenseman. It was apparent in their four-goal blown lead against the Capitals in January and all the way through the last seven games of the season. Pelech possesses amazing stick skills. The Islanders fans like to call it “The Pelech Poke.” Pelech is a huge part of the Islanders’ success. Not only does he create turnovers in the defensive zone, but he creates offense by his neutral zone play. When the Isles were without Adam Pelech, they let up 3.2 GAA and went 10-13-7. When the Islanders were with Pelech, they let up 2.61 GAA and went 25-10-3. This is not a coincidence. Pelech is an unsung hero of the Isles defense, and one of the most underrated defensemen in the league.

Playoff Pelech

Adam Pelech is arguably a 3 star of the game player every night. From body slamming Panthers to stopping Ovechkin, Pelech does it all. Not to gloss over Pelech shutting down Sidney Crosby last year. Pelech most recently had a beautiful assist to the Captain Anders Lee in game three vs. the Capitals. The pass somehow found its way to the far post after sneaking its way through 4 players. It was just another example of how Pelech isn’t just a defensive defenseman.

Conclusion

Adam Pelech is one of the unknown weapons of the Islanders. If it wasn’t for Pelech, the Islanders probably wouldn’t be in the second round right now. Pelech should be in the running for the Norris trophy very soon.

New York Islanders: Round 2 Matchup Breakdown

Ryan Pulock, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders will face off against the Philidelphia Flyers in round 2 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This is an intriguing matchup for sure; both teams match up pretty evenly. The Flyers come into this series as the best team in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders come into this series as the underdog. Are the Flyers really the best team in the East? Are the Islanders really the underdogs in this series?

Forwards

During the regular season, the Flyers’ forward group was among one of the most dangerous in the league. Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Travis Konecny, and Kevin Hayes led this group of amazing forwards. Recently though, the Flyers’ top forwards have been slacking in production. Voracek leads the Flyers in points with 8. It’s not like they aren’t producing, they just aren’t living up to expectations.

The Islanders’ forward group is so very confusing. Josh Bailey leads the Isles in points with 10. 8 of those 10 points are assists; Bailey has quietly become one of the best passers left in the playoffs. Other forwards like Anthony Beauvillier, JG Pageau, and Brock Nelson continue to impress. Also, Mat Barzal has recently been picking his play up. I’d still give the advantage to the Flyers, though. The Isles forwards were a little too streaky during the season, but their playoff performances speak for themselves, though.

Defenseman

The Islanders would be the better defensive team even if it was Griffin Reinhart out there with Brian Strait. Barry Trotz makes the Isles the best defensive team. Especially with talented defenders like Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, and Devon Toews, the Isles might have the best defensive scheme in all of Hockey. Ryan Pulock has a booming slapper, while Adam Pelech has amazing stick play. Devon Toews is a fast two-way defender, and Scott Mayfield is an enforcer who can kill the power-play. Andy Greene and Nick Leddy are the two oldies who can still hold their own offensively and defensively. Yes, I know the Flyers have Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbhere, but they don’t have Barry Trotz. Isles are better defensively.

Goalies

This is a really even matchup for the goalies. Semyon Varlamov has been nothing short of spectacular as of late. Varlamov currently has a 1.59 GAA and a .935 save percentage with one shutout. Carter Hart has really anchored this Philly team and shown them the power of a good goalie. Hart boasts a 1.71 GAA and .943 save percentage with two shutouts. This means Varlamov is letting in fewer goals, but Hart is making more saves. This is a tie for me; both goalies are really good. I guarantee that whoever loses this series won’t be blaming it on their goaltender.

Conclusion

This is a good and close series—two teams, who have similar talents, facing off in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Neither team is hungrier than the other. May the best team win, and may the refs not be blind.

New York Islanders: Did Losing Game 4 Benefit the Islanders?

New York Islanders

Last year the New York Islanders got swept by the Carolina Hurricanes after sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Islanders were a game away from sweeping the Capitals this year. If the Isles won game 4, they would be the first team to officially make the second round. The first round is still going on, it either ends today or on Sunday. Rest is the enemy of a team that’s hot. The Islanders would’ve had at least five days of rest in between rounds if they swept. Isles fans saw how sloppy the team was after their elongated rest. I believe the Islanders will benefit from winning in 5 games.

The Benefits

This Islanders team is hot right now. Hotter than they’ve been in a while. For the first time in years, the Islanders are finally cup contenders. Players like Anthony Beauvillier, Josh Bailey, and Semyon Varlamov are on fire. Beauvillier has six goals and three assists during the playoffs.

Josh Bailey has recorded two goals and eight assists during the playoffs. These are some impressive performances for some unsung heroes. Speaking of unsung heroes, Semyon Varlamov is boasting a 1.59 GAA, and a .935 save percentage and most recently pitched a shutout. These players will continue to stay hot. Players like Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, and Mat Barzal will be able to find their rhythm. The Islanders need that first line to get hot. There’s a ton of benefits to lack of rest.

The Negatives

This team isn’t currently beaten up. Cal Clutterbuck is the only Islander with a confirmed injury, and he was a game-time decision yesterday. Just because there isn’t a confirmed injury doesn’t mean everyone is 100%. The playoffs are tough on everyone, especially the old bodies like Andy Greene. The Islanders will only have around three days to rest and recover. It’s not a long time, but it’s not a short time either. Three days should be enough for everyone to get healthy and ready to eliminate the Flyers/Bruins.

Conclusion

The Islanders will benefit from losing game 4. They still have enough time to rest and recover, but they haven’t been off the ice long enough to lose their hot streak.

The fourth line just continuing to do their job will allow the Islanders to have success

New York Islanders, Islanders

While the second and third lines got most of the recognition for the New York Islanders’ Game One victory on Saturday, it was the team’s fourth line also got the job done in a more subtle fashion.

The line consisting of Casey Cizikas, who returned to game action for the first time since he suffered a leg laceration resulting from being cut by a skate, Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin were back to their ways of creating havoc in the offensive zone.

Neither of the three got on the stat sheet, but they were damn sure effective every time they stepped on the ice. Cizikas won 46% of his faceoffs and saw 14:56 of ice time; Clutterbuck had 14:28; Martin 11:46. The trio though, did play the physical game recording seven total hits — Martin and Clutterbuck 3 each and Cizikas 1 — and sacrificed the body when needed.

Clutterbuck had a team-high three blocked shots along with defensemen Devon Toews.

It was nice to see all three guys on the ice again being difference makers. For the Isles to take a stranglehold on the series today, they’ll need a repeat of that performance of what they did in game one. Maybe, even getting a little more physical too.

The Panthers offense, which was stymied by the Isles’ defense in the opening contest, are no doubt going to come harder out of the gate today being it’s basically a do-or-die situation. So that line throwing the body around more could definitely set the tone once again and get Florida’s forwards off their game. Establishing that heavy forecheck too, just like we saw in the first game, would also be a big help and take some of the pressure off the other three lines while doing the deed of tiring out an inexperienced Panthers defense.

It’s clear how much more the entire team was in sync when the fourth line is going. The Isles no doubt missed elements all three players brought when one or two of them were injured at different times during the regular season. They were finally back together on Saturday, and they did exactly what they’re known for doing.

The Islanders are going to need a few things to happen if they want to find themselves of 2-0 heading into tomorrow. Mostly it’s more from the first line and sticking to their disciplined game.

But their fourth line? They don’t need to change a thing.

They just need to play their game, and the team will have success.

In simpler terms, what that really means is just doing their job

New York Islanders: Trade Options for Nick Leddy

New York Islanders, Nick Leddy

The New York Islanders traded for Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy in 2014. The package was Nick Leddy for Ville Pokka, T.J. Brennan, and Anders Nilsson. Safe to say that the Islanders won this trade. The Islanders then resigned Leddy to a seven-year deal worth $38.5 million in 2015. Leddy has served the Isles well for five years now, but it could be time to get rid of his ginormous contract. Arthur Staple has recently stated that the Devils, Sabres, and Red Wings are all pursuing Leddy. The price starts with at least a 2nd round pick and another piece. Let’s review these options.

New Jersey Devils

The Devils are an up-and-coming team, and by up-and-coming, I mean they’re at the bottom of the league, but they’re young. The Devils need talent, and Leddy isn’t the bell of the ball, but he’s better than what they have. I see the deal as being Nick Leddy for Nick Merkley, a 2nd round pick and a 5th round pick. It’s not the most appealing package for the Isles, but the Devils have nothing to offer.

Buffalo Sabres

The Sabres continue their trend of being the best team in the league until December. The Sabres do have younger prospects, but no salary cap space. I can see the Sabres having to give up more of an established forward to obtain Leddy. I don’t believe the Sabres could get the deal done without giving up a key piece of their team due to their cap issues. Leddy isn’t a cheap contract by any means, and that means teams will have to lose good players to get him.

Detroit Red Wings

This is the worst team in the league without a doubt; there’s nothing that anybody can say that will reverse this fact. The Wings also have zero to no guys to trade away right now. But, for the sake of argument, let’s say they trade away Robby Fabri and a 4th round pick for Nick Leddy. The WIngs don’t have cap space and have to resign key players like Anthony Mantha, so taking Fabri off their hands will be good for all. The Isles get a 3rd line winger for Pageau, and the Red Wings cry themselves to sleep thinking about Alexis Lafreniere.

‘From the barn to the bank’, Islanders take yet another step into future after naming new arena yesterday

One small step for man, one bigger step for the New York Islanders.

Or shall we say giant step.

Ten months after they first broke ground on their soon-to-be future home, the Isles franchise now has the name for their palace.

UBS Arena.

The team announced yesterday that the Swiss-based investment bank had secured a 20-year deal for naming rights to its new arena adjacent to Belmont Park, which is slated to open for the 2021-22 NHL season. And with that, another step into this team’s bright future was taken once again.

“We are excited to announce this long-term partnership with the New York Islanders and are proud to play a role in creating one of the country’s premier sports and entertainment venues,” said Tom Naratil, Co-President UBS Global Wealth Management and President UBS Americas.

Arena Interior

Some may not realize just how crucial a partnership with a company like UBS will do for the long-term future of the organization. So let’s have Isles co-owner Jon Ledecky enlighten you all.

What it does for us as a team, it takes the discussion away of agents telling their players, ‘Hey you don’t want to go play on “Long Island because the Nassau Coliseum is a dump. And there isn’t a state-of-the-art practice facility,’ which we also have now,” Ledecky told Jared Schwartz of the New York Post. “So, we’ve taken all those discussion points that were sort of burdening the Islanders fans. We’ve taken all that away. And now that focus should be on trying to win that fifth Cup.”

Can someone inject that quote into Isles fans’ veins?

But seriously, seeing the progress the franchise has taken should have the fanbase jacked up and feeling giddy about their beloved team again. Then again, Islander fans shouldn’t feel like this is a dream anymore.

When Ledecky and Scott Malkin took over full control of the franchise four years ago from the late Charles Wang, they promised first class in everything they did. And that’s exactly what’s continued to happen.

“This is just another major piece of the foundation of the Islanders, of the arena at Belmont, and Long Island and the whole New York metropolitan area moving forward,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said during a virtual press conference after the news broke yesterday.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have the Islanders, this arena and the NHL associated with UBS. For Islanders fans, this is just another indication that while it’s been a long and winding road, the best is yet to come.”

The good news has just continued to roll through for the organization recently, the arena naming being the latest development. Just last week saw d-man Adam Pelech return to the ice to begin Phase 3 training camp, the signing of goalie prospect Ilya Sorokin after a six-year wait, and a new member added to the Isles family with the birth of Matt Martin and wife Sydney’s first child, Windsor.

Who knows if maybe there will be some more a few months from now? The Islanders do begin their chase for the Stanley Cup next week and winning it all would be the icing on the cake for what has been a dynamite summer thus far.

Hey, people can dream right. Not many in their lifetime thought they’d see the day a state-of-the-art building would be constructed and it would be for the Islanders or that same venue would be recognized with such an iconic brand as UBS. Yet here we are.

“From the barn to the bank”. That’s how Jon Ledecky put it yesterday when concluding how excited he is for the Islanders’ future.

What’s that mean?

Another giant step forward for the organization which is only continuing to go onward and upward.

Ranking the most memorable no goal calls in Islanders history

The history of the New York Islanders is filled with goals.

From Tonelli to Nystrom, Bossy’s 50 in 50, (Pat) LaFontaine from the blue line, Shawn Bates’ penalty shot and most recently, Josh Bailey OT playoff winner. But there’s also the other side of the coin, where there were big goals scored which were called back. Even this year, there were a few instances of when the Isles found the back of the net, only to not be awarded the goal (Anders Lee against the Rangers ring a bell?)

Some of them were definitely more memorable than others, and a few even had a lasting effect on not only the game, but for a period of time.

We start with a double dose of bad luck from last year’s playoffs.

MATHEW BARZAL IN GAME ONE AND DEVON TOEWS IN GAME TWO VERSUS CAROLINA

Note: the Islanders had pretty much outplayed the Canes in the first two games of their second-round tilt. But somehow they weren’t victorious. That was aided by not getting the calls when Barzal and Toews both lit the lamp.

Barzal’s goal, which would have given the Islanders the first goal and lead of the series, was reversed after it was determined that captain Anders Lee interfered — weakly I will add — with Hurricanes’ goaltender Petr Mrazek. Instead, the goal was disallowed and the Islanders didn’t score the rest of the game and ended up falling in overtime 1-0.

Two days later, the Isles were leading 1-0 on a goal from Barzal when it looked like Toews had doubled the lead late in the second period. Aucontraire. Toews rush to the net led to the puck caroming off his skate and of Canes’ netminder Curtis McElhinney into the back of the net. Again, the tally was called back and what followed basically changed the entire series. The Isles went scoreless after that moment and Carolina would score twice just before the ten-minute mark in the third and steal the game and a 2-0 series lead heading back to Raleigh.

BRENDAN WITT’S TYING GOAL IN GAME FOUR IN THE ’07 PLAYOFFS

The Islanders had gone toe-to-toe in their best-of-seven quarterfinal matchup in 2007 with the number-one seeded Buffalo Sabres but still found themselves down 2-1 heading into game four.

Game four was a tight affair, with the teams combining for four goals of the night in the first period. But down 3-2 in the dying minutes of the third, it looked as though the Isles had tied it.

With 1:42 left in regulation, d-man Brendan Witt had pushed the puck past Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller. But it was waved off when the referees determined that Miller had been pushed into before Witt scored.

The scene that occurred after the call was ugly and effectively ended any chance of the Isles sending the series back to Buffalo for a pivotal game five.

Ted Nolan: “I don’t care what anyone says, that’s a goal. Witt banged it in the goal and then [Miller] got pushed.”

Garth Snow: “You tell me, what should I think? It’s been like this since I was a player in 2001. Calls like this happen [to the Isles] on a regular basis.”

That call basically was the deciding factor in the series too, as the Islanders’ season ended a few days later in a blowout by the Sabres.

VANEK KICKED IT IN

This call probably is the most notorious regular season disallowed goal in the last decade for the organization.

Thomas Vanek, who was with Buffalo during that aforementioned playoff series six years prior, was brought in by the Isles via trade earlier that ’13-’14 season in return for Matt Moulson. He, John Tavares, and Kyle Okposo had formed one of the most formidable lines as the season progressed.

In late January, the Isles hosted the St. Louis Blues in a Saturday matinee with both needing points to stay in the race for the postseason. The two teams played a competitive game needing overtime to decide the winner. And it looked like it was over when Vanek had beat St. Louis goalie Jaroslav Halak. Then it happened.

The referees conferred and the goal was called back for an “intentional kicking motion”. The entire building was in shock and livid to a degree.

Vanek and the Islanders never recovered. They lost the game 4-3 in the shootout and lost the second of what would be five games in a row.

“I don’t know if it’s who we are,” Vanek said after that call. “If that’s Pittsburgh or a top team, that’s maybe a goal. It’s just a terrible call. We all know what a kicking motion is.”

The Isles season also took a downward spiral following that day. A month later, Vanek was traded for next what in essence was a bag of pucks.

TOM KUHNHACKL’S SNIPE THAT BEGAN A SWEEP

Everyone knew that the Islanders needed to come out flying for game one of the first round a year ago. With a raucous Coliseum crowd behind them, they did just that. But not even three minutes in, depth forward Tom Kuhnhackl ripped a shot past Matt Murray for the first goal of the series, which sent the crowd into pandemonium.

As you can see from the clip above, Kuhnhackl didn’t know whether to celebrate because the play might not have counted. He was right. The replay showed that as he entered the zone, Matt Martin was still inside the blue and couldn’t drag his skate to get onside.

The goal was called off, but the moment itself set the tone for the entire series.

Jordan Eberle would score a minute later and the Islanders would never look back, winning all four games.