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Hottest Ticket In Town - Islanders - Rangers Pre-Game!

The New York Islanders went from potential playoff contenders to looking towards next season within 48 hours earlier this week.

Having the best team in the Eastern Conference coming into your building after being shutout in their last game, isn’t what the doctor ordered.

After two terrible performances against Ottawa and Buffalo on Monday and Tuesday, the Islanders welcome in their cross-river rivals the New York Rangers on Friday Night.

The Rangers are leading the Eastern Conference with 81 points, 7 points ahead of both New Jersey and Boston. They travel to Long Island after being blanked by the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-0 on Tuesday night. Henrik Lundqvist continued his stellar play making 29 saves in the losing effort. After an 8-1-1 stretch, the Rangers have lost two of their last three games.

(Photo Credit: Robert Kowal/Flickr)

Where Are They Now? Zenon Konopka Edition

When you ask someone 'who is your favorite player?' you may get responses of such Sidney Crosby, Marian Gaborik, Evgeni Malkin, or even John Tavares on the Islanders front. If you ask my lovely wife the same question....

Zenon Konopka.

It truly boggles my mind how someone that has a great mind for the game and knows her hockey would find such a admiration for a 4th line player that doesn’t exactly do things that chicks dig.. like hit home-runs or score 40 goals.

For reasons unknown, she has a true affinity towards him, so much in fact that she made up a shirt that stated simply 'Bring Konopka Back!' and subsequently wore the shirt on Monday to his first game back on the Island as an Ottawa Senator.

One-on-One With Matt Donovan

Matt Donovan is currently in the second half of his first full season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. In 50 games played, the 6 foot, 202 pound defenseman has registered six goals and 25 assists for 31 points while maintaining a +11 rating.

Donovan has quickly become one of the Sound Tigers most reliable and contributing defenseman, playing with others such as Aaron Ness, Calvin de Haan and Ty Wishart. Selected 96th overall in the fourth round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Donovan has been developing nicely. He had spent two seasons with the University of Denver before making his transition from college life to that of a professional hockey player. His best year with Denver came in 2011 where he scored 32 points from the blue line in 42 games.

On the depth charts, Donovan looks as if to be one of the most well polished blue liners that the Islanders organization has groomed through their farm system. If he continues his play, this could be the last time Connecticut locals will see him in a Sound Tigers jersey.

He and I talked about that possibility this afternoon over the phone.

The Quiet Keeper

While Kevin Poulin has been enjoying his deserved Pou-LIN-sanity awards and rewards his partner between the pipes Anders Nilsson has gone quietly about his job setting records of his own. On Saturday night he tied the Bridgeport Sound Tigers record for consecutive wins by a tender blocking 26 of the 28 shots he faced in a win over the Adirondack Phantoms. The next afternoon he broke the record previously held by Nate Lawson recording his eighth straight win. In this win over the perennial powerhouse Hershey Bears he allowed only one of the 21 shots he faced to cross the line. Not giving up a goal in overtime he went on to stop all 5 shots he faced in the shoot-out.

Yesterdays game was a rare one o’clock matinee and after playing Sat. at 7pm, Sun. at 3pm Anders picked up the first AHL shut out of his career stopping all twenty-six shots sent his way by the Albany Devils. Team record nine wins in a row for this Swedish behemoth, who looks like a transformer when fully dressed.

"The Boys Are Buzzin"

With all the good things that I, John Madonia and others have written about the Bridgeport Sound Tigers you might think that post season play is a given. Nothing could be further from the truth. While Bridgeport’s outlook might be better than our parent club the Islanders it is only marginally better.

A goalie of the month award to Kevin Poulin, a player of the month award to Casey Cizikas and a 13-1-1 record since I replaced Miss December with Miss January and still no guarantees. While writing this post, Edwin Starr’s rock classic ‘WAR’ starts playing and I start singing ‘One-Month . . . What is it good for? Absolutely Nothing.’

The Frightening Future Of The New York Islanders

The New York Islanders future has always been uncertain when it's come to whether or not they will remain in Nassau County when the lease expires in 2015. Christian Arnold of Islanders Hockey Blog wrote an excellent piece since he was able to attend a public meeting at the Nassau County Legislature as a group of developers met to discuss the possibility of developing the hub in 2015, with or without the New York Islanders.

The Republicans have done their part to thwart owner Charles Wangs' efforts to get a new arena and the Democrats have thrown road blocks of their own, putting the Islanders in a position where Vince Polimeni of ABLI (A Better Long Island) has the upper hand in developing that giant parking lot into a place that doesn't contain an NHL hockey team. And Polimeni isn't the only one that has come to this realization; other developers have been drawing up their own proposals (Read Arnold's blog for more in-depth coverage).

2015 may be three years away, but it will be here a lot quicker than most may realize, regardless of your position on the topic. But 2013 is a lot closer, and the future of the Islanders success may get worse. (Photo Credit: clyedorama/Flickr)

Micheal Haley, Goal Scorer?- Bridgeport Sound Tigers 8 Springfield Falcons 1

Michael Haley found a new use for his hands against the Springfield Falcons

Well-known for his ability to drop the gloves, Haley isn’t considered a goal scorer.

That may change after Saturday Night.

Haley had his first career AHL Hat-Trick and defenseman Ty Wishart scored two goals, as the Bridgeport Sound Tigers routed the Springfield Falcons 8-1 at Webster Bank Arena, Saturday night.

Blue Line Pipe Line

The recent rash of injuries (an annual occurrence of late) and an unexpected ‘defection’ to Russia has diminished but not drained the pool of talented blue liners available in Bridgeport. The return of Mark Katic (perhaps within 2 weeks) and Calvin DeHaan shortly thereafter bring the Bridgeport Sound Tigers to full strength for our playoff run.

The Islanders with 40 points needed in their remaining 29 games to reach 92 points are in a playoff run as well. The Isles might well be looking for some help on D before the Feb. 27 deadline, but given the talent already in the pipeline I thin that would prove money ill spent. Secondary scoring has been missing, not defensive.

The recent rash of injuries (an annual occurrence of late) and an unexpected ‘defection’ to Russia has diminished but not drained the pool of talented blue liners available in Bridgeport. The return of Mark Katic (perhaps within 2 weeks) and Calvin DeHaan shortly thereafter bring the Bridgeport Sound Tigers to full strength for our playoff run.

The Islanders with 40 points needed in their remaining 29 games to reach 92 points are in a playoff run as well. The Isles might well be looking for some help on D before the Feb. 27 deadline, but given the talent already in the pipeline I thin that would prove money ill spent. Secondary scoring has been missing, not defense.

W.U. Grad next Sound Tiger?

Thirty teams in the NHL and each has an AHL affiliate to draw talent from as needed. All but two of these AHL clubs has a team in the ECHL providing a similar service. The two expectations are the Wild’s- Houston Aeros and the Islanders- Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

As a result, Coach Brent Thompson has relied heavily on his connections and experience in the ECHL to bring talented prospects up to Bridgeport. ‘Tommer’, as the players call him, was coach of the 2010-11 ECHL Kelly Cup Champion Alaska Aces and often looks there for talent.

An ever-changing line-up is part and parcel to being a coach in the American League. Bridgeport has already dressed seven different goalies and at least thirty-five skaters (forwards and defensemen), and it is just Ground Hog Day! The next call-up to Bridgeport might well be a hat-trick master from Frost Bite Falls, Minn.

West sweeps AHL All-Star weekend in Atlantic City

 

                

History was made for the AHL this past weekend.

Atlantic City’s historic Boardwalk Hall played the host to the AHL All-Star Game. It was an attempt to revive hockey in the city, which hasn’t held a professional ice hockey team since the Boardwalk Bullies of the ECHL played in the Hall from 2001-05.

It was the first time ever the AHL held its annual All-Star game in a city that didn’t play host to a team in the league.

On Sunday, the Eastern and Western conferences battled it out in the skills competition.  The West took the competition, 18-10.

On Monday, the West...