After allowing seven goals in an onslaught of a hockey game, the final buzzer at the Nationwide Arena would not only sound the ending of a massacre, but also signify the end of what was a disappointing season for the New York Islanders.
It was a disappointing year for many reasons. With the rebuild entering its fourth season, many expected this team's fortunes to change. For plenty, that meant making the playoffs instead of falling into the draft lottery. For yours truly, that meant climbing out of the cellar but not high enough to reach 8th place. I am sad to say that we were both wrong. The Islanders finished the year out of the playoffs and 27th overall in the league, giving them the fourth overall pick going into Tuesday night's draft lottery for the second year in a row.
On paper you can call the 2012 season just the same as any other. At 14th place in the Eastern Conference, the Isles finished the season with a 34-37-11 record with 79 points. That's only a six point improvement over last season and the SAME exact record as the year before that in 2010. It would almost appear that the rebuild has established a trend of not going up or down, but rather staying put.
The Islanders make their last visit to New Jersey this season on Tuesday night. As the season winds down and the playoffs officially out of reach the Islanders will look for positives for next season out of every game. The Islanders will also look to rebound back from the last minute lost to the Devils the last time these two teams meet.
One thing to watch for in this game is the NHL debut of Matt Donovan. The defenseman has had a very good season for the Sound Tigers were he scored 42 points (10 goals and 32 assists) in 69 games this season. This could be sort of a try out for the young guy as the team looks towards next season. He will be paired with Dylan Reese tonight as Staios and Jurcina are scratched.
When it rains, it pours; that has been the mantra of the New York Islanders this weekend. Yesterday the Isles let up six goals in a loss to the Boston Bruins that mathematically eliminated themselves from playoff contention. Today, they continued their struggling ways in a 5-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators, who were without both Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson.
"It was pretty horrible on our part. They were missing two of their top players and we couldn't take advantage of it. The way we played, we didn't deserve to win, that's for sure," said Islanders captain Mark Streit after the game. He would be the only Islander to be credited with a goal tonight with a John Tavares pass going off of his skate and behind Senators net-minder Craig Anderson.
If the Islanders won all of their remaining games and the Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres lost their remaininga games, then the Isles would have done the unthinkable and made the playoffs for the first time in years. However, miraculous combinations of wins and losses are hard to come by these days, especially when you are playing against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
The Bruins scored six goals this afternoon for the third time this season against the Islanders, taking the season series with a 3-1-0 record. The loss finally elimanted the Islanders from playoff contention, concluding the thoughts of even the most hopeless fan that thought somehow they would squeak in. The focus now will shift to finishing the season with a winning record for the first time since Ted Nolan was the head coach and ending up somewhere between 9th and 11th place.
I've had the pleasure of talking with Travis Hamonic several times throughout my years with the NYI Blog Box. I've actually been in touch with him since his days in the WHL, then with the Moose Jaw Warriors. If you read my interview with him when he was only 19 years old and still hoping to make it to the NHL, you would see that this kid had plenty to say before he was earning a professional paycheck.
Not much has changed with the one that everyone calls, "Hammer." He's just a kid living the dream that loves to play hockey. To be honest, judging from my time spent in the locker room, he is easily, if not the biggest heart and soul player they have on that team. He always wears his heart on his sleeve and is quick to defend his team on the ice, and with his words. I remember asking him once what "the problem" was with his team's play, and he was quick to turn that around and say there aren't any problems, just areas that went wrong that could be fixed. He bleeds orange and blue amongst the best of them.
It shows merit to the Islanders scouts and management, who have not only done a good job of drafting young talent, but finding character guys with leadership qualities as well. That's why Hamonic has become one of Snow's best draft moves in 2008.
The Islanders traveled to Montreal last night and finally came out with two points. After being winless in their last five games, the Islanders faced off against the 14th place Montreal Canadiens.
For the Canadiens, this season could have gone much smoother and produced a better result. They are a team that underachieved, especially them being a team that made it to the Stanley Cup playoffs for multiple seasons in a row.
Rick Nash won't be donning an Islanders jersey tomorrow night; the Islanders didn't get a first round pick for Evgeni Nabokov and/or P.A. Parenteau; Al Montoya will still be on the bench to back up the Islanders number one goaltender; and the defensive play of Mark Eaton, Milan Jurcina and Steve Staios will still be seen for the rest of the season.
Staios, despite popular reports from a fake twitter account, was not dealt to the Vancouver Canucks for a 6th round draft pick.
BUT Garth Snow did manage to rid himself of the putrid play of Brian Rolston and the defensive relapses of Mike Mottau. Both were sent packing to the Boston Bruins for a couple of prospects; Yanick Riendeau and Marc Cantin.
In a game that the Islanders needed to play extremely well and come out with a win, they just simply didn’t show up to play.
The Islanders came into the game needing a great game in order to stay in the playoff race. They started the game in the exact opposite fashion. Just 1:08 into the first period Erik Karlsson was able to sneak a shot in from behind the goal line on Kevin Poulin in order to take the lead. The goal was Karlsson 11th of the season and was unassisted. It didn’t get better for the Islanders as just under 30 seconds later Spezza was able to find the back of the net off a wrist shot from the slot. The goal was assisted by Foilgno and Neil and was the end of Kevin Poulin’s afternoon.
Al Montoya entered the game just 1:35 from the start. The period continued with the Islanders playing flat and uninspired hockey as the Senators were controlling the game. PA Parenteau had an extremely bad period as he took 2 different penalties but one unsportsmanlike conduct found him in the box for 12 minutes. The Senators weren’t able to convert on any of the penalties but just as one was ending Karlsson was able to find the back of the net for the second time in the period. At 14:03 he took a feed from the corner from Alfredsson and fired the shot in the back of the net giving Ottawa a 3-0 lead. The Senators were all over the Islanders in the first period as it ended with the Senators leading in shot 15 to 5.
Per Arthur Staple of Newsday via Twitter: "Evgeni Nabokov's agent, Don Meehan, tells Newsday that contract talks with #Isles will likely start soon."
And the Twitter feeds went wild. Nabokov, who is currently sitting due to the flu, could possibly return in an Islanders sweater for the 2013 season. Who would have thought that this would be the case a year after Nabokov was claimed off of waivers by GM Garth Snow and then failed to report?
Nabby has a 14-14-0 record with a 2.24 GAA and a .925 save percentage. His stats are pretty solid for a goalie that has been playing on a team with a fragile defense and an offense that started off terribly and currently sits as the fourth worst team in scoring in the league. With the Islanders six points out of the playoffs, his ability to steal games, much like his 45 save shutout performance against the Philadelphia Flyers, has allowed Nabokov to become the main piece between the pipes for a late season playoff push. (Photo Credit: Robert Kowal/Flickr)
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)