The New York Islanders are currently on the outside looking in on the final match-ups of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Pittsburgh Penguins, who elimated the Isles in six games, are currently set to battle the Boston Bruins to see who will fight for the Cup from the Eastern Conference (Photo credit: douglasgallery30/Flickr).
One Islanders skater, Travis Hamonic, has been spending time in his cottage up north in Canada, enjoying some personal time away from the game.
The 22-year old defenseman is someone I have followed since his days in the WHL after being drafted by the Islanders with the 53rd overall pick of the 2008 Entry Draft. Since then, he has emerged from an inexperienced rookie into a reliable top-four defender, responsible for shutting down an opponent's top scorers.
Hamonic called me this afternoon (once he found a spot with good cell service) to discuss his game, the first round match-up against the Pens and the culture that has overtaken the Islanders locker room.
The New York Islanders lost 4-3 in overtime last night to the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins, thus ending their run in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Penguins took the series in six games, winning the last battle on Coliseum ice in front of a sold out crowd of Islanders fans that continued to give their home team a standing ovation despite being eliminated.
"It's exciting to play in a building like this. It's a lot of fun. In my opinion, we're probably the loudest arena in the league now," said Matt Martin after the game.
"The fans were unbelievable through the end of the season there in the last five home games and all through the playoffs. They were a big factor in the way we played at home down the stretch. It makes a huge difference for us. People don't realize it but it gives you a little extra boost, a little extra energy when the crowd goes nuts like that. You definitely want to do something exciting."
The New York Islanders made the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season and a week ago, as a prelude to the beginning of their first round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team called up several players. The players called up to the big club were Matt Donovan, Calvin De Haan, Brock Nelson, Aaron Ness, Anders Nilsson, John Persson, Ryan Strome and Johan Sundstrom.
The New York Islanders assigned goaltender Rick DiPietro to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on February 23rd, 2013. At that time, the Isles were 7-9-1 and appearing as a team that could miss the playoffs once again in another frustrating season (Photo credit: xjowell/Flickr).
Since DP's demotion, the Islanders have gone 17-7-5 due largely in part to a near flawless month of April (8-0-3). Leading the charge between the pipes has been Evgeni Nabokov, who boasts a 23-11-6 record that holds three shutouts - one coming in a 4-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres the night DiPietro was sent to Bridgeport.
Recently, the New York Islanders have had some good luck when it comes to their prospects. More so than the prospects themselves, in certain regards. See, as their junior or college seasons have ended without huge playoff success, their professional careers have taken off.
For those that grew up during the great cup runs in the 80's and the "epic" playoff battles that took place in the 90's, fans already know how loud the Nassau Coliseum can get.
But for fans like myself, who were either not born or old enough to appreciate what was taking place on the ice in Long Island at that time, there is only the first round elimination series against the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2002 that truly proves merit to the Coliseum's nickname, the "Madhouse off the Meadowbrook."
At this moment, Islanders captain Mark Streit is sitting and wondering if he will receive a phone call from GM Garth Snow to tell him that he has been traded (Photo Credit: Robert Kowal/Flickr).
It was tweeted out yesterday by Darren Dreger of TSN and reinforced by Newsday reporter Arthur Staple that negotiations on a contract extension for Streit have stalled with the Islanders.
The club apparently does not want to trade the 35-year old defenseman and would much rather keep his veteran presence part of the late season playoff push. But unless things change, he will be a UFA by this summer.
As reported previously this week, the New York Islanders locked up defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky with a two-year contract extension worth $9.5 million.
GM Garth Snow has once again managed to acquire a valuable veteran through the trade market and convince him to stay longer than planned after he previously tried to avoid joining the team (Photo Credit: Robert Kowal/Flickr).
The first player that went through a similar scenario was goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, who is also playing in the final year of his contract. However, it has already been reported by Arthur Staple of Newsday that he appears to have an interest with staying with the team.
Erol Bal returns to The Hot Seat with his wishlist of players that the Islanders can and should go after to help solidify there spot for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. From Dany Heatley to Jaromir Jagr on offense to PK Subban and Jay Bouwmeester on the blue line, Erol gives his thoughts on why Garth should make an attempt to land a few people to send the Islanders over the edge in the Atlantic Division.