Last years Sound Tigers came into March like lambs, losing 9 of their first 11 games, and went out like lions with a 4 game win streak that stretched to 7 in early April. If this years’ team doesn’t reverse fortunes and enter March like lions their season could end before April begins.
The team will begin their third consecutive three-games-in-three-nights series this Friday. Needing to capture every point available, let’s hope they can avoid the weird series played two weeks ago and the one that began last Friday night with a slug-fest in Springfield.
Looking to extend a two-game win streak, the New York Islanders began a 7-game home stretch on Sunday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. Unfortunately, the Isles gave up a two-goal lead and were defeated 4-2.
Already winning two games last season against the Canes, the Isles started backup goaltender Kevin Poulin in net. After waiving and ultimately sending Rick DiPietro down to the Bridgeport Soundtigers, the Isles called up Poulin to indefinitely serve as backup to Evgeni Nabakov.
The Islanders begin a 7 game home stand tonight when Carolina storms into the Nassau Coliseum. New York has found a way to get back to winning ways and packing their bags may have been the medicine for their losing ways.
Fans have been frustrated with the fact that the team has not played well at home this year. Their league worst 2-6-0 record at home supports the notion that they are simply not playing up to par in front of the home fans.
For whatever reason, the Islanders have played much better on the road and even in losing efforts they just come across as a stronger team. They are truly fortunate that they have found ways to beat great teams in their own buildings marking down a 6-3-1 record away from Long Island.
The New York Islanders took on The Buffalo Sabres at First Niagra Center Saturday night in front of a sell out crowd. On Wednesday, Buffalo fired long time coach Lindy Ruff and hired Ron Rolston for the position. Isles big news occurred on Friday when the team placed G Rick DiPietro on waivers.
DiPietro cleared waivers and will play in Bridgeport for the remainder of the season, in all likelihood. He will get plenty of ice time there, and we will see if he can find his game again. I have nothing against DP, but I fear this will be a tall order. Time will tell.
The Isles opened the game with the successful Tavares-Moulson-Boyes line. David Ullstrom was a healthy scratch for the third consecutive game. Hamonic-MacDonald started on D, and Evgeni Nabokov was in goal with Kevin Poulin as his backup.
The New York Islanders announced today that they have placed goaltender Rick DiPietro on waivers to be sent down to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and has no intent of calling him back up to the NHL this season.
Islanders fans very well may be seeing the beginning to the end of the Rick DiPietro era.
This doesn't exactly come to many as a surprise since DiPietro has clearly not played up to the standards of an NHL caliber goaltender. Despite only performing in the back-up role, Rick has earned a 4.09 GAA and a .855 save percentage with an 0-3-0 record (Photo Credit: 5of7/Flickr).
The New York Islanders have certainly hit a lull this season, having lost seven of their past nine games and being outscored 10-1 in the past two games. Although the forwards and defense are far from perfect and share the blame with the entire team, the goaltending has certainly been an issue (Photo Credit: spotboslow/Flickr).
Teams typically put themselves in a good position to in when they manage to get over 40 shots on net, or close to it, such as in the 3-2 loss to the Sabres (43 shots) and last night's 3-1 loss to the Senators (38 shots).
But that hasn't exactly been the case for the Isles.
What began as a normal weekend for Bridgeport’s Nino Niederreiter, turned into one of the strangest in recent memory for the team. Niederreiter made is usual call to Pete’s Deli & News for a ‘to-go’ order on his way to the arena for the Sound Tigers morning skate before the team left for Providence for the first of three games in three days.
The game in Providence started like any other before getting out of hand with the Bruins scoring the opener after two minutes of play and Matt Donovan answering four minutes later with his eighth of the season. With two minutes and thirty seconds left in the opening period, Matt Watkins was given the whistle on a very questionable hooking call, and the game changed.
A quick check of the New York team site will tell you they have Kevin Poulin, Anders Nilsson, Mikko Koskinen and Cody Rosen. Let's forget Rosen for the purposes of this article. The Clarkson goaltender is a back up at his school and has no real future at the NHL level.
The Sound Tigers would fall behind again with 26 seconds left in the middle period when the Whale scored a power play goal with Nino Niederreiter on the bench serving the teams ‘too many men on the ice’ penalty. John Persson would tie the game in the final period scoring his fifteenth of the season on Bridgeport’s second and final power play opportunity of the night, setting the stage for Sean Backman’s late game heroics.
Backman’s game has improved noticeably over the last month or so. In the past his time was spent between the hashmarks waiting for an outlet pass and avoiding the dirty areas of the ice, but no longer.
The Sound Tigers, like every team in the AHL, started the season with an unexpected wealth of talent. Niedereitter, Ullstrom and Cizikas, whom most had expected to be in the NHL, were back in Bridgeport along with prospects Brock Nelson, Johan Sundstrom, John Persson and Kirill Kabanov. Scoring goals should not prove a problem.
In net, both Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson were still on the roster, while most had expected one to get called up to serve as Nabokov’s back up on the Isles. Poulin and Nilsson had each earned ‘AHL Goalie Of The Month’ awards during the teams Division Championship season and there was doubtfully no more promising tender tandem in the league. No problem.