Hey everyone, Evan is unavailable to post his weekly Link Checks so I have taken up the task of rounding up the top stories regarding your New York Islanders. I did not want to take the liberty of renaming the article (Pivnick's Picks flows so well) so I decided to just throw my name on the end of it.
Marty Reasoner was signed to a two-year deal during last summer's off-season to replace the recently departed, Zenon Konopka. "Z" instilled toughness and leadership in the locker room and gave Islanders fans, as well as his teammates, a reason to stick up for themselves when getting the brunt of the NHL's toughest teams and officials. But due to some rumored internal issues, Konopka was let go to free agency and Reasoner was signed to be his replacement; a less threatening, but more productive fourth line center that could kill penalties.
To everyone's dismay, it did not take long for Reasoner to quickly become the scapegoat for most Islanders fans. He was constantly making defensive mistakes, out of position and didn't score his first goal of the season until March 29th against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He finished the year with five assists to go with that solo goal for at total of six points in 61 games played. He was also a whopping -25, the worst +/- score of his entire career.
Not exactly the type of defensive play you want from your penalty killing, depth forward, especially when he was a +2 with 32 points and 14 goals the season before.
Today PA Parenteau officially become an unrestricted free agent for all 30 teams, including the Islanders, to try and sign. I think you can assume that Parenteau will go wherever he gets the biggest contract and if the past, under Garth Snow, has shown us anything, Parenteau has played his final game in orange and blue.
Lets be honest the Islanders aren’t going to be able to get a top-6 forward in this free agent class and even though many Islanders fans would like to see Snow make a run at Bobby Ryan, it’s probably not going to happen. Snow is on the right track with drafting, grooming players and signing role players in free agency. So Parenteau’s successor on the first line will come from within the organization, the question is who will it be?
The Montreal Canadiens step down from the podium and the camera turns to the General Manager of the New York Islanders, Garth Snow. Accompanied by his top scouts and assistants, and most likely Kevin Connolly who formerly was on Entourage, Snow remains seated. With Pierre McGuire ready to analyze Snow's draft choice at fourth overall, the Isles GM leaves the podium vacant for the Commissioner of the NHL, Gary Bettman.
"We have a trade to announce, " are the words that would echo throughout a startled building.
"The Islanders have chosen to trade the fourth overall pick in this year's draft..."
The stage was set for an emotional carry over into Saturday morning regardless of the outcome of Friday night's Islanders/Rangers game; a win for the Isles against their biggest rival and top team in the Eastern Conference would keep their playoff hopes alive, but a loss to their number one foe would have been a crushing blow to their confidence and chances.
Fortunately, the orange and blue would come on top with a 4-3 shootout victory with Matt Moulson netting the finally tally in the fourth round.
Tensions were high at the start of the game and Matt Martin decided to ease things up a bit by fighting Stu Bickel just over two minutes into the game. Both got their licks in before Martin swung and missed, falling to the ice to end the fight early. A fair draw would set the tone for how evenly the game would be played.
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....
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.
The Islanders look to build off their win from earlier in the week and start a second half playoff push with a game against Ottawa tomorrow night. The Islanders are currently riding a hot streak getting 5 out of a possible 6 points in the last 3 games. This has the Islanders only 9 points out of playoff spot with plenty of time left in the season.
A couple of the sparks in the Islanders last win were the Bridgeport call ups of Kevin Poulin and Rhett Rakhshani. Poulin made his contribution playing a great game between the pipes, which showed many fans why he is considered the goaltender of the future. Rakhshani was a great move in my eyes as he was a spark plug on a line with Matt Martin and Josh Bailey. The whole game the line was buzzing around the ice and creating chances. Hopefully they will get another chance in Ottawa to keep showing that they are improving their chances and create more secondary scoring which is what this team needs.
The season for the New York Islanders is more than halfway over, having completed Game 46 of the 82-game season last night with a 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in overtime. The win has brought the Isles to a 19-21-6 record putting them eight points out of a playoff spot behind the Washington Capitals sitting in the final, eigth spot.
As John Madonia pointed out in his post-game wrap up, these next two games against the Toronto Maple Leafs are crucial for the Islanders. For the first time in a few years, Islanders fans are able to find themselves in a position where they can start looking at the standings and sharing concerns about the success of other teams in their Conference. Two wins against the Leafs would hypothetically put the Isles at only four points out of the playoffs and see them with a .500 record.
The Isles are not in last in the Eastern Conference; they are currently out of the draft lottery; and John Tavares has emerged as an elite talent in the NHL. Part of the rebuild requires looking for signs of progress in all areas. Although those signs that are mentioned above don't necessarily amount to the hopes and dreams of most Islanders fans, they are still important. Slow and steady as she goes.
Nino Niederreiter has been playing with the New York Islanders all season long, but the amount of time he has spent on the ice has become somewhat of a concern amongst Isles fans. The 19-year old winger had a very impressive season last year with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL. His skill, size and vision on the ice allowed the Islanders to feel that he was ready to make the full-time jump to the NHL with the organization envisioning his development to result along the lines of a top-six scoring winger.
So far this year, Niederreiter has become the exact opposite. His season was plagued by injuries from the get-go, forcing him to miss the start of the year with a groin injury he sustained in the pre-season. He came back gradually, but eventually started to show that he was getting his game back by using his size in the corners and scoring his first goal of the season. But another injury, the infamous concussion that was given to him in a game against the Dallas Stars, became another hurdle for the young forward to leap over in his development. As a result, the Islanders have played a total of 39 games on the year; Nino has only appeared in 16 of them.
The Islanders are heading into the Big Apple to face their archrivals, the New York Rangers. Coming off back-to-back shootout wins (courtesy of Frans Neilsen and his patented forehand-backhand-top shelf move), the young Isles team is carrying a bit of momentum into the World’s Greatest Arena. They are playing with more confidence and finding ways to win hockey games.
This is a good thing. Because they will need every ounce of momentum, confidence, skill, (and maybe even a little luck) to leave Madison Square Garden with 2 points against the Rangers in tonight’s contest.
The Rangers (with 3 games in hand) are currently tied for 2nd in the Atlantic Division with the Pittsburgh Penguins, as they each have managed 42 points so far this season.