With the playoff picture narrowing by the day, Matt Martin gave me a call yesterday afternoon to discuss some playoff hockey as well as to take a look at the Islanders as they prepare for next season.
Martin is currently waiting for a new contract with the New York Islanders and has been training a lot this off-season in preparation for 2013. He set an NHL record in 2012 with 374 hits in 80 games played to go along with tying his career high of 14 points. Along with his explosions along the wall, Martin has become one of the biggest fan-favorites for the New York Islander. In fact, his hard work, fisticuffs and willingness to stick up for his teammates earned him the Bobby Nystrom Award for 2012.
But apparently all that hard work takes it's toll. The guy didn't even do to much for his 23rd birthday that just passed on May 8th.
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.
For the 3rd time in the past 6 days the Islanders will play the Devils for an Atlantic division match up. The two teams split the first two games in the series so with baseball season approaching I will consider this the rubber match with the winner of this game winning the series. The Islanders will look to rebound from Thursday night’s embarrassing lose to the Devils and get back to some winning ways.
The Islanders come into the game still only seven points out of a playoff spot with 15 games left to play. This doesn’t leave any room for bad play if the Islanders want to be serious about making the playoffs. The lines may change slightly from Thursday’s game as Matt Martin is questionable. He left Thursday’s game early and wasn’t allowed to travel back to Long Island with the team due to a sickness. I have not heard a report yet this morning about his condition and whether or not he will play tonight. If he doesn’t play then Grabner will be placed back in the lineup. Grabner I feel was missed in the last game with the Devils (healthy scratch) because to beat the Devils defense you need speed and to have our fastest skater in the press box doesn’t help the situation.
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.
Thomas Vanek and Tyler Myers both scored and Ryan Miller made 30 saves as the Sabres spoiled interim head coach Doug Weight’s coaching debut 2-1 on Tuesday Night.
Weight was appointed interim head coach for the game as head coach Jack Capuano dealt with a flu that has ravaged his lineup in the past three games. Evgeni Nabokov missed his third straight game dealing with the illness.
An all too similar start to the game forced the Islanders into an early 1-0 hole. Tyler Myers opened the scoring just 1:21 into the game. After a initial stop on Derek Roy, Myers found the rebound and snapped it over a prone Kevin Poulin. For the second straight game, the Islanders fell behind within the first 90 seconds.
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.
In this edition of the prospect report I will take a look at two more late round draft picks of the Islanders to see if Garth Snow has found any hidden gems. Mitchell Theoret and Johan Persson are two forwards currently playing junior hockey with hopes of one day making it to the Islander’s line-up.
Mitchell Theoret was drafted in 7th round (185th overall) during the 2011 draft. The left winger is currently playing on the Niagara Ice Dogs with Ryan Strome another Islanders prospect. In 47 games so far this season Theoret has scored 10 goals to go along with 6 assist. Known to be more of a grinder type player these numbers aren’t bad for a player of his style.
The New York Islanders went into today's game looking to complete a back-to-back sweep on the weekend, taking a total of four points to increase their hopes of a playoff berth for the first time in a long time. But the Isles would end up losing 4-1 to the Florida Panthers, putting a dent into their never ending climb up the standings.
The loss keeps them eight points out of the playoffs; not an impossible number to climb, but one that seems to grow larger with every loss, especially against opponents like the Panthers who are looking to accomplish the same goal.
Frans Nielsen would get things started with an early goal assisted by P.A. Parenteau and Andrew MacDonald. Nielsen wisely cut across the neutral zone to be met by a perfect pass from Parenteau. He would then walk in and snipe one over Jose Theodore's glove to give his team the early lead. Despite the early goal, the Panthers would establish plenty of pressure in the Isles end of the ice and answer back towards the end of the period. (Photo Credit: Cassie Madonia/Flickr)
The New York Islanders went into last night's game looking to pull themselves to a .500 record but failed to do so, squandering a 3-1 first period lead to the Buffalo Sabres and losing by a score of 4-3 in the shootout.
Frans Nielsen would have a three point first period, scoring two goals and adding an assist to help get the Islanders to an early lead despite starting off slow. The Isles were out shot 17-9 in the first period and Al Montoya seemed a little shakey in net. It was only his second start after missing about a month's worth of playing time due to a concussion. His first start was before the All Star break, so it wasn't a surprise that he looked like he needed to shake the rust off. But he would respond well in the second and third periods, continuing to give his team a chance to win the whole night.
“We knew it was going to be a tough weekend,” said Montoya after the game. “[There were] huge points on the line. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t come out with two points.”