Despite talks of another NHL season getting wiped out entirely, many players from the New York Islanders have returned to the Island to prepare for training camp. This week, Eric Boulton, Matt Carkner, Michael Grabner, Kirill Kabanov, Andrew MacDonald, Brock Nelson, Nino Niederreiter, Frans Nielsen, Marty Reasoner and Johan Sundstrom took part in some informal skates at Islanders Ice Works in Syosset. (Photo Credit: Islanders Hockey Blog/Flickr).
These players have not only been skating, but they have been active off the ice as well. Just yesterday Michael Grabner signed 150 autographs for the first group of fans to attend the grand opening of the Cantiague Park Pro Shop.
The past few weeks have been important for guys like Boulton and Carkner, who are just meeting some of their Islanders teammates for the first time after signing contracts with the organization on the first day of Free Agency.
With all the talk about a possible lockout which could result in a shorten or even a cancelled season, there is one guarantee for the hockey season and that is the release of one of the best video games ever; NHL 2013.
Earlier this month the NHL 2013 ratings were leaked to Yahoo! Sports writer, Puck Daddy and he separated them into two posts, one being the Eastern Conference teams and the other for, you guessed it, the Western Conference teams.
Anyone who has played "NHL" knows how realistic the game can be. When looking at the ratings for the Islanders, there were some questionable choices made by EA Sports, but there were also some spot on ones. Let’s take a look at the ratings for the whole Islanders team.(Photo Credit: Yahoo/Puck Daddy)
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers will open their home season as defending conference champions against the Providence Bruins at 7pm on Saturday October 13. Missing from the lineup that night will be former ‘tough-guys’ Micheal Haley (now in the Rangers organization) and Trevor Gillies (who has signed to play in the KHL).
To help fill the void left by the departure of these two enforcers, the Islanders have signed former Providence Bruin defenseman Nathan McIver to a one year, two-way contract.
With the season only a few months away and a feel that the Islanders are done shopping in free agency it seems like a nice time to take a look at possible opening night line combinations.
Moulson – Tavares – Boyes
This line doesn’t show too much difference from last season besides the addition of Brad Boyes. It is believed that Boyes was bought in to fill the spot left by PA. Playing with Tavares and Moulson should hopefully bring out Boyes old scoring touch from a few seasons ago.
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?
There are 126 derivatives of the word run. You might have a run in your hose, a runny nose or an unfortunate case of the runs. You could also enjoy a four-year run as Stanley Cup Champions, run your banner up the flagpole and then run and hide for the next several years.
Hits are similar. You may score the game winning hit, lead the NHL in hits for a season, hit it off with a member of the opposite sex (or whatever is politically acceptable this year) or relax and enjoy a hit on the controlled substance of your choice after a run of good luck.
Errors, however, enjoy fewer distinctions. Whether in performance (Bill Buckner) or judgment (the O. J. Simpson verdict), an error is an error and some have long memories. In a few short weeks hockey fans will watch the smartest, most informed hockey minds on this planet make their teams’ first round selection( in the 2012 NHL Entry Level Draft, and errors will be made. Fans, pundits and ‘experts’ with less than 2% of the background info available to those making the selections, will ingest, second-guess and spew out their opinions on who should have been selected, and more errors will be made. As a hockey fan, I will follow the first round with interest. It is the later rounds that prove most interesting because this is where the errors of omission occur and form the talent pool that forms the rosters of the teams in the AHL.
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.
Watching the Masters today, we all saw 5-foot putts missed that we could have made. Bubba Watson’s 10-inch winner, a ‘gimme’ on most public links, earned him his first major and the coveted ‘Green Jacket.’ I started to think of other sports where in my prime (forty plus years ago) I could have been a difference maker or game winner.
I have little doubt that I could kick the extra point to win a Super Bowl. I would imagine you feel the same. I am also certain that I could sink the game winning free-throw in an NCAA or NBA Championship game. We see evidence of this every year when somebody wins a scholarship or cash for tossing one in from half-court. Could I score the winning run in the 7th game of baseballs World Series? Most definitely. As the designated runner coming in to score from third base after a sacrifice fly, I could probably do that today. Could I score the ‘gamer’ in the Stanley Cup Finals?
Not on your life. Scoring a goal in hockey is the most difficult accomplishment in sports.
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.