In Philadelphia, spring is in the air you can hear the birds sing during the day and the crickets chirp at night. The weather is starting to warm up now, Major League Baseball's spring training has already begun and the Philadelphia Flyers are getting in playoff mode.
The feeling arrived this weekend during back-to back matinee games starting with the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.
Many were immediately calling for the removal of head coach Jack Capuano at the start of the season once the New York Islanders' record began to slip from 3-1 to way below .500. However, there were some, like myself, who argued that it was premature to blame the coaching staff for the poor start due to the fact that the roster from last season hadn't changed much and for the other simple fact - the season was still young. (Photo Credit: Robert Kowal/Flickr)
Since then, the Islanders have managed to be a consistent below .500 team for the year. They have come close on a few occasions from jumping over the hurdle but would then find a way to take two steps back after taking one step forward. This past week has been the most disheartening of the year for Isles fans in relation to how the team has continued to perform. Not only have they lost games, but they have done it with such depression that even the U.S. economy cringed.
Three of the last eight games saw the Islanders either blow a three-goal lead or lose the game in the final few minutes of the third period. It started when the Islanders went into the second period against the Washington Capitals with a 2-0 lead on February 28th. The Caps would score two goals in the final three minutes of the game and then go on to have Alexander Ovechkin score the early game winning goal in the extra frame. The Islanders also had a 1-0 lead against the New Jersey Devils just this past Saturday, only to see their opponent score two goals just 14 seconds apart in the final two minutes of the hockey game. And most recently, the Islanders blew a 4-1 lead last night against the Caps to lose 5-4 in the shootout.
When news broke that Pavel Datsyuk was out for 2-3 weeks from a minor knee surgery, everyone in Hockeytown panicked. After a few minutes, a few tweets, and a few deep breaths later, we were assured that Pav was going to be okay and in fact it was just a minor surgery. It was taken as a precaution so the Wings’ best player would be 100% come playoff time.
I’m not one to generally panic, since the Red Wings have been in stretches without their best players before. However, the Winged Wheel has had a great season going so far, and we are entering into a portion of the season where points are at a premium. We all saw what happened last year in Game 7 of the Western Conferenc...
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.
How many goaltenders will we see in an Isles uniform by the end of the season? That was a question that a few of my readers asked me before the start of the year. Last year the Islanders featured Dwayne Roloson, Rick DiPietro, Kevin Poulin, Mikko Koskinen, Al Montoya and Nathan Lawson. And oh yeah, they also tried to claim Evgeni Nabokov off waivers to only say, "No thanks" before joining the roster this year.
That's a total of six goalies (with a 7th one that rang off the post) that dressed for the New York Islanders in 2011. The count now is at five for this year between DiPietro, Montoya, Nabokov, Poulin and Anders Nilsson, who earned his first NHL start against the Pittsburgh Penguins the day that Sidney Crosby returned to action.
Koskinen has been playing for KalPa in the Finnish Elite League as John Link explains to us in his latest prospect report since there has been a crowd in the crease for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Both Poulin and Nilsson had been playing so well that there was simply not enough room for Koskinen, choosing him to opt for overseas play.
Adam Foote might be the only NHL defenseman more despised by Wings faithful than Chris Pronger over the past 15 seasons. That's a big might. Pronger is strong, mean and skilled; he's a player you hate for your squad to play against but would love to have him on your team. Whether it was with St. Louis, Edmonton or Anaheim, Pronger gave the Wings trouble in the postseason with crunching hits and booming point shots. His battles with Tomas Holmstrom were epic and memorable.
Unfortunately the concussion epidemic sweeping the league also struck Pronger who is shut down for the remainder of the season with post-concussion syndrome. It's a detriment to the league when any play...
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.
After the Philadelphia Flyers practiced in Dallas Tuesday, the revelation that Claude Giroux may be close to returning surfaced.
How close? Possibly Wednesday for the team's contest against the Dallas Stars.
There's no way of knowing if Giroux's return will be too soon for the young star's health. What is known is that he's the most important player on this year's team. He's been fantastic in every aspect of the game.
Giroux is the difference between a good team and a possibly great team. When the rubber hits the road for the Flyers, one player can extend himself to the point of being able to shoulder the load.
He can elevate the team's play with one pass, one shift, one shot. He does what superstars are expected to do, and he does it well.
With his return looming, the question of his readiness will surely be questioned, as well it should be.
The Chicago Blackhawks (22-9-1) go into Pittsburgh on Tuesday evening to face the Penguins with a 7-0-1 record in December, and looking to collect their sixth straight road win. Not counting preseason match-ups, Chicago and Pittsburgh usually only face off once per year, so there's always anticipation around their games.
As the Blackhawks continue their hot streak of games, the team has gained a lot of confidence, and it is showing in their play. Solid, consistent effort across all three periods is becoming more frequent, and Sunday night's game saw the fourth line chipping in offensively as well. The team has consistently flirted with the top spot in the league and cur...
The statement was deafening, as if a booming voice was speaking it over a loudspeaker.
"Claude reported not feeling very good today. Over the past few days, his symptoms have gradually gotten worse. He will be out indefinitely with a concussion"
Not feeling very good, gotten worse, out indefinitely?
In a year where Claude Giroux was proving his superstar-like talent every night in the NHL, it’s stunning. With one hit, those who have grown accustomed to watching the Hearst, Ontairo native are now relegated to the waiting game.
It’s eerie timing in the wake of the latest news regarding Sidney Crosby. Crosby, the game’s ubermensch is out for as long as symptoms still remain. Sadly, the let down after what many thought would be his final, and maybe last, return seems to tell the tale of the future.