The talk amongst fans all last season was, "This team needs toughness." And indeed, far from embodying Zenon Konopka's "doormat-no-longer" declaration during the 2010-2011 season, the Islanders seemed to take a step back from that mentality this past year.
...What changes this year? Well, Garth Snow must have realized that this squad just does better when their best players aren't being knocked all over the ice, and signed up some tough customers to try and change the doormat-once-more mentality.
While Zach Parise and Ryan Suter remain unsigned, the Minnesota Wild added needed depth as free agency began Sunday. Here's what fans can expect from center Zenon Konopka and right winger Torrey Mitchell.
Zenon Konopka- Konopka's role is simple: protect stars Dany Heatley and Mikko Koivu.
Via Mike Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
"Koivu is a superstar that maybe doesn’t get enough respect around the league and he should," Konopka said. "Heatley is a world-class player and we have to make sure those guys are taken care of and they feel very comfortable and nice. If they want to sit down at center ice and read the paper, ...
With the New York Islanders heading into another off-season without a playoff berth, the team will look to solidify its young core through the NHL draft, trades, and signings of free agents. (Robert Kowal/Flickr)
While the Isles might not be fortunate enough to land Nail Yakupov in this year's NHL Entry Draft, the team should focus on trying to scout the best defenseman out of this year's draft. Names like Trouba, Dumba, Rielly, Murray, and Reinhart are headlining the list of premier d-men that will be available to the Islanders come draft day in June.
Drafting a young defenseman will probably be the right choice for the Isles, but one can't simply ignore that New York has holes to fill for the 2012-2013 NHL Season. Mike Mottau, Milan Jurcina, Mark Eaton, and Steve Staios tried to do their jobs as veteran rearguards, but it was painfully obvious on certain nights that the Islanders' d-men were simply outmatched. If the Islanders want to stay in contention in a highly competitive Atlantic Division, then General Manager Garth Snow must exhaust all of his resources toward signing or acquiring a top 4 defenseman.
Mother Nature had her way with just about everyone this past week, amping up the temperatures to trick everyone into thinking they were in mid-playoff form. Unfortunately, this was the week that the Canadiens discovered (for real) that there is no chance of that for them this year.
Shut Out: Wednesday, March 21st, 2012
Cody Hodgson scored his first goal as a Buffalo Sabre and added another in the third period to procure the Sabres a win, Tuesday, against the Canadiens.
The Sabres once were where the Canadiens are, and are now where they usually tend to be at this time of year, fighting for a playo...
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 made their first visit to Ottawa this season and were able to battle all game and come away with an important victory to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The game started slow with both teams going up and down the ice with not many chances generated. Nabokov was called on early in the period but the defense did a good job making sure most shot were from the outside and easily visible. The Islanders got a power play chance at 10:26 when former Islander Zenon Konopka took a hooking penalty. The first power play unit of Tavares, Moulson, Parenteau, Nielsen and Streit was very good creating several chances but unable to put them away. The second power play unit had some trouble but I like the group Capuano put together, the line was Rakhshani, Bailey, Neiderreiter, Okposo and MacDonald. The Islanders were unable to connect on the first power play but still kept the pressure up. It was a strong first period for the Islanders who outshot the Senators 14 to 8.
(Photo Credit: Official New York Islanders/Flickr)
The NHL All Star game is basically a chance for the NHL to sell itself to the fans by showcasing top level talent for two nights in a row. Fans are treated to highlight reel moves that you don't get to see in every hockey game as well as having the chance to become better acquainted with their on ice heroes. Several players are mic'ed up and provide commentary throughout the two nights, even while they are in game action, as seen with Montreal comedian/goaltender, Carey Price.
Price has become an excellent goaltender for the Canadiens and wasn't shy about showing off his personality, stopping a puck by facing the glass and using the reflection to help him guage his positioning as well as giving Islanders rep John Tavares a "Tim Tebow" as he came in for one of his shootout moves.
Brian Rolston, Jay Pandolfo, Marty Reasoner and Steve Staios were added to this Islanders team during the off-season to provide veteran stability throughout the line-up; Rolston was acquired for cap room and an added offensive punch over Trent Hunter, Pandolfo and Reasoner were brought in for defensive support on the bottom line, and Staios added grit and experience to a relatively young defense crew.
Let's take a look at their numbers to see where they stand...
"We saw it last year, I saw it. I saw the energy and the desperation in our game last year. The second half, we had the best record in the National Hockey League after the All-Star break. We were physical. We were tough to play against."
-Islanders head coach Jack Capuano after the New York Islanders 6-0 loss Saturday night to the Boston Bruins.
Ask the Boston Bruins and Sidney Crosby and the rest of the Pittsburgh...