Posted on: November 21, 2011 1:02 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 1:05 pm
By: Adam Gretz
With veteran goalies Evgeni Nabokov and Al Montoya sidelined with injuries at the present time, and Rick DiPietro coming off a bad performance against the Boston Bruins that saw him allow three goals in the first period on Saturday, Islanders head coach has decided to start rookie Anders Nilsson between the pipes when his team takes on Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins Monday night.
That's a tall task for the 21-year-old rookie in what will surely be a crazed atmosphere in Pittsburgh.
Nilsson has appeared in just one NHL game, and that was on Saturday in relief of DiPietro. He allowed three goals on 17 shots.
He was called up from the Islanders AHL team in Bridgeport over the weekend following the injuries to Nabokov and Montoya. In seven games in the minor leagues this season he posted a 5-2 record to go with a .908 save percentage. Nilsson was a third-round pick by the Islanders back in 2009, and prior to this season had spent the past four year playing professionally in Sweden for Lulea HF.
In 33 career games against the Islanders Crosby has recorded 62 points (18 goals, 44 assists). The only other team that he's recorded that many points against is the Philadelphia Flyers (62) in three more games.
Posted on: November 19, 2011 11:12 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2011 11:34 pm
By: Adam Gretz
Things are not going well for the New York Islanders right now, and after losing to the Boston Bruins, 6-0, in their own barn on Saturday night the team has now lost 11 of its past 13 games to fall to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. The offense has disappeared, two of their three goalies that opened the season on the NHL roster are injured, and one of their top young players, Kyle Okposo, has been a healthy scratch three nights in a row.
All of this, combined with the losing, seems to have head coach Jack Capuano a little upset, as we could see during his post-game press conference on Saturday.
"My thoughts are that when you play this game you need to play with fire, you need to play with passion, you need to play with determination, you need to play with desperation, you need to have ice bags after the game, maybe a little blood dripping right now," said Capuano. "When you lace your skates up the guy across from you, the guy to the left and right of you, need to know you got their back and we're going to play for one another, and that just didn'thappen tonight, and I don't have the answers why."
When asked if it was execution or effort that was the problem on Saturday, he responded that it was "a little bit of both," before adding: "Enough about staying positive and we're going to get through this. You have to work. If you saw our team play at the second half of last year you saw passion, you saw physicality. That's what you need to win hockey games in the National Hockey League every night, and right now, collectively, we are not doing that and you're not going to have success."
The Islanders are off on Sunday before traveling to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins on Monday.
Here's the rest of Capuano's post-game presser:
Posted on: October 29, 2011 12:51 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2011 1:00 pm
By: Adam Gretz
This past week the folks at BusinessWeek put together a list of what they called the "smartest" spenders in sports. Simply put: the teams that spent the fewest amount of dollars per win.
In theory, it's an interesting premise, but it seemed to produce some very flawed results. For example, while the Nashville Predators topped their list, a team that definitely gets the most bang for its limited buck, some of the other teams in the top-10 included the Pittsburgh Pirates, Atlanta Thrashers, and New York Islanders. Were these teams smart about which players they signed, or were they simply not spending money on any players of any value? After all, when you think of front office efficiency the Pirates or Thrashers (now the Jets) probably aren't the first teams that come to mind.
The Islanders, on the other hand, are a little more intriguing. At least potentially.
A team in transition, stuck in a rebuild that's been going on for about five years now, The Islanders are probably not quite ready to return to the postseason this year. But they are building something interesting on Long Island, and do have quite a few bargains on their roster for this year and in the future. The quartet of John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, Michael Grabner and Matt Moulson, for example, are all signed through at least the 2013-14 season for a combined cap commitment of just around $14 million. I've said this before, but for all of the criticisms the Islanders front office has taken for handing out bad contracts in the past, those look to be examples of very smart spending going forward.
One of the often times most overlooked members of this Islanders team, and perhaps one of their biggest bargains this season at a cap hit of $525,000, the lowest on the team, is Frans Nielsen, their checking center that finished in the top-six in voting for the Selke Trophy last season as one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL. It's not uncommon for him to be one of their best players on any given night.
Usually playing on a line between the speedy Grabner and Okposo, Islanders coach Jack Capuano seems to use the trio in somewhat of a defensive role and more often than not sends them out there against the other teams top lines whenever he has a chance, especially during home games when his team has the last line change before faceoffs.
So far this season Nielsen's line has drawn regular assignments against players like Dany Heatley, Mikko Koivu and Devin Setoguchi from Minnesota, Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan from the Rangers, Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos from the Lightning, and Stephen Weiss and Kris Versteeg from the Panthers. Through the first eight games of the season the Islanders have allowed 14 goals during 5-on-5 play, and Nielsen has been on the ice for just three of them (two of them were scored by Stamkos in separate games, the other was a goal scored by Brandon Prust during a 5-2 Islanders win). If you're a believer in plus/minus, he's finished as a plus-player in each of the past two year on a team that's been outscored by 35 and 42 goals during the season while playing against the other teams best players.
Following a 3-2 shootout loss in Pittsburgh on Thursday, Capuano told me he was probably their best player on the ice that night. It was a game that saw him score a goal, create two chances on two different penalty kills, block three shots, record a takeaway and win a couple of defensive zone faceoffs. And that's pretty much just another day at the office for him.
"He's played a strong game throughout the year for us," said Capuano. "Obviously the numbers haven't been there but he's been pretty strong for us."
He also referred to Nielsen as "dominant" and commented on how he's always positionally sound when he doesn't have the puck.
With one of the smallest salary cap hits in the NHL this season, Nielsen is a tremendous bargain for the Islanders, but that could soon change as he will be eligible for unrestricted free agency following this season. And there should be no shortage of teams lining up to give him the rather large pay raise he's earned over the past three years if something doesn't get worked out with the Islanders. There's a ton of value in a matchup center that can chip in around 40 points (while playing a defensive role and being put into mostly defensive situations) and play Selke-caliber defense.
Photo: Getty Images
Tags: Adam Gretz, Brandon Prust, Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi, Florida Panthers, Frans Nielsen, Jack Capuano, John Tavares, Kris Versteeg, Kyle Okposo, Martin St. Louis, Matt Moulson, Michael Grabner, Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild, New York Islanders, Stephen Weiss, Steve Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
Posted on: October 27, 2011 10:46 pm
By: Adam Gretz
PITTSBURGH -- Rick DiPietro probably wasn't planning on making his 2011-12 debut the way he did on Thursday night during the Islanders' 3-2 shootout loss to the Penguins.
Starting the game on the bench as the backup to Evgeni Nabokov, DiPietro was called into action following the overtime period and had to enter the game, nearly three hours after he was last on the ice for pre-game warmups, to face the Penguins shooters in the tie-breaking skills competition.
Anytime a goaltender has to enter the game off the bench it's not really an ideal situation. Being thrown directly into the shootout for your first appearance of the season, and first appearance in an NHL game since last April, has to make it even more difficult. DiPietro stopped two of the three shots he faced, with Evgeni Malkin finding an open spot along the ice under his pad for the only goal of the shootout.
The move wasn't done for any strategic reason, as Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said Nabokov was dealing with some "fatigue."
Later, Nabokov said he was dealing with a "lower body injury" that he started to feel sometime during the first period and that as the game went on "fatigue" started to become an issue and he didn't have as much power.
"Nabby was fatigued and wasn't feeling well so I had to put Rick in," said Capuano. "I love our goalies, all three of them have played well and given us a chance so I have no issues. If one guy couldn't go, I have all the faith in Rick, and Rick was great. Actually he almost had Malkin's shot. But, you know, if you don't score in the shootout you're not going to win."
He wouldn't go into much detail as to what happened to Nabokov, who stopped 28 of the 30 shots he faced through regulation and overtime. Throughout his career with San Jose Nabokov had some struggles in the shootout, and when asked if he was uncomfortable with the shootout and whether or not that went into his decision to make the switch Capuano insisted it had nothing to do with that.
"No, no, no," said Capuano. "I'm not going to get into it, he just couldn't go. So Ricky went in. Nabby's not one of those guys that feels uncomfortable. None of our goalies feel uncomfortable in situations like that. They're all great competitors and since the start of the season they've given us a chance to win."
DiPietro didn't have much to say following the game, only saying that it was unfortunate the team couldn't get the win.
Posted on: March 31, 2011 1:37 am
Edited on: March 31, 2011 1:48 am
Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke declared Wednesday that Ron Wilson would back next season, even if the club falls short of the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season.
“I said back in the fall, we would not consider a change, even when all the hounds were baying,” Burke told The Globe and Mail. “I feel the same way now. Ron is coaching this team next year.”
It's hardly a surprise. Burke and Wilson were teammates back at Providence College and their friendship extends decades. Even if Wilson was already coaching in Toronto when Burke was hired as GM in November 2008, Burke wouldn't have wanted anybody else for the job.
Other coaches around the NHL may not be so lucky come season's end. Here's a roundup of coaches that may find themselves out of work not long after April 10, the final day of the regular season.
Cory Clouston, Ottawa Senators: It's not only his position that is shaky. There are no guarantees GM Bryan Murray will back next season. The Sens, who surged into the playoffs and entered as the fifth seed a season ago, never found a rhythm this season -- and that's being charitable. Ottawa is in the basement in the East, so it's fair to say some changes are coming.
"A lot of things happened this year that put us in a situation where it didn't allow us to get into the playoffs,” Clouston told the Ottawa Citizen last week. "No one feels worse about that than I do, or more responsible for it than I do."
Pete DeBoer, Florida Panthers: He told reporters that he doesn't know if he'll be back. At least, he's honest. This is his third full season behind the bench in Florida and he has a 102-108-34 record through Wednesday. Dale Tallon, in his first full season as GM ,may have seen enough.
“I don't worry about next year. I sleep easy at night. I know how hard we have worked as a staff,'' DeBoer told The Miami Herald recently. “I think our team plays with structure and plays hard every night. They have all year. If that's not good enough, that's for other people to decide.’’
Todd Richards, Minnesota Wild: This seat got hot in a mere few weeks. The Wild were up to fifth in the West just a month ago before dropping to 11th and all but mathematically out of the playoff contention. (Minnesota also missed the playoffs last season, the first season with Richards was at the helm.)
"I knew this coming in when I took the job," Richards told the Minnesota Star-Tribune last week. "Are there some things that I would change? Maybe. That's all in hindsight. For the most part, I'm comfortable and happy with the job I've done. It's not the results I want, by any means. It's not the way I want the team playing, by any means. But the opinions, the (hot seat), it goes with the job."
Then there's probably the only coach among the 16 playoff teams on the hot seat: Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau.
Back at my previous stop, I piped up and asked questions to Boudreau and principal owner Ted Leonsis if a coaching change was afoot as the Caps were on an eight-game skid before Christmas. Boudreau bristled and said in so many words he doesn't worry about it and Leonsis preached patience.
That patience may have a limit and we'll put that at an entry into the second round -- and that could be generous. Boudreau could be let go if the Caps don't make it to the conference finals. They have made it past the first round only once in since Boudreau took over in Nov. 2007, including last year's first round exit after the Caps won the Presidents' Trophy. His departure would be a downer for local advertisers in the Washington area since Boudreau pitches everything from rug cleaning services to cars.
The hot seat that isn't: Jacques LeMaire, New Jersey Devils. LeMaire's impressive turnaround of the Devils should result in some Jack Adams Award talk. Still, he had to be persuaded out of retirement and was non-committal last week about a return.
“No. I don't think so. Why not? Because it's not how the team is, how the team plays. It's not about the players, not about the organization. It will be only about myself at that point," Lemaire told The Star Ledger. "What will be good for me."
Finally, there’s the lukewarm sect. These coaches will likely be back next season, although they may not have much room to do wrong in 2011-12: Joe Sacco (Colorado Avalanche), Scott Arniel (Columbus Blue Jackets), Brent Sutter (Calgary Flames) Davis Payne (St. Louis Blues) and Jack Capuano (New York Islanders ).
Is there anybody else you’d want to nominate?
DETROIT LOSES BIG: A couple guys named Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier were teammates on the Edmonton Oilers that last time the Detroit Red Wings allowed eight goals in two periods.
Vladimir Sobotka and Chris Stewart don’t quite have the cachet, but they were part of St. Louis Blues team that accomplished the same thing in a 10-3 victory over Detroit on Wednesday.
“Thank God it’s over,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock told The Detroit Free Press. “It looked like it was never going to end there for a while. It was unacceptable. Any way you look at it — more than a touchdown — it’s ugly.”
Ugly and historic. The Red Wings lost 12-3 to the Oilers in March 14, 1986, the game they allowed those eight goals in two periods. The last time they allowed 10 goals in a game was also via a Gretzky-led team, the Los Angeles Kings who won 10-3 in Oct. 9, 1993.
New Jersey 3, NY Islanders 2
Buffalo 1, NY Rangers 0
Carolina 6, Montreal 2
St. Louis 10, Detroit 3
Anaheim 4, Calgary 2
-- A.J. Perez
Photo: Getty Images