Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
If the Eastern Conference-leading Islanders provide a measuring stick for the also-running Rangers, then the Blueshirts came up about as small Tuesday night at the Coliseum as the meteorologists around these parts whose predictions of an historic blizzard panicked the populace.
Came up about as small … again.
For it’s now 0-for-3 for the city slickers against their suburban cousins following this 4-1 defeat in which the Rangers didn’t score until 10 seconds remained in the match. It’s 0-for-3 while outscored by an aggregate 13-4 … 11-2 over the last seven periods … 7-1 over the last two games just two weeks apart.
Make that suburban daddies.
Three games constitute a small sample size, but it doesn’t take a seer to see the Islanders loom as a legitimate roadblock to the Rangers’ objective of returning to the Stanley Cup final. It doesn’t take a seer to see which team is New York’s best at the moment, either.
from Arthur Staple of Newsday,
There has been no gloating by anyone on the Islanders. No finger-pointing at the many, many NHL media members who wrote off the team during last season's disappointment.
The closest that anyone, from general manager Garth Snow on down, will say publicly has been coach Jack Capuano's repeated line that "a lot of the people in this room didn't give us much of a chance to be where we are."
Despite being near or at the top of the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference for just about the entire season, the Isles seemingly would rather stay humble and hungry than remind people how mocked they've been in recent seasons.
It's the reason Snow has declined to speak about his team on numerous occasions when asked. All he would give is a response to one question: What do you want to see from your team in the final 36 games of the season and on into the playoffs?
"Wins," he said.
His first NHL hat-trick too.
New York Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak and Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will serve as injury replacements at the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game to be played Jan. 25 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).
Halak and Fleury will replace injured goalies Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators and Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings.
from Arthur Staple of Newsday,
Of all the eye-catching numbers the Islanders have posted this season, perhaps the best and most important ones are the team's records within the Eastern Conference (20-5-1) and within the Metro Division (13-2-0).
There's no reason to rehash last season's records in those two categories. They weren't good by any comparison. This year's team has shown a new sense of purpose to not only earn crucial points, but earn them against the teams the Isles are trying to outdistance in the playoff hunt....
The 13 divisional wins are tops in the NHL, having beaten all seven fellow Metro teams at least once. And this is not beating up on weaker teams at the bottom. The Isles are 6-2 against the Penguins, Capitals and Rangers, the three teams most likely to join the Isles in the postseason.
from Neil Best of Newsday,
It's hockey season, New York!
"I am pretty excited about it," MSG analyst and former Islander Butch Goring said of the Islanders-Rangers game, which will feature two of the best teams in the sport so far this season. "It's been a long time since the game had some meaning. We always talk about the rivalry, but the standings dictate it wasn't nearly as important for so many years now."...
There is no more objective measure of sports interest than TV ratings, and they tell a stark story. Through 36 games on MSG, the Rangers are averaging 1.54 percent of area homes -- up 27 percent from this point last season -- and the Knicks are averaging 1.71, down 24 percent....
The Islanders are averaging 0.53 percent of area homes, up 26 percent from this point in 2013-14.
from Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post,
How big can a hockey game be in January?
Big enough that Rangers coach Alain Vigneault already had a name for it, just a day before his team was to play host to the first-place Islanders at the Garden on Tuesday night.
“It’s going to be a New York classic,” Vigneault said after Monday’s practice. “It should be a lot of fun for both teams. They’re the best in our division, and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”
from Allan Kreda of the New York Times,
The Islanders, 26-11-1 heading into Sunday’s game at Edmonton, have 14 victories in 18 home games and certainly are giving LoFaso and friends many reasons to celebrate. The top two rows of the fans’ section and the arena itself — where members of the so-called Blue and Orange Army stand for the entire game — are emblematic of the Islanders’ rabid fan base.
“We’re like a family up here because we’ve been together for so long,” said Tom Ballantyne, 22, part of the Section 329 crowd since the 2006-7 season. “We’re not just jumping on the bandwagon. Like this team, we’ve grown up together.”
Section 329 does not have an official membership list, but LoFaso said that as many as 60 fans congregated there, singing and chanting and wearing Islanders scarves.
Most are too young to remember the last time the Islanders won a playoff series, in 1993, not to mention the four straight Stanley Cups of the early 1980s.
For Jeremy Musella, a 22-year-old Hofstra senior, the gatherings are amusing and life-affirming.
“We may get carried away saying stuff with varying levels of appropriateness, but it’s all in fun,” he said. “The best part is we’re all friends because of how much we love hockey. I can’t imagine anything bringing this many people together like this has.”
from Rich Chere of NJ.com,
The call? A slashing minor.
“Zid stepped up in the neutral zone on him with a clean hit,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. “It looked from the bench like (Tavares) speared him. I don’t know why it was a slashing call.”
Zidlicky confirmed he was speared.
“I don’t think that was necessary what he did,” the defenseman said.
Was he hurt?
“A little bit the first couple of seconds. He hit my stomach,” Zidlicky said. “I’m okay.“
more on the game... and video of the spear is below...
The good, calming news for all three of our Met Area clubs is that parity in the NHL is real and, as the Islanders already proved last month; a winning streak can propel any one of the trio right back into the playoff hunt.
Advice to Rangers, Islanders and Devils fans: Relax; the race is a marathon, not a sprint!
-Stan Fischler at the Daily Freeman where you can read more on the Rangers, Islanders and Devils.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org