Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Neil Best of Newsday,
It has been a long time since the New York area had a hockey regular season such as this one - not only on the ice but also as reflected by television ratings.
Take the Islanders: Their games on MSG Networks have averaged 0.60 percent of homes, which might not sound like much but is 76 percent better than at this point last season.
The Rangers were up 26 percent to 1.63 percent of area homes entering Monday night's game and easily will surpass the Knicks for the first time since 2007-08.
from Adam Gretz of CBSSports,
After their 4-3 shootout loss to Columbus on Thursday, the Islanders have won just four times in their past 15 games and are at .500 hockey (13-13-1) since late January.
The number of games a team wins down the stretch isn't always the best indicator of what it is going to do in the playoffs and can sometimes be given too much importance. It's more about how a team is playing, even if the results are not there at that exact moment.
So how concerned should the Islanders be given their recent play?
What is especially alarming about Thursday's game is that it was seventh time they have lost this season when leading after two periods. And not only were they leading 2-1 going into the third period, they scored 55 seconds into it and actually had a two-goal lead with less than 20 minutes to play.
And they still only came away with just a point by losing in the shootout.
Given the state of goal scoring in the NHL these days and how difficult it is for teams to come back from third-period deficits, that many losses when leading after two is a pretty high number.
from Stephen Lorenzo of the NY Daily News,
With just three wins in the Islanders’ last 12 games and no home wins in March, one must seriously wonder if it’s time for the Isles to press the panic button.
The Isles dropped another game at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday, this one, 3-2, to the Kings. A poor clearing effort by the entire team − particularly Kyle Okposo − led to a late third period Anze Kopitar goal to seal it for Los Angeles. The Isles have now dropped six straight at home.
“We can’t sit back at this point in the season and be happy (about) where we are. We haven’t done anything,” Travis Hamonic said. “There are teams right behind us. I don’t know who won tonight, but there’s teams right behind us and we’ve got to realize what’s at stake.”...
“Clearly we have to be a lot better, starting with myself,” said John Tavares, who played one of his worst games of the season. “I know that I have not played close to my best the last couple of games, certainly tonight.”
from Arthur Staple of Newsday,
Social media threats made to Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy Tuesday prompted local and federal authorities to open an investigation, the team said.
A now-suspended Twitter account posted pictures of Leddy's Minnesota driver's license and a credit card and made violent threats against the Islanders' defenseman and the team's security director contacted the Nassau County police as well as the FBI.
"We alerted local and federal authorities immediately, as well as the NHL," a team spokesperson said. "They're investigating the matter. Nick and his family are safe."
from Greg Wyshynski of PuckDaddy,
A Twitter user named ‘NoorsSlut’ posted an image of Leddy’s Minnesota driver’s license and a MasterCard debit card with “Nicholas Leddy” on it. The user also posted images of an unidentified woman posing with Leddy, with derogatory words written over her face and body in Photoshop. The same woman appeared as the avatar on user’s account.
While the Tweets were later deleted, there were also reports of death threats towards Leddy originating from the account.
from Allan Kreda of the New York Times,
Pat LaFontaine has always been a popular Islander, though in recent years he has not been seen much at Nassau Coliseum.
Since he left the franchise during the turbulent summer of 2006, after the abrupt departure of Neil Smith as general manager, LaFontaine, the team’s gregarious former center, has primarily concentrated on his charity work and, more recently, working for the N.H.L. as vice president for hockey development and community affairs after a brief job as an executive with the Buffalo Sabres.
Before the Islanders leave for Barclays Center, however, LaFontaine will finally return to Nassau Coliseum, which he called home from 1984 to 1991. A Hall of Famer, he was happy to be invited back by the team owner Charles B. Wang and General Manager Garth Snow to greet fans and be recognized on the ice before Tuesday’s game against the Minnesota Wild.
“I haven’t been in the building for a long time, so I’m excited to see it again,” LaFontaine, 50, said. “I cherish those times and the players I played with. And the Islander fans have always been great. I’m honored to come back to where it all started for me.”
added 8:21am, Below, a short clip zoomed in on the incident, which also makes the players look about four feet tall...
from Steven Marcus of Newsday,
The Islanders have taken a sudden downward turn, with three straight losses in regulation dropping them from the Metropolitan Division lead to second place, five points behind the Rangers and only two ahead of the Penguins, both of whom have games in hand on the Isles.
But John Tavares doesn't want his teammates to focus on the recent spiral. "It's important not getting down, getting caught up in the standings," the captain said Monday. "You know, a lot of it's mental, so you've got to prepare each and every night. It's going to be a battle. It's a fun time of year to be playing.
"I think you have to look at it as an opportunity to have that chance to prepare yourself. I think everyone's got an idea of that, I don't think there's too much that needs to be said. But it's important, I think, just to understand the process. We've just got to work our way out of it."
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
Garth Snow won’t be mistaken for Sam Pollock any time soon, but the general manager of the Islanders sure has done a nice job of silencing his critics in the past few months. Through a combination of luck, opportunity and gumption, he’s turned his team into a force in the Eastern Conference and earned himself a lot of respect in the hockey world.
Snow’s latest bold strike was the signing of veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk to a seven-year, $42 million contract on Thursday. Here’s a guy who was wearing black and gold in the preseason before Snow stole him from the cap-squeezed Bruins before opening night. Since then, Boychuk has been a linchpin of New York’s defense, a smart, physical two-way player who can eat a ton of hard minutes against top opponents, and who sets the tone on the ice and in the dressing room. For a guy who can do all that, $6 million per season is more than fair.
You can’t complain about the length of the deal, either. No, the 31-year-old Boychuk is not expected to be a 25-minute ace when he’s 38, but that’s not the point. Snow gave him seven years because that’s exactly what he would have gotten from another GM on the open market. Snow knows what Boychuk has meant to this team. Why go cheap now?
continued plus additional NHL topics...
from the New York Islanders,
The New York Islanders announced today that defenseman Johnny Boychuk has agreed to terms on a seven-year deal, signing through the 2021-22 season.
Boychuk, 31, leads all Islanders defensemen in points (32), assists (25) and plus-minus rating (+17) through 59 games this season. The Edmonton, Alberta native has already established career highs in goals (seven), assists and points in his first season with the Islanders and ninth professional season.
“Johnny’s influence in our dressing room, both on and off the ice, has been immeasurable,” Islanders General Manager Garth Snow said. “His veteran presence is an asset that we are thrilled to help lead our club.”
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
You bet it was about more than just nostalgia when the New York Islanders and New York Rangers met for the last regular-season game between the two teams at Nassau Coliseum. The historic rivalry has taken on a new level of intensity this season as the two clubs jockey for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division standings, and the Blueshirts gained some gain ground on their familiar foes with Tuesday's 2-1 win at the old barn.
Sure, it was Rick Nash's 39th goal of the season that broke a 1-1 tie in the third period, but let's give some recognition to the yeoman's work Cam Talbot has done for the Rangers in goal. He has stepped up in the glaring absence of an injured Henrik Lundqvist and has been more than just impressive.
On Tuesday, Talbot stopped 29 of 30 shots, just the latest in a fine string of performances. The 27-year-old Talbot is now 3-0-1 with a .99 goals against average and a .966 save percentage in his last four games. Meanwhile, the Rangers are within one point of the Isles for first place in the Metropolitan, but they have four games in hand. Prepare for one heck of a battle down the stretch.
continue for more from the ESPN writers including Burnside on Sens/Bruins, Custance on the Blues and LeBrun on Lightning/Candiens...
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.
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