Kukla's Korner Hockey
Chris Kunitz with the power play goal in overtime.
from Mark Herrmannof Newsday,
Welcome to the playoffs. The Islanders barely had time to wipe their feet on that nice friendly mat, buoyant about taking that first step into the postseason. And they found out it was a trap door. Oops.
The best the Islanders can say after their 5-0 drubbing in their first postseason game since 2007 is that they got it out of the way. The next best thing is that the Islanders are decidedly more of an underdog now than they were at 7:30 , a few minutes before the opening faceoff against the Penguins. Being in the position to overcome something has summoned the best from these Islanders.
from Allan Kreda of the New York Times,
Colin McDonald personifies the resolve of the resurgent Islanders as much as any player on their young roster.
McDonald, 28, was a second-round pick by the Edmonton Oilers in 2003, but his road to his first Stanley Cup playoffs was tinged with disappointment after being let go by the Oilers and the Pittsburgh Penguins before signing with the Islanders last summer.
McDonald, a wing, had 7 goals and 10 assists in 45 games this season after playing in only seven N.H.L. games combined with Edmonton and Pittsburgh. He knows the mind-set of the Penguins, the Islanders’ first-round opponent starting Wednesday night, who finished atop the Eastern Conference, 17 points ahead of the Islanders.
“I know first-hand how strong the Penguins are top to bottom, that’s why it was so hard for me to crack their lineup,” McDonald said. “But if we play our game, we know we can play with any team in the league.”
from Kevin Schultz of IslandersPointBlank,
Throughout the season, the Penguins have been an excellent team to the tune of tops in the Eastern Conference and the most goals scored in the NHL this season. There’s no doubt that they’re a tough opponent for the Islanders to face in this week’s first round.
However, if there’s one chink in the Pens’ armor, it could be their poor possession numbers over the last month. Since Sidney Crosby has been out with injury — sustained March 30 against the Islanders — the Penguins haven’t controlled possession like they normally do. And not only that, but their deadline acquisitions haven’t helped the cause.
from Steven Marcus of Newsday,
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, echoing Islanders owner Charles Wang's comments last week, said he would like the Islanders to leave for their new home in Brooklyn "as soon as possible," but said the team is prepared to play out its lease, which expires after the 2014-2015 season.
"I'd like to see them in the newer building as soon as possible," said Bettman, speaking at the Associated Press Sports Editors commissioners meeting," but I believe the Islanders -- not believe, I know -- they're prepared to fulfill their obligations under their burdensome lease. If Nassau County was inclined to let them go earlier I know they would go."...
"If you talked to [general manager] Garth Snow and Charles Wang, they will tell you that their ability to get free agents was impacted by the fact that why would you want to play in that arena 41 times a year when you can go to other places."
Barclays will address some hockey related issues, Bettman said.
Right now the New York Islanders are the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference, The Rangers and Senators trail them by two points but Ottawa has a game-in-hand on the Islanders. and Rangers.
from Arthur Staple of Newsday,
The next biggest game of the Islanders' remarkable run comes Saturday afternoon. This one, against the surging Jets in the always-loud MTS Centre, could be the one that puts the Islanders in full command of a playoff berth....
A regulation win Saturday would put the Islanders five points up on the Jets with three games to play, all but assuring the Isles of their first playoff berth since 2007 -- and likely their first playoff berth with a seed higher than No. 8 since 2002.
from Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun,
“You can see how bad we want it,” Tavares said after lighting up the Leafs for two goals and an assist in a 5-3 Isles victory.
“The perception has not been very good for our organization for a long time. I know what our goals are and where we are headed and what we want to achieve.
“I know we have a great future. I believe in this team and what we have. It’s great for me to be part of bringing the Islanders to being in the playoffs and the tradition that so many people care about down there.”
There’s no doubt that Tavares is the catalyst for the Islanders. Defenceman Mark Streit is the captain, but Tavares plays like one.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
It is only fitting that this wonky, lockout-shortened NHL season should come down to the final days with a couple of oddballs actually playing a game with playoff implications.
Both the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Islanders are in good shape to make the postseason. The Leafs can make it for the first time in nine years if they win Thursday’s game with the Islanders in regulation time and the Winnipeg Jets lose in any fashion. The Islanders need a few more points to clinch their first trip to the playoffs since 2007, sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 49 points, three ahead of the New York Rangers and the Jets, although they are only one behind the Ottawa Senators.
Seeing the Islanders in this position is particularly unusual, since their history since the glory days of the early 1980s and four consecutive Stanley Cups has been one of unstable ownership that brought mediocre hockey and a crumbling fan base. Charles Wang brought financial stability when he bought the team in 2000 but his capricious and puzzling decisions after taking a direct role in the Islanders’ hockey operations (huge contracts for Alexei Yashin and Rick DiPietro, for example) ensured the team remained an NHL laughingstock.
This year’s appearance in the playoffs will only be the fourth for the Islanders since 1995 and each time they lost in the first round. Their wacky history is shown in some of the career records for the franchise.
By Eli Epstein of TiqIQ,
To hockey diehards, from the New York area or outside of it, the New York Islanders are this season’s feel good story. The franchise, which hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2006 and advanced beyond the first round since 1993, was again pegged by many at the beginning of the season to finish at the bottom of the Atlantic Division, behind perennial contenders like the Devils, Penguins and Rangers.
The Islanders never got that memo. After beating the Panthers Tuesday night, they’re 22-16 and sit in sixth place, three points ahead of the eighth place Rangers. A rebuilding process in Long Island that began with drafting scoring phenom John Tavares first overall in the 2009 draft is beginning to reap dividends for the Isles. The Ontario-born center is joined upfront by Brad Boyes and Matt Moulson, who together form one of the NHL’s most underrated lines.,
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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