Surprising Islanders Mixing Vets and Youth

The Islanders skate into Montreal tonight for the first half of a
home-and-home series and even though they took all eight points in their
four games before their loss to Florida on Saturday, coach Scott Gordon
wasn’t happy with their play. If it’s the mark of a good team that they
win when they don’t play their best, then the Islanders are a good

Actually, Gordon then liked the team’s effort in second and
third periods of that 4-3 loss to the Panthers, which included a hat
trick by John Tavares, and hopes it means they’re back on track. 

down we believe we are capable of doing great things. We’re not
happy with being mediocre,” goaltender Rick DiPietro told Katie Strang of Newsday after
the Florida game. “This locker room, we’re disgusted with
ourselves. We played alright, but we didn’t play the way we wanted to

Just a point behind the Canadiens in the early going and no
longer a team that can be taken lightly, it’s appropriate to ask, “Who are those

They’re not Mark Streit, the former Hab
who was the Isles cornerstone on defence the last two seasons. When
Streit and Kyle Okposo, one of their
promising young forwards, both went down with long-term shoulder
injuries in training camp,
those observers who already thought the Islanders would struggle
mightily this season — and there were legions of them — may
have figured that they might have trouble making the playoffs in
the AHL.

And they’re not really the young team some think they
are. The goaltending and defense corps are veteran-laden.

A few
things have worked well for the Isles through
their first eight games and their best start in a decade. One has been
cutting down their goals-against.
Through eight games last year, they had four points, no regulation
victories and been outscored 17-31 on their way to full-season -42 goal
differential, third worst in the East, fifth worst league wide. This
year through eight games, they are +3. They’ve also won four in
regulation and have two more points for regulation ties.

improvement starts with their goaltending, which has been stealing
points for them. Rick DePietro finally seems healthy and playing
regularly is helping him work off the rust and play closer to his
potential (if not his insane
) on a more consistent basis. Dwayne Roloson, who played
strongly in goal for them last season. is considered the backup, but his
early season stats (including a .942 save percentage and a 1.65 GAA)
are better than DP’s (.882, 3.31) and there are more than a few teams
(Tampa Bay comes immediately to mind) on which he’d be the number 1.

Roloson is likely to get the call tonight as DP played the last two

The defence without Streit hasn’t been awful and probably
exceeded expectations. That’s largely due to the offseason work by GM
Garth Snow who brought some depth and experience to the blue line,
starting with James Wisniewski. He came over from Anaheim and has filled
some of the void caused by Streit’s injury (although he does have a
tendency to be over-aggressive pursuing the big hit).

Jurcina and Mark Eaton, who GM Garth Snow also wisely added, have
slotted in a bit lower down the depth chart. And Snow was quick to sign
Mike Mottau when Streit went down and he’s been his relatively solid, if
not flashy, self.

Radek Martinek, whose career injury file is
even longer that DePietro’s,
has had a good start to the campaign as their most dependable shutdown
d-man, so you can expect Gordon to try to get him on the ice against the
Tomas Plekanec line. Jack
Hillen, who was something of a revelation last year for his good puck
movement, just returned from injury as well and he’s an important part
their blue line mix, helping advance the puck to the forwards.

they’re expienced on the back end, the Isles are pretty young up front.
Tavares is skating with Matt Moulson, who came out of nowhere to be a
30-goal man last year and could easily do that again, and Blake Comeau,
who is good at digging the puck out along the wall. On the power play,
On the power play, Tavares has started to park in front of the net and
it worked well against the Panthers with a pair of his goals on the

Veteran captain Doug Weight centers the second line and
he’ll likely have Josh Bailey on his left (returning tonight from an
injury) and Mike Cammalleri’s best friend Nino Niederreiter on the
right. Nino will be playing his ninth game and much of the chatter on
the Island (well, that part of it that isn’t
dredging up the preseason Quebec City incident
) has do to with whether
the team will keep him for the season or return him to the junior
Portland Winter Hawks

Snow and Gordon say they haven’t
decided yet so tonight may be a big game for his near term future, but
Nino told Katie
Strang of Newsday
he thinks he’s going back. (She thinks he’s
staying, writing “He’s mature both physically and mentally, he already
possesses an
NHL-caliber shot and the Islanders can use whatever offensive upside he
has to offer”). With Robbie Schremp due to return from injury, that may
be the deciding factor.

Franz Nielsen, the team’s best defensive
forward, centers the third line and he’ll be out against the Pleks trio,
too. Chris Botta, who writes the excellent blog, reported Nielsen worked in practice this week with energetic call-up Matt Martin
on the right (in case injured Michael Grabner or Trent Hunter can’t go)
and power play specialist P.A. Parenteau on the left. Parenteau
also is generating lots of buzz
as a career minor pro journeyman who
Snow brought in for depth but has produced good numbers. His eight
points are tied for the team lead.

Three vets make up the fourth
line. Yet another guy Snow brought in for depth this summer, Zenon
Konopka, centers and he’s been skating with agitator Jon Sim and streaky
scorer Hunter, who has been injury prone and has fallen down the
depth chart.

Moulson noted to Newsday’s
John Jeansonne yesterday
that he saw a new level of confidence in
the team this season. “You have to have that attitude – that swagger,
they say – where you can
know you’re going to win games,” he said. “All great teams have that;
they don’t
play their best every single game but they have that attitude that
they’re going to win no matter what. That’s the attitude I see
developing here.”


  1. fbkj says:

    well jen, your next test, is the sandwich making competition

    i keed

  2. observer says:

    cant get puck out of their own end and when they can dimwit hamrlick ices it———-this game never should have even been in danger.

  3. Habsrule1 says:

    Where the heck to our McGuire discussion go? Was it offensive somehow?

    Go Habs Go!! “Fans are great, but the quickest way to start losing is to listen to them.” – Sam Pollock

  4. observer says:

    not my leafs and did it again late in 2nd period only reason they scored twice and are still in a game habs badly outplayed them so far.

  5. observer says:

    Another stupid or bad play nearing the end of a period by a poorly coached team. Both NY goals because habs players tro lazy to play the entire 20 minutes right to the end and took those 2 penalties. Then this passive PK that martin is using to ensure the opponent has the puck the entire 2 minutes of the penalty. Oh it didnt work again tonight twice so far. compare this ppassive PK to the flyers! Just game should be over instead habs might lose it because they let a decent young mind go coach in tampa bay.

  6. SmartDog says:

    Kostitsyn is golden! Pleks is freakin’ PLATINUM! 

    I like Moen on that line with the two little G-men.  Nasty push there… but he’s stirring up sh$t and that’s his job.

    Listen to the SmartDog. He knows his poop!

  7. Habs Proud says:

    Plekanec is worth every dime of his new contract, at both ends of the ice, yes I know its early in the season and its only the Islanders but this team is fun to watch!

  8. habsfreak13 says:

    I dunno, the habs look scary good right now, but maybe its cuz they are playing the islanders…either way keep it up boys!

  9. Muckbringer says:

    it happened!!!!friggn pleks,   kostits on fire!!!!!

  10. Muckbringer says:

    last night i turned on am640 and pm was doing weather. when i realized i was dreaming, i quickly cursed all for reality

  11. Habsrule1 says:

    The hate-on by some people on McGuire boggles my mind. The man knows his shit, and although I don’t always agree with him, there’s no doubt he has a good hockey mind. For those who say there’s a reason he’s not in the league, give your heads a shake. There are some great coaches and former coaches without jobs, and having been a media guy for a while, it can be very tough to get back in.

    All that being said, who jinxed Price with the shutout talk?

    Good game for the Habs so far. Gionta & Gomez are close to breaking out. Pouliot should be put on that line and left there for 10 games. He’s our best player available at the moment. If not him, bring up our best Bulldog or try to make a trade.

    Go Habs Go!! “Fans are great, but the quickest way to start losing is to listen to them.” – Sam Pollock

  12. Muckbringer says:

    i agree but your leafs really had help last night

  13. Muckbringer says:

    2-0 pts is 2-0 points

  14. observer says:

    remains a big habs problem – allowing a goal in closing minutes of 1st and 2nd period tonight deflating and nearly ruining the excellent effort they were giving.

  15. Muckbringer says:

    does pm ever do public apperances…calling him a dck/tool is on the bucket list

  16. terrygain says:

    What a pass! Even Tom could have have tipped that one in. 

  17. Muckbringer says:

    pleks to moen shorthanded after pm was dissin pk……FRIED FRIGGN GOLD!!!!!

  18. Muckbringer says:

    pk did givr the soobi doo, and now pm is agreeing…..choke on one pm!!!!!!

  19. Muckbringer says:

    its the throne holding deuche that ruins it.   f him!!!! if they get rid of pm id pay anything.



  20. Muckbringer says:

    k now that i get to watch a tsn game i remember why i shouldnt care about not getting them in TO.  pierre “foo foo” should make my burgers tomorrow. ive never agreed with anything hes ever said.  hell sometimes i can see grapes’s point.  

    i just hate him……HATE HIM!!!!!

  21. Mattyleg says:

    I dunno, I prefer to fly under the radar.

    And please, no “Hab Nation” sounds like we want to be TO.

    …and NOBODY wants that.

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  22. newbrunswick troy says:

    Ok now listen up all you little Hab Fans…..Everybody has to watch the first period of the habs game on TSN (as this is the time they do there ratings scan)  and apparently the first game they did netted them a market share that was better than that what they get during a LEAFS GAME on a weeknight!!!!!!we must show those Toronto ediots that they can,t ignor the Hab Nation anymore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    P.s maybe ,,just maybe they will someday give us fair coverage!!!

  23. samTHEman says:

    yesssssss. only because i hate armstrong, and the leafs even more. take that

  24. pmaraw says:

    ahah no its on the roof still, signal just came back on as well

  25. samTHEman says:

    Price gets his 2nd shutout tonight.

    10 bucks says “say ass” comes and gives his negative 2 cents. surprise surprise

  26. TommyB says:

    Strong winds today, is your dish still on the roof?  LOL.   Sorry, I know there is nothing funny about your TV going off air just prior to a game.  Been there.

  27. jennifer1984 says:

    Armstrong out 4-6 weeks thanks to Higgins.

    Must have been a bad slash to his finger. I didn’t watch the whole game. Just the part when Orr got lucky and took out the goalie.

  28. jennifer1984 says:


    not all of us are slow. believe me. i get ready quicker than my boyfriend half the time. as long as i know what im wearing.

    and thats pretty easy if you’re going to a game! jersey and pants!

  29. habsgod says:

    i just hope cammy leaves niedereiter to take foolish penalties against him and doesn’t do what he did in the pre-season

  30. pmaraw says:

    did anyone elses hd satelite go out in sw ontario?  cant get thru to bell their lines are off the hook

  31. solomio says:

    Aw come on blue nose didn’t you read the above article on the Isles and that the goalie they will start tonight has a .942 save percentage and a 1.65 GAA ?

    And you don’t really expect the Pleks line to score 5 goals do ya.? I kow they’re hot but thats expecting too much from those guys.

  32. Storm Man says:

    A 6’7 cab driver in New York would stand out a little, But come to think about it when I was in New York in the summer I had a very tall cab driver, Im 6’2 and he was a good bit taller……

  33. Danno says:

    He’s hiding out where no one will ever find him — driving a cab in New York City.


    “Hey Richard, two minutes for looking so good!”

  34. HFX-HabFan says:

    Yeah, he’s a real tough guy, hiding out in his caves.

  35. Storm Man says:

    You forgot about Bin Laden telling France ” You will be Killed”…… How is it no one has found this guy.

  36. Bryan says:

    I think that applies to every day.


    The Habs are making me slightly less bi-polar.

  37. fbkj says:

    just passin the time while the woman takes her sweet ass time getting over here before we head out to the game

    why are they so slow… 🙁

    edit: shes here, alright sluts im out, ghg

  38. HFX-HabFan says:

    So…today in summary:

    -Mike G called out the French media (which riled up Bugs as usual)

    -Smartdog complained about Gomez

    -Demigod tried to start a debate by posting a Halak link

    -I was accused of spamming because of my debut rosters

    -fbkj was hilarious

    Just another Wednesday on HIO.  I’m calling for a 5-2 win over the Isles tonight.

  39. fbkj says:

    quit douching up my post please

  40. observer says:

    Yes helmets and shoulder pads too but about nothing else. Lawrence Taylor coached one of the teams the year I saw it.

  41. Storm Man says:

    No need for me to be sold on that fact. I would like to see Montreal eye candy clean the ice when Im in town watching game’s at the Bell.

  42. fbkj says:

    eff helmets

    clear heeled skates

  43. mike g says:

    I’m not gonna say what it really stands for…

    But, on this website it can stand for GOMEZ.


    Well, I’m overpaid veteran at my job but I’m an effective part of the team.


    “These head movies make my eyes rain” -Simple Jack

    I got AK at under 64.5 pts, with Triple X and Tom Nickle.

  44. observer says:

    The only women they should give such a job to should be an athlete. They could hire a few of the football players who played in Super Bowl Sunday’s “Lingerie Bowl” game that was on PPV. They even have their own helmets in case they might slip on the ice.

  45. fbkj says:

    ill do both


  46. HardHabits says:

    Does the “g” in mike g stand for GILF?

  47. mike g says:


    Just take pics of the first 4 girls you see when you walk into the Bell..

    Guaranteed they all have awsome bodies with beautiful chests.

    Man, I love the Bell Center.

    Even the old ladies that go watch the games sometimes used to be MILFS once upon a time.


    “These head movies make my eyes rain” -Simple Jack

    I got AK at under 64.5 pts, with Triple X and Tom Nickle.

  48. fbkj says:

    gonna snatch some pics tonight of the clorox ice removal teams, just to illustrate how ice girls would be way beneficial

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