More thoughts on Simon

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Rather than give pregame analysis of today’s contest with the Atlanta Thrashers, I figured I’d discuss the Chris Simon situation a little with you guys. He started practicing with the team on Wednesday and could be in the lineup much sooner than we all think. Here’s what he said the other day to the press, [courtesy of Yahoo Sports]:

“I know what I did was wrong and the league did what they thought they had to do for me to realize that they’re not going to accept those type of actions. I wish I would’ve learned the first time, but I’ve got to focus on being the best I can be and to help my team to do whatever it takes to win and to move forward, but to learn from the past.”

Tank Fuels Isles 5-4 Win

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It’s happened a few times this season and it happened again last night. When the Isles powerplay gets hot, they find ways to win. Add in a few huge penalty kills and they got the two points they needed and are keeping their bleak playoff hopes alive. Now four points out of a playoff spot, the Isles will have to continue to win games like this at a breakneck pace, or else there season is over.

Isles Leafs Pregame Thoughts

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Coming off an impressive 4-3 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, where they racked up a season-high 47 shots on goal, the Islanders face-off with another conference rival in the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight. However, that is pretty much the only thing the Flyers and Maple Leafs have in common. As a matter of fact, the Maple Leafs are in the same situation as their Valentine’s Day opponents. Not getting the offensive support from their newly acquired talent, the Leafs have to string a couple of wins together or else they could be sellers at the deadline and looking to rebuild.

 

Isles Win at Home?

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Last night’s game produced a mishmash of feelings in me that leave tons of questions that need to be answered. I figured I’d address them and see if we can find the answers together.

1-Why can’t the Islanders defense play that way every night?

The score might have said 4-3, but the Islanders defense was much better than they have been as of late. Scott Hartnell chipped in a goal and so did Danny Briere, but those weren’t exactly the Islanders fault. Keeping Philadelphia to 26 shots may not seem like a big deal, but most of the shots were of the harmless variety or from bad angles. The Islanders penalty killing also rebounded after a few bad games and kept the deadly Flyers powerplay in the mud. Overall, it was a performance I’d like to see more of.

Go Time

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Here are just a few quotes from the Islanders last game that I found quite interesting:

“We’re definitely not happy with the result, but the game itself: I don’t know how much better we could play. Our guys gave what they have.”

Those words are from Islanders coach Ted Nolan. While they originally seem like the generic quotes you’d expect from a coach in the situation Nolan is in right now, I think there’s something more there. “Our guys gave what they have” means to me that Nolan is beginning to understand that this team is done. Sure, the Wild are a far superior team than the Isles, but if they could have played better defense and converted on a few golden opportunities [Jeff Tambellini’s immediately comes to mind] they could have come out on top.

Addressing the DP “Situation”

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Over the last few games, the Islanders play on defense has gotten consistently sloppy. Nonetheless, I stick to my guns when I say that Rick DiPietro’s play has not been the reason why this team is stuck in a rut.

Defense Can’t Hold Lead in 4-3 OT Loss With Wild

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Considering how long it’s been since the Islanders were able to take a point away from a game, I guess they should be happy they coughed up a lead and then took the game into overtime, right? Probably not. Nevertheless, a point is a point and despite the loss in overtime, the Islanders offense is showing signs of life. Unfortunately the defense was craptastic once again.

For instance, James Sheppard was allowed to walk right into the slot on one of Minnesota’s goals, while Miroslav Satan was schooled worse than a fat white kid at Rucker Park in overtime, effectively costing the Isles the game. DiPietro did his fair share to keep the Islanders in the game, but the combination of sloppy defense and missed opportunities on offense signaled the end.

The Fight With Reality

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Imagine how I felt this morning on NHL.com seeing the Islanders only six points out of a playoff spot, despite playing their worst hockey since the year after the lockout. Despite injuries and ineffectiveness, this team still has a chance to turn things around. However, it’s all in their hands. If they can find a way to start scoring and limit their mistakes on defense, this season might still be worth saving.

Lackluster Penalty Killing Dooms Isles

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Well, the effort was certainly better than it has been over the past few weeks, but the defense allowed a pair of back door goals that led to a 4-3 loss against the Penguins. Pittsburgh goaltender Ty Conklin was also extremely erratic and the Isles could have ended up with much more than three goals. If you haven’t noticed by now, this is a team that is headed in a downward spiral that looks like it can’t be stopped. It didn’t help that they were as close to scoring a goal as you can possibly get in the third and the zebra blew his whistle when he lost sight of the puck. When you’re playing as badly as the Islanders have been playing lately, you really didn’t expect the Isles to get the benefit of the doubt right?

While the game ended in loss though, I really thought they might have had enough moxy to get by with a win.

Satan Hurt, Colliton Up, New Kid Line?

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The last time the Islanders played the Penguins, it was December 21st. While that may only be a month and a half ago, make no mistake about it, this is a completely different Islanders team out there. Not only have they lost the drive, passion and conviction they exhibited during the first 35 games of the season, they’ve completely forgotten how to score goals and have lost their edge on defense, making Rick DiPietro and Wade Dubielewicz both sitting ducks in net.

Flaccid Isles Attack Flounders to Ducks

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What is going on with this team? Earlier in the season, they’d lose tight games by a goal and while that was obviously tough for both the team and it’s fans, it was better than watching games like last night’s. Undisciplined, sloppy and completely lacking passion, the Islanders need all the help they could get.

Injection of Youth Joins Isles

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Ask and ye shall receive.

Just hours after pleading the Isles to call up some young hungry talent, they not only call up Frans Nielsen and Jeff Tambellini, but they sent down Tim Jackman to make room for Kip Brennan. If you guys didn’t know, about six months ago, Brennan was featured on the Discovery Channel for a feature on which sport hit the hardest. They had all of these scientists doing these tests and watching Brennan do his thing was totally enjoyable. Anyone who hasn’t seen this guy take the body is in for a real treat. If he drops the gloves, that should be fun as well.

Something Needs to be Done

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Ok, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and I think the Isles need to do something to save their season. Only one-game over .500, this team is fading extremely fast. I know that the message boards are flooded with dozens of people that say that they should trade everyone on this team and start all over and I’m not even going to get started on all the ridiculous trades these people come up with, but something does need to be done.

I hate writing about things like this as I would rather analyze the way the team is playing and comment on that, but I’ve simply had enough of this team underachieving.

Isles Memories: Alexei Yashin

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I figured since the team has been playing miserably lately and that I don’t want to sound like a broken record, I’d bring back an old segment to the site, Islanders Memories.

It’s not that I wasn’t a fan of the Yashin signing when it was originally made, because I was, but I was really worried that the pick they gave away, Zdeno Chara and Bill Muckalt would come back and bite the Isles and their fans in the arse. Sadly, Chara and Jason Spezza have developed into bona-fide NHL stars, while the Islanders overpaid for a then point a game player who never panned out for a majority of reasons.

Another Loss

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The inconsistency that is being exhibited on the ice over the past two weeks by the Islanders is growing increasingly tiresome. The constant giveaways in the offensive end are getting annoying. The sub-par powerplay is getting excruciating to watch. The new lines did nothing. The defense let Rick DiPietro down again. All in all, today’s game was a complete disaster.

Marc-Andre Bergeron needs to find a new home. Hockey fans in Edmonton know the game better than the majority of hockey fans in the world and they booed him every chance they got when he played there. Now I know why. The guy coughed up the puck so many times today that Ted Nolan should put some Dayquil next to his locker. Why Nolan keeps rewarding him by putting him on the powerplay is insane to me.

Dubie’s Effort Not Enough, Another Loss

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Well, I said yesterday that last night’s game was going to be a must win. Los Angeles has been struggling all season and the Isles, who have been playing horribly at home, needed a win. Didn’t happen did it? Again, just a mediocre offensive performance and not the smartest defensive effort I’ve seen this season. With the game so close in the third, the Isles needed to just keep the game at even strength and start a forecheck. Instead, they get called for a too many men penalty, which led to the Rob Blake goal.

Can the Isles Overcome Their Recent Defensive Problems Against the Kings?

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I don’t think I’ve said this many times this season, but this is a must win game for the Islanders if they want to make the playoffs this season. Sure, they’re in the final playoff spot and considering where many analysts expected them to finish this season, Islander fans should be happy where the team is…right? I don’t think so. The way this team started this season, fans on the Island thought this team was capable of much more. The way they played through the first 20 games this season also showed that despite a mediocre offense, they could play well against the rest of the league.

Bad Bounces and Sloppy D Kill Isles in 5-2 loss to Sens

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Even if you have the best home defense system in the world, your house can and will get robbed if you leave the back door open every night. If you don’t have much of a home security system in the first place and you do it, you’re just asking for problems.

Isles Midseason Report Card: Goaltenders

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Now that I’ve gotten everyone else out of the way, it’s time to break down the play of the Islanders goaltenders this year.

Midseason Report Card: Defensmen

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Now after discussing the forwards, it’s time to talk about the defensemen.

Freddy Meyer- no goals, three assists. While his play last season was mediocre and he was the odd-man out earlier in the season, Meyer has been unusually solid in the defensive end and has recaptured the physical play he exhibited during his rookie season with the Flyers. With more playing time, he should get even better.

Rating- B-. Scoring 26 points in his rookie season, Meyer [alongside the rest of the Islanders defense] needs to start getting some more points. However, his physical play and instincts in defensive end have been solid so far and are the key to his staying in the lineup.

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