Friday, October 31, 2008

Avoiding the captivity of negativity...

If you're a fan of Prison Break on Fox you'll recognize the title of this post as the mantra of the mysterious GATE corporation. It may as well be the mantra of Islanders coach Scott Gordon as he tries to look for positives in what is quickly becoming a long season.

It was another tough loss to the Flyers last night.

Gordon continued to push the positive, of course, but boy he's got his work cut out for him in that regard.

With Rick Dipietro out nursing the mystery injury, the Islanders got it to overtime but went down a man when Frans Nielsen got called for holding - a very marginal call I thought from what I saw on the replay. Jeff Carter ended the game with an awesome shot from in close and that was that. Gordon is stressing that it was basically a well played tie but a loss is a loss to the psyche of this young team. There I go again, letting myself become captive.

Unfortunately the positive for much of the year will be close losses and the occasional win. The really negative will be the occasional blow-out and with the Islanders playing the Habs this weekend, I'm bracing myself for some major negativity.

Thursday Night Hockey

As I noted in my biography I have played hockey for most of my life. For the past 18 or so years (I think anyway, I can't really remember) that has included Thursday Night Hockey - THNL. The THNL is simply a scrap league where we have two teams - Black and White - that play against each other every week for bragging rights and a beer. However, make no mistake, this is competitive. Most of the players have played at fairly high levels of competitive hockey and so every game is played hard and the skill level is pretty good. Since we took out the contact four or five years ago the competitiveness has rarely gotten ugly - rarely.

Anyway, I thought I would add a section here to make mention of the THNL and it's progress throughout the year.

This year I find myself on White. The biggest problem I have with this having spent the last four years on Black is that I no longer get to wear my black Islanders practice jersey. The only white one I own is an old jersey with the THNL crest. At this stage it's closer to yellow than white. Definitely no style points there. Too bad the Islanders' third sweater is blue and not white or that might have been a nice reason to buy one.

Last night's contest was pretty even on the scoreboard with Black scoring two goals in the last minute or so to win 7-6. It is worth mentioning however that several of the goals that Black scored were by players 'on the suck' which, if you don't know, means they were hanging around center ice waiting for break out passes. Sour grapes? Who cares.


Monday, October 27, 2008

When the Weight comes down...

Didn't get to see the game against Carolina but by all accounts it was highly entertaining. It's not very often a team generates 60 shots and still loses but that what the Isles did Saturday. Add in the last second penalty shot for Doug Weight that would have sent it to overtime and the huge hit he put on Brandon Sutter (Brent's son) and I'm sorry I missed it.

I'm a little troubled by the hit on Sutter though. By all accounts it was a 'clean' hit in that it wasn't against the rules but a shoulder to the head is something that deserves a penalty. The NHL doesn't see it that way of course but sooner or later they will. It's just a matter how many careers are ended prematurely before that happens. The league keeps talking about headshots but won't penalize a shoulder to the head for fear that will lead to less contact. I think that's a load of crap. It won't lead to less hitting but it will lead to less incidents where players, who have a victim lined up, take the easier way out and put their shoulder into someones head rather than the potentially jarring option of laying it into someone's chest. Weight, who is not known as a hitter, saw an opportunity but rather than stand the kid up with a shoulder to the solar plexis or a nice hip-check, took the easy way out and delivered the head shot.

I may sound like like I'm contradicting myself a little here when you look back at what I said made this an entertaining game but don't get me wrong, I love to watch big hits just as much as the next guy. What I prefer to see afterwards though, is the player able to get back up and continue playing - a little sore perhaps, but with his faculties intact. Sutter was knocked out cold and no doubt has a concussion. Does anyone remember Brent Lindros? It would be a shame if this was the beginning of the end for Brandon Sutter's career in the NHL.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Ryan's Fancy...

While speaking to the mother of an eight year old boy in my daughter's class the other day I learned that her son, Ryan Fahey (an Islanders fan), had recently had the opportunity to do something that even now, at 40, would have had me giddy with delight.

Ryan was invited to participate in the Chevrolet/Hockey Canada sponsored 'Safe and Fun Hockey' camp. There, not only did Ryan get to spend time on the ice with arguably the best defenceman of all time, Bobby Orr and one of the most decorated female hockey players ever, Cassie Campbell, but he also got to hang with the greatest pure goal scorer of all time and my boyhood hero, Mike Bossy! I'm getting cold shivers just typing that!

Ryan, the cool customer he is though, took it all in stride. It's older Islander fans like me and his father Sean who can't wipe the grins off our faces.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Slow start...

With five games in the books and a 2-3 start there's lots of room for improvement. Hopefully DP can stay healthy and steal some wins.

The Isles have Dallas on Thursday who are also off to a slow start. This could be a good opportunity to get to .500.

James Duthie of is in fine form in his recent article which pokes fun at the Montreal Canadiens and their penchant for ceremony. Funny stuff but he's right about one thing; the Habs this year are looking very good. With their chances of going deep into the playoffs looking pretty good, the arrival of Mats Sundin seems more likely all the time. No doubt he's evaluating as he's contemplating.....


Friday, October 10, 2008

The regular season begins.... really

Great to see the NHL season really start last night. I still can't help but regard the European experiment as some sort of traveling ice-capades or pre-season mini tournament. At any rate it's good to turn on Sportscenter and see some hockey highlights once again. It was really interesting to see the new-look Leafs defeat the Cup champion Red Wings 3-2.

Newfoundlander Dan Cleary make an uncharacteristic give-away that led to a Leafs' goal. His hard work nearly tied it up but in the end the Leafs held on.

Another Newfoundlander, Michael Ryder recorded his 100th goal in his first regular season game with the Boston Bruins. Looks like the easy going Ryder just needed a change of scenery (ie anywhere besides Montreal) and the familiar face of old coach Claude Julien.

The Islanders will get their first taste of the regular season tonight against the Devils and with four games in six nights they have an opportunity to make some quick progress. I'm predicting a 2-1-1 record for the first four games as I think these young, energetic Isles will surprise.