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Where Will the Islanders Finish this Year?Photo from Flickr user adamlm
That’s the big question on my mind as the NHL season opens tonight.…View Post

Where Will the Islanders Finish this Year?

Photo from Flickr user adamlm

That’s the big question on my mind as the NHL season opens tonight.…

View Post

Islanders and Free Agency

So we’ve had the first day of free agency “frenzy”, which saw quite a bit of Islander news, so I wanted to get down a few thoughts.

First, the resigning of Nabakov. I was happy to see this for one big reason. Yes, Nabby had some issues during the season and then in the playoffs, but the Isles were looking down the barrel of Poulin being the top goalie on the roster, so Nabby makes for a nice fallback plan. I’m not convinced this is how the season will start, but I think Garth Snow had to get this duck in a row, and then see what happened with the roster post free agency before looking to upgrade through a trade. I simply don’t think there was a free agent goalie out there that would have been an unquestioned upgrade on Nabby.

UFA signings: Regin and Bouchard.
I liked them both, with caveats. Regin isn’t a huge signing, but gives the team some depth, and replaces Aucoin in the bottom six, for a small price. Bouchard seems destined to be the latest wing to play on the first line, the Isles seasonal contract offer to a guy coming off a down season who is capable of more. I think he probably plays as well, if not better than, Boyes. Possibly close to the production they got from Parenteau, but maybe a better defensive player, which that line needs. I just wish we had a clear first line player in the wings who we could look forward to playing alongside JT for years. Will that be Strome, Nelson, or someone else not on the roster, or will Okposo or Bailey make that jump? It’s definitely a hole on the team, and slapping temporary fixes won’t get us where we want to go. That said, Bouchard isn’t the worst temporary fix.

RFA Travis Hamonic gets paid.
I like this. Having an up and comer like Hamonic locked down for seven years at a reasonable price is the way to build the base of this team!

Is there another move to come? Probably, but it will be late, after teams have figured out where they are headed and what they need to address in a trade, or one of Garth’s infamous waiver wire pick ups.

What do you think? Thoughts, opinions, predictions, etc. welcome in the comments.

Most Important Position in Sports

With all due respect to quarterbacks, is there any question that hockey goaltender is the most important position in sports? With free agent signing period upon us, just think about the consequences of getting this position wrong.

Last year’s Flyers. Traded away Bobrovsky and went with Bryzgalov as their goaltender. Bob won the Vezina and almost got an offensively deficient Blue Jackets team into the playoffs single handedly. The Flyers didn’t make the playoffs and bought out Bryzgalov this week. They now either need to turn Steve Mason into the greatest reclamation project of all time, or find another goalie.

Not a good enough example, how about those Blue Jackets? So, so close to a playoff berth, which would only have been their second. The only year they had a playoff team, Steve Mason’s Calder winning rookie year. Every other year, even with a much more talented roster, poor goaltending kept them from being competitive at all.

Or, how about another goaltender who is being bought out this week, Rick Dipietro? He was an All Star goaltender and the face of the Isles franchise. He was all set to spend his career having the team built around him. Then he got hurt, then he got hurt again, and again, and again. More importantly than the long contract that seemed silly as the missed games piled up, the Isles fell apart without a decent solution in goal, for years. The high price of getting it wrong in goal.

Here’s hoping the promise shown by those same Islanders last season isn’t derailed by a poor choice in goaltending this year. It’s an open question going into the offseason, and getting it wrong will only set this team back once again.

NHL14 Cover Vote Previews Next Season For Me

As the semifinals of the EA Sports NHL14 Cover Vote went down this past weekend, I was given a quick preview of what Twitter will be like for me next season. The Islanders John Tavares was up against the Blue Jackets Sergei Bobrovsky.

Now, I’ve been an Islanders fan for as long as I can remember. I used to go out to Long Island to visit my grandparents and watch the games on TV with them as a small child. I was heartbroken when the lost in the 1979 playoffs to the hated Rangers. (Especially since my brothers were Ranger fans, ugh!) I sat and listened to the games on radio when they weren’t on TV during the glory years, and I’ve hung with them through some tough years since.

I lived in Columbus when the Blue Jackets came into existence. Since they represented the chance to see NHL games locally, I was a big fan of Columbus getting a team, and since they were in the Western Conference, I was safe to root for them for 79 or 80 games every year. (The exceptions being games against the Isles, where I traded out my Blue Jackets jersey for an Islanders one!) I figured one day, they might meet in the Finals, but it was unlikely and I’d worry about that then.

Now, with both teams in the same division next year, there’s no rooting for the Blue Jackets. As I watched my Columbus followers push for votes for Bob, and my Isles tweeps push for Tavares, there was no doubt which one I wanted to win. They are the enemy. We maybe don’t have the same history as we do with the Rangers, Devils, Flyers, and Penguins, but the Blue Jackets are the same as those teams. A division foe that must be banished if we are to make the playoffs and ultimately win the Cup.

Sure, I’ll always have a soft spot for the Blue Jackets, and if the Isles are eliminated, I might just pick up some rooting interest for them. On the other hand, as the years go by, there will be incidents, games, and players who I grow to hate, that will up the emotional ante for competing against the Jackets just like with our more traditional rivals.

It’s been fun Jackets, but starting next season, it’s over between us.

We Have a Series!

Just when the hockey world counted out the Isles and gave the Peguins a walk into round two, the boys gut it out and steal game 2. We go to Long Island tied up at a game a piece and the old NVMC will be rocking come Sunday. I’m just sad that I will be on a plane instead of enjoying the scene, but I’m sure the fans will do us all proud.

The Pens may be the better team, and may yet win the series, but the Islanders are declaring themselves a team to be dealt with going forward.