The Mustache: Isles-Sens Tonight 7PM from the ‘ole Barn

 

Uniondale, NY – Paul MacLean will win the Jack Adams trophy for coach of the year this summer in Vegas. What he has done with his Senator team 15-8-6 36 pts is just down right excellent.  The Senators were not bit with the injury bug this season they have been infested by it.

With their star forward, and leading scorer Jason Spezza 34-50-84  last season, already sidelined with an apparent season ending back situation. To then have their star (future superstar) Erik Karlsson (first “s” is for silent) season end in most peculiar and very unfortunate injury on February 13th, only 13 games into the season would have crushed most teams. Many including your pregame host here had figured the Senator goose to have been cooked, and well done mind you. Boy was I wrong, and hats off to them!

When Karlsson went down the Sens record was 7-4-2. Since that time they have compiled an 8-4-4 record losing that night in Pittsburgh, and the next one to the Leafs. Since February 16th the Senators have had only 2 out of 14 games where they have failed to register a point. Wait, what? Really?

They have quietly or perhaps now not so quietly been one of the very best teams in the league. Going 8-2-4 in that span, and coming in off of a very successful weekend topped off with a statement win over what was a very hot Jets team 4-1 on St. Patty’s day… Impressive… most impressive.

The Sens have done it old school style, with my very favorite of all winning formulas.  Win you games at home, then try to stay .500 on the road, and you will have a very successful campaign.  Ottawa is a Prince of Wales best 10-1-3 at home, fortunate for the Isles the game tonight is not in the Great White North’s Capital, it ‘s in Nassau where the Sens arrive with an average 5-7-3 road record.

Ahhh yes the Islanders, almost forgot about them… I could just wax on about the Senators all day… That mustache is so mesmerizing…

There is another hockey club playing tonight, and they too are like Cougar are comin in hot! Our Isles return home from their beach party in sunny FLA, where they went 2-0, earned 4 points, and climbed over mankind’s greatest nemesis, mediocrity ( I heard that somewhere???) .

The Isles had yet another chance to go, and to get over the .500 mark, and in Florida they finally found a way. With 118 minutes of some of their best hockey of the season the Islanders seemingly are starting to come together for what is already the stretch run, and I’m excited.

The Islanders are 5-1-1 in March, and now are 13-12-3 for 29 points on the season, still 10th in the Prince of Wales just 3 points out of a playoff spot, just one behind the Rangers, and 2 ahead of… oh who gives a rat’s tush??!! With the lockout shortened, in conference only, 3 points awarded a night season one could lose their minds staring at the standings all day. Trust me it’s true!

Role ‘em Cappy !

The Islanders have become a very interesting team, with arguably one of the best 4th lines in the game, even if it has been forced to mix it up a bit lately due to injury.  Casey Cizikas‘s game winner the other night was an absolute thing of beauty. Muck, muck, muck, do your homework!!!

If the Islanders, can get goals like this coupled with what we know we will get from the John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Brad Boyes line. Sprinkle in our road best/ 5th overall power play (not that one of those is a guarantee, last 3/8 games without a power play opportunity, a coincidence for certain), mix with a dab of Kyle Okposo, and Josh Bailey contributions, and off we go. Folks we can role four lines with anyone in the conference (except Boston, no one matches up with them), and very few teams can role 4 solid lines… We can…

The play of Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin, and Colin McDonald have raised the level and expectations of this entire organIzation across the board! Weather we make the post season or not, our future with this 4th line is something that I just can’t help but be fired up about! And ladies and gentlemen as you know I’m a cart miles ahead of the horse type’o guy, so we are looking at Tavares, Ryan Strome, and Cizikas up the middle for the next decade. Startin to come together…

Defense wins…

And I’d be failing you as a reader, and as a fan if I didn’t make mention of the ever improving play of our defensive corps. Of course that 1:43 in South Florida the other night was a glitch of concern, and darn near caused me to throw unsweetened iced tea in an angry fashion towards my boob tube… sure… But I digress…

The play as a whole has greatly improved since that embarrassment in Pittsburgh, which I can truly forgive that night we just ran out of gas, and into the lion’s den. That one aside the play in front of Evgeni Nabokov has been steady, he is able to have a clear view at the puck, and the gaping holes, and miles of u- covered ice from the neutral zone to 10 feet inside our blue line have been reclaimed.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have seen a rush from the other team through the neutral zone with not even an Islander on the shot in the camera just forfeiting 1/3 of our zone time and time again.  However to their credit, and to the credit of the coaching staff the freedom to just waltz into our zone unchallenged seems to have been eradicated.

Thomas Hickey, Lubomir Visnovsky, and one of the all time classic Islanders Radek Martinek have all stepped up their play. I just can’t say enough about Martinek, he is for years now just a very good NHL defenseman with a cannon for a shot.  He may not be pretty out there, but when I see some one barreling down on him one on one or see Martinek racing back to get the puck I feel absolutely confident that he is going to some how some way get it out of our zone. And as a former third string USB club hockey net minder, you will take 6 Radek Martineks in front of you any night, trust me on this one.  And is not Thomas Hickey getting better, and better night after night,  yet another diamond in the ruff by Garth Snow ??

Quick Notes:

  • Senators Kyle Turris was named the NHL’s 2nd star of the week for last week. recording points in his last 4 games 4 goals 2 helpers, and he leads all Sens in goals and scoring 8-11-19 in 28 games this season.  The 23 year old Coyote cast off is finally starting to live up to his high draft status.. (please read Josh Bailey)…
  • Brad Boyes is red hot! He has goals in 3 straight, and 9 pts in his last 6 (4 goals, 5 assists) he’s 3rd on the team in scoring with 8-16-24 in 28 games played thus far, and is really starting to develop chemistry with his fellow Missasaugans on our elite top line. Dear Mr. Snow please sign Brad Boys STAT… Thank you Islander Fans!!!
  • Isles open a four game home stand with 4 games in 6 nights concluding Sunday versus the Panthers… Stay focused people this is it!!!

Lines:

Tonight’s probable lines:

Forwards

26 Matt Moulson – 91 John Tavares – 24 Brad Boyes

12 Josh Bailey – 51 Frans Nielsen – 21 Kyle Okposo

53 Casey Cizikas – 10 Keith Aucoin – 13 Colin McDonald

17 Matt Martin – 16 Marty Reasoner – 36 Eric Boulton
Defensemen

3 Travis Hamonic – 47 Andrew MacDonald

14 Thomas Hickey – 11 Lubomir Visnovsky

2 Mark Streit – 4 Radek Martinek
Goaltenders

20 Evgeni Nabokov

 

Believe

Tonight, and this entire week really, the Islanders, and their fans need to believe that we are this good, that we do belong in the playoff race, and conversation.  I get the feeling that everyone out there is a little hesitant to get excited about our club, waiting for the other shoe to drop, and we just fall quietly out of contention cause we just simply are not that good.

Folks I’m here to tell you that that simply is not true.  We belong here, as a matter of fact we are better then just a .500 bubble team. We have solid/very solid starting goaltending, we can as I stated role 4 lines with arguably our 4th line as our very best, we have good/excellent special teams, we have a gelling defensive corps, we have youth, we have speed, we have size, and toughness, we can out work you, or out fineness you. We are a good team, so don’t sit around waiting for these guys to disappoint, expect them to win!

Maybe I’m wrong? Maybe Islander fans see it this way too? I hope I am because, sooner rather than later this young lion laying in the weeds of Nassau is going to pounce, and I will simply write “love to say I told you so…”

And as a little parting gift to say thank you for your time…

 

Thanks everybody enjoy what is truly just an excellent week for hockey !!

Be Great !!

Scotty Bonner

Tryin to capture the Spirit of the Thing

P.S. Have a Nice Day !! :0)

Follow Scotty: @moosiestmoose42

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Topics: Brad Boyes, Casey Cizikas, ERIK KARLSSON, Evgeni Nabokov, HOCKEY, Islanders, JASON SPEZZA, John Tavares, Lubomir Visnovsky, Matt Martin, Matt Moulson, New York Islanders, NHL, Ottawa Senators, PAUL MACLEAIN, Playoffs, Radek Martinek, Senators, Stanley Cup Playoffs, Thomas Hickey

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