Top Shelf – Islanders Daily 10/25/13

May 11, 2013; Uniondale, NY, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) plays the puck in front of New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) during the overtime period of game six of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Penguins won the game 4-3 and won the series 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

This wasn’t a quiet week at all for the New York Islanders: the Michael Grabner suspension, injuries to both Lubomir Visnovsky and Brian Strait, the overtime loss against Vancouver, the (re)signing of Radek Martinek, and the John Spano documentary. All of it culminating in tonight’s showdown at the CONSOL Energy Cetner.

The Islanders are clinging at .500 and with more issues than resolutions, the game against Pittsburgh is as much a test of will and character, as it is vying for a win.

Radek Martinek is the temporary solution to an on-going issue, as the Islander defense is anything but cohesive at present; Garth Snow and Jack Capuano hope that his experience will guide the younger defenseman, while reuniting the others with their April ’13 form, all in time to fend off what will inevitably be a grudge match this evening.

Expect Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, and John Tavares to be tonight’s standouts, each bringing with them multiple point performances and/or point streaks that have helped the Isles maintain their .500 standing.

If you’d like to gauge exactly where the Islanders and their key players place in comparison to their upcoming opponents, then let’s begin with points leaders:

As for the standings within the division: (*as of 7pm last night)

 — stats courtesy of

As you can glean from the list above, the Isles fair better than two of their three upcoming rivals, with the Penguins as the ‘no-brainer’ pick for leading the Metro Division.

The Isles last few performances were anything but convincing or reassuring, for somehow or in some way, their current record belies what fellow EOI staff member Shane Blackburn likes to call ‘the eye test’.

On the surface, this team is playing poor hockey in almost every aspect of its game. And yet, one wonders, had it not been for the expectations coming into the 2013-14 season, would these shortcomings be as glaring? be as infused with angst for some?

Whatever the case, Garth Snow wasted little time in providing a ‘home-made’ remedy to ameliorate, if but for a weekend, the woes and worries on the Island in the form of Radek Martinek.

And before Isles country looks to press the panic button, take a look at the reality and temper the anxiety. The Islanders are currently in a better place than one would think, even if the recent homestand begs to differ.

Looking ahead at what’s needed for a successful evening in Pittsburgh, the usual quips and tips apply but ten-fold: stay out of the penalty box, play responsibly on the backcheck, and keep an eye on rebounds. As for the forechecking, the plan is even simpler: if you see an angle, take it. No hesitation. No apprehension. Shoot first. Ask questions between periods.

After Friday, the Isles play a 2-game homestand, first against the ailing Flyers on Saturday, then the New York Rangers on Tuesday.

Curious to see if Benoit Pouliot gets some type of suspension or fine for his dangerous shove against Philadelphia center Maxime Talbot last night, who went face-first into the boards below the Ranger bench. Pouliot was given 5:00 minutes for Boarding and a game misconduct, while Talbot was helped off the ice by a Flyers trainer, returning some minutes later after receiving stitches to his nose.

More importantly, however, is the anemic amount of goal scoring from both the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, as neither club is producing more than a pair of goals in a given game, or have just one 3-goal game since the season’s inception. Last night’s contest being no exception.

The Isles have the speed and the talent to take each of their opponents to task, exploiting resounding weaknesses in those two teams just mentioned, provided that their instinct to do so makes it to the ice in time for the opening face off.


In Case You Missed It:

Two Minutes for Tweeting

Long-time veteran Radek Martinek makes a return to the Island for his 12th NHL season. The 37-year old veteran signed a 1-year/600K contract this past Wednesday, in hopes that he can bring some semblance of stability back to a struggling defensive core. 

Lubomir Visnovsky is listed as day-to-day, but chances of him making a speedy recovery are highly unlikely. Concussions are a delicate affair, and the caution rather than the need takes precedent. 

Isles fans, you’ve been given your marching orders. October 29th, 2013: BRING. YOUR. RALLY. TOWELS.  The Ranger-Islander rivalry continues. “How sweet it is.”

If hockey is to thrive in this country and as a sport, players like John Scott must either rethink their playing philosophy, or just be banned from the game. Either way, Scott is a problem that needs fixing. Check out Mark Graham’s piece for more on this topic.

This weekend is the time to do it. Indeed.

Around the NHL

  • SJ-BOS: 1-2
  • VAN-NJD: 3-2 OT/SHO
  • NYR-PHI: 2-3
  • ANA-MTL: 1-4
  • CHI-TB: 5-6 OT
  • WIN-NSH: 2-3 OT
  • CAR-MIN: 1-3
  • CAL-DAL: 1-5
  • WAS-EDM: 4-1
  • PHX-LA: 4-7

Across the Sound