Islanders: Disappointing End to a Memorable Season

The Islanders memorable season ended in disappointment Monday with their 2-1 loss to the Capitals in Washington. The heartbreak will last the entire summer as they have failed to advance to the second round of the NHL Playoffs since 1993. But lets not diminish what the Islanders have done in their final season at the Nassau Coliseum.

The Isles did something that they haven’t done since the Ronald Reagan administration, finish a season with over 100 points (101). It was their highest win total (47) since the 1983-84 season with they finished with 50.

General Manager Garth Snow’s rebuild is finally complete. Now it’s time for the tweaks. This team will compete for years to come. It started back last May when Snow acquired the rights of goaltender Jaroslav Halak from their first round opponents the Capitals for a 4th round pick. He signed a 4-year deal a few weeks later. Halak selected to the all-star game set the record for most wins by an Isles goalie with 38. He gave the team their first legitimate since Rick DiPietro back in 2003 to 2008. Halak won 11 straight starts back in November/December and was huge factor in the playoffs. Though Game 7 would have been in Uniondale had he not let that Brayden Schenn shot in with 2.1 seconds back on April 7. Backup goalie Michal Neuvirth, acquired at the deadline for Chad Johnson likely will not be re-signed. Continue reading Islanders: Disappointing End to a Memorable Season

NY Islanders Future is Bright But It’s Wait Until Next Year!

The New York Islanders had a tremendous season. If you were a die hard Islanders fan it was tough to find an NHL expert who picked the Isles to make the playoffs this season. That was even after they landed Boychuk and Leddy at the end of Training Camp. The Islanders finished with a 101 Point Season and took one of the top teams in the NHL the Capitals to the max in a highly contested 7 game season. However the Islanders I am sure will have regrets this summer on how they performed in Game 7. And how they missed a chance at beyond a very special series versus their cross town rivals the Rangers, in the final year of Nassau Coliseum.

Going forward how do the Islanders improve? Their very young roster of talented players should be better next season just based on growing as NHL players and their experiences from this season. But do the Islanders go out and try to trade for an impact winger to play with John Tavares? The Islanders are in terrific shape with the salary cap. They have 16 players signed for next season at just under 55 Million against the cap. The Isles do have to sign RFA’s Thomas Hickey, Brock Nelson and Anders Lee but they will have plenty of cap room to make moves if they so choose. The Islanders have a riches of young defenseman as Griffin Reinhart, Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield are seem ready to take the next step into the NHL. Continue reading NY Islanders Future is Bright But It’s Wait Until Next Year!

Vancouver & Nashville Season Reviews!

The Canucks and Predators both had a lot in common this year. Both had terrific regular seasons and returned to the NHL Playoffs after missing out last year. Both lost in the first round in 6 games in two very hard fought series. But both teams this summer have to think of what might have been. In the Predators case 3 of their 4 losses to the Blackhawks came in games where they had at least a 2 goal leads during that contest. For Vancouver they were up 3-0 in Game 6 at Calgary and it was looking really good that they would return home for a winner take all Game 7 on their home ice. Let’s take a look at both teams moving forward.

Moving Forward & Making Next Year Better:

Vancouver:

The Canucks have 16 players signed for next season already at nearly 65 Million against the salary cap. If the cap falls as expected around 72 Million that leaves just enough room to fill out the roster. The Canucks were pretty solid across all categories. Their goal this off season is to add a couple of key complimentary players and have their youngsters on the roster take the next step. The Canucks pipeline is a little bit below middle of the pack according to HockeysFuture.com. Forward Jake Virtanen, Vancouver’s 1st round pick from last year is their top prospect. He might need at least another year of seasoning next year. Continue reading Vancouver & Nashville Season Reviews!

Winnipeg has a Great Season but there is Work to be Done!

Hats off to the Winnipeg Jets. I know they got swept in the first round of the NHL Playoffs by the Ducks but it was a lot closer series for those of you who followed from afar. The Jets had leads at different points in the 3rd period versus the Ducks in the first 3 games of the series. Considering all the injuries Winnipeg dealt with this year to get to the post season for the first time since returning to Winnipeg was quite an achievement. That’s the good news. The bad news is the Jets have a lot of work to do and tough decisions to make starting this off season.

Moving Forward Key Decisions:

he Jets are in very good position with the cap but they have a number of big decisions coming up starting this off season. 27 year old forward Michael Frolik is an unrestricted free agent come July. In a weak UFA class Frolik will be sought after. Do the Jets commit a long term deal to Frolik? Also rental veteran forwards Stafford and Tlusty are UFA’s this summer as well. Do the Jets consider bringing one of them back? After next season (2015-16) the Jets have bigger decisions on the table. Ladd and Byfuglien both will be UFA’s after next year. Ladd will be 30 and Byfuglien 31. Are these two players part of the Jets big picture plan when they are in their 30’s? If the answer is yes the Jets would be wise to try to sign them or at least one of them this summer. Something to keep in mind is after next season Trouba, Scheifele and Hutchinson will all be RFA’s and in line for significant contract increases both against the Winnipeg payroll and cap. Continue reading Winnipeg has a Great Season but there is Work to be Done!

The “Best Fourth Line Ever in Hockey” Delivers Again

The hits were as loud as the crowd Sunday afternoon. Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin were easily the best line for the Isles in Game 3. They established the tone early. Clutterbuck drew Capitals Forward Curtis Glencross into a unsportsmanlike conduct against Clutterbuck early in the first period. They needed an answer for the Capitals physicality in Game 2 and boy did they respond.

The line combined for a total of 18 hits in Game 3. Martin and Clutterbuck finished first and second in hits this second and have led the league for a combined 7 years. The crowd provided the line energy with each thunderous hit. Cizikas was strong shorthanded once again and the line even had a couple of odd man rushes. Cizikas had a chance to be the hero at the end of Game 3 but Caps Goalie Braden Holtby stopped him.

Back on January 17 former head coach and current “Hockey Night in Canada” analyst Don Cherry proclaimed this line to be “The Best Fourth Line Ever in Hockey”. Isles Head Coach Jack Capuano has the flexibility to use this line late in games and usually brings them one following a goal. They can also scored as well combining for 24 goals this season. Clutterbuck had the Isles first goal of Game 2. Continue reading The “Best Fourth Line Ever in Hockey” Delivers Again