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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays from HNLI

Happy Holidays from HNLI hosts Alex and Steve to all of our loyal listeners and readers. This show would be nothing without all of your support and contributions both on and off the air. Stay tuned to our homepage for blog updates and scheduling announcements.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

HNLI Back with a Bang

HNLI was back in business Saturday afternoon as hosts Alex and Steve took the airwaves for an hour of New York Islanders banter. Among the topics discussed were the recent home-and-home with the Rangers, Saturday's matchup with the Montreal Canadians, the Rick DiPietro saga, the development of Josh Bailey and John Tavares, and the upcoming Winter Classic and Winter Olympics. The show also featured several insightful callers, including an eyewitness to DP's second AHL rehab start in Springfield. All in all it was a great hour of hockey talk. Be sure to download the archive if you couldn't catch HNLI today live. Also remember to subscribe to the HNLI podcast by searching "Hockey Night on Long Island" in the iTune store.

Archive Page

Bloopers Poll featuring Vesa Toskala

Despite a very short tenure with the New York Islanders, most fans most likely remember Rob Davison. While he certainly wasn't the most memorable through his overall play, he certainly ingrained himself into Isles folklore by scoring a goal from over 190 feet away against Vesa Toskala:

Note: This was Davison's only goal as an Islander and one of three in his NHL career

As you can imagine, Toskala got plenty of play in ESPN's "Not Top 10" list for that one. Now, however, Vesa has another blooper that certainly rivals the Davison Debacle. Check out this play from last night's Sabres-Leafs game:

So, we ask the members of HNLI nation....which Toskala blooper is the most embarrassing?

Which Toskala Blooper is More Embarrassing?

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Isles Take Round 1, Torts on the Hot Seat?

In a less-than-pretty evening of hockey, the Islanders did exactly what they needed to do to shut down the struggling Rangers and leave Madison Square Garden with two huge points. The importance of this victory cannot be stressed enough. Sure, it's always great to beat the Rangers, but this kind of showing was absolutely crucial after such a brutal loss against Florida on Monday. The Islanders were committed to their game plan in terms of shutting down Marian Gaborik and it paid off big time. The amount of Gaborik shots that the Isles blocked was pretty incredible. Special props to Jack Hillen, who was an absolute beast in containing Gaborik and just about every Blueshirt for that matter.
Less than a year ago, John Tortorella took the reins of the Blueshirts from Tom Renney with the hope that he was the savior who could put an end to the Rangers' offensive woes. Now, almost midway through his first full season as the head coach in New York, the Rangers are in an absolute freefall and haven't scored a true even strength goal in 4+ games (6-on-5 tonight doesn't really count. Needless to say, the Tortorella era is not exactly going according to plan.

It appeared that Torts' frustration peaked tonight during his postgame press conference. In a rage that caused MSG to break out the bleep button, Tortorella responded in quite a hostile manner when asked by the media why his team was playing so poorly and what he planned to do to remedy the situation. After declaring that he has no "f***ing explanation" for his team "playing like s***", he shoved his chair and stormed off.

(It was really must-see TV.)

So, just how long does John Tortorella have to save his sinking ship? Does Torts have some job security since it's his first full year behind the Rangers' bench or is that overshadowed by just how underachieving his Rangers squad has been?

Alex's Prediction: Tortorella has until the Olympic break to right the ship....otherwise, he joins John Stevens in pink slip land.

Update: Also of note was the fact that Tortorella shortened his bench bigtime in Wednesday night's contest, leaving some of his younger players on the bench most of the game while giving his big guns ridiculous minutes. I'm starting to think he is coaching the Rangers as if they're his 2004 Stanley Cup winning Tampa Bay Lightning squad. Newsflash to Torts: You don't have Lecavalier, St. Louis, and the Bulin Wall to carry this Rangers squad every night.
The home-and-home resumes tomorrow at the Coliseum. Questions to be answered:

1. What will the goaltending matchup look like? (NYI: Martin Biron or Dwayne Roloson/NYR: Henrik Lundqvist or Chad Johnson)
2. Who the hell is Chad Johnson? (I thought he changed his name to Ocho Cinco!)
3. Will Tortorella make the kind of dramatic change that his postgame speech seemed to insinuate?
4. Can the Rangers bounce back from what is seemingly an emotional low point of their season?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On The Air: HNLI Returns This Saturday (Guest TBA)

Be sure to tune in this Saturday at 3:30 PM EST as Hockey Night on Long Island ends its hiatus from the airwaves. Hosts Alex and Steve will be back, bringing you the best hour of Islanders talk around. Among the many topics on HNLI's agenda will be a recap of the Battle of New York home and home series, a preview of Saturday night's matchup with Montreal, the latest chapter in the saga of Rick DiPietro, and much more. As always, listeners are encouraged to sound off via phone call, IM, or the HNLI chatroom. So, don't miss HNLI's return to the airwaves this Saturday at 3:30 PM EST and make sure to keep checking back here for information on HNLI special guests and upcoming episodes.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Imminent Doom for DP?

The idea that Rick DiPietro could be between the pipes for the Isles as soon as next week seemed a little too good to be true. It was.

After allowing one goal through two periods in his second AHL rehab start, Ricky was benched for the third period due to what the team called "some tightness". The report claimed that the tightness was unrelated to any of his previous injuries, but considering how many lower body injuries Rick has experienced over the past few seasons, it had to be. There was certainly a sense of further disaster in the Rick DiPietro saga.

Tonight, via Chris Botta of Islanders Point Blank, comes the following statement from GM Garth Snow:

“Ricky has been seen by the team doctors and most recently a specialist. To make sure we are taking the proper steps in his rehabilitation we will seek an additional opinion and should have a timeline by the end of the week.”

Needless to say, there is nothing positive about this report. The notion that DP could be back this month is officially out the window and now fans will play the waiting game for another announcement. But in all honesty, the announcements just don't really matter any more. DP has proven that he is simply not physically capable of overcoming his plethora of injuries and returning to NHL shape. If four total periods of minor league hockey is all Ricky could muster after 11 months of rehab from his countless number of injuries and surgeries, then chances are he is a lost cause.

Sure, the Islanders won't easily give up on their 15-year investment and "franchise player", but the team is already preparing for the worst. The fact that the team drafted goaltenders in the second and third rounds of the '09 draft in addition to signing two "number 1s" in the offseason was certainly a sign about the bleak future of Rick DiPietro.

Now, with a timeline expected by the end of the week, I'll make the bold prediction that we don't see Rick DiPietro starting between the pipes for the Isles for the rest of the '09-'10 season. While there's nothing more I would love than to be proven wrong, I think it's time that those who haven't done so already begin to face the music. It would certainly be sad to see the career of such a talented, charismatic, and just plain likable guy be cut so short, but to suggest that this is far from the truth is being in denial.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

HNLI Quick Hits: 12/13

Isles Open Home Stand with a Bang

The Scoop: Kicking off a three week stretch at home (with 2 games at MSG thrown in there), the Islanders won Saturday in overtime by a score of 3-2 over the Boston Bruins. Frans Neilsen scored the game winning goal on a breakaway after a feed in transition by Blake Comeau. Also of note, Rob Schremp scored his first NHL goal on the powerplay in the first period to open the scoring.

Our Take: What a huge win for the Islanders to kick off their "most crucial stretch of the season". While the team was horribly outshot in the third period, the Isles looked very good in the first two frames and in the overtime. Obviously that's not a model on how to win games, but clearly the team has some confidence and momentum after a big win at home. Also, it's important to note that the Isles managed to score an even strength goal for the first time in 3+ games. Also, it's the first time in 3+ games that somebody other than John Tavares has put the puck in the net. There were definitely some big positives last night and now the Islanders have a chance to take advantage of a mediocre Florida Panthers team and then play two games against the struggling Rangers. Last night's victory makes it very possible for the Isles to get just the start they need for this crucial stretch.

Retro 3rd Jerseys to Become Primary

The Scoop: Chris Botta of Islanders Point Blank Reports that the Islanders will be making their retro, royal blue jerseys their primary jerseys next season. The team is in the process of designing a matching white version to be the team's road jersey.

Our Take: This was certainly long overdue. There has been a movement among Isles fans since the team held retro night and the Isles once again sported the royal blue. There is no doubt that in many ways the Isles missed the mark with their current uniform design and it is definitely the right move to switch (back) to the beautiful royal blue.

Stay tuned to hockeynightonlongisland.com for upcoming scheduling information and more commentary and analysis! Lets Go Islanders!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Sutton Recognizes Importance of Home Stretch

As I wrote on Thursday, the Islanders' attitude about being fortunate to survive the recent roadtrip must shift to an attitude of dominance at home.

Per Chris Botta's Islanders Point Blank, Andy Sutton clearly sees things the same way.

Andy, who told reporters that he was completely miserable missing the last two weeks, said playing 8 of 10 at home is huge. “We weathered the storm half-decent on the road,” said Sutton. “Now it’s time to dominate at home.”

Good to see that Sutton, and presumably the rest of the team, recognizes the cruciality of being extremely successful in this upcoming home stand. Hopefully, with a few days off before taking the Coliseum ice on Saturday, the team prepares itself for a make-or-break type run.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

For JT, PPGs Come in Pairs

Despite coming out on the short end of their last two contests, it appears that the Isles have figured out how to use John Tavares to his fullest potential on the powerplay. Both Tuesday's contest in Philadelphia and Wednesday's contest in Toronto featured John Tavares potting a pair of goals on the man advantage. It's incredibly striking just how similar the four goals are. In all four situations, Tavares had himself positioned on the back post. Tuesday, it was Tavares hammering home rebounds from point blank range, while Wednesday night it was burying a pass from just outside the crease. Check it out:

As I wrote yesterday, the Isles return home Saturday for their most important stretch of the season. While clearly the Islanders need a lot to change for this home stand to be a successful one, hopefully JT can keep the powerplay magic alive.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Survival on the Road Must Shift to Dominance at Home

After just about every Islanders game, my HNLI co-host Steve and I make it a priority to have a few minutes of discussion on the game. As I whined after last night's 6-2 loss against the Flyers about the Islanders' inconsistency and failure to show up for every game, Steve snapped right back saying that after playing 14 of 17 games on the road, it says something that the Islanders are still even hanging around the .500 mark and the (admittedly early) playoff race. Now, the Islanders will have the luxury of coming back to Long Island and sleeping in their own beds for the next three weeks. The team's only two "road" tilts in their next ten games are a short ride away at Madison Square Garden.

Now, with the Isles' return to the Coliseum, the attitude must change drastically. Showing up every other night and hanging around the playoff race may be considered a blessing on an extended road trip, but over the course of the next three weeks, the Isles must make a major surge in the right direction. For better or for worse, this home stand will determine the direction of the Islanders' season. A .500 showing won't be enough over the next 10 games, as this block of games needs to set the pace for the second half of the season. While the competition isn't particulary easy, the team needs to take advantage of playing at home and produce an effort similar to February home stand of 2007.

So, whether the Islanders win or lose tonight in Toronto, the most crucial stretch of the season begins Saturday at the Coliseum.











Monday, December 7, 2009

HNLI Advances to Round 2 of Isles Blog-Off

Round 1 of The NHL Arena's Isles Blog-Off tournament came to an end Sunday. Of the 18 Isles blogs represented, only the top 9 could advance to the second round of the tournament. Well, we're proud to say that thanks to you, our readers and listeners, that HNLI is on to Round 2! It is an extreme honor to be put in the same company as some of the most popular Islanders blogs on the web and we at HNLI thank you all for your support.

Now that we've reached Round 2, head over to the Isles Blog-Off Poll and select your five favorite blogs from the list (including HNLI, of course). Only the five blogs with the most votes will advance to Round 3 so it's important that you make your voice heard for HNLI.

p.s. If you're not already registered at The NHL Arena, you'll need to take 30 seconds of your time to create an account over there.

As always, keep checking our homepage for updates on our next HNLI episode, as well as Isles commentary and analysis.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

HNLI Quick Hits

Ricky D Returns Tonight

The Scoop: After an eleven month hiatus from game action and a ton of rehab time, Rick DiPietro gets back between the pipes for the first time in a long time tonight. While the big club is in action in Tampa Bay, DiPietro and the Soundtigers take on the Springfield Falcons at the Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport tonight at 7pm.

Our Take: It's about time! As Chris Botta points out today on Islanders Point Blank, the Islanders put up the facade that Ricky would be able to make an appearance around the middle of training camp. Three months later, DiPietro will face twenty to thirty minutes of minor league action. Give it at least another few weeks before any kind of starting goaltending controversy ensues.

Former Isles Coach Takes the Reigns in Philly

The Scoop: The Philadelphia Flyers made John Stevens the first coach of the young NHL season to get the boot and were quick to find a replacement. Peter Laviolette, the man who brought the Islanders to the playoffs after an eight year drought and won a Stanley Cup in Carolina, will take over behind the bench for the Flyers. Full Story at TSN.

Our Take: The Stevens firing seemed inevitable and who better to fill the slot than Laviolette. To this day I detest the decision by the Isles to fire Laviolette, who has done great things everywhere that he has been. For the Flyers, things can only go up with Laviolette behind the bench. The Isles take on the Flyers Tuesday in Philadelphia.

Stay tuned to hockeynightonlongisland.com for upcoming scheduling information and more commentary and analysis! Lets Go Islanders!
HNLI Host Alex on Newsday's Back Cover with John Tavares! HNLI Alex w/ John Tavares