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The Skinny: Isles 5, Pittsburgh 4

"The Skinny" By Eric Hornick Game 82 Isles 5, Pittsburgh 4    On to the Playoffs! Simon Holmstrom scored the winning goal with 5:3...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Feature story on Billy Smith

From the StarPhoenix (Saskatoon, SK)

Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since January 21, 1982. Visit my blog: NYISkinny.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Could AHL Rule Changes be a sign of those to come to NHL? Let's hope so.

The AHL announced several rule changes today -- two of them mirror NHL changes  -- overtime will now be preceded by a dry scrape and team will switch ends.

However, the AHL has gone an extra step (or two) in reducing the number of shootouts with two additional changes:
  • Overtime will now be 7 minutes long, instead of 5 (40% increase in length of overtime).
  • At the first whistle after three minutes are played, overtime will switch from 4-on-4 to 3-on-3.
These changes should all lead to more chances that produce more goals and reduce the number of shootouts.  (Last season 275 of 1140 AHL games needed extra time, with 97 decided in overtime and 178 in shootouts.  This compares to 129 OT goals and 178 shootouts in the 307 of 1230 NHL games that were tied after 60 minutes).

The AHL will also now mirror the NHL in that shootouts will be a 3-player, not a 5-player, process.  AHL scribe Tim Leone tweeted  @timleone  "Shootout moving in a positive direction with AHL rule changes. Down to 3 shooters from 5. Next, let's go down to 0 shooters from 3."

Two other AHL changes -- players will now be given Game Misconducts after their 2nd Fighting Major (or 3rd Major in total) and players whose helmets are knocked off must replace it immediately or get off the ice (minor penalty if they do not).
Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since January 21, 1982. Visit my blog: NYISkinny.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Watch the Isles Win the Cup ... win the Cup ...win the Cup... win the Cup

NHL Network is airing all 4 Islander Cup wins as part of their Raising the Cup series:

(All times Eastern)

  • 1980 Stanley Cup Final - Phil. at Ny Islanders Gm 6
  • 1981 Stanley Cup Final - Minn. at Ny Islanders Gm 5
  • 1982 Stanley Cup Final - Ny Islanders at Vancouver Gm 4  (listings say game 6, but I don't believe it!)
  • 1983 Stanley Cup Final - Edmonton at Ny Islanders Gm4
  •   (I would expect that they are using the Hockey Night in Canada version of all of these telecasts)

    If you want to see the last game the Isles played as Stanley Cup champions, 1984 game 5 follows the 1983 Cup win

    Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since January 21, 1982. Visit my blog: NYISkinny.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

    Wednesday, July 02, 2014

    The Skinny on the New Guys

    The Isles made the biggest splash on Day 2 of Free Agent Frenzy, signing Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin to nearly-matching 4 year contracts.  (Published reports say Kulemin's deal is for 16.75MM while Grabovski's deal is for 20MM)

    Here's some Skinny on the two newest Islanders:

    Mikhail Grabovski, who wears the year of his birth (84) will be moving to his 3rd team in 3 years. After signing "Grabbo" to a long term contract before the lockout-shortened season, the Leafs then bought him out (a move that was widely criticized).  Grabovski then spent last season with the Capitals before become an unrestricted free agent. Grabovski has recorded 107-145-252 in 425 NHL games; his best season came in 2010-11, when he went 29-29-58 for the Leafs, as a linemate of Nikolai Kulemin.

    The analytics guys love Grabovski; his career 5-on-5 Corsi is 52.6%; he led all NHL Capitals forwards (minimum 50 games) in Corsi-for % this past season.  He went 13-22-35 in 58 games for the Caps last season -- but he saw little time on the PP (1:26 per game) with Washington.  While he was born in East Germany, Grabovski is from Belarus and has put up some big numbers for his country in the world championships; this past year in his home country he went 4-4-8, +4 in six games, including three GW goals.

    Face-offs are a big part of Grabovski's game; he won 54% last season (no Islander won more than he lost).

    Nikolai Kulemin will turn 28 later this month.  Kulemin joins the Isles after spending his entire NHL career with the Leafs. He has gone 84-111-195 in 425 games.  However Kulemin went 61-63-124 in his first three seasons but is only 23-48-71 in 188 games over the last three seasons.
    Kulemin, who scored 30 goals in 2010-11 also has significant international experience (for Russia); he scored 7 pts in 10 games for Russia in the 2014 Worlds, and also played for the team in the 2014 Olympics (he was named as a back-up for Russia's 2010 team as well, but did not play).   Kulemin will need a new number; his #41 is already taken by Jaroslav Halak.

    Both Grabovski and Kulemin are represented by Moscow-educated Gary Greenstin. Greenstin is also the agent for Pavel Datsyuk.

    Today's additions brings the total to six players that were not with the Isles at the end of last season that have one-way contracts for the coming campaign.
    Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since January 21, 1982. Visit my blog: NYISkinny.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

    Tuesday, July 01, 2014

    Farewell to Nabby

    Evgeni Nabokov is now a Tampa Bay Lightning, signed as a free agent by Tampa shortly after Chad Johnson inked his deal with the Islanders.

    Nabokov leaves the Isles after compiling winning records in each of the last three seasons, finishing with a 57-43-18 mark.  His 123 games with the Isles ranks 10th all-time among goalies (4 fewer than Garth Snow) while his 57 wins rate 8th.  Nabokov's career goals against average as an Islander was 2.59; among those who played at least 2000 minutes for the club, only Chico Resch (2.56) had a lower GAA.

    Nabokov went 23-11-7 in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, earning 5 points in balloting for the Hart Memorial Trophy. However, Isles fans also remember his playoff performance, when he managed only an .842 save percentage and a 4.44 GAA as the Isles were beaten by the Penguins.

    Maybe Tampa is the right destination for Nabokov.  The winner of 350 NHL games will turn 39 later this month.
    Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since January 21, 1982. Visit my blog: NYISkinny.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

    The Skinny on the New Guys: From B to Z

    Well it wasn't Thomas Vanek, Jarome Iginla, or even Matt Niskanen or Dan Boyle, but the Isles did sign seven players on Tuesday, making it one of the most prolific signing days (at least in volume) in Islander history.

    Three players signed straight NHL deals: center Cory Conacher, goaltender Chad Johnson and defenseman T.J. Brennan. 

    Four others received two-way contracts, and will likely spend at least part of the upcoming season in Bridgeport: Kael Mouillierat, David Leggio, Jack Skille and Harry Zolnierczyk.

    Six of the players signed are veterans of college hockey (although the Isles still have never signed a player from the NATIONAL CHAMPION UNION DUTCHMEN).

    Here's some Skinny on all of them:

    Chad Johnson is expected to join the list of goaltenders who have played for both the Islanders and Rangers. Johnson, who played his college hockey for Alaska-Fairbanks, just turned 28, backed up Tuukka Rask admirably in Boston, going 17-4-3 last season (2.10 GAA, .925 save percentage).  One of those 4 losses was to the Isles, who beat him 3-1 in early November at the Coliseum in the game before their season turned for the worse in Washington.  Johnson beat the Isles at the Coliseum in a wild game a couple of weeks before the Olympic break.  With the signing earlier this summer of Jaroslav Halak the Isles have potentially their best goaltending tandem in years.

    TJ Brennan is an interesting signing and the only one of the 7 players signed today who did not play collegiately. Brennan had a tremendous 2013-14 season for the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.  The former 31st overall pick of Buffalo (2007), Brennan won the Eddie Shore Award as the best defenseman in the AHL, with eye-opening offensive totals of 25-47-72; he also added 14 points in 14 playoff games.  Winning the Eddie Shore Award is no guarantee of future NHL stardom, or even success, although a future NHL coach won the award and then won 4 Stanley Cups behind the Isles bench.

    Two seasons ago Cory Conacher finished sixth in the Calder Trophy balloting as the NHL's best rookie -- late in the campaign he was traded from Tampa Bay to Ottawa. While Bishop flourished in his new surroundings, Conacher did not, and after moving to Buffalo in March, he was not qualified by the Sabres.  Conacher had 29 points in 47 games as a rookie and 26 points in 79 games last season.   A distant relative of Hockey Hall of Famers Charlie, Roy and Lionel Conacher, Cory, the all-time leading scorer for Canisius College and a former AHL MVP, is a type 1 diabetic.

    Kael Mouillierat, a Center,  played his college hockey at Minnesota State. He will turn 27 just before training camp.  Kael spent part of the 2011-12 season with the Sound Tigers.He scored 20 goals in 60 games for St. John's last seasons, helping the Ice Caps reach the Calder Cup finals.

    Goaltender David Leggio has yet to play an NHL game.  The former Clarkson University star has put together four consecutive winning seasons in the AHL, amassing a 111-80-6 career record.   Leggio will turn 30 at the end of the month.

    Eight picks before the Isles selected Ryan O'Marra in the 2005 Entry Draft, RW Jack Skille was selected 7th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks.  Skille, now 27, has played 194 NHL games (24-29-53).  Jack split last season with Springfield and the Blue Jackets, scoring 4 goals in 16 regular season games with the Jackets; he also played all six of their playoff games vs Pittsburgh.  Skille played two years for the University of Wisconsin before turning pro and represented the US in U-18 and world junior championships in four consecutive years (2004-2007) but has yet to match that stardom at the pro level.

    Harry Zolnierczyk has 57 games of NHL experience with the Flyers and Penguins but has yet to match his success on the collegiate level.  The former captain of the Brown Bears had some success with the Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins last season, going 18-18-36 in 57 games; he also got into 17 games for the Baby Pens in the Calder Cup Playoffs.  If he appears in a game for the Isles he will become the final player in Islander history, at least alphabetically  (Alexei Zhitnik currently holds that "honor").

    Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since January 21, 1982. Visit my blog: NYISkinny.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick