11:30 am - Scott Gordon this morning when asked if he’s going to employ one player to try and stop Marian Gaborik: “We’re gonna bring in Kenny Morrow and use him as our shutdown guy.”
Whatever Happens…Charles Wang told a few reporters at the Board of Governors meetings in California that he did not want to discuss Brooklyn or any other options for his Islanders in the press. Asked if the team could stay on Long Island, the owner said, “Yeah, I hope so. Whatever happens, happens.”
As we’ve written repeatedly in this space for a year, Wang has a serious distate for the thought of the Islanders being anywhere except exactly where they are – in Nassau County.
Battle of New York: The Islanders enter tonight’s game at Madison Square Garden having won only one of their last five, 12 of their last 33. They are two points out of the eight and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. They are tied with five other teams for the No. 2 spot in the draft lottery.
The team may not be a juggernaut and they certainly have not earned the right to take anyone lightly, but look at their opponents in their next seven games – all in New York: Rangers (3x), Montreal, Tampa Bay, Toronto and Philadelphia. If they can’t make some hay here, they won’t make it anywhere.
The goaltending matchup: Dwayne Roloson vs. Henrik Lundqvist. Chad Johnson could start for the Rangers on Thursday at the Coliseum.
Johnson told the Rangers media that his dad was a big Islanders fan. This is common, just as many from my generation like the Cowboys, Steelers and Dolphins. And front-running 9-year-old that he is, my son Cole is all about the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Since his team didn’t practice yesterday in the aftermath of their home pasting by the Panthers, Scott Gordon exercized his vocal cords today at the morning skate. He made the boys start a drill over and got loud a few times. On one occasion, he yelled, “Shoot the puck”! It wasn’t aimed at anyone in particular.
No shootout goal tonight for Jeff Tambellini. He and Bruno Gervais are scratched.
The lines from today’s morning skate at the Garden:
Moulson – Tavares – Comeau
Joensuu – Schremp – Hunter
Bailey – Nielsen – Okposo
Sim – Thompson – Park
Streit – Meyer
Sutton – Hillen
Witt – MacDonald
The Rangers’ lineup that put up 46 shots on Monday against Atlanta remains tonight:
Higgins – Dubinsky- Gaborik
Prospal – Drury – Callahan
Avery – Anisimov – Kotalik
Brashear – Boyle – Lisin
Staal – Rozsival
Del Zotto – Girardi
Redden – Heikkinen
Voros and Christiansen are out. Donald Brashear doesn’t have anyone to fight, so I guess he’ll try to keep the peace and score a goal.
Gordon said the difference is night and day with Jesse Joensuu since training camp, which he called a “nightmare” for the 6-4 Finn. “He’s not turning the puck over all the time.” Seems the kid was trying too hard to make the team and temporarily lost his way and his game. Gordon, asked by The Jaff for any comparisons to the size-and-skill game of Trent Hunter, said of JJ, “He’s on his way to being that kind of player.”
Goalie Prospect Depth Chart: There was a question in Comments yesterday about the Islanders’ goaltending prospect pool. The serious hip injury to Mikko Koskinen may not have an effect because he was at least two years away from a steady shot at NHL playing time. So here it is:
1. Koskinen - Bridgeport (AHL)
2. Kevin Poulin (left) - Victoriaville (QMJHL)
3. Anders Nilsson - Team Sweden at WJC, SEL
4. Stefan Ridderwall - SEL
If Roloson or Martin Biron suffer an injury, Scott Munroe or Nathan Lawson would be recalled from Bridgeport to back up. Lawson’s stats are slightly better, but Munroe has more experience. Neither would get much playing time, so they could go back and forth. Lawson shut out Portland last night, 2-0, in the game Rick DiPietro was originally scheduled to play as his final tuneup.
Koskinen, the rapidly-emerging Poulin, Nilsson and Ridderwall give the Islanders the depth and quality of young goalies they haven’t had since Roberto Luongo and Kevin Weekes. Even with Koskinen’s injury and DiPietro’s continued plight, Ryan Jankowski shouldn’t have to use any of his picks in the first three rounds next June on goalies.
Two for Canada: In case you missed it below, Islanders prospects Travis Hamonic and Calvin de Haan have made Team Canada for the World Junior Championships that begin later this month in Saskatoon. The NHL Network is broadcasting all of Team USA’s and some of Canada’s games.
Figren in Freefall: 2006 third round pick Robin Figren is already at a crossroads in the development of his North American career. He may only be 21 and in his first full season in the AHL, but you can call this a crisis.
On a not-deep minor league team in Bridgeport, Figren has become a healthy scratch. He has two assists in 22 games. This has become so dire, you almost have to assume there’s a reason why the Swedish wing has yet to be sent to Utah of the East Coast Hockey League. Perhaps he is balking at the re-assignment.
Until then, Figren is not even a prospect any more. So much for the good kid who flashed some skill and a big smile at the prospect camp this summer. Sad.
Kohn Injured Again: In other Sound Tigers news, Dustin Kohn suffered a “lower body injury” last night in the home win over Portland. Kohn, the next in line should a Bridgeport defenseman need to be recalled, was evaluated this morning and listed as day-to-day. He apparently was hit in a sensitive area – like the sensitive area.
Red-Faced Report: Remember Kyle Woodlief, the former “scout” who took the opportunity to sell some of his pamphlets by ripping on John Tavares leading up to the draft? With Tavares leading all NHL rookies in points and assists, let’s recall some of Woodlief’s greatest hits:
Right now, he’s the third-best draft-eligible forward on his own team behind Nazem Kadri and Phil Varone.
Five-on-five, Tavares has been nothing short of a liability.
His attitude of entitlement stinks.
Let’s try to remember this the next time Kyle uses another teenager to make a name for himself.
After the morning skate, Tavares gave the same kind of polished, respectful answers about playing in Madison Square Garden that he did about playing in Toronto, Montreal, Boston, Sunrise, Raleigh…
Post-game Plus/Minus, MSG edition: Join Point Blank later tonight as we take our interactive P/M to Manhattan. As we do for every game at the Coliseum, we’ll give thumbs up and down to everything from Islanders-Rangers to the event surrounding the game.
Comments on tonight’s game and this post.