2:05 pm – Matt Donovan makes Team USA for the World Junior Championships. Quite a feather in the cap for Ryan Jankowski and the scouts who picked the kid from Oklahoma in the fourth round in 2008.
11:40 am - The Islanders did not have a morning skate today. Only injured players (Doug Weight, Tim Jackman) and scratches (Freddy Meyer, Jeff Tambellini) skated. Sean Bergenheim skated before the group on his own. Martin Biron and Rick DiPietro stopped pucks.
Dwayne Roloson starts tonight against the Maple Leafs. I have a story on NHL FanHouse today on Roloson and the many 40-year-old goalies since the lcokout. Prior to the work stoppage, the last 40-year-old goalie was Tony Esposito in 1983.
The Islanders will play the same lineup as Monday. Jackman will have to wait until after Christmas for his return.
While the media waited for his pearls of wisdom and news, Scott Gordon hosted a few player meetings. One was with Matt Moulson. The head coach took Moulson – one goal in his last 9 games but still playing well – through his scoring chances.
Two from Gordon: “There’s probably a little bit of a lack of confidence right now, but that will turn around.” And “If we keep generating chances, they’ll start dropping in.”
The likely Maple Leafs lineup tonight:
Ponikarovsky – Stajan – Kessel
Blake – Grabovski – Hagman
Stempniak – Primeau – Kulemin
Wallin – Meyers – Orr
Komisarek – Kaberle
Beauchemin – White
Schenn – Finger (Exelby)
A Very Mearsy Christmas: Wonderful gesture by Penguins radio play-by-play man Mike Lange, who gave up the second period of Pittsburgh-New Jersey on Monday so Steve Mears could take over. Mears, who idolized Lange growing up in Pittsburgh before his first NHL job with the Islanders, got to call 20 minutes of Martin Brodeur’s record-setting shutout. Good stuff.
(Almost) a Year Ago: Last Dec. 26, Rick DiPietro made a surprise start for the Islanders against Toronto at the Coliseum. (I remember being in West Virginia visiting my in-laws for Christmas, getting the text message and thinking, “You gotta be kidding me.”) DiPietro stopped 28 of 29 shots and had an assist in the 4-1 win. He was No. 2 star, behind Bill Guerin – who scored two goals, including the 400th of his NHL career.
The game on Dec. 26 was DiPietro’s last NHL win. He lost a week later in Phoenix, allowing five goals on 29 shots, and has not played a minute in the league since.
Ottawa Reduces Ticket Prices: Congratulations to the Ottawa Senators for recognizing their mistakes and having the guts to fix them for the sake of their business and their fanbase.
Yesterday, the Senators eliminated all “gold” and “silver” tiered pricing for games beginning Jan. 1. The correction will reduce prices for several home games between 20-30%. They have also added Family Pack games, where fans receive four tickets, four hot dogs and four drinks for $99. A week earlier, the Senators announced inititaives to grow their season ticket base.
“The NHL is more competitive than ever. Every game counts towards playoff contention,” said Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. “I want our players to benefit fully from the home game advantage. The support, energy and atmosphere that our fans create at Scotiabank Place is vital to our team’s success.”
Fans who had already purchased tickets for the games where prices have been reduced will receive a refund for the difference in price. (h/t to James Mirtle)
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