Nassau Coliseum Memories: Nick Hirshon

Throughout the season, Islanders Point Blank will speak with fans, players and media about their favorite memories at Nassau Coliseum…

NHL: New Jersey Devils at New York Islanders

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

Islanders Point Blank spoke with author Nick Hirshon, who penned the book Images of America: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Hirshon has been an Islander fan since the 1999-2000 season and is a teaching fellow at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University. In addition to writing his book on the history of the Nassau Coliseum, he has worked for the New York Daily News and Hirshon was kind enough to sit down and chat with IPB about the hockey barn he holds near and dear to his heart.

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grabner goal

Michael Grabner is heating up, but will it keep him in the lineup?

After dealing with injuries for the bulk of the season, Michael Grabner is back and making his presence felt.

Grabner opened the scoring just 1:32 into Monday afternoon’s game against Philadelphia.

The goal was Grabner’s second in three games. He has five points in his last five contests and is a +5 over that same stretch.

Brian Erni

It was vintage Grabs. He got a great feed right on his blade from center ice from Nikolay Kulemin, darted into the Flyers’ zone with that familiar burst, and roofed a wrister over Rob Zepp’s shoulder and into the far corner. That explosiveness is a facet the Islanders simply didn’t have with Grabner on the shelf, and his goal was a reminder of how valuable he can be.

With Grabner seemingly healthy, heating up, and capable of helping the embattled penalty kill unit, it creates an interesting problem. Mikhail Grabovski should be set to return after the break, and that means one forward will have to sit down. Right now, Grabner is making a strong case as to why he shouldn’t be the odd man out. Yes, it’s been a small sample size (and the other goal during this stretch was an empty netter), but averaging a point per game in no more than 13:53 of ice time at least has to make Jack Capuano take notice. It will be interesting to see if Grabner has given himself enough of a buffer to survive the coming roster crunch.

Ed. Note: Brian Erni is SNY’s Brooklyn Nets writer and is also a huge Isles fan. He’ll be contributing to IPB more and more, along with his excellent coverage and commentary of Brooklyn’s basketball team.

Islanders Point Blank Podcast: Thomas Hickey calls in

The Isles keep rolling at the Coliseum!’s Brian Compton and Christian Arnold of Islanders Point Blank discuss the team’s big wins over Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Plus, the guys chat with defenseman Thomas Hickey (7:20) about his stellar play and the boisterous crowds at the old barn.

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martin no helmet

Fourth line gets physical, immediately pays dividends for Isles

Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck aren’t strangers to throwing their weight around, and they did just that when they felt the Flyers were getting too chippy on Monday afternoon.

After a few non-calls on the Flyers in the third, Martin and Clutterbuck hit the ice and laid monster hits on every Philadelphia body in sight.

“Teams will not push us around, especially in our building,” Matt Martin told reporters after the game.

Cal Clutterbuck also said the team felt the Flyers were taking liberties with the Islanders, and they needed to stomp Philadelphia out. (Graziano, Jan 20)

Overall, Clutterbuck (10) and Martin (9) combined for 19 hits on the game.

Brian Erni

The best fourth line in hockey struck again on Monday and it couldn’t have come at a better time. This really was a huge point in the game. The Flyers had just cut the Islanders’ lead to 5-3 and were buzzing. There was still more than 16 minutes to play and the Isles were not playing the stifling defense we’ve become accustomed to seeing this season. They needed a jolt and they got it in what looked like a scene straight out of the Mighty Ducks, with Martin and Clutterbuck playing the roles of Fulton Reed and Dean Portman respectively. The Flyers had no answer for that kind of physicality and it allowed re-take the play and score just 1:24 after Martin was credited with the initial hit.

Overall, I’ve been really impressed with the fourth line. They know their roles, and they’ve shown they’re willing to play within themselves by wisely dumping the puck deep when they get possession in the neutral zone. All three of them do have a scoring touch, but they’re happy to simply put a body on someone, throw pucks towards the net, and leave it to the next group. It’s refreshing to see and it has really made them a group that would be near-impossible to break up at this point.

Ed. Note: Brian Erni is SNY’s Brooklyn Nets writer and is also a huge Isles fan. He’ll be contributing to IPB more and more, along with his excellent coverage and commentary of Brooklyn’s basketball team.

NHL: Washington Capitals at New York Islanders

Hamonic on Isles key to success: Halak and the forecheck

With Monday’s victory over the Flyers, the Islanders took over the top spot in the Eastern Conference heading into the All-Star break. For Isles defenseman Travis Hamonic, he knows there’s more than a few keys to success for this squad, but some have been more important that others (NHL, Jan. 20).

“Our forecheck… Man, I watch how some of the defensemen have to play against our forwards and it makes me happy that I’m on this team, because they give some guys fits,” Hamonic said. “We have guys that get in on the body and hit and hit. They’re just relentless. As a defenseman, maybe in the first and second it doesn’t wear you down, but come the third period it’s going to wear you down. Obviously I’m not getting in on the forecheck, but from that perspective it looks like it makes things difficult on other teams, and I think we have one of the best forward groups in the League.”

But the forecheck isn’t the only important thing on the ice for Harmonic. No, this next one is care from the offensive zone, between the pipes.

“Jaro [Halak] has been unbelievable this season, can’t say enough good things about him,” Hamonic said of the Isles goalie Jaroslav Halak. “So when there are chances to be had, he’s been there to shut the door every time.”

Things have been coming together on the ice for the Islanders, who have struggled through a string of tough seasons. Now, as they look to stay on top, Hamonic attributes that success to the persistency of this squad.

“Obviously there were a couple of years there where things weren’t really going our way, and then we had the playoff run a couple seasons ago. We’ve had some new pieces come to our team, but for the most part it’s been relatively the same personnel, the same people,” Hamonic said. “I think we’ve always believed in our group and what we’re trying to accomplish here. By no means have we accomplished anything yet, but I feel like we’re playing some pretty good hockey and we’re just trying to get better each game.”

Grabovski could return after break

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The Islanders may have a tough decision on their hands when they return from the All-Star break.

Head Coach Jack Capuano said that Mikhail Grabovski could be ready once the team returns from the break. He has been out with a lower-body injury since leaving the game early on January 9 against New Jersey. Grabovski, along with injured defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, both skated before Monday’s matinee against the Philadelphia Flyers.

“Grabbo is getting real close and could be ready when we return,” Capuano said. “Visnovsky again skated this morning. Felt really good, but don’t know if he’d be ready right after the break. They’re still day-to-day, but it’s good to see both of them on the ice going through the drills. Now we will just get them in some contact.”

The question will then become who comes out of the lineup to allow for Grabovski to go back in. If Capuano does not want to mess with the chemistry of the team he could hold off on reinserting Grabovski in a similar fashion he did with Michael Grabner. 

The Islanders have gone 5-1-0 since Grabovski went down with an injury, which includes big wins over the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Islanders head into All-Star break off a 7-4 win over Philly

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — It took the Islanders just 1:32 into the first period to take the lead in their eventual 7-4 win over Philadelphia Monday, their final game before the NHL All-Star break.NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at New York Islanders

The Islanders head into the break with a 31-14-1 record and hold the top spot in the Metropolitan Division. They also hold, for the moment, first place in the Eastern Conference.

Monday’s contest was never really close. The Islanders took a 3-0 lead after Nikolay Kulemin scored his second goal of the game at 4:53 of the second period. Former Isles captain Mark Strait scored to cut New York’s lead to two, but that would be as close as the Flyers would get.

The teams traded a combined seven more goals before all was said and done as the Isles secured the win.

“It was just a good hard effort,”Islanders captain John Tavares said. “A lot of hockey the last few days and it was just a good effort to end the stretch we just had here on a good note. We were able to create opportunities, a lot of pucks to the net and that brought us some success.”

The Isles finished with 41 shots on net and Jaroslav Halak made 25 saves in the victory. Kulemin’s three points gave him six in his last five games .

Kulemin has 20 points (11 goals, nine assists) through 46 games . Those 20 points tie his season total from last year with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Russian winger said he was happy with where his offensive game is.

“I like to play offensively more. Just try to go to the net more and find more lanes to shoot the puck,” Kulemin said.

The Islanders will practice on Tuesday. Their first game after the All-Star break is next Tuesday (Jan. 27) against the Rangers at the Coliseum.