The dominance over the Rangers continues! NHL.com’s Brian Compton and Christian Arnold of Islanders Point Blank look back at Tuesday night’s battering of their cross-town rival. Plus, Brian chats with Arthur Staple of Newsday about how the team will replace an injured Kyle Okposo and the importance of the Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck line.Subscribe in iTunes
The Islanders aren’t just on fire on the ice, they’re heating up the retail department, too.
According to Fanatics.com, Islanders-related sales are up 124 percent over last year. It’s the retailer’s biggest increase among NHL teams (Newsday, Jan 28)
Sales John Tavares merchandise are up 180 percent.
Brian ErniFanatics is a good barometer of national sales, because their warehouse stocks the NHL website’s store as well. What’s more impressive is that the Islanders’ gear available from bigger retailers is always sparse and usually terrible. Now imagine the kind of figures the Team Stores at the Coliseum (which carry much better product) are doing.
This tugs at a string that most Islanders’ fans knew existed: this fan base has been dormant, lying in wait for a reason to come forward. I’ll stop short of calling fans “bandwagoners,” because I find that to be fairly condescending, but there’s no doubt that the winning has correlated with the uptick in merchandise-generated revenue.
Thinking bigger picture, it’s a great time for the Islanders to bring in retail revenue. It shows that the brand is just fine as-is (read: don’t touch our blue-and-orange look), and the more money the Isles can generate this way, the easier it is to reinvest on the on-ice product.
The NHL has fined Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck $2,000 for embellishment. (Sportsnet)
From the NHL:” Clutterbuck was issued a Warning following an incident flagged by NHL Hockey Operations during NHL Game No. 397 against the St. Louis Blues on Dec. 6. His second Citation, which triggered the $2,000 fine, was issued for an incident during NHL Game No. 676 against the Philadelphia Flyers on Jan. 19. Flyers forward Jakub Voracek received a minor penalty for hooking on the play, at 19:04 of the second period. The Islanders scored on the ensuing power play.”
Clutterbuck is the fourth player to be fined this season. James Neal, Gustav Nyquist and Vincent Trocheck have also been fined.
For the second straight game against the Islanders’ crosstown rivals, Jaroslav Halak put on a clinic.
Halak kept the Rangers off the board for over 59 minutes, as he missed his second consecutive shut out against the team by 8.1 seconds. He had 40 saves, including 18 in the second period alone.
“They dominated a lot of the play tonight, to be honest,” Jack Capuano said after the game of the Rangers. “Our goalie made some terrific saves for us.”
With the win, Halak improved to 26-9 on the season. He now also owns the franchise mark for consecutive scoreless minutes against the Rangers.
Brian ErniDespite the fact that John Tavares was awarded the first star, no one shined brighter on Monday than Jaro. Halak had fantastic lateral movement, going side to side with ease, as he protected his posts and cut off the Rangers’ angles. The stop he made on Rick Nash early in the first period, where he came out to the top of the crease and made a big pad save, directing the puck safely to the corner, was a great momentum builder. It allowed the Islanders to dominate the first period and go into the room with a 1-0 lead.
His performance in the second period, though, was where the Isles won this game. The Islanders played a lot of dump-and-chase in the second, and that allowed the Rangers to get more carry-ins and really control the play for the majority of the 60 minutes. Halak, though, was the saving grace. He made stop after stop, including two brilliant saves on Martin St. Louis, and was the Islanders’ best penalty killer. Overall, just a sparkling effort for the man who has been the town’s best goaltender to date this season.
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:UNIONDALE, N.Y. — If there were any concerns about the Islanders playing the next 6-8 weeks without Kyle Okposo, they quelled them very quickly on Tuesday night.
The Islanders routed the New York Rangers and the newly pieced together top line gelled pretty quickly. Josh Bailey and Johnny Boychuk set up Mikhail Grabovski for the opening goal of the night.
“Grabo has great hockey sense,” John Tavares said about his line mate. “He knows his way around the ice. Obviously playing a left shot on the right side is a little different and different style of game, but just try to keep it simple. Don’t try to do too much and I think for both of us — even [Bailey] — the first game back everyone is trying to get their legs under them.
“Just try to get pucks to the net, but certainly some nice passing and good job of puck support, and talking to one another.”
Grabovski has skated with Tavares and Okposo earlier in the season, but did not stick with the Islanders’ first line. Tuesday was also his first game back since being sidelined with an upper body injury.
“I thought he did real well,” Jack Capuano said of Grabovski’s performance. “His minutes were up there and I thought his condition was really good. That’s something we take a lot of pride in and he got a big goal for us.”
The Islander winger has had a fluctuating season through 47 games this year. He has 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) through 39 games this season.
Grabovski’s seven goals are not the production that the Islanders were likely hoping for when he was signed during the offseason. The move to the top line could help boost his scoring production and help him elevate his game.
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:
The Islanders defeated the New York Rangers 4-1 Tuesday night at a sold-out Nassau Coliseum. It was the Islanders’ third win in as many games against the Blueshirts this year. It was also the third consecutive time that Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist allowed three or more goals against the Islanders.
The victory pushes the Isles further in front of the Rangers. They are seven points ahead of their Manhattan rival in the Metropolitan Division and moved back into first place in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s a big game and obviously the standings are tight,” John Tavares said. “These games are a lot of emotion and intensity. It’s just a good way to start [the second half]. I think we gave up quite a few chances tonight, but the intensity was there, work ethic and Jaro [Halak] played a great game.
“He made some big saves and it’s just a good win.”
Halak had 40 saves for the Islanders and was stellar between the pipes. He was fresh off his trip to the NHL All-Star Game over the weekend and nearly had his second straight shutout oagainst the Blueshirts before Carl Hagelin’s power play goal with 8.1 seconds left. To read more of this story, click here
Recap: The Islanders improved to 3-0 against the Rangers this season for their first three-game winning streak against their rivals since 2007.
Need to Know: Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak (40 saves) came within 8.1 seconds of his second consecutive shutout of the Rangers, allowing a power-play goal by Carl Hagelin. Halak has a five-game winning streak against the Rangers, allowing just eight goals in those games.
Mikhail Grabovski scored the Islanders’ first goal with 1:55 left in the first period on assists from Johnny Boychuk and Josh Bailey. . .Grabovski, who had missed the previous five games, replaced Kyle Okposo (out 6-8 weeks) on the Isles’ first line.
The Islanders outshot the Rangers 17-10 in the first period; the Rangers had a 31-21 advantage in the final two periods.
Matt Martin scored the Isles’ second 4:11 into the second period off a rebound of Casey Cizikas’ shot. . .Ryan Strome added the third goal 6:12 into the third. . .. .John Tavares scored the Isles’ final goal with 3:13 remaining on a 5-on-3 advantage, two days after tying an All-Star Game record with four goals.
The Islanders opened a seven-point lead on the Rangers (65-58) and moved into first place in the Eastern Conference after Tampa Bay’s loss to Carolina.
The Islanders’ Frans Nielsen, who assisted Strome’s goal, missed a breakaway chance in the first period set up by an accurate two-line outlet pass from Nick Leddy.
The Islanders ended the Rangers’ three-game winning streak at Nassau Coliseum, which was sold out for the 12th time in 21 games this season.
Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (34 saves) is 0-3-0 this season against the Islanders, but 10-0-1 in all other games against Metropolitan Division teams.
The Rangers and Islanders meet twice more this season, both at Nassau Coliseum (Feb. 16, March 10).
What’s Next: The Islanders host the Boston Bruins Thursday (7 p.m.).