Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Wednesday May 30

As the days are now numbered for the NHL the Ducks are playing like champions. After a magical come-from-behind win in Game 1 set a tone for play at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Game 2 was about shutting down Ottawa's offense which is just what the Ducks did on Wednesday night. Anaheim pulled off a last minute 1-0 victory of the Senators to take the series lead 2-0. Focus now shifts to Ottawa where a Stanley Cup Final game has not been played since 1927. So many questions remain unanswered as of yet both large and small. Can the offensive powerhouses of Ottawa find their lost scoring touch? Can the Ducks bring the Cup back to the West Coast for the first time since 1925? Is Ray Emery working this hard for nothing? Can a Canadian team finally win the Cup back? On Wednesday night defensive forward Samuel Pahlsson scored the biggest goal of his career with 5:44 remaining in regulation. What will happen? Stay tuned to FIW for the Stanley Cup updates.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Monday May 28: First Game of Finals

Without the Islanders, or even Former Islanders, the world of hockey is a lot blander. With that out of the way, the NHL lumbers on and Monday night was the first night of Stanley Cup Final action between the Eastern champion Ottawa Senators and the Western champion Anaheim Ducks. The match, opening in SoCal for the first 2 games, was hotly and tightly contested. When all was said and done the Ducks had edged the Sens 3-2 to take a 1-0 series lead. Travis Moen netted the game winner with only 2:51 remaining in the third after the Ducks rallied from two 1 goal deficits. Play resumes Wednesday night with Game 2 at the Honda Center.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Tuesday May 22

With the Anaheim Ducks staring their second Stanley Cup Final berth in the face they did not disappoint. Despite nearly blowing a late 3 goal lead the Ducks pulled off the 4-3 win at home over the Detroit Redwings. With the win the Ducks took the series 4 wins to 2. For the second straight game it was hard to find Former Islander Todd Bertuzzi anywhere. Here is a look at the FI numbers:
  • Bertuzzi's ice time was slashed for a consecutive night as he clocked only 13:00 in total ice time. He managed 2 shots on goal and finished -1 on the game. In sum he finished the playoffs with a modest 3 goals and 4 assists for 7 points in 16 games. He logged 15 penalty minutes, 1 powerplay goal and assist apiece, 24 shots and finished -2 overall.
  • With the exit of the Redwings there are officially no Former Islanders left in the chase for the Cup.
  • Despite the best efforts of Dominik Hasek is a disappointment that the Redwing coaching staff decided never to start or even let Chris Osgood play. Osgood was unbeatable in regulation since the beginning of January. But then again, Hasek is the goalie of the future, right? With one of the oldest goaltending tandems in the league it seems the wheels were eventually going to fall off of this final line of defense. All we have to say is: poor Ozzie.
  • A rare moment in hockey history will occur when the Ottawa Senators or Anaheim Ducks hoist the Stanley Cup in the ensuing week or so. The league will crown its 3rd first time winning franchise in a row (Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes and Ducks/Sens). There haven't been this many first time winners in a row since 1914-1918 when the Toronto Blueshirts, Vancouver Millionaires, Montreal Canadiens, Seattle Metropolitans and Toronto Arenas all won in a row. Those winners spanned 3 different hockey championship formats! The Blueshirts won in the waning days of the Champions Cup, while the middle three won in the age of the shortlived NHA-PCHA championship and the Arenas were the first winner in the equally shortlived NHL-PCHA era.

Check back soon as the Stanley Cup Final kicks off on Monday night.

Sunday May 20

Just as the Former Islanders make a reappearance they can disappear in the blink of an eye just the same. That is the story of Todd Bertuzzi who failed to make an tangible appearance in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final after scoring 3 points in his previous 2 games. The Detroit Redwings dropped the game, at home, 2-1 in OT to the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks now lead the series 3-2. Here is a look at the numbers for Bertuzzi:
  • Bertuzzi clocked only 12:01 of ice time while going +1 with 1 shot on goal.
  • More surprising than that, for us here at FIW, is the complete lack of playing time for Chris Osgood, a tender who hasn't lost in regulation since early January. But, whatever.

Check back soon as we near the Stanley Cup Finals. Thank you, from FIW.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Saturday May 19

Play resumed on Saturday afternoon as the Ottawa Senators looked to wrap up their series against the President's Trophy winning Buffalo Sabres in 5 games and secure a Stanley Cup Final berth for the first time in franchise history. They did just that with a 3-2 OT win Buffalo. Despite blowing a late 2-1 lead late in the third, Daniel Alfredsson vaulted his Sens into the final round with a wrister that bounced off a defenseman's stick and just in the post at the 9:32 mark of the overtime frame. A lot of lucky bounces and lucky timing have made the Senators the hottest team of this playoff cycle as they have compiled a 12-3 record defeating each of the first three teams they have faced in 5 games. For FIW it was a sad day as the corps of FI loses one of the last hopes in the form of Sabre Tim Connolly. Here is a look at the numbers from Connolly's perspective:
  • In 19:57 of ice time Connolly managed 2 shots on goal, nothing more, nothing less. Despite that, Connolly had a good playoff run scoring 9 points (all assists) in 16 contests. Connolly was vital in helping to score a couple of huge goals in these 3 rounds, including an assist on the game winner in Buffalo's only victory of the series.
  • With the teams remaining there are only 2 FIs left with a chance for Stanley Cup glory. Those players are Todd Bertuzzi and Chris Osgood of the Detroit Redwings. As mentioned in prior posts, Bertuzzi has 7 points in 14 games this postseason and Chris Osgood has yet to clock a minute of ice time as Dominik Hasek is expectedly dominating the net.

Check back soon as the Redwings and Ducks face off on Sunday afternoon. As always, thanks for checking in with FIW for all your playoff/Former Islander updates.

Thursday May 17

With Game 4 up for grabs in the Western Conference Final and the Anaheim Ducks facing a 2-1 series deficit without there top defenseman for the night things looked rather bleak. But despite blowing a 2 goal lead the Ducks edged the Detroit Redwings at home 5-3 on Thursday night to knot the series up at 2 wins a piece. Play resumes in Detroit on Sunday afternoon. For the lone Former Islander things looked up as Todd Bertuzzi played a vital role in the Detroit resurgence midway through the game, albeit the effect was short-lived. Bertuzzi had 2 points on the night. Here is an in depth look from the FI perspective:

  • Bertuzzi cut the Duck lead to 3-2 with a powerplay tally 7:48 into the second period. The goal, his 3rd of the playoffs, was his first with the man advantage in the postseason since April 21, 2002 against none other than the Redwings in a first round matchup with his former Vancouver Canucks. Bertuzzi then added an assist on a powerplay goal less than 8 minutes later to temporarily tie the game at 3. The powerplay assist was his first since April 29, 2003 when the Canucks were in a second round set with the Minnesota wild. With 3 points in his last 2 games Bertuzzi's play has really kicked into high gear. In 14 games this postseason Bertuzzi now has 3 goals and 4 assists for 7 points.

Play is off on Friday and resumes Saturday afternoon as the Ottawa Senators look to eliminate the Buffalo Sabres in a surprisingly low 5 games. Check back for all your updates on FIW.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wednesday May 16

Buffalo is safe for at least one more night. The Sabres pulled off a squeaker, 3-2 win, before a sold out crowd against the host Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night. The series, though barely closer, is now a 3-1 advantage for the Sens. Much as Todd Bertuzzi made a reappearance act on Tuesday in the Redwings win, Tim Connolly made a little FI wave with a big point in tonight's matchup. Here is a quick look at the Former Islander happening of the night:
  • Connolly was credited with the primary assist on Buffalo's game winner at the 8:06 mark of the second period. The point, his second of the series, is his 9th of the playoffs (all assists) in 15 games. On the night, Connolly had 19:21 of ice time with a +2 rating and 2 shots on goal.

Check back soon as Detroit seeks to grab a commanding lead in the Western Conference series on Thursday night, while Anaheim looks to make the series interesting again. As always, Former Islander Watch.

Tuesday May 15

Talk about someone and they shall reappear, or so it seems on FIW. Todd Bertuzzi rose from the near-dead to score a goal in Detroit's thumping of the host Anaheim Ducks in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, 5-0. The Redwings now lead the series 2-1 and look to capitalize on the blueline hole created by the 1-game suspension to toop-tier Duck d-man Chris Pronger for his thuggish elbow-into-the-face check on Tomas Holmstrom. All of that, though, is neither here nor there for FIW. Let us have a look at the aforementioned Former Islander at work:
  • Bertuzzi ended a 6 game pointless streak with an even-strength goal 3:17 into the second period of Tuesday night's match. The goal, which caromed off his skate and then off the skate of Duck tender J.-S. Giguere was by no means a beaut but count it. In 16:51 of ice time Bertuzzi managed 2 shots with a +1 rating and no penalty minutes. In his 13 games this offseason, Bertuzzi now has 2 goals and 3 assists for 5 points. His play has increased steadily since its rapid decline towards the end of the San Jose series.

On Wednesday night the Sabres look to stave off elimination against the red hot Senators. Check back for all your updates here at Former Islander Watch.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Monday May 15

Last post I postulated as to the waning presence of Former Islanders. With this post I am going to have to ask: Where are the Buffalo Sabres? You know, that team that won the President's Trophy for best record in the league. The team that steamrolled the Islanders, made the Rangers look foolish when all was done and was supposed to challenge the Ottawa Senators, a team that has never, I repeat, never made the Stanley Cup Finals. Following there 1-0 loss to Ottawa north of the border on Monday night, I would have to say they're nowhere. The Sens now lead the series 3-0 and could wrap business up on Wednesday at home with a win. Here is a look at the work of the 1 FI on the ice on Monday night:
  • Tim Connolly is not to blame for his team's lack of presence. Yet he has done little to deserve any accolades. Monday was no exception as he only managed 2 shots on goal in 16:23 of ice time. No +/- rating, no penalties, and of course, no points. Only time will tell if Connolly and the rest of the Sabres can turn it around, a miraculous proposition at best.

On Tuesday night the Redwings' and Ducks' focus shifts to Anaheim where they will play Game 3 to determine who takes the series lead. Detroit looks to inch one win closer to another dance with Lord Stanley's Cup while the Ducks look to return to the big series for the first time since they almost won it in 2003. Check back soon for all your FI/playoff highlights.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Sunday May 13

Where, oh where, are all the Former Islanders? Not in the playoffs anymore, it would seem. Sunday night's Western Conference Final Game 2 matchup between Anaheim and host Detroit Redwings finished with the Ducks waddling away with a 4-3 OT win. With the series now even at a game a piece, the focus shifts to the West Coast where the Ducks will host Games 3 and 4. But for FIW the story, for the third of 4 conference final games, was the continued glut of Former Islanders. With Dominik Hasek cruising Chris Osgood doesn't seem to be making a start anytime soon and Todd Bertuzzi is, well, invisible. Here is a quick look at the game from the FI perspective:
  • Bertuzzi cracked the 10 minute mark logging 13:51 of ice time on Sunday night. After that where was he? He had no points, no shots on goal, no penalty minutes, no +/-, nada. Zilch. Zip. Zero. Much like the seeming residue of his star career. Oh well, there's always Game 3.

Check back soon as we recap Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Will the Senators continue to gore the Bison to death or will the Sabres make it a point to make it a series?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Saturday May 12

On Saturday night the Ottawa Senators stunned and silence the Buffalo crowd as they defeat the Sabres 4-3 in 2OT. For the first time ever the Senators lead a series 2-0, in this case stealing both of those games on the road. Our resident Former Islander in this series, Tim Connolly, played another huge role in this game, albeit moot following the Senators game-winner in overtime. Here is a look:
  • Tim Connolly assisted on the game-tying goal with 6 seconds remaining in regulation. With the point, Connolly snapped a 2 game scoreless streak and now has 8 points, all assists, in 13 postseason games. On the game, Connolly clocked 21:53 of ice time going +1 with 1 shot on goal.

Detroit and Anaheim face off on Sunday night. Check back with FIW soon for all your Stanley Cup highlights.

Friday May 11

The Western Conference Final kicked off on Friday night to an expected low-scoring, defensive match. The Detroit Redwings walked away with the 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks after scoring with less than 5 minutes remaining in regulation. The win gives Detroit a 1-0 series lead. Former Islanders, few and far between now, were of little import on Friday. Here is a quick look at the contributions of our one example:
  • Todd Bertuzzi played less than 10 minutes for the second straight game clocking 9 minutes and 49 seconds of ice time. He managed no shots and finished the game with a -1 rating.

Check back soon for more playoff highlights including Saturday's tilt between the Sens and Sabres.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Thursday May 10

Thursday night kicked off the start of the Conference Finals. We are now down to the final four teams all vying for Lord Stanley's Cup, undoubtedly the most beautiful trophy in all of sportdom (if that is a word). The Ottawa Senators kicked off the action at the Buffalo Sabres with a convincing 5-2 win. The Sens grab an early 1-0 series lead. Seeing as we are down to less than a handful of Former Islanders still in the running nothing major happened. Here is a quick look at the FI night:
  • FI Tim Connolly had a poor night logging 17:45 of ice time with a -2 rating, only 1 shot on goal and a minor penalty that led to an Ottawa 5 on 3 powerplay goal. The lack of offense extended Connolly's postseason scoreless streak to 2 games.

Tomorrow night the Redwings take on the Ducks in Anaheim. Check back soon for more FI playoff highlights.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Monday May 7

The fourth and final team eked its way into the Conference Finals on Monday night as the Detroit Redwings shutdown the host San Jose Sharks, 2-0, to win the game and the series in 6 games. Former Islanders were absent from major role playing in this game as Detroit did not seem to suffer any defensive lapses in the wake of FI d-man Mathieu Schneider's broken wrist knocked him out of the playoffs in Game 5.

With the chase for the Stanley Cup down to the final 4 teams the remaining FIs are sparse. Here is a look at those few:
  • Tim Connolly, Center, Buffalo Sabres - 11 games, 0 goals, 7 assists
  • Todd Bertuzzi, Right Wing, Detroit Redwings - 10 games, 1 goal, 3 assists
  • Chris Osgood, Goalie, Detroit Redwings - 0 games started (thank you Hasek!)

Play resumes on Thursday as the Eastern Conference Final kicks off in Buffalo.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Sunday May 6

While writing this post FIW is rejoicing in the pain of others. We know that this is wrong, but when it is the New York Rangers the rules can be bent a little bit. Today saw the Rangers eliminated from Stanley Cup contention on the heels of a heartbreaking 5-4 home loss to the Buffalo Sabres. The "other New York" team is now headed to their second straight Eastern Conference Final after eliminating the Blueshirts in 6 games. Here is a quick recap from the FI perspective:
  • One FI stood out above all others in this game and it had to be Martin Straka and his 3 assist performance. Despite being heretofore eliminated from Cup contention, Straka finished his 10 playoff games with 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) including 8 points in his last 6 contests. The effort was his first multi-point postseason game since he had 2 assists May 10, 2001, ironically in a game where the Pittsburgh Penguins eliminated the Buffalo Sabres in the second round (that time in 7 games). Also, oddly enough, in that series Straka has 8 points against Buffalo.
  • Brad Isbister was scratched from the lineup for some bum with 8 NHL games under his belt. The swap was unnoticed by everyone watching, listening or checking the updates wherever they were.

Check back as tomorrow night could decide the fourth and final conference finalist in the ever solidifying race for the Stanley Cup.

Saturday May 5

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Well happy for some, less so for others as the Stanley Cup playoffs rage on. One series pulled closer to a finish while another matchup was finalized on Saturday night. In the evening game the Ottawa Senators eliminated the New Jersey Devils with a 3-2 win at the Continental Airlines Arena. The Sens won the series in 5 games eliminating the Devils before a sellout crowd it what might very well be the last pro hockey game in East Rutherford. Here is a look at the other game from the FI perspective:
  • Though no Former Islanders were on the scoresheet in the Detroit Redwing's 4-1 home win over the San Jose Sharks, they did make news. While the Redwings were celebrating a 3-2 series lead, d-man Mathieu Schneider was lamenting the check that broke his wrist knocking him out of the rest of the playoffs. Schneider didn't even get to clock 3 full shifts before San Jose captain Patrick Marleau rubbed him into the wall unfortunately breaking the wrist in the process. In 10 postseason games, Schneider had 4 points including 3 powerplay assists and the game winner on the man advantage in Game 4 of this series.

Check back soon as we are nearing the end of the second round. Thank you.

Friday May 4

With one game on the schedule Friday and the series in question knotted up at 2 games apiece the contest was bound to be a huge one. Friday night's tilt between the New York Rangers and the Sabres was by no means a disappointment with Buffalo grabbing a 3-2 series lead on the heals of a last second come from behind goal for a 2-1 OT win. Here is a closer look for the active FIs:
  • Martin Straka scored with 3:19 left in regulation to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead. His second of the playoffs, Straka now has 7 points in 9 games.
  • Tim Connolly assisted on the game-tying goal with 7.7 seconds left in the third. Since returning from his season long injury Connolly has been huge for the Sabres. He has 7 points (all assists) in 10 games while putting a 4 game scoring streak in these last 4 contests against the Rangers. The assist was his first on a game-winning goal this postseason.

Check back soon for more playoff highlights on FIW.

Thursday May 3

With one game on Thursday night there was a chance we would see our first team clich a conference final berth and we did. The Anaheim Ducks needed 24+ minutes of overtime to pull off a 2-1 thriller at home over the Vancouver Canucks to clinch the series 4 games to 1. Here is a brief look at the FI action:
  • A great performer until the very end, Roberto Luongo stopped 56 of 58 shots, but it was the one that slipped by him 4:30 into the second overtime frame that cost Vancouver a shot at the Stanley Cup. After missing the first few minutes of the first OT owing to an equipment problem, Luongo returned and looked to be in top form stopping 10 consecutive extra frame shots. Despite a wonderful playoff debut Luongo finished with a losing record going 5-7 in his 12 games. His other stats were fabulous as he finished with a 1.77 goals against average, a .941 save percentage on 402 saves against 427 shots. He averaged 33.5 saves per night while playing the equivalent of over 14 actually games in minutes. We at FIW are hoping this is just the start of great things for Luongo and the playoffs.
  • A name we do not see often popped up in this game. Josh Green received the primary assist on the Vancouver goal that knotted the game at 1. It was Green's first point of the playoffs in 9 games. The point, his first in the postseason, snapped an 11 game scoreless streak dating back to the 2001 playoff.

Check back soon for other series highlights.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Wednesday May 2

While teams are battling for their respective postseason lives some seem to be fighting harder than others. On a night when command could be taken in 2 series things ended up split with one winner asserting their dominance and another team insistent on making things as close as can be. In the first game Former Islanders were absent from major play as the Ottawa Senators took a commanding 3-1 series lead over the New Jersey Devils with a 3-2 win at home. Game 6 will be in New Jersey on Saturday, possibly the last Devils game in Continental Airlines Arena. Here is a look at the other game:
  • After following 2-0, the Detroit Redwings stormed back for a 3-2 OT over the San Jose Sharks in Northern California on Wednesday night. The win knotted the series up at 2 games a piece. The comeback was made possible largely on the heals of FI Mathieu Schneider who assisted on Detroit's first goal, a powerplay tally, and then scored the game winning goal with the extra man 16:04 into the OT frame. After going scoreless in his last 4 games, Schneider made it back to the boxscore with his first multiple point night of the postseason since Game 1 against Calgary in the first round. In 10 games, Schneider has 2 goals and 4 assists for 6 points. 4 of those points have come with the man advantage. The game winner was his first in the playoffs since April 10, 2004, Detroit's second game of their first round matchup with the Predators, snapping a 25-game streak without scoring the deciding goal.

Only 1 game is on tap for Thursday night. Check back soon for all your playoff/Former Islander action on FIW.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Tuesday May 1

As one team took a commanding lead in their series on Tuesday night another took advantage of their foe's offensive woes to even their matchup. In both games Former Islanders played roles. Here is a quick look:
  • The New York Rangers stormed back into their series against the Buffalo Sabres with a 2-1 win to even the competition up at a 2 wins a side. It was the second consecutive game the Rangers won by that score and comes as the Sabres continue to struggle in the offensive zone. Tim Connolly assisted on Buffalo's lone goal, a even strength tally 33 seconds after the Rangers made it 2-0 in the third period. Connolly now has 3 assist in the last 3 games and overall has 6 points in 9 games this postseason. For his playoff career, Connolly is averaging a point a game with 5 goals and 12 assists for 17 points in 17 games.
  • Out West, the Anaheim Ducks grabbed the stranglehold 3-1 series lead over the Vancouver Canucks with a 3-2 come-from-behind OT win north of the border. Trevor Linden assisted on the opening goal of the game for Vancouver 12:55 into the first period. Linden, tied for team lead in playoff points, has 2 goals and 5 assists for 7 points in 11 games. Linden has 4 points in his last 5 games overall.
  • Roberto Luongo dropped below .500 in his pursuit of playoff excellence. He is now 5-6 in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He stopped 27 of 30 shots in regulation and OT surrendering the game winner only 2:07 into the overtime frame. His goals against average has climbed to 1.80 while his save percentage has dropped to a "plebian" .938.

Two more games are up for grabs on Wednesday night. Keep posted for all your playoff and Former Islander action on FIW.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Monday April 30

The last night of April saw teams take slim, yet decisive leads in their respective series. Former Islanders were nowhere to be foudn in these series. Maybe Tuesday night, with two more games, will be more fruitful for FIs. Anyway, the San Jose Sharks took a 2-1 series lead on a 2-1 win against the Detroit Redwings at home. In the other game, Ottawa took a 2-1 series lead with a 2-0 shutout win over the New Jersey Devils at home.

Come back tomorrow for more playoff highlights on FIW.