Friday, June 19, 2009

Norris Trophy Winner: Zdeno Chara

Former Islander defenseman Zdeno Chara cleaned up at the 2009 NHL Awards held on Thursday June 18 in Las Vegas. This is the first major award for the gigantic Boston Bruins' d-man. Chara had another impressive season recording a single season best 19 goals and a respectable 31 assists for an even 50 points capping his 2nd straight 50+ point campaign. Congratulations to Zdeno - you earned it, well almost as much as Mike Green (Washington) did!

Assistant Coach: Dean Chynoweth

Somewhere between Orange, California and Long Island there exists my Dean Chynoweth rookie card. Why does it exist? Not quite sure. But on Friday the Islanders announced that they signed alumnus Chynoweth as an assistant coach for the 2009-2010 season. For the last 5 seasons Chynoweth has been the head coach/general manager for the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League. Over that span Chynoweth compiled a 162-163-6-1-1 record (W-L-T-OTL-SOL). Before that Chynoweth had been with the Utah Grizzlies of the now defunct International Hockey League (IHL), a former Isles affiliate.

Originally drafted in the 1st Round, 13th overall in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft by the Isles the defenseman went onto a 10 season career spending 7 with the Isles and the last 3 with the Boston Bruins. On his career Chynoweth played in 241 games scoring 4 goals and adding 18 assists for 22 points along with 667 penalty minutes.

Welcome back to the organization Dean. We wish you the best of luck behind the bench with Scott Gordon!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday June 12: Game 7, Stanley Cup Final

With all the cards on the table, the most beautiful trophy in all of sports out of the case and the title of Champion up for grabs the Pittsburgh Penguins tangled with the host Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final on Friday night. The game was amazing, the outcome somewhat surprising as a hobbled Sidney Crosby and the Pens pulled off a 2-1 victory of the Wings to pull a complete 180 defeating the team that had downed them just a year prior in the Final. Let us put it simply: the Pittsburgh Penguins are the 2009 Stanley Cup Champions! Only one Former Islander played a major role in the game. Here is a look:

Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood gave a valiant effort stopping 16 of 18 shots but it was 2 of 3 shots off the stick of Pitt forward Max Talbot that stumped him as his team's offense failed to pull him even in the closing minutes of regulation. Ozzie played well throughout the 2009 playoffs sporting an impressive 15-8 record with a 2.00 goals against average and a save percentage right around .925 with 2 shutouts. However Ozzie lost 4 of his last 5 starts as the Pens overcame 2-0 and 3-2 series deficits. Our kudos go to Chris for playing with talent and overcoming a terrible regular season to become the most commanding backstopper of the playoffs.

Congratulations must really go, however, to the 4 FIs who will now sport Stanley Cup rings as members of the Penguins. First up is aging winger Bill Guerin who was traded right before the deadline by the Isles for a draft pick. Guerin wins his 2nd ring after being a member of the triumphant 1995 New Jersey Devils. Guerin had 15 points (7 goals, 8 assists) on 24 games but was scoreless in his last 5. Alas, way to go Billy G! Also sealing up his second Stanley Cup victory is winger Ruslan Fedotenko who played for the Tampa Bay Lightning when they won in 2004. Fedo had 14 points (7 goals, 7 assists) on 24 games including 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) against Detroit. Congrats Ruslan! Despite going point-less in his last 6 games, winger Miroslav Satan is now a Stanley Cup winner. Satan has 1 goal and 5 assists for 6 points on 17 games. Way to earn it Miro! Finally, though he did not play in a single playoff game winger Eric Godard should receive his name on the Cup after putting in 71 games of service during the regular season. Congratulations Eric.

Well that wraps it up the 2008-09 season here at Former Islander Watch. Check back occasionally during the summer months as we will have some updates especially when we reach the opening of free agency on July 1. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tuesday June 9

With the Stanley Cup repeat only 1 win away the Detroit Red Wings fell short on Tuesday opening the door for a Pittsburgh comeback as the Penguins downed the visiting Wings 2-1 to even the series at 3-3. Game 7 is Friday night and after that we will officially have a champion. The home team has won each of the first 6 games which would seem to swing the pendulum in Detroit's favor but Pittsburgh does have 3 active Former Islanders which undoubtedly gives them the upper hand. Ooh... Only time will tell. However, 2 FIs did try to help in Game 6. Here is a look:

Pitt winger Ruslan Fedotenko had the secondary assist on the game winning goal at the 5:35 mark of the 3rd Period. Fedo now has a balanced 7 goals and 7 assists for 14 points on 23 games. Tank has been inconsistent, however, in this final with only 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) on 6 games. Playing like a champ but taking the loss was Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood who looked stellar stopping 29 of 31 shots faced. Ozzie still deserves some serious Conn Smyth consideration and Game 6 was one of his best this postseason. Alas the loss drops him to 15-7 on the postseason while his goals against average remained steady at 2.00 and his save percentage raised slightly to .927. How do you like them apples?

Check back soon as Friday will officially end the 2008-09 season/2009 playoffs. What a glorious ride it has been here at FIW. Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Saturday June 6

Detroit put those two recent losses to the Penguins behind them as they crushed Pittsburgh 5-0 at home to grab a 3-2 series lead. The Red Wings are now 1 win shy of their 2nd straight Stanley Cup Championship. One of the keys to the Game 5 victory was goaltender and Former Islander Chris Osgood. Let us take a look:

Ozzie stopped all 22 shots he faced and received the 3rd star honor in recording the blanking. The Detroit offense did the rest of the work staking the backstopper to a 4-0 less than half way into play. Osgood is now 15-6 on the postseason with a 2.00 goals against average, a .927 save percentage and 2 shutouts. To add to that, Osgood assisted on the Wing's 2nd goal, his 2nd helper of the playoffs. Those 2 assists sent a single postseason record for the goalie who now has 5 playoff helpers on his career. The blanking was the 15th of his playoff career.

Check back soon as play continues on Tuesday June 9 as the Red Wings can close out the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 2nd straight year to grab Lord Stanley's Cup - the holy grail of sportsdom.

Thursday June 4

Two games at home has done good for the Pittsburgh Penguins as they swept their visit to Mellon Arena and evened their series at 2 wins apiece against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings. Just like the first 2 games of the series, Games 3 and 4 had a familiar look with the Pens pulling off 4-2 victories in each of those matchups. No Pitt Former Islander stepped up in this one but of course we can take a look at the effort from the lone Detroit FI:

Wings' goaltender Chris Osgood performed just adequately stopping 27 of 31 shots en route to the loss. Ozzie is now 14-6 on the postseason and has lost 2 straight for only the second time in this playoffs and first since the 2nd round series against the Anaheim Ducks in the only time this postseason the Wings have trailed in a series (down 1-2 at that point). Osgood will look to regain his 1-goal form that he had in that 4 game bridge between the Chicago series and the Final when play resumes of Saturday June 6.

Check back with FIW soon for more updates.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

FI Coach: Joe Sacco

The day after they cleaned house, including the expulsion of Former Islander goaltender and team goalie coach Jeff Hackett, the Colorado Avalanche announced the signing of another FI, Joe Sacco, as the team's new head coach. A 738 game veteran, Sacco played a career that took him the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, the Isles, the Washington Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers. Sacco played 98 games for the Blue & Orange between 1998 and 1999 in which he notched 6 goals and 3 assists for 9 points. On his career Sacco had 213 points on 94 goals and 119 assists. Sacco ended his NHL career during the 2002-03 season.

In 2007 Sacco became the head coach for the Avs' AHL affiliate the Lake Erie Monsters where he compiled a 26-41-13 record in his first season. With a move to the big-time we will have to wait and see how Sacco fairs in the Mile High City. Best of luck to you, Joe!

Tuesday June 2

As the NHL official enters the summer months the Stanley Cup has not yet been hoisted by a victor. The Pittsburgh Penguins, desperate clinging to dreams of hockey hardware, made a considerable dent in the armor of the mighty Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night. The Pens downed the visiting Wings 4-2 to pull the series a little bit closer with Detroit now sporting a 2-1 lead. Play picks up on Thursday night - essentially a make-or-break game for the Pens. Yet again 2 Former Islanders helped out their teams. Here is a look:

Even though it was a gimme point, Pitt winger Ruslan Fedotenko received an assist on a timely goal. Fedo helped out on the empty net goal with 57 seconds remaining, a goal that insured a Penguins victory. Fedo now has 13 points (7 goals, 6 assists) on 20 games with 5 (3 goals, 2 assists) coming in the last 5 games overall. Receiving a relatively rare loss was Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood who stopped 17 of a measly 20 shots in a performance that made the powerful backstopper look merely pedestrian. Ozzie is still 14-5 on the playoffs with a 2.00 goals against average, a .927 save percentage and 2 shutouts. Osgood should still be in the running for the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Check back soon with FIW.

Sunday May 31

The Detroit Red Wings look to be in cruise control doing in a 24 hour span what seemed nearly impossible considering the hot play of the Pittsburgh Penguins. For the 2nd straight time, and in back-to-back games, the Wings downed the visiting Pens 3-1 to grab a 2-0 series lead. Again, a pair of Former Islanders helped out their respective squads. Here is a look:

Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood looked good again repeating stat-for-stat his prior performance with 31 saves on 32 shots as he received the first star honor yet again. Ozzie has 4 straight wins and has recorded victories in 7 of his last 8 overall. He is a commanding 14-4 on the postseason with a goals against average now below 2.00 and a save percentage lingering around .930. He has not given up more than 1 goal over the last 4 starts (albeit one of those starts was only 40 minutes of ice time). Again, a FI helped out on a late 1st Period goal from Pittsburgh. Bill Guerin received the secondary assist on the lone Pens' goal, a powerplay tally, with just over 3 minutes remaining in the opening frame. Having a career best postseason, Billy G now has 7 goals and 8 assists for 15 points on 19 games. However, the powerplay helper was the first of the playoffs for Guerin who has 3 points (2 goals, 1 assist) with the man advantage. That means that Guerin's accomplishments have come almost solely in the 5-on-5 situations.

Check back soon as the Stanley Cup Final chugs along.

Stanley Cup Final Kickoff: Saturday May 30

The rematch of the Detroit Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins kicked off on Saturday with a rare back-to-back set of finals games set for the weekend. The Wings grabbed the early series lead with a fairly commanding 3-1 win. The lead 1-0 looking to repeat last year's Stanley Cup success. A pair of Former Islanders helped out in the game. Here is a look:

Detroit goaltender Chris Osgood was masterful stopping 31 of 32 shots faced to seal the victory and grab the first star honor. Ozzie has won 3 or more for the third time in the playoffs and is now 13-4. Scoring the lone goal for the Pens with less than 90 seconds remaining in the opening period was winger Ruslan Fedotenko. With 4 points (3 goals, 1 assist) over the last 3 games including a goal in each of those contests the winger now has 7 goals and 5 assists for 12 points on 18 games.

Check back soon for more recaps at FIW.