2010-11 NHL season preview: New York Islanders

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for hahatavares.jpgLast season: (34-37-11, 79 points, 5th in Atlantic Division,13th in Eastern Conference) The team was scrappy enough, but really there wasn’t much to write home about beyond an acceptable season for John Tavares.

Head coach: Scott Gordon hasn’t had much to work with, but will three failed seasons go unpunished? I don’t know if he’s on the ‘hot seat’ but typically GMs – in this case Garth Snow – will fire a head coach to avoid being fired themselves. Another fifth-place finish in the Atlantic Division – the most-likely scenario for the Isles this season – might just be the end of Gordon’s run.

Key departures: G Martin Biron, F Richard Park. It’s pretty difficult to call anyone leaving this team a ‘key departure’ although Biron would be nice insurance to have.

Key arrivals: D James Wisniewski, D Mark Eaton, D Milan Jurcina. Snow loaded up on defenseman, which was a pretty smart move in retrospect considering the fact that Mark Streit got injured. Unfortunately, Wisniewski, Eaton and Jurcina might not be able to make up the difference, but they’ll help.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for rickydsmiling.jpgUnder pressure: Rick DiPietro’s knee.

At some point, his knee has to get better or that much-lampooned contract shall remain, well, much-lampooned.

Protecting the house: DiPietro and Dwayne Roloson are the team’s goalies … I think? Maybe? Kind of. Ricky D is broken and Rolo is old, so it’s kind of difficult to assess them. Let’s just say they’re bad, OK?

Defensively, the Islanders are greatly undermined by Streit’s injured shoulder. Perhaps Wisniewski will be their No. 1 D-man? Maybe they’ll trade for someone like Sheldon Souray? It’s hard to imagine the Islanders staying above water in goals allowed with that combo of questionable goalies and shaky defense, but Gordon will probably have them grinding games out so they’re only bad (not pathetic).

Top line we’d like to see: Blake Comeau-Tavares-Kyle Okposo. Blah, there really isn’t that much talent in Long Island, is there? How about this revision: The No. 1 pick from the 2011 draft-Tavares-Okposo. Yeah, that sounds better.

Oh captain, my captain: Doug Weight wins the rare ‘seniority’ and can grow a ‘well, we’re not going to make the playoffs, but still’ beard better than anyone else, so why not make him the captain? No, really, I imagine Weight is a good leader to a group of young players trying to learn to make it in the NHL.

konopkafight.jpgStreet fighting man: It must be Zenon Konopka, last year’s leader in penalty minutes, right? He’ll have his hands full with Jody Shelley, Eric Godard, Derek Boogaard and so on.

Best-case scenario: The Islanders will be this year’s Phoenix Coyotes. After all, they have similar problems off the ice, though Charles Wang is a stable owner. Either Roloson or DiPietro would play the role of Ilya Bryzgalov, though sadly neither will provide such stimulating interviews. Unfortunately, whether they’re the Coyotes or the Colorado Avalanche, even their best-case scenario involves an early playoff departure.

Worst-case scenario: DiPietro’s knee explodes and the shrapnel permanently injures Tavares and Kyle Okposo … then travels into the future and maims No. 1 overall pick in the ’11 draft. Garth Snow panics and trades for three more goalies.

Keeping it real: The reason that worst-case scenario was so ridiculous is because I think the ‘real’ scenario is bad, too. The Islanders are in a tough division and lost their best defenseman for six months. I wish them the best (their fans have been through a lot since the 1980s, just read the name “Alexei Yashin”), but it just doesn’t look promising this season.

Stanley Cup chances: On a scale of 1-5, with one being the worst and five being the best, hopefully they’ll make me eat my words, but I’m going with a 1. Maybe they’ll tank for another top pick to build up their growing core of prospects.

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    2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs second-round schedule

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    Time to get your ducks in a row (Anaheim or otherwise), as the second-round schedule has been released.

    As you can see, the West series begin on Wednesday while the East ones kick into gear on Thursday. Read up on the matchups here.

    For the sixth consecutive year, every Stanley Cup playoff game will be presented nationally across the platforms of NBC Sports Group and select NBCUniversal networks.

    (Games listed by date, start time, teams and network.)

    EASTERN CONFERENCE

    Date TIME (ET) #1 Washington vs. #2 Pittsburgh Networks
    Thursday, April 27 7:30 p.m. Pittsburgh at Washington NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Saturday, April 29 8 p.m. Pittsburgh at Washington NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
    Monday, May 1 7:30 p.m. Washington at Pittsburgh NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    Wednesday, May 3 7:30 p.m. Washington at Pittsburgh NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    *Saturday, May 6 TBD Pittsburgh at Washington TBD
    *Monday, May 8 TBD Washington at Pittsburgh TBD
    *Wednesday, May 10 TBD Pittsburgh at Washington TBD

    Date TIME (ET) #2 Ottawa vs. #4 NY Rangers Networks
    Thursday, April 27 7 p.m. NY Rangers at Ottawa CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports
    Saturday, April 29 3 p.m. NY Rangers at Ottawa NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
    Tuesday, May 2 7 p.m. Ottawa at NY Rangers NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    Thursday, May 4 7:30 p.m. Ottawa at NY Rangers NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    *Saturday, May 6 TBD NY Rangers at Ottawa TBD
    *Tuesday, May 9 TBD Ottawa at NY Rangers TBD
    *Thursday, May 11 TBD NY Rangers at Ottawa TBD

    WESTERN CONFERENCE

    Date TIME (ET) #1 Anaheim vs. #2 Edmonton Networks
    Wednesday, April 26 10:30 p.m. Edmonton at Anaheim NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Friday, April 28 10:30 p.m. Edmonton at Anaheim NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Sunday, April 30 7 p.m. Anaheim at Edmonton NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Wednesday, May 3 10 p.m. Anaheim at Edmonton NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    *Friday, May 5 TBD Edmonton at Anaheim TBD
    *Sunday, May 7 TBD Anaheim at Edmonton TBD
    *Wednesday, May 10 TBD Edmonton at Anaheim TBD

    Date TIME (ET) #3 St. Louis vs. #4 Nashville Networks
    Wednesday, April 26 8 p.m. Nashville at St. Louis NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    Friday, April 28 8 p.m. Nashville at St. Louis NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    Sunday, April 30 3 p.m. St. Louis at Nashville NBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Tuesday, May 2 9:30 p.m. St. Louis at Nashville NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    *Friday, May 5 TBD Nashville at St. Louis TBD
    *Sunday, May 7 TBD St. Louis at Nashville TBD
    *Tuesday, May 9 TBD Nashville at St. Louis TBD

    Starting time and national broadcast information for games listed TBD will be announced when available.

    2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Second-round matchups

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    Want to know when and how to watch each game? Check out the second-round schedule here.

    Eastern Conference

    Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

    Washington really had to sweat it against Toronto, but while the journey took more twists and turns than expected, both juggernauts ended up in a position to justify their statuses as favorites.

    During the Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby runs for the franchises, the Penguins won both second-round series (first in 2009 and then last year). In each case, Pittsburgh went on to win the Stanley Cup.

    Will the Capitals finally break through in what might be their best chance ever? There isn’t a better way for them to truly prove their mettle than to do so against a Penguins team that looks dangerous, even with key injuries to consider.

    Ottawa Senators vs. New York Rangers

    Both teams beat higher seeds in the first round, surprising at least some. There are some fun storylines here, from a clash of two star Swedes (Erik Karlsson vs. Henrik Lundqvist) to fun trade talk involving Mika Zibanejad and Derick Brassard.

    On paper, these teams aren’t as linked as the other East series, but playoff glory can make franchises become hated rivals in little time.

    Western Conference

    Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers

    So much orange. So many goals?

    With the Blackhawks, Kings, Wild and Sharks out, the Ducks get home-ice in the West and probably rank as the most familiar contender in a conference that seems heavy on “new blood.” Then again, they’re still driven by a red-hot Ryan Getzlaf, but this isn’t the same Anaheim squad as the last time they made a longer run.

    Speaking of new blood, it’s unavoidable to describe the Oilers any other way. Edmonton hopes to keep its first playoff run in more than a decade going, and this series might actually be a better showcase for Connor McDavid than those tighter games vs. the Sharks.

    St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators

    Is there a matchup of goalies on hotter streaks right now than Jake Allen vs. Pekka Rinne? These “underdogs” held the top teams in the Central Division to one playoff victory combined.

    While there are plenty of carryover characters from previous postseason editions of the Blues (Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Steen) and the Predators (Roman Josi), there’s also a new Blues coach in Mike Yeo and newly featured Nashville pieces such as P.K. Subban.

    Which team will go deeper than many outside of their locker room expected? We’ll find out.

    Capitals close out Maple Leafs after one last OT classic

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    The Toronto Maple Leafs couldn’t grab the torch from the Washington Capitals in this series, but they put up a tremendous struggle.

    Auston Matthews continued to make an impression with a goal in his fourth consecutive game, yet it wasn’t enough to send this scintillating series to a Game 7. Instead, Marcus Johansson collected tying and game-winning goals, leading Washington to a 2-1 OT win to take the series 4-2.

    Here is video of the tally that ended Toronto’s season:

    While the Capitals taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins is “expected,” the path to get there wasn’t as many drew it up. Toronto gave Washington all it can handle in a series that tied a record with five trips beyond regulation.

    The Maple Leafs can take heart in pushing the play for large spans of the series, although there have also been spans where it felt like the Caps found that extra gear.

    Toronto fans who’ve been longing for a return to playoff glory must be experiencing mixed feelings. This young bunch achieved more than just about anyone expected, particularly in this series against the Presidents’ Trophy winners. That might be why it burns, though; Buds fans deal with the bitter feeling of so close.

    Then again, the Capitals know all about that. They hope to avoid repeating such history in this huge opportunity. Perhaps facing a far tougher-than-expected challenge to start things off might be a blessing in disguise?

    Capitals’ Schmidt hurt by Leafs’ Komarov; Record 18th playoff game to OT

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    Now, players are known to at least try to return to games after injuries, sometimes ultimately leaving such efforts unsuccessful.

    So, it’s possible that the Washington Capitals should still be concerned about defenseman Nate Schmidt. The solid depth blueliner was helped off the ice after a hit by Leo Komarov of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the good news is that he was at least able to make his way back for a spin later on in the same third period.

    Does that mean he’ll be OK? We’ll see. The game is entering OT – the 18th of this round, a new NHL record – so a possible Schmidt injury could put Washington at a disadvantage during “free hockey.”

    It makes sense that Toronto and Washington made it a new record, as this is the fifth time in six games that they beyond regulation in this series. Wow.