Barclays Center leaders meet with NHL

Katie Strang of Newsday confirmed that Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark and developer Bruce Ratner met with league officials in Manhattan on Thursday. The men had “very general” discussions with the league regarding Barclays Center in Brooklyn and its viability as a potential hockey arena in the future. Although neither league officials, nor Yormark (or Ratner) commented as to the specifics of the meeting, it’s pretty safe to say the conversation had to do with the local NHL team who has a lease ending in 2015. Like the Islanders don’t have enough things going on right now.

For those keeping track, the new Barclays Center will be less than 30 miles west of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush in Brooklyn. We’re talking about a 45 minute drive—it’s close, but 45 minutes can be the difference between a fan going to a game and catching it on TV. Just ask fans in Arizona the difference between an arena in Scottsdale, downtown Phoenix, and Glendale. Fans in the Eastern regions of Nassau and Suffolk counties would potentially see their commute to games increased. But that’s only part of the story.

A move would put the Islanders both closer to media capital of North America as well as closer to fans that commute to Manhattan on a daily basis. Sure, the arena is further away from the suburban roots of Uniondale—but at least it’s moving in the right direction.

Another potential problem would be the capacity for hockey in the new Barclays Center. Strang talked about the potential capacity problem:

“One question that has surfaced repeatedly with regards to the Barclays Center is whether the arena’s limited capacity–believed to be about 14,000 for hockey– would be a deterrent.

However, each evaluation is “situation based” by the NHL.

“We have no set seating capacity or requirements established,” the league spokesperson said.”

(s/t to Kukla’s Korner)

Cue the “there aren’t even 14,000 Islanders fans” jokes since the Islanders averaged a league-worst 11,059 last season. For a bit of perspective, despite the Phoenix Coyotes’ well-publicized attendance problems, they still averaged 1,100 more fans per game. The Thrashers averaged 2,400 more fans and they relocated the minute the season ended. But as the Winnipeg situation has shown us, the NHL is willing to place a team into smaller buildings provided that the team fills all of the available seats.

On the flip side, it’s important to note that 14,000 would be the smallest venue in the league. Even if they sold-out the new building every single night, they still would have had the 4th worst attendance—not exactly a ton of upward mobility for a team who hopes to be on the rise.

Regardless, Barclays Center officials meeting with the NHL is the first step towards making the new arena a viable option for the Islanders when their lease expires in 2015. But would the Islanders just be trading one arena problem for another?

Video: AHL goalie Jonas Gustavsson scores his first career goal

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He didn’t shoot, but Jonas Gustavsson still scored.

The former NHL netminder, now with the Bakersfield Condors in the AHL, scored his first career goal Friday, as part of his team’s victory over the San Diego Gulls.

From the AHL:

With San Diego goaltender Dustin Tokarski on the bench for an extra attacker and the Gulls working on a power play, Gustavsson made a save before an errant San Diego pass slid down the length of the ice and into the vacated net at 16:56 of the third period.

Gustavsson is the fifth AHL goaltender to be credited with a goal without actually shooting the puck into the opposition net. In addition to his goal, Gustavsson stopped 30 of 31 shots in the Condors victory.

Bolts and Islanders both win, which is bad news for Bruins

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The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning each had to work overtime to decide their separate games, but when they ended, both clubs were victorious.

And that makes things even more interesting in the Eastern Conference wild card race.

With their shootout win in Pittsburgh, the Islanders tie the Bruins in points but take over the final playoff spot for now with fewer games played. The Lightning, despite an abundance of injuries all season, are just a point back of Boston and New York.

Nikita Kucherov scored the winner for Tampa Bay against the Red Wings. He’s up to 38 goals, which is second most in the league behind Sidney Crosby, currently at 42 goals.

Sellers leading up to the trade deadline, and without Steven Stamkos since the middle of November, the Lightning are in the thick of this race, even if others may have counted them out.

“Once again, people counted us out,” defenseman Victor Hedman told the Tampa Bay Times. “But we showed a lot of character. And we’re right back in it.”

The Bolts don’t play again until Monday, when they host the Chicago Blackhawks — only one of the hottest teams in the league.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s busy slate of games includes a showdown between the Bruins and Islanders. For Boston, it’s a chance for redemption after a particularly costly third period against Tampa Bay on Thursday.

What is wrong with the Sharks?

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Not that long ago, the San Jose Sharks appeared well on their way to winning the Pacific Division title.

On March 14, they had a seven-point lead on both Anaheim and Calgary. Gone is that advantage. Not only have the Ducks surged back into the fight for the division, but the Sharks have lost five in a row and are having a terrible time of late creating any offense.

The Ducks defeated the Jets on Friday, moving into a tie with the Sharks at 91 points.

San Jose’s struggles hit a new low Friday with a 6-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, a team with its own flaws and nowhere close to a playoff position.

At one point midway through the second period, the Sharks trailed the Stars by four goals and had only six lousy shots on goal. During this skid, San Jose has scored only five goals.

Earlier this week, members of the Sharks said they weren’t terribly worried about this losing streak. The losses, they had said, were in close games, which is true: San Jose lost three consecutive one-goal games.

“When I look at the losing streak, we dominated some of those games for long periods and found ways to lose. You never like to lose, but I’m not that concerned,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “We’ve got to obviously end it. We’ve got to get healthy. I don’t see a bunch of symptoms of a team that can’t get this fixed pretty quickly.”

This, however, was a blowout. Adam Cracknell recorded the hat trick, pushing his single-season career-high in goals to 10.

The performance at one point forced DeBoer to take a timeout, in which he expressed his displeasure.

Making matters worse for the Sharks: Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic left the game early in the third period and was put under further evaluation. He didn’t return.

The Sharks visit the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

Halak and the Islanders defeat Penguins, move into wild card spot

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Quite a hockey game between the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

It offered plenty to enjoy — Phil Kessel‘s dominant but unfruitful shift in overtime, a combined 86 shots on goal between both teams, a showcase of skill from the likes of John Tavares and Sidney Crosby, and two strong goaltending performances from Jaroslav Halak and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Josh Ho-Sang, who wears No. 66, which is just fine in the eyes of Mario Lemieux, set up Brock Nelson‘s goal in the second period.

The Islanders and their fans probably aren’t hung up on style points at this juncture of the season. They just care about wins and points in the standings, and those are exactly what New York accomplished with a 4-3 shootout win in Pittsburgh.

Anthony Beauvillier and Tavares scored for the Islanders in the shootout. Halak made 37 stops, including a game-saver in overtime off Matt Cullen. Halak trapped the puck, which was right on the goal line, between his legs on a chance from in front. The play was reviewed but no goal.

The win gives the Islanders 82 points, which is the same total as the struggling Boston Bruins.

However, the Islanders, with one game in hand on the Bruins, take over the final wild card spot in the East for now.