Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Simon and the Isles bring back the offense

*The Isles have followed a five-game losing streak with two wins and two losses. Even still, they are only seven points behind the Atlantic Division-leading Devils with two games at hand.

*The good news is the team has begun to score with some regularity. They have scored three goals in three of their last four games. The last time the Isles scored more than three goals was November 1 when they beat Tampa Bay 4-0 on Coliseum ice.

*The powerplay unit has also turned it up a notch, scoring a goal in six of the last seven games. The Isles are now ranked 17th in the league with a 16.9% conversion rate.

*Chris Simon has done it again, but don’t expect the NHL to be so "lenient" this time. With about six minutes to go in a one-goal game against the Penguins, Simon decided to take out Jarkko Ruutu’s legs and stomp on his ankle, which begs the question, what the hell was Chris Simon doing on the ice when the Isles are pressing to tie the game? That may be tougher to answer than "What was Simon thinking?" Simon had just one goal and three points in 26 games this season.


Rick DiPietro (14-12,2 SO,2.49 GAA,.913 S%) gives his team a chance to win every night. There’s not much else to say. Just take a look at his stats.

Miroslav Satan (8-11=19,+/-E) has a goal and two assists in his last three games after going five games with just an assist. Satan has always been a streaky player, but the Isles are going to need more out of him if they plan to do any damage in the East.

Bill Guerin (8-8=16,-6) has finally rediscovered his scoring touch. Guerin has three goals and an assist in his last four games.

Mike Sillinger (7-6=13,-6) has three goals and an assist in his last six games as he finally begins to turn up the offense.

Richard Park (5-5=10,+1) has goals in two of his last three and has been the Isles most consistent forward this season. Ted Nolan has rewarded Park with additional ice time and the occasional shift on a scoring line.

Trent Hunter (5-9=14,-11) has points in four of his last six games, but just can’t seem to put the puck in the net with any regularity. In fact, Hunter has scored once since November 10, a span of 19 games.

M.A. Bergeron (3-7=10,-5) has points in three of his last five, but has a –3 rating in that span.


Mike Comrie (9-16=25,-13) may have three assists in his last two games, but hasn’t shown the passion he had in the first week of the season despite leading the team with 25 points. He often seems disinterested and rarely uses his speed and puckhandling skills that he dazzled with in his first couple of games as an Islander. His –13 rating is also worst on the team and a cause for concern.

Josef Vasicek (10-4=14,+2) leads the team with ten goals despite having just a goal and an assist in his last nine games.

Ruslan Fedotenko (6-9=15,-5) has just one assist in seven games and has not scored since November 19 at Madison Square Garden.

Bryan Berard (2-3=5,-8) has just one assist and a dismal –7 rating in his last 14 games. Berard has also been scratched a number of times, more so recently.

Projected lines:


PP1: Campoli-Berard/Bergeron-Satan-Comrie-Guerin
PP2: Sutton-Gervais-Fedotenko-Sillinger-Hunter

On the mend:
*F Chris Simon (suspension) is out indefinitely pending an NHL hearing. Don’t be surprised if Simon’s given the boot for the season.
*F Shawn Bates (hip) played just two games before succumbing to another injury. There’s no timetable for his return.
*F/D Aaron Johnson (knee) is expected to miss six weeks, retroactive 11/5.
*F Jon Sim (knee) is out for the season.

Upcoming schedule:
Wed. 12/19 vs. Buffalo
Fri. 12/21 @ Pittsburgh
Sat. 12/22 vs. Washington
Wed. 12/26 vs. Toronto
Thu. 12/27 @ Ottawa

Direct questions and comments to FantasyNYI@hotmail.com.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Offensively starved Isles getting by just fine

*They may be the lowest scoring team in the league. They may not have scored more than two goals in regulation in their last ten games. And their captain may not have scored a point in eleven games. But the Islanders (13-8-1), led by the steady netminding of Rick DiPietro and a team commitment to defense, have kept themselves within striking distance of first place with games at hand.

*Adding to the Isles offensive woes, the defense has failed to contribute a goal in the whole month of November. It’s no coincidence that the powerplay has gone 4-for-51 (7.8%) in that span. The Isles are now ranked 15th in the league with an 18% conversion rate after opening the season with one of the hottest units in the NHL.

*On a lighter note, it was good to see Shawn Bates back on the ice after a ten month absence. In limited ice time (5:25) in the win over Ottawa, Bates looked like he hadn’t missed a beat following his conditioning stint in Bridgeport.


Rick DiPietro (11-7-1,2.31 GAA,.911 S%) Let’s just say if it wasn’t for DiPietro these past ten games, the Isles would be sitting in the Atlantic Division basement.

Mike Sillinger (3-5=8,-3) has points in three of his last four games (2-1=3) and a +1 rating in that span. The Sillinger line has looked good of late and is poised for a breakout.

Josef Vasicek (8-3=11,+3) broke a four game mini goal scoring drought Wednesday. Prior to that, Vasicek had points in ten of twelve games.

Richard Park (3-5=8,+3) had goals in consecutive games vs. Boston and Dallas and was rewarded in the game against Ottawa with 16:08 of ice time and a third period/overtime spot on the Guerin/Comrie line.

Chris Simon (1-1=2,+/-E) may not be putting up the points just yet, but he has been spending significant time on a line with Mike Comrie and Bill Guerin. It’s only a matter of time before he puts his offensive skills to use. No better time than Thursday at The Garden.


Mike Comrie (7-11=18,-8) has lost his edge along with the rest of the "Leftover Line". Comrie is pointless with four shots and a –1 rating in his last four games.

Ruslan Fedotenko (6-7=13,-5) has just a goal and two assists to go along with a –4 rating in his last ten games.

Bill Guerin (5-6=11,-4) is pointless with a –4 rating in his last eleven games. His shootout goal Wednesday may be the beginning of the end of that.

Miroslav Satan (6-7=13,+5) is beginning to warm with points in consecutive games after a six game dry spell.

Trent Hunter (4-4=8,-8) is pointless and –2 in his last seven games, but looked good with Sillinger Wednesday.

Bryan Berard (2-3=5,-5) has just one assist and a –4 rating in his last eight games, and was scratched in favor of M.A. Bergeron Wednesday night.

Chris Campoli (2-9=11,-4) is pointless with a –3 rating in his last nine games.

M.A. Bergeron (2-5=7,-2) hasn’t scored a goal in a month and is frequently a healthy scratch. He has been unable to duplicate his pace on the Island last year. More importantly, he has lost the confidence of the coaching staff and himself. But, on the bright side, Bergeron has an assist and a +2 rating in his last three games.

Projected lines:


PP1: Campoli-Berard/Bergeron-Satan-Comrie-Guerin
PP2: Sutton-Gervais-Fedotenko-Sillinger-Hunter

On the mend:
*F/D Aaron Johnson (knee) is expected to miss six weeks, retroactive 11/5.
*F Jon Sim (knee) is out for the season.

Upcoming schedule:
Thu. 11/29 @ Rangers
Sat. 12/1 vs. Atlanta
Mon. 12/3 vs. Boston
Wed. 12/5 @ Atlanta
Fri. 12/7 @ Florida

Direct questions and comments to FantasyNYI@hotmail.com.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Original Six Week

*The Islanders (10-6-0) have their work cut out for them this week as they take on the resurging Rangers, Canadiens, and Bruins (twice). Expect Wade Dubieliewicz to get his second start of the season Friday or Saturday against the B's.

*In the interest of getting a number of his top players going, Ted Nolan went back with the team's original lines Friday night in New Jersey. See the bottom of this post for the lineup.

*The powerplay is ranked tied for sixth in the league with a 20.9% success rate. Bryan Berard's return should push them even closer to the top.


Rick DiPietro (9-5,2.35 GAA,.910 S%) recorded his second shutout of the season Friday against New Jersey (26 saves). In his last five games, DiPietro has stopped 112 of 121 shots, good enough for a .926 S%.

Miroslav Satan (5-7=12,+6) has gone pointless in two games after an eight game point scoring streak, during which he scored five goals and six assists. Perhaps most impressive about Satan so far this year is his team leading +6 rating.

Josef Vasicek (7-3=10,+4) leads the Isles in goal scoring and has registered a point in nine of his last eleven games. Vasicek has three goals, an assist and a +3 rating over his last four games.

Richard Park (1-5=6,+1) had an assist and a + rating in five straight games, but has since gone pointless in two.


Mike Comrie (6-10=16,-5) has just one point, a goal, in his last four games. He had a -3 rating in that stretch. Comrie still leads the team with 16 points, four ahead of Satan.

Ruslan Fedotenko (5-6=11,-1) hasn't registered a point in his last four games.

Bill Guerin (5-6=11,-1) has failed to muster a point in his last five games.

Trent Hunter (4-4=8,-6) has been putting up points, but owns the team's worst +/- rating. Hunter has two assists to go along with a -4 rating in his last four.

Mike Sillinger (2-4=6,-2) has struggled to produce with any regularity thus far this season. Sillinger has just one goal in his last five games.

Bryan Berard (2-2=4,-1) hasn't registered a point in the two games since returning from a groin injury.

Chris Campoli (2-9=11,-1) has just two assists in his last seven games, but Berard's return should provide a spark. Campoli assumes the left point on the top power play unit. He leads Isles defensemen with eleven points.

M.A. Bergeron (2-4=6,-3) has been scratched the last two games in favor of Berard.

Projected lines:


PP1: Campoli-Berard-Fedotenko-Comrie-Guerin
PP2: Sutton-Gervais-Hunter-Sillinger-Satan

On the mend:
*F/D Aaron Johnson (knee) is expected to miss six weeks, retroactive 11/5.
*F Shawn Bates (groin/hernia) is expected to return soon.
*F Jon Sim (knee) is out for the season.

Upcoming schedule:
Mon. 11/19 @ Rangers
Wed. 11/21 vs. Montreal
Fri. 11/23 @ Boston
Sat. 11/24 vs. Boston
Mon. 11/26 vs. Dallas

Direct questions and comments to FantasyNYI@hotmail.com.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

First for a day

*The Islanders complete their six-game home stand when the Devils come to town Saturday. Regardless of the outcome, the stretch has been a major success as the Isles went 4-1 and climbed to the top of the Atlantic Division, albeit for 24 hours.

*The powerplay units continue to fire on all cylinders. They converted eight of 29 chances (27.6%) during the home stretch, though just one for 13 in the last three games. The team is currently ranked fifth in the league (23.6%) in that department. Bryan Berard’s imminent return will only add to those numbers.

*Andy Hilbert has miraculously retained his spot on a scoring line. The winger, noted by Coach Ted Nolan for his defensive play, is a team-worst –6 with no points in twelve games while averaging 14:45. Granted, he makes the occasional heads-up play on the PK.


Rick DiPietro has won four of his last five starts, not including the Penguins game when he was knocked out of action after receiving a high stick from Sidney Crosby. DP has stopped 72 of 76 shots in his last three games, good enough for a .947 SV%. He is ranked seventh in the league in wins (7) and his 2.58 GAA and .906 SV% have been significant factors in the Isles success in the early-going.

Mike Comrie (5-10=15,-1) has scored once in his last ten games since his four goals in the home-and-home series with the Sabres. But Comrie’s playmaking abilities are really showing, as he has a goal and six assists in his last five games. Four of those seven points were scored on the powerplay.

Miroslav Satan (4-6=10,+3) opened the season with one assist in his first six games, but has since turned it on in a big way. Satan has a six-game point-scoring streak going, with four goals and five assists in that span. Only one of Satan’s points this season has come on the powerplay.

Ruslan Fedotenko (5-6=11,-1) has scored three goals and an assist in his last four games. Fedotenko is currently on pace for a 34-goal, 75-point campaign.

Trent Hunter (4-2=6,-1) has brought his ‘A’ game over the past week. After going six games without a point, Hunter has scored four points in four games, including a goal in each of his last three.

Mike Sillinger (1-4=5,-4) has finally started seeing his name on the score sheet. Sillinger had just a pair of assists over the first eight games of the season, but he has scored a goal and two assists in his last four,

Marc-Andre Bergeron (2-4=6,-1) has three points (1-2=3) in the four games since his return from being a healthy scratch. Perhaps more impressive is his +2 rating over the span.


Bill Guerin (5-6=11,-2) followed his two-game four-goal outburst with just one goal in four games, though not for a lack of trying. Guerin has taken no less than four shots in his last seven games.

Chris Campoli (2-7=9,-1) has cooled off over the last three games, though his lack of points doesn’t look so bad with a +4 rating next to it. This after notching seven assists in his prior three. For all that’s said about Berard and Bergeron, Campoli has quietly led the Isles powerplay night after night. Seven of Campoli’s nine points have come on the powerplay.

Projected lines:



PP1: Campoli-Bergeron-Fedotenko-Comrie-Guerin
PP2: Sutton-Gervais-Hunter-Sillinger-Satan

On the mend:
*D Bryan Berard (groin) is close to returning.
*F Sean Bergenheim (upper body) is day-to-day.
*F/D Aaron Johnson (knee) is expected to miss six weeks, retroactive 11/5.
*F Shawn Bates (groin/hernia) is expected to return soon.
*F Jon Sim (knee) is out for the season.

Upcoming schedule:
Sat. 11/10 vs. New Jersey
Mon. 11/12 @ Philadelphia
Thu. 11/15 @ Pittsburgh
Fri. 11/16 @ New Jersey
Mon. 11/19 @ Rangers

Direct questions and comments to FantasyNYI@hotmail.com.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Stay tuned

Stay tuned following the Rangers game for a complete fantasy rundown of the Isles. In the meantime, it's probably a safe bet to add Satan.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Back to the grind

*The Islanders take on the Hurricanes Saturday for just their third game in two weeks. They will then get back to the rigors of an NHL schedule, though they don't leave the Metro Area until mid-November.

*Following a pair of wins in which the powerplay went 5-for-11, the Isles now rank first in the league in that department (27%). Their penalty killing unit has also been phenomenal and is ranked third in the league (91%).

*The down side to that is nearly the entire team has a minus rating. Sean Bergenheim is the lone exception (+/-E). The worst? Andy Hilbert with a -4.

*Bryan Berard will sit for the next few weeks with a groin injury. Marc Andre Bergeron will presumably take his spot as the powerplay quarterback. Bergeron, who had been a healthy scratch the last three games, is a safe fantasy pick-up right now since he will be relied on in Berard's absence. Despite his -3 rating, Bergeron has three points (1-2=3) in five games.


Rick DiPietro has won two straight while allowing five goals on 57 shots for a .912 S%. Overall, DP is 5-2 with a 2.27 GAA and .914 S%.

Bill Guerin (4-6=10,-1) has finally broken his scoring drought after failing to score a goal in his first six games as an Islander. He had a hat trick Thursday in Washington and followed that with a dramatic overtime winner against the Devils. Guerin has proven to be a streaky contributor in the early-going. He had five assists in his first two games, one assist in his next four, and then four goals in the next two. Half of Guerin's points have come on the powerplay.

Mike Comrie (5-5=10,-3), like his (former) linemate, has also been streaky. He followed his six-point outburst in the opening two games with just one assist in his next four. In his last two games, Comrie has contributed a goal and two assists. Half of Comrie's points have also come on the powerplay.

Miroslav Satan (1-4=5) turned it on the last two games with four points (1-3=4). This after going six games with just one assist. Satan may be available in your league if there are any impatient GMs. Despite the slow start, he is always good for at least 55 points.

Josef Vasicek (3-1=4) has points in three straight games, including a pair of goals (one shorthanded).

Chris Campoli (2-5=7) has five assists, including four on the powerplay, in his last two games.


Ruslan Fedotenko (2-5=7) has just two points (1-1=2) in his last six games after opening the season with five (1-4=5) in his first two. Three of Fedotenko's points have come on the powerplay.

Mike Sillinger (0-2=2) has not been able to get it going so far this season. Granted, he failed to muster a point in his first four games as an Islander last year and went on to score 59 points. The only concern is Sillinger is averaging just a shot a game, half of his average. But the points will come as soon as his line starts clicking.

Trent Hunter (1-1=2) has gone six games without a point after tallying a point in each of his first two games. He ranks second on the team with 22 shots so the points will eventually come.

Chris Simon (0-0=0) has averaged just over five minutes of ice time in the three games since his return.

Projected lines:
Extra: Bootland

Extra: Johnson

PP1: Satan-Bergeron-Fedotenko-Comrie-Guerin
PP2: Gervais-Campoli-Hunter-Sillinger-Satan

On the mend:
*D Bryan Berard (groin) will miss two-to-four weeks.
*F Shawn Bates (groin/hernia) has resumed skating and is expected to return soon.
*F Jon Sim (knee) is out for the season.

Upcoming schedule:
Sat. 10/27 vs. Carolina
Thu. 11/1 vs. Tampa Bay
Sat. 11/3 vs. Pittsburgh
Tue. 11/6 vs. Rangers
Sat. 11/10 vs. New Jersey

Direct questions and comments to FantasyNYI@hotmail.com.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Floundering Isles shuffle the deck

*After opening the season with a home-and-home sweep of the Sabres, the Isles have now lost three of their last four, a span in which they have managed to score just five times.

*Wade Dubielewicz was shelled by the Maple Leafs Wednesday, allowing all eight goals in an 8-1 blowout. The first-year full-time backup received little help from the Isles defensemen, but certainly didn't do anything to rectify the situation. Regardless, he shouldn't have been left in the net for that long. Don't expect Dubie back in goal for the foreseeable future.

*Bad news for fantasy players who were counting on a strong performance in the early-going from Marc-Andre Bergeron. Bergeron was scratched in the Philly game and recent signee Bryan Berard took his place in a pairing with Andy Sutton. Bergeron has been a disaster in his own end this year. But, he's not known for his defense (in fact he is known for his poor defensive ability) and can certainly be useful as a PP specialist. However, dressing seven defensemen causes a short bench for the forward units and confusion ensues.

*Jeff Tambellini had his fleeting opportunity on the second line, but was quickly demoted. Sean Bergenheim was then promoted to his spot, and has filled in nicely.

*Chris Simon returned to game action against the Flyers and picked up where he left off, dropping the gloves with Riley Cote. Simon can be a rewarding pickup in a league that credits PIMs. He's also proven to occasionally chip in on the offense.

*In an effort to jump-start the offense, Ted Nolan has broken up the top line for the first time since camp broke. Bill Guerin will be swapped with Trent Hunter, who has just two points (1-1=2,-3) in six games. Nolan's logic here is questionable. Besides breaking up the only line that gave the Isles any hope so far this season, he is also disassembling the most consistent line from last season. Time will tell if his instincts are warranted.

*The player who really needs to step it up is Miroslav Satan (0-1=1,-3), whose line is the only one that won't be altered for Thursday's game. The Bergenheim-Vasicek-Satan unit was clearly the best the team had to offer in Philly Saturday. Josef Vasicek scored the loan goal that night.

*Shawn Bates is rumored to be making his season debut Thursday. If so, expect Darryl Bootland to be scratched or demoted and a fourth line of Simon-Park-Bates.

Projected lines:

Extra: Bootland

Extras: Bergeron, Johnson

PP1: Berard-Satan-Fedotenko-Comrie-Guerin
PP2: Gervais-Campoli-Hunter-Sillinger-Satan

On the mend:
*F Shawn Bates (groin/hernia) has resumed skating and is expected to return soon.
*F Jon Sim (knee) is out for the season.

Upcoming schedule:
Thu. 10/18 @ Washington
Sat. 10/20 vs. New Jersey
Sat. 10/27 vs. Carolina
Thu. 11/1 vs. Tampa Bay
Sat. 11/3 vs. Pittsburgh

Direct questions and comments to FantasyNYI@hotmail.com

Thursday, October 11, 2007

3-1 Isles march on up to T.O.

Save for the Olaf Kolzig show on Monday afternoon, in which the Isles out-shot Washington 31-12 but managed to lose, 2-1, the Isles season has been a success in the early-going. The top line carried the team in the home-and-home series with Buffalo, but has since cooled off. The defense led the offense against the Rangers Wednesday with powerplay goals from Bryan Berard and Marc-Andre Bergeron. But, if not for Rick DiPietro, the team would be at .500. DP bailed out his defensemen time and time again while accumulating 36 saves on 37 Ranger shots.

No surprise here, but Freddy Meyer was finally waived and subsequently picked up by Phoenix. If he gets some powerplay time in the desert, which is likely, Meyer can be a key contributor from the blueline. Personally, I would wait to pick him up to make sure he is indeed getting PP time. If your league penalizes poor +/- ratings, Meyer may not be the best addition since Phoenix is expected to struggle on both ends this season.

Unfortunately, Meyer never got his game together for the Isles. Last season, he played with a broken finger, but that was no excuse for his frequent defensive lapses. Perhaps being traded for Alexei Zhitnik put a lot of pressure on him and he just tried too hard. Regardless, Garth Snow made the right decision and it paid immediate dividends as Bryan Berard scored the game winning goal in his first game.

Speaking of Berard, he should now be available in your fantasy league since he played his first regulation game of the season. He played just over eight minutes Wednesday night, including 5:43 on the powerplay. In time, Berard will likely take a chunk of Bergeron's even strength minutes.

The Isles will undoubtedly miss the hard work and all-out play of Jon Sim, who is expected to miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury, but the reunited line of Hilbert-Sillinger-Hunter is picking up where it left off last season. The trio can cycle with the best of them, and is capable of keeping the puck deep in the offensive zone for significant periods of time. It’s only a matter of time before they put the puck in the net.

The Sim injury will also force Ted Nolan to utilize Jeff Tambellini on a long-term basis. Hopefully for all involved, Tambellini is given ample time on a scoring line and proves his worth. The youngster hustles and drew two Ranger penalties Wednesday night.

Nolan’s bench follies

Since Nolan opted to dress seven defensemen against the Rangers, Darryl Bootland was scratched and the lines were tinkered with the exception of the Fedotenko-Comrie-Guerin and Hilbert-Sillinger-Hunter units. Nolan will use the same lineup tonight in Toronto, so expect more of the same.

Does Nolan plan on playing Bergenheim this little all season? He's arguably the most consistent hitter on the team, yet he sits all but four short shifts (2:35) vs. the Rangers. Meanwhile, despite all that happened in the preseason with the Blueshirts, Nolan sits his only full-time enforcer, the aforementioned Bootland. True, many players on this team will drop the mittens if the situation calls for it, but the Isles can't afford to have Bill Guerin and Brendan Witt sitting in the penalty box.

Marc Andre Bergeron was on the ice for 22:14 against the Rangers, including over 15 minutes of even strength, nearly twice the amount of Bruno Gervais and Chris Campoli. Included in these 15 minutes was a terrible defensive play on Brendan Shanahan. Not only did Bergeron miss his initial check, he floated away and watched as Shanahan was able to unload another couple of shots. Despite all of this, he played over a minute on the penalty kill as well.

If Bergeron doesn't learn to pick his spots to carry the puck up the ice, he could, and should, find himself as strictly a PP specialist. On one play against the Rangers, he attempted to beat just about the entire Rangers squad, all hanging back in the neutral zone. The end result was a 2-on-1 for the Blueshirts, and luckily for Bergeron and the Isles, a timely save from DiPietro.

And not for nothing, but the top scoring line and least defensive defenseman (Bergeron) should not be on the ice in the final minute to hold a one-goal lead.

On the topic of last-minute personnel, what was Andy Hilbert doing on the ice when the Isles were in dire need of a goal late in the game vs. Washington? (Besides flubbing yet another golden opportunity.)

Wake up, Nolan!

A sampling of the lines used vs. the Rangers:
(* denotes permanent unit)


Bergeron and Berard spent some time paired with Bruno Gervais.

PP1: Berard-Bergeron-Fedotenko-Comrie-Guerin
PP2: Gervais-Campoli-Hunter-Sillinger-Satan
Nolan also utilized Berard and Satan on the point.

On the mend:
F Jon Sim (knee) will likely undergo season-ending surgery. He hurt his knee while forechecking as he slipped on bad Coliseum ice Saturday night.
F Chris Simon (suspension) will have served the remainder of his suspension following tonight's game in Toronto. Expect Simon in the lineup Saturday in Philadelphia.

Upcoming schedule:
Thu. 10/11 @ Toronto
Sat. 10/13 @ Philly
Thu. 10/18 @ Washington
Sat. 10/20 vs. New Jersey
Sat. 10/27 vs. Carolina

Direct questions and comments to FantasyNYI@hotmail.com

Sunday, October 7, 2007

What a weekend!

Needless to say, a spectacular way to start the season--a home-and-home sweep of the Sabres.

I will have a full fantasy update following Wednesday's matchup with the Blueshirts, but for now, here are a few notes:

*The Fedotenko-Comrie-Guerin line is on fire. While Mike Comrie (4-2=6) and Bill Guerin (0-5=5) were likely drafted in your league, Ruslan Fedotenko (1-4=5) is a safe waiver pick-up. The trio lead the team with +3 ratings.

*Gerard Gallant has experimented with a number of PP combinations, among them:

*Despite providing energy and hard hitting, Sean Bergenheim played just 3:11 Saturday. Ted Nolan has got to find a way to utilize him more than that. He had an assist in just 7:18 the night before.

*Jon Sim sprained his knee when he missed a hit on his signature all-out forecheck. He will be re-evaluated before Monday's game. If Bryan Berard is signed by then, look for the Isles to dress seven defensemen. Otherwise, Jeff Tambellini or Blake Comeau could get their first shot of the regular season.

*With the Sim injury, Nolan put Andy Hilbert back on the Sillinger-Hunter unit and Richard Park skated with Miroslav Satan and Josef Vasicek. Neither line missed a beat.

*Freddy Meyer has been waived, opening a spot for the signing of Berard, though nothing has been announced yet. If he's available, you might want to grab him before word gets out.

*With two PPG in two games, Chris Campoli is making a strong case to assume his spot on the top PP unit. He has looked strong in both ends of the ice, and leads Isles defensemen with a +2 rating. His well-timed pinches have resulted in hits and offensive opportunities. Campoli could be a solid fantasy pick-up, but if Berard takes his spot on the top PP unit, his production will falter. Obviously, don't expect him to maintain this goal-a-game pace regardless.

*Garth Snow followed up his signing of Radek Martinek by extending Richard Park's contract two more years. Another good decision by Snow. Park provides much more than he is often given credit for, including stellar PK play and versatility.

Friday, October 5, 2007

An unnecessary question mark

What are the Isles waiting for with Bryan Berard? Sign this guy!

If Garth Snow thinks he's going to get anything for Freddy Meyer right now, he's dead wrong. What GM in his right mind would trade for a guy he could pluck off the waiver wire in a few days?

Solution: Waive one of Aaron Johnson or Meyer, regardless of how they played in camp. This team needs a PP QB at any cost--and Freddy Meyer isn't exactly a steep price to pay.

This waiting game is only hurting the team. Brendan Witt said so himself.

"We're trying to get ready for the season and trying not to let it be a distraction for the guys that are still uncertain," Witt said. "It's a lot of pressure for those guys. It's sort of like a mini-training camp for them still to win that job. It becomes very competitive."

Would it really be a big loss to lose Meyer on waivers? Snow and Ted Nolan should be more concerned with fielding the best team from the get-go than holding on to a depth defenseman.

Meanwhile, Snow signed Radek Martinek to a 3-year contract extension. Great news for both the Isles and Martinek as long as he can stay healthy this season and beyond.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Lineup set: The Hilbert/Tambellini debate; 2008 projections

Well, the roster is set. I'm guessing everyone has seen it, but if you haven't, see the bottom of this post.

For the second season in a row, Andy Hilbert finds himself on a scoring line ahead of the much more deserving Jeff Tambellini. Last year, Hilbert started the season on the top line, ate up a lot of minutes playing with Alexei Yashin, Miroslav Satan, Mike Sillinger, Viktor Kozlov, etc. (the top scorers on the team), and took 22 games to notch his first point--an assist.

Granted, Hilbert is a hard-working player (though he sometimes misses his check), but he just doesn't have the talent to warrant second-line minutes, especially when the team is looking for offensive production from all four lines.

According to Ted Nolan, this is about putting a defensive guy on a line with two offensive-types in Satan and Josef Vasicek. If this is so, why not put Bergenheim or Park up there? True, Park is not a second line player, and he doesn't pretend to be, but he's certainly a better defensive player than Hilbert. Bergenheim has some offensive upside and hits everything in site. He's also terrific in his own end. If defense is what the Isles are going for, that's the kind of guy to put with two soft/offensive types.

But Tambellini is the man for the job. He can forecheck with the best of them and in his 23 games last year, he created chances on just about every one of his rare shifts. That's no small feat considering he averaged just over seven minutes a game on a line with Aaron Asham and Richard Park.

The guy has paid his dues in the minors, has done all he can do down there (30 goals and 29 assists in 50 games last season), and has had nothing negative to say about playing a fourth line/press box role. Now he finds himself back in the minors in favor of Andy Hilbert... again. Something is wrong here.

If they want to put Hilbert on the fourth line, that's fine. But they can’t get carried away with rewarding "Nolan players." You have to draw a line somewhere between hard work and consistent production. Tambellini provides both, while Hilbert provides fourth line energy and, at best, decent two-way play.

When the decision to demote Tambellini was made, it may have been the product of a maxed out lineup. Darryl Bootland is holding the enforcer's role until Chris Simon returns from suspension. Simon, meanwhile, takes up a spot. The team is carrying eight defensemen while Garth Snow presumably attempts to work out a deal in order to make room for the still-unsigned Bryan Berard. It all adds up to 23 players on the roster.

Speaking of Berard, his future with the team is a growing concern with each passing hour. There are other teams that want him and he is still an unrestricted free agent, but he has emphasized that he would like to sign on with the Isles. Regardless of his desire, it comes down to wanting to play and if the Isles can't provide that before the season starts, there's no reason for him to stick it out.

Perhaps when Simon replaces Bootland in the lineup and Bootland is demoted, Tambellini will be recalled, but don't hold your breath. If he's back, based on his history on Long Island, he likely won't be put in any position to succeed. Hell, he'll end up on a line with Andy Hilbert.

On a positive note, the top line of Fedotenko-Comrie-Guerin has shown a lot throughout camp and preseason and will only get better in time.

The Slovakian combo of Vasicek-Satan also looks solid. Both players have much to prove and are in the final years of their contracts. Satan should have a productive season and his country mate will only help him. Vasicek looked strong throughout the preseason, oftentimes out muscling defensemen to create his own opportunities.

Adding Jon Sim to the Sillinger-Hunter combo will make that line a more dangerous threat in the offensive zone, not to mention a stronger checking unit.

And although Bergenheim is beginning the season on the fourth line, he will likely move up through the lineup as he proves himself to the coaching staff. He won't (or shouldn't) be stuck on the fourth line for long.

The Isles decision to fill Simon's spot with fellow enforcer Darryl Bootland is a bold move and shows the team’s desire to stand up to the toughest of them--starting with Andrew Peters in Buffalo, Donald Brashear in Washington, and the numerous participants in the Blueshirt circus. But don't count on Ryan Hollweg to engage in an honorable battle. Mr. Snow has assembled a nice crop of tough guys at Bridgeport as he continues to make his top-to-bottom mark on the team.

On the blueline, the Isles have some familiar pairings. Brendan Witt and Radek Martinek played well together last season. The combo provides a good balance as Witt brings toughness and shot-blocking while Martinek hones a good transition game/breakout pass combined with solid defensive play. Andy Sutton will provide his share of booming body checks and protection for Rick DiPietro, while partner M.A. Bergeron will supply a few booms of his own with his 100 MPH shot. The youngsters, Chris Campoli and Bruno Gervais, played together much of last season and will look to continue their development at the NHL level, barring the imminent Bryan Berard signing and a possible trade. More on this as it develops...

Alas, here are my projections for the season:

Mike Comrie 34-43=77
Bill Guerin 29-45=74
Miroslav Satan 30-30=60
Mike Sillinger 21-25=46
Josef Vasicek 20-23=43
Trent Hunter 16-15=31
Ruslan Fedotenko 17-14=31
Jon Sim 16-14=30
*Chris Simon 11-18=29
Richard Park 9-14=23
*Jeff Tambellini 12-10=22
Sean Bergenheim 11-10=21
Andy Hilbert 4-16=20

*Bryan Berard 7-40=47
M.A. Bergeron 16-23=39
Radek Martinek 3-22=25
Andy Sutton 3-16=19
Bruno Gervais 3-14=17
Chris Campoli 4-12=16
Brendan Witt 0-11=11

Team total =266 goals

* Currently not in the lineup

Off topic, but here are my predictions for the NHL season:

Tampa Bay
New Jersey
NY Rangers
NY Islanders

San Jose
St. Louis
Los Angeles

Eastern Champs: Pittsburgh
Western Champs: Colorado
Stanley Cup Champs: Colorado

Hart: Roberto Luongo
Vezina: Roberto Luongo
Art Ross: Sidney Crosby
Richard: Sidney Crosby
Norris: Wade Redden
Calder: Jonathan Toews
Jack Adams: Ted Nolan

NYI current roster and line combinations
Extras: Simon (suspended), Bates (IR)

Extras: Meyer, Johnson (healthy scratches), Berard is expected to sign.


Comment away—debates welcome. Email me at FantasyNYI@hotmail.com for fantasy advice or just to talk Islanders hockey. Don’t forget to vote on the polls.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thoughts on fight night

Call it what you will… selfish, arrogant, or just plain stupid… but Rick DiPietro’s decision to leave the crease Monday night was the right one. He didn’t do it for himself, he didn’t do it for glory (though his raised finger may suggest otherwise), and he certainly didn’t do it for the hell of it. He made the decision because Chris Simon was stuck fighting a man on each side of him (both established fighters) for the second time in the game and it needed to be addressed.

Granted, the fight with Montoya probably wasn’t necessary. But DP was challenged, even though Montoya appeared to think twice about his venture down the ice.

To the fans who suggest DP made a poor decision: Would you prefer he back down? Would this send the right signal to the Rangers and the rest of the league?

As for his concussion history, I would worry more about suffering one courtesy of a Sean Avery cheap shot or a Sheldon Souray blast to the mask. I’d take the chance any day to show that this team isn’t one to be pushed around.

Besides, DP added some much-needed spark to the Battle of New York, and, in doing so, gave Montoya the beating of his young career.

It will be interesting to see the lineup that the coaching staff puts together for Friday night at MSG. Ted Nolan’s comments suggest Simon will dress. The Rangers and Avery, who was absent from the lineup Monday, are ready to engage in more of the same. The big question is whether or not DiPietro is scratched in the interest of keeping him out of harm’s way with Mr. Avery in full-on cheap-shot mode.

On a side note, kudos to Islanders TV for covering the fights both in the highlights package and the replay of the game itself. On the contrary, the league’s video highlights provide further proof that the NHL likes to pretend that fighting either a) doesn’t happen or b) isn’t important enough to include in a four-minute highlights package.

Until Friday…

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Pre-season projections

Welcome to The Fantasy Fancy, where each Islander player’s production will be regularly scrutinized over the course of the season, particularly in terms of fantasy hockey. This is not to say that I’ll solely be spitting out stats. As a lifelong Isles fan, I will not hesitate to offer critiques, as well as praise, for the team.

I'll get started with my thoughts on the off-season, followed by some early projections. In the coming days, I will give a player-by-player run down with stat predictions to assist you on your way to fantasy glory.

This summer saw one of the biggest turnovers in recent memory.

On the outs: Alexei Yashin (Russia), Jason Blake (Toronto), Ryan Smyth (Colorado), Viktor Kozlov (Washington), Richard Zednik (Florida), Arron Asham (New Jersey), Randy Robitaille (Russia), Tom Poti (Washington), Sean Hill (Minnesota)

Incoming: Bill Guerin, Mike Comrie, Ruslan Fedotenko, Jon Sim, Josef Vasicek, Sean Bergenheim, Andy Sutton

Though the Isles may not have caught the biggest fish in the free agency pond, there's no denying the “culture change” Ted Nolan and co. can’t stop talking about. Gone are the defensively-inept Robitailles, Kozlovs, and Yashins. They will all be replaced by heart-and-soul players whose efforts will never be questioned.

Kudos to Garth Snow and the management team for not overpaying for several big-name free agents. Very few signings this year were worth the price tag. Many GMs opted for longer term deals in order to lower the cap hit (the average of the player’s salary over the term of the contract). But, the fact remains that the average salary is still inflated and the CBA is set to expire in just a few short years. Who knows what happens then? Snow has been careful not to sign players to expensive long-term deals. This is all part of both managing the CBA and securing the team’s immediate and long-term goals.

Free ‘C’

The one issue I had this summer was the team's decision to hastily hand over the 'C' to Bill Guerin. No doubt Guerin is a leader in any dressing room and fits the captain's mold. But Mike Sillinger and Brendan Witt, last year's alternate captains, proved their worth over the course of a single season and know the team and system inside and out. If anything, the team should have waited until training camp to give Guerin and his new teammates a chance to get accustomed before announcing its decision. One can only hope that Snow and Nolan conferred with Sillinger and Witt on the matter.

Projected lineup:

Extras:Simon (suspended five games); Bates (sidelined indefinitely)



Filling out the roster

On offense, Ted Nolan will be banking on career seasons from a host of players. Half of the forward group from the end of last season has been replaced, but much like last year, we should see a well-balanced attack from the top three lines.

Miroslav Satan needs to step his game up a notch or two, and this being the final year of his contract, there is added incentive. He hopes to duplicate his first season on Long Island, when he lit the lamp 35 times.

Bill Guerin should be good for 30+ goals, and Mike Comrie, as the number one center (also in the final and only year of his contract), is set for a reawakening. He should also fall in the 30-goal range.

If Ruslan Fedotenko can stay healthy and keep his spot on the top line, a 50-point campaign isn’t out of the question.

Mike Sillinger aims to pick up where left off last season, a 26-goal, 59-point campaign. Half of Sillinger’s goals came on special teams.

Jeff Tambellini is ready for a regular shift after averaging a little over seven minutes of ice time per game and sitting out most as a healthy scratch last season. If given the ice time he deserves, we could see 20 goals from the youngster.

Ditto Josef Vasicek, who is just hitting his stride at 27 years of age. The big center should be good for 50 points.

Trent Hunter will look to work on his consistency—-his clutch goals carried the team at times last season; other times he was invisible.

Free agent signee Jon Sim is hoping for a breakout year under a coach that suits his style. Sim has notched 17 goals in two straight seasons while working with limited ice time.

Sean Bergenheim is the dark horse of the group. Never lacking in effort, Bergenheim aims to prove to the Isles that he was worthy of the one-way deal he finally signed early this summer.

Andy Hilbert and Richard Park will fill out the roster before Chris Simon returns from his suspension. There will certainly be some healthy competition for 4th line ice time.

In all, three guys who could fall in the 30-40 goal range, six who will push 20+. Not bad for a team that lost four of its top six scorers this summer.

On the back end, the team shored up its defense corps with the signing of 6’6” 245 lb. Andy Sutton. Isles fans will be happy to know that Sutton has a history with long-time Islander nemesis Darcy Tucker. Two seasons ago, Sutton was suspended six games for plowing Tucker face-first into the boards, resulting in a bloody wound to his forehead.

The addition of Sutton gives the Isles a respectable top-four of Brendan Witt, Radek Martinek, Marc Andre Bergeron and Sutton. Former Islander Bryan Berard will come to camp on a tryout basis, but, barring injury, there is no reason the '97 Calder winner won't make the team. Chris Campoli and Bruno Gervais will push for ice time while looking to hasten their development into top-end defenseman, though one will likely sit in the press box to start the season. Based on last year's performance, Gervais has the edge because of his defensive responsibility. Freddy Meyer will be the odd man out as the eighth defenseman. History suggests defensive ace Radek Martinek will go down with an injury at some point, opening the door for the ex-Flyer or one of Gervais and Campoli.

Of course, there’s not much to discuss about the men between the pipes. Rick DiPietro is expected to be fully recovered from off-season hip surgery. Wade Dubielewicz completed his feel-good story last year by signing his first one-way contract, securing his spot with the big club.

While the current roster appears to be set, the Isles are carrying two extra NHL-calibre forwards and, if Berard signs, eight defensemen. Could a pre-season deal be in the works? Stay tuned...

Until then, feel free to e-mail me at FantasyNYI@hotmail.com or post a comment. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts and will most definitely respond.