I purchased the TSN Preview Magazine over the weekend, every day or so I will list parts of the Islanders preview. This was written in late July. Today, partMessage 1 of 5 , Sep 4, 2002View SourceI purchased the TSN Preview Magazine over the weekend, every day or
so I will list parts of the Islanders preview.
This was written in late July.
Today, part one begins with an overview:
By Alan Hahn
The last image of the new look Islanders in the spring can could be
interpreted one of two ways.
On the upside, the fact they were playing in the playoffs was of
great significance. Considering what this franchise had been through
since it's previous postseason appearance eight years ago, qualifying
for the the playoffs in itself was a tremendous accomplishment.
On the downside, this realtively young team limped out of the first
round after a brutal seven-game loss to the aging but ornery Maple
Leafs. Most especially, captain Michael Peca was knocked out of the
the lineup for months because of a healing ACL that was torn on the
submarine hit delivered by Darcy Tucker in game five.
So, to review, the Islanders renaissance season included many
commendable accomplishments, such as most wins (42) and points (96)
since 1983-84 and the highest finish since 1987-88.
Yet, for G.M. Mike Milbury, plenty of work still needs to be done.
" I can't let go of the fact that we lost in the first round, " says
Milbury, a perpetually tortured soul. " Yes, we made it. It's an
improvement. We scored a lot more points. But we lost game seven to
the Toronto Maple Leafs and that....will be first and foremost in my
thoughts. And I don't what that to happen again. I want to go
deeper.I want to go all the way sometime. The sooner, the better."
Then he paused.
"But," he adds, " it's nice to be thinking that way instead of, How
can we survive next season ? "
These days survival for Milbury isn't about finances and rushing
cheap young players into the big leagues. It's about matching up
physically and emotionally-hockey related stuff, thankfully. In the
offseason, Milbury went out to change the character of a team that
was relatively timid by adding grit in forwards Jason Wiemer and
Arron Asham while removing snuggly soft Marisuz Czerakwski, who was
noticeably ineffective against the Maple Leafs. Czerkawski was a
scorer, however, and the team hadn't found, as of late July, free-
agent replacements who could deliver that scoring. Milbury was aware
of the need to upgrade the wings around center Alexei Yashin and had
trade possibilities in line.
That said, the Islander may not be among the Stanley Cup
contenders, but they at least have come back from the depths of
despair to develop into a team that every season should be able to
qualify for the playoffs. As the Hurricanes proved, once a team makes
the post-season, anything can happen...
Part Two: Coaching Peter Laviolette may have established himself as a bona-fide NHL coach during the playoffs, when he decided to drop the low-key act and getMessage 1 of 5 , Sep 4, 2002View SourcePart Two: Coaching
Peter Laviolette may have established himself as a bona-fide NHL
coach during the playoffs, when he decided to drop the low-key act
and get into the games-manship with coach Pat Quinn of the Maple
Leafs. Laviolette proved himself not only quick with wit, but also
The fact the Islanders won all three home games against the Maple
Leafs, might suggest Laviolette has control when he has the final
line change. But the four road losses-during which his team appearned
tight and lacking confidence-suggests he needs to get a stronger
emotional grip on his players.
Still, Laviolette, 37, cannot be overlooked, as he was in the Jack
Adams Award voting, for which he was sixth but mysteriously failed to
garner one first place vote.
Laviolette has the makings of a successful coach. He has an NHL
season under his belt, a strong command of the players and a style
and demeanor that makes him appealing to his players. It also helps
that he has a smart staff with venerable defensive coordinator Kelly
Miller and penalty-killing specialist Greg Cronin.
Tsn's Rank: 9
OFFENSIVE PHILOSOPHY: Laviolette is happiest when the Islanders are
finding odd-man rushes off the defense. An aggressive approach in the
neutral zone-but not in the form of a traditional trap-or directed at
the points in the defensive zone sets up most of the scoring
chances. He likes to rely on team speed to get the puck deep in the
offensive zone, regain or retain control and then cycle, cycle,
DEFENSIVE PHILOSOPHY: The Islanders will rarely, if ever, sit back,
and they almost never play a clutch and grab style game. Mostly,
Laviolette will push his mobile defensemen to move the puck up the
ice and encourage his speedy wingers to hound the attacking defensemen
and look to create offense off turnovers.....
Next Up, Forwards.....
Part Three from Tsn Magazine s Islanders Preview by Alan Hahn: Forwards: Yashin didn t have the 42 goal, 91-point season he averaged in his last two seasonsMessage 1 of 5 , Sep 6, 2002View SourcePart Three from Tsn Magazine's Islanders Preview by Alan Hahn:
Yashin didn't have the 42 goal, 91-point season he averaged in his
last two seasons with the Senators, but his 32 goals and 75 points,
in 78 games, still led the the Islanders.
Still, Yashin went thru wingers like Milbury goes thru goalies. A
fit was never really found for Yashin, who needs the puck on his
stick and a respected finisher to draw the defense to be effective.
And because Peca will be out for at least the first two months, the
Islanders will need Yashin to take up most of the minutes at center.
Because the Islanders did not add any skilled wingers and
subtracted Czerkawski, Yashin's linemate candidates are late-blooming
youngster, Oleg Kvasha, who had seven goals and two assists in the
final twelve games of the season, and inconsistent Brad Isbister,
whose goal production dropped for a third consecutive year.
Yashin could play with Peca's wingers, Shawn Bates and Mark
Parrish, as he did in the playoffs. But Bates, who had career-best
goals and point totals, and Parrish, who had sixty points, clearly
are more comfortable with Peca at center.
So unless Milbury can land a top-level player thru a trade, the
performance of Yashin's wingers will be the subject of criticism all
The absence of Peca---who is coming off winning the Selke (best
defensive forward) and career bests in goals and points---will be a
major loss on the ice and in the lockerroom. He is expected to return
in early January.
The Islanders hope Kvasha, 23, will emerge as the talent they
expect him to be. Rookie Trent Hunter was impressive in his NHL debut
during the playoffs and is expected to contend for a spot among the
top six. European prospect Mattias Weinhandl also could figure into
Wiemer, will help fill the temporary gap left by Peca, but his long-
term role is expected to be on a crash line with fellow nasty boy
Asham and hard hitting Dave Scatchard, which will certainly bring an
upgrade in character and grit.
Speaking of which, old reliable Claude Lapointe and tenacious Jason
Blake are also in the mix. Hard-hitting tough guy Steve Webb is
hoping to build on his break-through season, and rounds out the
TSN'S Rank 10......
Part Four from Tsn Magazine s Islanders Preview by Alan Hahn: DEFENSEMEN: Darius Kasparaitis, did not, as many expected, become an Islander for the secondMessage 1 of 5 , Sep 6, 2002View SourcePart Four from Tsn Magazine's Islanders Preview by Alan Hahn:
Darius Kasparaitis, did not, as many expected, become an Islander for
the second time. Milbury was content enough with his defense to feel
Kasparaitis wasn't worth the overpayment.
Kenny Jonsson had a brilliant rebound season, but there are major
concerns about his health after he suffered a concussion---his fourth
in four seasons---during a hit from behind by the Leafs Gary Roberts
in the playoffs. Jonsson is among the league's best unknown players.
Adrian Aucoin had a breakthrough season (34 points and a plus 23) and
emerged not only as a stalwart in his own end but also as a locker-
room leader. Roman Hamrlik gave his usual under the radar performance
as a formidable weapon on the power-play point and will be counted on
to do so again.
Sophomore Radek Martinek will be intriguing to watch. He had a
terrific start last season but suffered a knee injury in the 23rd
game that ended his year. How he rebounds could set the course for
the Islanders D.
Also interesting will be the steady improvement of Eric Cairns, who
remains among the best policemen but is determined to prove he is
more than just a bag of knuckles.
Mattias Timmander, 28, was acquired to anchor this group and is
familiar with both Laviolette and Laperriere from their days with the
organization, so he might get the chance to emerge.
Blue-line depth in the organization is provided by skilled Swede Dick
Tarnstrom and improving minor league grit-and-grinder Ray Schultz.
But because of brittle players such as Jonsson and Hamrlik, injuries
are again a concern for the Islanders defense.....
TSN's Rank: 3
Note-this was written before Tarnstrom was claimed.....
Part Five from Tsn Magazine s Islanders Preview by Alan Hahn: Goaltender, Special Teams and Bottom Line in the conclusion of Tsn s Magazine Preview of theMessage 1 of 5 , Sep 6, 2002View SourcePart Five from Tsn Magazine's Islanders Preview by Alan Hahn:
Goaltender, Special Teams and Bottom Line in the conclusion of Tsn's
Magazine Preview of the 2002-03 Islanders...
Chris Osgood was the godsend the Islanders needed when he fell into
their laps in the preseason waiver draft. He had a dynamic October,
but after that he was inconsistent. Still, when it counted, Osgood,
played well. In Osgood, the Islanders have an established and
experienced-and Cup winning goalie who is entering his prime.
Garth Snow, who signed a free-agent contract two months before
Osgood's arrival, started the season a bit miffed, but by the end, he
was content with the backup role. He and Osgood developed a strong
relationship and Snow certainly earned his share of big wins along
But that distant rumbling is a tantrum from Rick DiPietro--- who
turns 21 on September 19th---and it is getting louder. He had another
solid season as he led the franchise's AHL affiliate in Bridgeport to
the Calder Cup finals. He feels he is ready for the NHL, and many
teams around the league have inquired about him. Thus far, Milbury
has been wisely hesitant to deal him....
TSN's Rank: 14
Overall, the penalty-killing unit dominated not only as a stopper but
as a finisher. The Islanders acored a league-high 17 shorthanded
goals, two shy of the franchise record.
The unit undoubtedly will miss Peca, last season he had six goals and
ten points in short-handed play. But the forward group of Lapointe
and Blake, with Bates likely pairing with Wiemer and possibly even
Yashin, still has the speed and skill to be effective.
Yashin was by far the teams most effective power-play weapon. He had
15 goals and 30 points on a unit that seemed to be dominant when it
wasn't going thru stretches of maddening droughts.
The strength of the power play, other than Yashin, is at the points,
where Aucoin and Hamrlik fire away. The absence of Czerkawski,
expecially without the addition of scoring wingers, will be felt most
here because of his sniper's touch. Peca is also productive on the
power-play so that's another hole that needs to be filled, albeit
TSN's Rank: 4
The team could take a step back, as growing teams sometimes do (see
Carolina Hurricanes, circa 1999-2000), especially considering Peca's
Breakout seasons last year by players--including Aucoin and Bates--
might have been flukes, but they helped offset the play of guys such
as Isbister, and expected contributor who was a dud.
The reality is this team will be tougher and, most important, have
the playoff experience it lacked last season. That means it has more
than enough to be in the playoff until Peca's return. After that
anything is possible.....
Rick DiPietro: He's itching to make the jump. But with Chris Osgood a
lock, does that mean another young goalie will be traded ?
Mattias Weinhandl: One of the franchise's secret gems in the system,
Weinhandl could be ready to show his stuff in the NHL.
Raffi Torres: This rock-em, sock-em, style player seems to struggle
with the mental game. A good third line player.
Note- All three players are given a grade of seeing time with the
Islanders, which is a picture of a plane, as opposed to a bus, which
means the minors.....