Gets Islanders' attention by working them hard
By Bob Herzog
November 1, 2002
After back-to-back off nights, the Islanders hardly earned a day off.
Instead, yesterday's practice session at Iceworks in Syosset was
unusually grueling from the start. It ended with hockey's version of
wind sprints - full-speed dashes from one end of the rink to the
other, an abrupt turnaround and another dash back to the blue line.
Coach Peter Laviolette calmly blew his whistle time after time for
about a dozen such sprints that left the players keeled over on their
skates and gasping for breath. This, after a 45-minute practice that
included vigorous one-on-one and two-on-two drills that were replete
with high-speed skating and some pushing and shoving in front of the
net as players were encouraged to battle for position.
"It was relatively short, but with a tougher side" is how Laviolette
characterized the session.
Asked if it was meant to drive home a point after the team blew 2-0
leads in losses to Phoenix on Tuesday and Carolina on Wednesday,
Laviolette smiled grimly and said, "To drive home a few points."
The point-making began with an 11 a.m. meeting between coaches and
players that lasted as long as the practice session. Was Laviolette's
displeasure expressed? "Yes," he said. "It was a meeting to fix
things: discipline, work ethic, the system. Those things were addressed."
Particularly galling was the way the 3-6-1 Islanders, who will take a
three-game losing streak into tomorrow night's game against St. Louis
at Nassau Coliseum, lost the previous two nights. "Carbon copies,"
Laviolette said. "We embarrassed both teams in the first period
[taking 2-0 leads], then we came out with less jump in the second
period. No flow, no momentum, which we had in the first 20 minutes.
When something like that pops up twice in a short period of time, it's
a reason for concern."
Penalties remain a concern as both the Coyotes and Hurricanes used the
power play in their rallies. Laviolette had been critical of the calls
against the Islanders in Tuesday's game at home, but he blamed his
team for the shorthanded situations at Carolina. "The penalties we
took, we deserved, and we took the consequences," he said. Those
consequences included three power-play goals, just 24 hours after the
Islanders allowed two such tallies against Phoenix.
Center Dave Scatchard cost the Islanders a power play with a tripping
penalty in the second period Wednesday and compounded his error by
arguing the call to draw an additional two minutes for unsportsmanlike
conduct. "That's the first one of my career," Scatchard said of the
unsportsmanlike call. "I've said worse before and not gotten called
Asked about the carbon-copy games and the team's apparent lack of
discipline, Scatchard wearily shook his head and said: "It's no trend.
Obviously, it's something we're not happy with. It needs to change.
It's a bit of adversity we have to push through. That's what we talked
And what earned their coach's wrath.
Blues at Islanders
Radio: ESPN (1050)
Unhappy Laviolette Makes His Point to Slumping Islanders
By DAVE CALDWELL
SYOSSET, N.Y., Oct. 31 Coach Peter Laviolette sternly watched the
Islanders skate today until most of them were bent over and breathing
hard. Each end of the ice was covered with inches of snow from the
sudden stops that ended each grueling wind sprint.
When he was asked later if he wanted to drive a point home to his
slumping team, Laviolette said tersely, "Drive a few points home."
The Islanders (3-6-1-0) have lost three straight games, and four of
five, because they are playing without the discipline that is of
ultimate importance to Laviolette, their second-year coach.
After a 4-2 loss Wednesday to Carolina, in which they blew a 2-0 lead
for the second night in a row, the Islanders were the third-most
penalized team in the N.H.L. They have given their opponents 7.1 power
plays a game, the most in the league.
The Islanders are not scheduled to play again until Saturday against
St. Louis, and they most likely would have had today off had they won
Wednesday. Laviolette summoned them to practice at 11 a.m. today and
called a meeting that lasted 45 minutes.
Although the Islanders have played only 10 games, they appear to have
reached a critical point. They did not lose their sixth game last
season until their 26th game, on Dec. 1.
"Obviously, it's something we're not happy with, and it needs to
change," said center Dave Scatchard, who received a penalty that ended
a power play Wednesday, then got an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty
for protesting the call.
Among the topics discussed were the penalties that Laviolette on
Wednesday called selfish and ridiculous. Carolina scored three
power-play goals, dropping the Islanders' penalty-killing unit to 28th
in the N.H.L. The Islanders have allowed 17 goals, the most in the
Another concern is the way they have lost. Including a 3-2 loss
Tuesday to Phoenix, the Islanders have rolled to a two-goal
first-period lead in two straight games, then have lost the leads.
"We almost get an arrogance," right wing Mark Parrish said. "We're
saying to ourselves, `It's not going to happen to us.' "
After their meeting today, the Islanders went on the ice and skated
fiercely and without a break for nearly an hour. They have the ice
at Syosset until 1 p.m. and seldom go past 12:15 on a normal day.
Roman Hamrlik was the last player to leave the ice today, at 12:54 p.m.
"It's almost like some days you have to get beaten over the head to
realize something," defenseman Adrian Aucoin said. "I think we finally
figured it out."
What the Islanders finally figured out is that they have not played as
well as they thought although they have out-shot their opponents in
all but two of their games suggesting they have dictated the pace.
"It's not like we're getting shelled, giving up 50 shots a night,"
But Islanders goaltenders Garth Snow and Chris Osgood have the worst
save percentage in the league, with Osgood ranking last among 50 goalies.
Without someone behind them to make spectacular saves, a letup has
often resulted in an Islanders goaltender sweeping the puck out of his
"We take a breath," Laviolette said. "It's not a big breath, but it's
enough to get a step on us."
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Laviolette warned his team in the dressing
room before losing the lead that the opponent was about to make its
biggest charge. Parrish said the players talked about not letting up
before Laviolette entered the room.
"Those are lessons you shouldn't have to learn at that point," Parrish
said. "We're just not listening to ourselves."
Laviolette tried plenty of skating to get them to listen today. He
said he has been angrier at his players before. But he said he had not
slept well after the trip home from Raleigh, N.C., adding that it was
time to address something that had become a liability.
"It was like he was trying to get us into gear," Aucoin said. "I think
he was getting us to figure out that if we're not winning games, it's
not going to be very nice around here."
Ct Post: Bridgeport Sound Tigers
Article Last Updated:
Friday, November 01, 2002 - 3:42:19 AM MST
Sound Tigers game day
Bridgeport Sound Tigers at Saint John Flames
Tonight, 6:30; Saturday, 6 p.m.
Harbour Station, Saint John, New Brunswick
ON THE AIR
WAVZ-AM 1300, WNLK-AM 1350, WSTC-AM 1400
Bridgeport 3-3-1-1, Saint John 4-2-0-0
First meeting of four. Bridgeport won the series 3-1-0 last year, with
its only loss in overtime.
The Sound Tigers won 3-0 March 10 at Bridgeport.
ABOUT THE SOUND TIGERS
F Jeff Hamilton is unlikely to play with an ankle injury, and D J.F.
David missed the last two games with a concussion. D Brandon Smith
(sprained knee) might skate with the team Monday. ... C Eric Manlow
(7-5-12) moved into third in the AHL in scoring Wednesday night. He
leads the league in goal scoring. ... Bridgeport is a symmetrical
1-1-1-1 on the road. ... RW Mattias Weinhandl is 1-6-7 in the last
four games, including five assists in the last two. ... The Sound
Tigers penalty kill is 26-for-28 in the last five games. ... RW Trent
Hunter (6-4-10) has at least one point in all six AHL games he has
played this year. His goal-scoring streak ended Wednesday night.
ABOUT THE FLAMES
Because of inactivity, Saint John sits last in the Canadian Division,
the only division where all teams are over .500. ... The Flames have
the No. 2 power play in the AHL, 24.1 percent. They also have drawn
the fewest power plays in the league, only 4.8 per game. ...
Conversely, the Flames have had to kill only 6.5 penalties per game,
sixth fewest in the AHL; their penalty kill is at 82.1 percent, 21st
in the league through Wednesday. ... LW Oleg Saprykin is 3-7-10 to
lead the team in scoring. ... G Levente Szuper is 3-2 with a 2.76 GAA
and a .908 save percentage in five games. Backup Dany Sabourin is 1-0
and has a 2.00 GAA in two games.
Wednesday at Albany, 7 p.m.