Islanders Website Postgame:
Peca Returns, Problems Persist:
St. Louis 6, Islanders 1
By Kerry Gwydir
(November 2) Saturday was a big night at the Coliseum as Michael Peca
made a surprise return to the lineup from his offseason knee and
shoulder surgeries. He was in the starting lineup, reunited with
"Lucky 7's" linemates Shawn Bates and Mark Parrish. That was his lone
shift in the game, but it certainly temporarily juiced up his
teammates and the crowd. The problem was St. Louis netminder Fred
Brathwaite, who was superb in the opening period by rejecting all 11
The bigger story came in the form of another rough second period for
the Islanders, who were this time scored on three times in a 6-1 loss
to St. Louis on Saturday night. In the last three games, the Isles
have been outscored 8-0 in the middle period and it's no surprise that
they've dropped their last four contests in the process.
Brathwaite was the story in the first period, shutting down the
Islanders, who came out flying and had several golden scoring
opportunities. His stellar allowed his Blues' teammates to find their
legs in the second period. The visitors took advantage of a pair of
turnovers in the offensive zone and another poor pinch to make the
When the puck dropped to begin the game, it didn't take long for the
captain to energize his teammates. After the boisterous Coliseum crowd
gave him a standing ovation, the captain popped St. Louis' Barret
Jackman at the Blues' bench with a solid shoulder hit.
The Islanders had the first man-advantage of the game when the Blues'
Pavol Demitra was shipped to the box. Brathwaite made several quality
stops, including a spin-around opportunity by Alexei Yashin. As the
penalty came to a close, Chris Osgood made his first tough stop of the
night when he kicked out a blast off the stick of Al MacInnis that
came through a screen.
Brad Isbister used his speed to force St. Louis defenseman Tom
Koivisto into taking a hooking penalty with seven minutes left in the
first. Mark Parrish was stopped on the doorstep by Brathwaite early
on, then the goaltender made a quality glove save off a Yashin wrister
from in-tight. But the rest of the man-advantage was negated when Dave
Scatchard was called for cross-checking.
Strong forechecking and a quick transition in the neutral zone kept
allowing Peter Laviolette's team to generate scoring chances. A
turnover at the redline caused by a Scatchard hit allowed the
Islanders to come down on a 3-on-2 inside the last two minutes. The
center worked the puck to Jason Wiemer behind the net, who found
Mattias Timander cruising down the slot. The defenseman's one-time
slapper was blocked off and held by Brathwaite.
The Isles' best chance came at the buzzer when Yashin was robbed on
the doorstep by Brathwaite's left arm as the center was left unchecked
to slap a loose puck on net. It started with a heady play by Yashin to
find Kenny Jonsson at the left point position. The defenseman flipped
the puck on net where Yashin had a glorious opportunity foiled.
The scoring chances continued to come early in the second for the
Isles. A pretty job of cycling by the Scatchard line tested Brathwaite
again. A centering pass by Wiemer opened a shooting lane for
Scatchard, who was foiled by the St. Louis goaltender's stick.
St. Louis' MacInnis was then sent off for interfering with Bates
inside the two-minute mark of the period, but the Islanders did not
convert. Their best chance came when Adrian Aucoin ripped a slapper
from the right point that Parrish tipped on the way to the net.
Brathwaite was sharp in covering up the shot on his blocker and not
allowing a rebound opportunity.
Then it was all down-hill for the Islanders.
The visitors got on the board first at the 4:42 mark on a Scott
Mellanby goal. Osgood made the initial save off a long wrist shot by
MacInnis. Yet, the netminder left the rebound out in front. Roman
Hamrlik cleared it right to Demitra to the left of the Islander net,
who quickly threaded a feed across the slot to the unchecked Mellanby.
The Islanders had an immediate opportunity to get that back when
Alexander Khavanov was penalized for hooking at 6:31. They did little
with the extra man and it was the Blues who had the best scoring
chance when Shjon Podein's wrister through a screen forced Osgood to
make a tough stop with his left arm.
A knee-check on Parrish forced a turnover deep in the Islanders' zone
on the Blues' second goal. Petr Cajanek took out the right wing along
the board. Radek Martinek tried to wrap the puck behind the Isles'
net. Instead, he put the puck off the side of his own cage. As Osgood
attempted to fish out the puck, Cajanek beat three Islanders to the
puck and fed Dallas Drake down the slot for the one-time goal.
With 23.7 left in the period, the Blues opened up a 3-0 lead on Martin
Rucinsky's first of the year. Timander attempted to pinch at the St.
Louis blueline, but it led to a 2-on-1 the other way. St. Louis'
Demitra feathered a feed that Rucinsky snapped behind Osgood.
Jason Blake got the Islanders on the board just 1:13 into the final
period. A nice display of hustle by Parrish got the puck behind the
net, where Yashin stopped it for the on-coming Blake. The left wing
wheeled out front and slipped a shot under Brathwaite. St. Louis then
put it away after that with a flurry of goals.
St. Louis got that right back on an Eric Boguniecki goal off an
odd-man rush into the Islanders' end. Five minutes later, it became a
four-goal advantage for the visitors when Cory Stillman scored on the
powerplay with Steve Webb in the box. On both plays, Blues' center
Doug Weight started both goals with quick feeds that put the Islanders
on their heels.
The Blues added another one via the man-advantage with eight minutes
left and Eric Cairns in the box. Bryce Salvador notched his first of
the season as Demitra notched his third helper of the night.
Captain's Cameo Fails To Get Desired Results
By Alan Hahn
November 3, 2002
He's no Willis Reed.
The Islanders made a desperate attempt to jump-start their team last
night by inserting injured captain Michael Peca into the lineup for an
ovation and one shift.
It didn't go as planned.
The plummeting Islanders lost, 6-1, to the St. Louis Blues.
Coach Peter Laviolette took credit - or blame - for the idea, though
he curiously came up with it after a post-practice meeting with
co-owner Charles Wang. Laviolette also had a meeting with general
manager Mike Milbury yesterday morning.
Peca knew since Friday but struggled to keep it a secret.
"I had to lie to everybody when they asked me what I was smiling
about," Peca said.
He was in uniform and participated in the pre-game skate, which raised
some eyebrows but did little more.
Peca, who only five months ago had reconstructive surgery on his left
knee and a stabilization procedure on his left shoulder, has been
practicing with the team for a few weeks, but an early December return
date was already set.
Then his name appeared on the pre-game lineup card. Nassau Coliseum
erupted when Peca took the ice for the national anthem and an ovation
continued when he was announced as a starter between his usual
linemates, Shawn Bates and Mark Parrish.
"It was fun to be out there," said Peca, who played just 27 seconds,
lost a faceoff and was credited for a hit against Blues defenseman
Barret Jackman. "But you always wish you can contribute more than you
The Blues were caught off guard, as they found out at the same time
everyone else did.
Coach Joel Quenneville marveled at Peca's quick recovery and replied,
"I didn't know how to react to it."
Veteran forward Scott Mellanby was more impressed with the energy
generated by the crowd of 14,496. "It's been a long time since I've
heard this building like that," he said.
Peca said there won't be any more cameos until he is ready to return
to full action and maintains the early December time frame - Dec. 6
against Darcy Tucker and the Toronto Maple Leafs - as his focus.
"I'm going to go away again for a while," he said. "And we'll get this
thing straightened out."
The move might have been meant for good intentions, but might have
instead created more problems.
Though most of the players said Peca's presence offered a boost to the
team, center Dave Scatchard, whose usual linemate, Arron Asham, was
made a healthy scratch in favor of Peca, didn't seem thrilled with
being asked what such a drastic and risky move tells the struggling team.
"I don't know," he said before abruptly walking away, "you'll have to
ask the coach."
Peca's Return Is Spoiled
Laviolette's decision to play him backfires, Isles lose again
By Alan Hahn
November 3, 2002
Michael Peca returned to the lineup last night for his first
appearance of the season, but the Islanders captain was merely a
spectator in what continues to be a season-opening pitfall that has
equaled the momentum of last season's dynamic start.
Peca made a cameo on the opening shift of the game, as the Nassau
Coliseum crowd of 14,496 chanted his name and roared with approval. By
the end of the game they were chanting "Re-fund!" and booing the home
team, which lost its fourth straight, 6-1, to the St. Louis Blues.
"It was great to see him on the bench with us for the game," said
Alexei Yashin, who had an assist but also made a defensive gaffe that
led to the Blues' first goal of the game. "But it's too bad we didn't
give him anything to cheer about."
The cheering was limited, but started when Peca participated in the
pre-game skate. Minutes before the starting lineups were announced,
Peca was activated off the injured list and was in the lineup.
Peca's first shift was his only one of the game and it lasted 27
seconds. He lost the opening faceoff, circled the neutral zone a few
times and then took two strides before laying a check on Blues rookie
defenseman Barret Jackman in front of the St. Louis bench. Peca led
with his surgically repaired left shoulder and hardly pasted Jackman
as he could in full health.
"I couldn't resist that," Peca said, smiling.
And that was about it from the captain, who spent the rest of the game
on the bench, splitting the forwards and defenseman and chatting with
whomever was sitting next to him. Coach Peter Laviolette, who said it
was his decision to dress Peca as a motivational tool and a
distraction to his struggling players, said he had no plans to play
Peca any more than that.
Laviolette said Peca would not be in uniform tomorrow against Calgary
at the Coliseum. "It's still December," he said of Peca's actual
The stunt seemed to work initially, as the Islanders were pumped and
had a good first period, with goalie Chris Osgood making eight saves
in his first start in a week. But the second period saw a return of
the same old Islanders. They killed two penalties, but their defensive
breakdowns were awful, plentiful and costly.
On the Blues' first goal, Yashin inexplicably stood motionless while
Pavol Demitra skated right by him in the left circle to pick up a
loose rebound, slip it through the slot to Scott Mellanby for an easy
1-0 lead 4:42 into the second.
Laviolette, who refused to verbally acknowledge Yashin for the glaring
error, said that play was when it "started to unravel" for his team -
a telling statement about the fragile psyche of the players and a
brewing internal problem. "We need everybody in this room to pull
together," forward Jason Blake said, "or else we'll be in trouble real
Dallas Drake made it 2-0 9:28 into the second off another breakdown,
as a turnover led to Drake skating unchecked to a loose puck in the
slot with Osgood down. Recently-signed Martin Rucinsky, whom the
Islanders had considered signing during training camp but opted not
to, made it 3-0 with 23.7 seconds left in the second when he beat
Osgood off a two-on-one break with Demitra. The Blues outshot the
Islanders 10-3 in the period.
Blake scored 1:13 into the third to give the Coliseum a short-lived
spark. But the Blues again took advantage of an awful Islanders
defensive effort while crashing the net when a hustling Eric
Boguniecki put a loose puck by a sprawled Osgood at 3:05 to make it
4-1. Stillman and Bryce Salvador later completed the scoring with
Peca was relegated to watching from the bench, checking out the
replays of the Blues goals and remaining expressionless all the same.
"Tonight was embarrassing," said Osgood, who made 26 saves and, for a
rare time this season, was hardly at fault. "You really can't put it
any other way. We played a dreadful game."
INSIDE GAME 11
RECORD: 3-7-1-0 LAST SEASON: 9-0-1-1
MINUS: Goalie Chris Osgood finally appeared to be on his game and yet
the skaters in front of him did little to offer him any chance of
getting a much-needed positive result.
MINUS: Last-minute stunt by the Islanders of putting Michael Peca in
the lineup for one shift not only backfired, it proved the team is
missing more than his presence.
Radio: ESPN (1050)
NOT EVEN PECA CAN SAVE THESE CLOWNS
By EVAN GROSSMAN
November 3, 2002 -- Motivating measures took a drastic turn last
night, but did nothing for the Islanders, who produced the same ugly
The game began with energy and cheers of "Mi-chael Pe-ca! Mi-chael
Pe-ca!" as the Islanders captain returned to the lineup for a single,
27-second shift as part of a secret directive from Peter Laviolette to
ignite and rally his skidding team.
But the 6-1 loss ended with shouts of "Re-fund! Re-fund!" as the
Islanders lost their fourth consecutive game, the longest such streak
under Laviolette's watch, and thus remained ahead of only the winless
Atlanta Thrashers in the Eastern Conference standings.
"This game was probably the most embarrassing of my career," Chris
You would have thought that the Islanders would rally around the
ever-so-brief return of No. 27, their heart and soul. You would have
thought that such a far reach for passion and emotion would have
merited response from those in uniform.
Think again, Islander fans.
Even with Peca taking the opening faceoff (he lost it) and playing one
shift in the first period, the Islanders and their fans were flat as
ever. There were scattered applause when Peca stepped on the ice, a
loud roar when it was announced he would start the game - one month
earlier than his target return date of Dec. 4 - and chants of
"Mich-ael Pe-ca! Mich-ael Pe-ca!" as action got underway and he threw
Barret Jackman into the glass.
"I'm still at a point where the doctors probably didn't want me out
there too long," said Peca, who replaced healthy scratch Arron Asham
in the lineup.
The euphoria, much like that surrounding making the playoffs last
year, was short-lived.
By the time there were 12 minutes to play in the second period, the
boos began raining down on the Islanders. The jeers serenaded them off
the ice after two periods as they were trailing 3-0 on goals by Scott
Mellanby, Dallas Drake and Martin Rucinski.
"Tonight was embarrassing," Osgood said. "You can't put it any other
way. We played a dreadful game."
Jason Blake cut it to 3-1 early in the third but the Isles were
silenced the rest of the way by goals from Eric Boguniecki, Cory
Stillman and Bryce Salvador as the defense in front of an improved
Osgood (26 saves) crumbled again.
"There's not a single guy in this room playing as good as he can,"
Forget the issues regarding the power play, penalty kill, discipline
and shoddy goaltending. The Islanders major concern from this day
forth is they have shown no heart.
"You hit it right on the nose there," Blake said.
Peca return does
nothing for Isles
By PETER BOTTE
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Now that the Islanders' desperate attempt at a motivational stunt has
failed miserably, where do they go from here?
Injured captain Michael Peca made a shockingly early, albeit brief,
return to the ice last night - more than one month before the Isles'
target date for the start of his comeback from May knee and shoulder
But after the euphoria over Peca's 27-second, game-opening shift had
dissipated, the Islanders fell right back into the malaise that had
engulfed them with their leader sidelined.
The St. Louis Blues scored six times against helpless Chris Osgood in
the final two periods - and the 3-7-1 Islanders still can't score
against anyone, as they dropped their fourth straight with an
uninspired 6-1 loss last night at Nassau Coliseum.
"It was fun to be out there again, but not in a game like that," said
Peca, who will not play again until December. "Obviously, we have a
lot of work to do as a team."
Peter Laviolette, who had met at length Friday with owner Charles
Wang, cryptically added that "something's got to change and
something's got to give."
GM Mike Milbury said before the game he'd likely give the flailing
Isles another month before making significant roster decisions,
although he also admitted December "might be too late" considering the
way the pick-a-problem Isles have played through 11 games.
Of course, they were 9-0-1-1 through that many games last season.
"One player's not going to turn this around," Osgood said. "Tonight
was embarrassing, you can't put it any other way. ... This game was
probably the most embarrassing of my career."
And on so many levels. Asked what Laviolette's admittedly desperate
decision to insert Peca prematurely into the lineup for motivation
said about the rest of the team, Dave Scatchard said gruffly, "I don't
know, you'll have to ask the coach."
And Mark Parrish added, "Pretty much everything we've done as a team
right now is an act of desperation."
Peca, who hadn't appeared in a game since Toronto's Darcy Tucker
flipped him over with a low-bridge hit in Game 5 of the opening round
of the playoffs on April 26, has been skating with his teammates in
practice and during morning skates for several weeks.
But on Oct. 24, Laviolette revealed the Isles' medical staff
tentatively had targeted an early December return date, a shade over
six months following Peca's May 29 left-knee surgery.
So the Coliseum obviously was as loud as it had been all season when
Peca was introduced as the starting center between Lucky 7's linemates
Parrish and Shawn Bates (with Arron Asham the sacrificial scratch).
By the end of the night, what remained of the near-capacity crowd
repeatedly chanted, "Re-fund, re-fund."
Peca lost the opening faceoff but he immediately drew further applause
by bumping St. Louis defenseman Barret Jackman into the boards in the
offensive zone during his shift. "I couldn't resist that," Peca said.
But Peca, who added that "there won't be any more surprises until I'm
back" in December, remained glued to the bench for the remainder of
Scott Mellanby, Dallas Drake and Martin Rucinsky scored against Osgood
(26saves) in the second. Jason Blake finally beat Fred Brathwaite
early in the third, but Eric Boguniecki, Cory Stillman and Bryce
Salvador completed the rout.
The Isles' four-game losing streak is their longest under Laviolette.
BLUES 6, ISLANDERS 1
With Peca Playing Briefly, Isles Lose
By DAVE CALDWELL
UNIONDALE, N.Y., Nov. 2 Michael Peca darted from spotlight to shadow
as quickly as his Islander teammates tonight, but the crowd soon
noticed an unshaven player in a No. 27 sweater circling the ice in the
dark. The fans stood, roared, then chanted his name.
One month before he said he would be ready to return from knee and
shoulder surgery, Peca played tonight. He was on the ice for one shift
that lasted 27 seconds, then watched the St. Louis Blues thrash the
Coach Peter Laviolette said he had activated Peca as a way to rouse
the Islanders (3-7-1-0). Because Peca, their captain, was hardly on
the ice, it looked more like a desperate stunt for a punchless,
dispirited team that has lost four games in a row.
"We were just trying to shake their attention," Laviolette said of the
decision on Peca, which was made Friday. "Our players didn't even know
about it. It was just to get them thinking about other issues."
Although the Blues (7-1-1-0) have fashioned a good record despite
having six players on the disabled list, this was a game the Islanders
had thought they could win if they played with ferocity and intelligence.
Instead, St. Louis shredded the Islanders' defense and made goaltender
Chris Osgood look especially bad. Osgood stopped only 26 of 32 shots
18 of 24 in the last two periods and was roundly booed again by the
14,496 fans at Nassau Coliseum.
"This game is probably the most embarrassing of my career," said
Osgood, a 10-year veteran.
By the middle of the third period, after Osgood allowed the Blues'
sixth goal, fans began chanting for a refund. The Islanders, who got
only a third-period goal tonight from Jason Blake, are on their
longest losing streak in 93 games with Laviolette as coach.
"Frustration is a bad thing," Aleksei Yashin said. "It takes away your
focus from the game."
Laviolette has tried different ways to motivate his team. He skated
them ragged in practice Thursday after a 45-minute meeting in which
the Islanders' undisciplined, sloppy play was discussed in detail.
Then Peca was reactivated. Laviolette said Oct. 22 that Peca was
aiming to return Dec. 4, or two days before the Islanders are to play
what is expected to be an emotional game at home against Toronto.
Maple Leafs forward Darcy Tucker injured Peca's knee on April 26 by
upending him behind the play. Peca had his left anterior cruciate
ligament repaired May 29, and the team said he would be out for six
Tonight's cameo appearance probably will be the last until Peca is
ready to return for good, Laviolette said.
"We just wanted to get him in the locker room, on the ice, get his
presence around," Laviolette said.
Peca said he was thrilled to help. He said he had to lie to his
teammates for the past two days when they asked why he was smiling. He
tipped off Blake, who sits next to him in the dressing room, by slyly
pointing to the wipe board that had his name in the lineup.
"I was just trying to take guys' minds off what was going on," he said.
Not long after losing the opening face-off, Peca skated toward St.
Louis defenseman Barret Jackman and thumped him into the boards with
his repaired shoulder. The check was not as seismic as most Peca hits
are, but the fans loved it.
"I couldn't resist that," Peca said.
But Yashin replaced Peca in the middle of the first shift, and Peca
stayed on the bench for the rest of a game. The Islanders
disintegrated. A missed defensive assignment by Yashin on St. Louis's
first goal began a long slide.
"There's not a single guy in this room playing as good as he can,"
Peca said he wanted to play a few more shifts, but he was done for the
night. When asked if it seemed desperate to dress a player who was not
ready to play, center Dave Scatchard tartly replied, "You'll have to
The Islanders are now conceding that they are in danger of dropping
out of playoff contention a month into the season. They were 9-0-1-1
after 11 games last year and know how much momentum they got from that
They have no momentum now, even after tonight's roster move. "There
won't be any more surprises until I come back," Peca said.
St Louis Post-Dispatch:
Mellanby calls, plays good game
By Derrick Goold
Of the Post-Dispatch
11/03/2002 12:11 AM
UNIONDALE, N.Y. - At the morning skate Saturday, Scott Mellanby
promised to score.
Again. Sort of.
The last time he scored, Mellanby hopped out of the morning skate and
promised two goals. He scored one, and hadn't scored since that game,
the second of the season. So, Saturday morning at Nassau Coliseum he
resorted to another prediction.
"Worked the last time I scored," Mellanby explained, "so I'm calling
it for two again."
Mellanby had a goal and an assist as the Blues defeated the New York
Islanders 6-1 to run their winning streak to seven games.
Goalie Fred Brathwaite carried the Blues through the first period, and
Mellanby broke the deadlock by converting the first of Pavol Demitra's
three assists in the victory. In their first game of 15 this month and
the first of at least a four-week stint without Keith Tkachuk (broken
foot), Mellanby and Demitra combined for two of the Blues first three
Martin Rucinsky, making his Blues' debut, also scored in the second
period before the Blues dusted the Islanders with three goals,
including two power play goals, in the third period.
Like the Blues, the Islanders are missing their captain because of
injury. Michael Peca was expected to be out until December with torn
ligaments in his knee.
That was until he skated Saturday night for one surprise shift. And
there's the difference between these captain-less clubs. The Blues
tied a franchise-best start with their record of 7-1-1-0 by dressing
contributors not gimmicks. The Islanders, off to a 3-7-1-0 start and
sitting 14th in the Eastern Conference, are resorting to parlor tricks
The Islanders watched this one fizzle after the first period.
"They were very surprised," Peca said of his teammates, who didn't
know their captain was dressing until the game. "They expected me back
in December. There won't be any more surprises until I'm back (for
Peca said he was approached Friday about making an appearance, the
same day the Islanders went through a grueling practice to hammer out
their undisciplined play. So Peca took the opening faceoff to
invigorate the troops.
"The guys saw him at the morning skate (but) I didn't think they were
going to play him," Blues coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was like,
'Sheesh, I didn't know he was going to be back this early.' I didn't
know how to react to it."
The crowd was electrified when Peca was announced as a starter. The
charge carried as he completed his first and only shift, all 27
seconds of it. (He even lost the faceoff to Petr Cajanek.) His team
responded with an 11-shot first period that had flurries of scoring
Brathwaite, who will make a third consecutive start Sunday when the
Blues play the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, weathered.
He finished the game one Jason Blake wraparound shy of complementing
the Blues 13 goals in two games into consecutive shutouts.
"It's kind of like the run we had last season," said Brathwaite,
referring to a 10-game winning streak in January. "Pucks are finding
ways to get in for us and pucks are staying out."
A puck found its first way in five minutes in the second period when
Demitra took Al MacInnis' rebound and shuffled a pass to Mellanby for
the goal that fulfilled half the prediction.
Five minutes later, Cajanek put on a forechecking clinic. He crunched
Mark Parrish into the board to loose the puck, then curled back and
pilfered the puck from Radek Martinek's stick. Driving at goalie Chris
Osgood, the puck skittered away. But before Osgood could lower the
glove, Cajanek kicked the puck to Dallas Drake for the pop-in. It was
Drake's fourth goal of the season.
It was the 42nd game of last season when Drake scored his fourth.
Rucinsky, signed last week, made the score 3-0 after Mellanby chipped
the puck out of the Blues' zone. Demitra sprinted ahead to create the
two-on-one with Rucinsky that led to the goal. Eric Boguniecki and
Cory Stillman scored the next two goals with assists from their center
Doug Weight. And Bryce Salvador finished the Blues scoring with what
may be known as the Refund Goal.
After Salvador's power-play dart, the crowd, Peca long forgotten,
serenaded the Islanders: "Refund ... refund."
For a $60 million team without $21 million in key players, the Blues
are persevering like no one could have predicted. They haven't lost
since opening night. Asked after the game what he saw for Sunday's
game, Mellanby said:
"I'll say it again. Mark me down for two. Third time's the charm."