A Win In Motown And Isles Are In (8pm)
Islanders at Detroit (ESPN, ESPN 1050 AM)
By Corey Witt
(April 3) Two points is all they need. Two points and the Islanders
are back in the playoffs. Two points and the Islanders are in the
playoffs for consecutive years for the first time since the 1993-1994
playoff marches. But those two points will not come easy as the Isles
are scheduled to faceoff on the road against the defending Stanley
Cups champions, the Detroit Red Wings.
"We're all excited about the last three games of the season," said
gritty forward Arron Asham. "We still have a job that needs to get
done, but it's exciting to be able to do that, to be able to get into
the playoffs. We just have to stay focused and then we'll get the two
points that we need to clinch."
Said Peter Laviolette: "We obviously could have put it away before,
but we didn't. We got a little closer and now we have to close the
door behind us. The only thing we can do is wake up and start
preparing for the next one to finish the job."
While the Islanders are in control of their own destiny for the last
four days of the season, in which they play three times, they have to
go up against one of the toughest teams in the NHL. The Red Wings, who
have 106 points in 79 games, have been red-hot and will undoubtedly be
a challenge for the Isles. But that's something that the Islanders'
head coach likes.
"They're a great team, they have talent up and down their roster,"
said Laviolette. "But this will be a good a test for us. It will show
us what we'll be facing in the playoffs in a couple of weeks. Every
guy in the lockerroom knows what it's going to take to get it done.
And if they don't, tomorrow will show them what they'll need to do."
The Red Wings will definitely remind the Isles of the caliber of teams
that are in playoffs. However, they're not scared, even if the Red
Wings are one of the hottest teams in the league today. Even at 106
points, the Wings are not relaxing. Detroit is in a dogfight with the
Dallas Stars (107 points) for the first overall seed in the Western
Conference, so this isn't a game they will take lightly.
"We just have to stay focused against them," Laviolette said. "They're
a tough team to go up against because they have a lot of veterans who
get the job done. One through 20, they're a talented team. I can only
hope that we come out and play like we did against the Rangers."
Added Michael Peca: "Playing a team like Detroit is going to command a
lot of focus and effort from us. We've had some tough games against
them in the past couple of years and we don't expect anything
different tomorrow night. If we stay focused on what we have to do,
then we'll have a good chance getting the two points and locking up
the eighth seed."
"When you're playing a team like the Detroit Red Wings you have to be
patient because of their skill," said Garth Snow. "As a goalie, you
can't be too aggressive, you need to be pay close attention and be
patient. We'll all be excited because we know that we're really close
to clinching a playoff spot, but we need to concentrate on the game we
have to play."
The Islanders magic number is at two, which means two points gained by
the Islanders, two points lost by the Rangers or a combination of a
point won by the Isles and a point loss by the Blueshirts would clinch
a spot in the 2003 Stanley Cup playoffs.
THE SCOOP ON: Detroit Red Wings (ESPN, ESPN 1050 AM)
By Kerry Gwydir
(April 3) The mission for the Islanders in Motown is to obtain two
points for them to clinch a postseason berth.
What is standing in their way in this nationally televised game on
ESPN is the red-hot Detroit Red Wings. The Wings have won 10-straight
at Joe Louis Arena and have a lot on the line in this game.
The Central Division champs are in pursuit of the Western Conference
title. First-year head coach Dave Lewis' squad is fighting with Dallas
for the best record in the conference and home-ice advantage through
at least the first three rounds of the postseason. The Wings can
capture the top seed by winning their remaining games against the
Islanders as well as tilts against Columbus and Chicago. Lewis, by the
way, is a former Islander defenseman who was dealt in 1980 in the
famous deal to bring Butch Goring to the Islanders - a trade that
jump-started the Isles to their first Cup championship. Lewis took
over the reigns of the defending Cup champs when Scotty Bowman retired
after hoisting Lord Stanley's Holy Grail last spring.
Goaltender Curtis Joseph, who defected as a free agent from Toronto in
the offseason, is coming on. He kicked away 27 shots for a shutout
while Steve Yzerman scored his second goal since returning from
offseason knee surgery in Detroit's 3-0 victory over Nashville on
Tuesday. The victory clinched the Detroit's third-straight Central
Division crown and seventh in 10 seasons.
The Red Wings have not lost at home since a 4-3 overtime defeat to
Vancouver on Feb. 18.
Besides an impressive cast that boasts some of the game's top stars in
Joseph, Sergei Fedorov (team-high 45 assists and 78 points), right
wing Brett Hull (team-high 36 goals), superstar defenseman Niklas
Lidstrom (18 goals, 62 points, +43), the Red Wings are blessed with
one of the best special teams units in the NHL. Their powerplay comes
in at a league-best 24.1 percent, while their penalty killing comes in
at 85.5 percent, which ranks them 6th in the NHL.
The Wings' top line consists of future Hall of Famer Yzerman, who
returned from off-season knee surgery in February. He missed Detroit's
first 61 contests. Fedorov centers that line with power forward
Brendan Shanahan on the right. Shanahan's 29 goals and 66 points place
him third on the Wings in both categories.
Hull, who eclipsed the 700-goal barrier recently, anchors the Wings'
second line. It features a pair of talented youngsters in rookie
Henrik Zetterberg on the left (22 goals, 43 points) and second-year
center Pavel Datsyuk (11 goals, 48 points) in the middle.
You know there's plenty of depth on Detroit when they have a 628
career-goaler in Luc Robitaille on the fourth line, along with Russian
legend Igor Larionov next to him with 20-goal scorer Tomas Holmstrom
on the right. Don't forget Detroit's grind line, one of the NHL's best
checking lines which has Kris Draper in the middle with Kirk Maltby on
the left and Darren McCarty on the right. The line can chip in
offensively, but their main job is to be responsible defensively and
to hit the heck out of the opposition.
Tough Night to Clinch
Isles can make playoffs with win over mighty Detroit
By Tara Driscoll
April 3, 2003
The season has come down to this for the Islanders: three games left
and two points needed to secure a playoff spot. Sounds simple until
the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings enter the picture.
With the Islanders unable to eliminate the lingering Rangers on
Tuesday, tonight's game in Detroit is their next opportunity to assure
a playoff berth for the second straight season and condemn the Rangers
to six straight seasons without the playoffs.
Detroit does not have to worry about making the playoffs, but has its
eye on beating out Dallas for first overall in the Western Conference
and locking up home ice in the playoffs. With so much at stake for
both teams, the game should be more like the playoffs themselves.
"It's going to make it a pretty demanding game on both sides,"
Islanders captain Michael Peca said. "Most teams in the playoff
picture right now all are still fighting for something in both
conferences, so it really doesn't give you any games to ease up with.
You don't want to have to leave it to [games against] Atlanta or
Carolina because the way those teams are, it's unpredictable what can
Instead, the Islanders will attempt to get it done against a hot
Detroit team that went 13-3 in March. The Islanders host Atlanta
Saturday and wrap up the season Sunday at Carolina.
The Red Wings, who clinched a third straight Central Division title
Monday night, have won four of the last seven Stanley Cups and are
stacked with future Hall of Famers.
After yesterday's practice, Islanders coach Peter Laviolette
reiterated that a win over the Rangers would have given the Islanders
some security, but not enough that these last three games would be
meaningless. "I think a small breath could have been taken if we had
actually knocked them out, which we didn't, so there's really no room
for self-satisfaction," Laviolette said of the 2-2 tie with the
Rangers. "We haven't done anything yet."
The Islanders hope for continued production from the Oleg
Kvasha-Alexei Yashin-Arron Asham line that has been clicking of late.
"It's a big game for us, but I'm looking at it like it's another
game," said Kvasha, who had a team-high five shots against the Rangers.
Another road game might be good for the Islanders, who are winless in
their last five at home. They tied the Red Wings, 2-2, in their other
meeting on Dec. 17 at Nassau Coliseum.
Asked about a post-Rangers game hangover, Peca said he expects that
the opportunity to clinch a playoff spot will provide enough emotion
to get the Islanders going.
"I think we've controlled our own destiny for a long time," Peca said.
"We can go out [tonight] and basically make [the Rangers' remaining]
games meaningless and start preparing for the playoffs."
Notes & Quotes: The NHL fined the Islanders $25,000 yesterday for
holding a closed practice without media access. The violation occurred
during Tuesday morning's skate. An Islanders spokesman contacted
reporters Tuesday and told them that the team would not practice, but
the players later took the ice. The Islanders declined to comment on
the fine, saying that coach Peter Laviolette would discuss the matter
today in Detroit . . . Defenseman Kenny Jonsson (post-traumatic
migraine) had a strong practice, but said his headaches get worse when
he's on the ice. Laviolette said he would check with the medical staff
before putting Jonsson back in the lineup.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Islanders at Detroit
Radio: ESPN (1050)
ISLES TRY TO WING IT
By MIKE FORDE
April 3, 2003 -- Win and in. It's as simple as that.
Unfortunately for the Islanders, the words "win" and "simple" don't
jibe when teams visit tonight's opponent, Detroit.
The defending-champion Red Wings have lost eight games at home this
season and enter tonight's game with 106 points. Good luck.
The Islanders' schedule continues to show no love to the current eight
seed. Two days after the Isles panted their way to a 2-2 tie with the
Rangers to inch closer to a playoff berth, they're forced to muster
enough energy to beat the third-best team in the league.
"[Playing the Rangers] is always an emotionally charged game," captain
Michael Peca said. "At this point in the season, given the
circumstances, I don't think it will be difficult to follow it up."
But if they don't, all is not lost. Not at all. Actually, tonight's
game is more of a challenging test than anything. Do the Islanders
want to clinch as soon as possible? Of course. Do they want to rest
their top guys the final two games to freshen up for the first round?
Sure. But a loss tonight won't spell disaster.
After tonight, the schedule-makers toss the Isles a couple of
batting-practice fastballs for being good sports with the final two
matches against Atlanta (11th in the East) at home and in Carolina
(last in the East). If the Islanders fail tonight and don't win either
of those, they don't deserve the playoffs anyway.
"You don't have to leave it to Atlanta or Carolina; it's unpredictable
what can happen," Peca said. The Islanders are lucky, too, in that
they own a game in hand over the Rangers.
"Being ahead in points, and having more games left on our schedule,
the comforting thing is we don't have to worry about
scoreboard-watching," Peca said. "We can go out [tonight] and
basically make their games meaningless and start preparing."
Don't forget, this is a second-chance opportunity for the Isles to not
only walk into the playoffs, but to wipe their feet on the Rangers on
the way in. A win against the Rangers Tuesday night would have sealed
a spot, but a relinquished 2-0 advantage led to the tie.
No solace was taken in the earned point, at least not from coach Peter
"I think a small breath could have been taken if we knocked them out,
which we didn't," Laviolette said. "There's really no room for
self-satisfaction yet. We haven't done anything yet."
Now, before it's too late, the Isles plan on finally taking control.
"We felt close the whole time, knowing that it's basically in our own
hands," Peca said. "I think we did get caught up a little bit looking
at the scenarios. [The Rangers] had to go some ridiculous record and
we only had to go .500. I think we were content with the fact that all
we have to do is go .500 instead of saying, ?Let's win these next five
games and be done with it.' "
Kenny Jonsson practiced for the first time yesterday since suffering
from what doctors called a "post-traumatic migraine," which he
received after a hit in Sunday's loss to the Devils. Jonsson said he
still felt pain while on the ice and will decide today if he can play
. . . The NHL fined the Isles $25,000 yesterday for holding a closed
practice without media access. The violation occurred during Tuesday
Isles look to clinch with Wing ding
By PETER BOTTE
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Assuming the Rangers win their remaining two games, the Islanders need
one victory, or some other combination of two points among their
remaining three games to finally close out the Blueshirts and seal
their second straight postseason berth.
Their stop in Detroit tonight doesn't appear to be the most likely
game to accomplish the stated goal, although downing the hottest team
in the NHL certainly would fit in nicely with Peter Laviolette's
contention that the Isles are the ultimate "Jekyll and Hyde" outfit.
"I think we've felt close the whole time, knowing it's basically in
our hands. We've never felt we would lose the games necessary for the
Rangers to get in," Michael Peca said after practice yesterday at
"But playing Detroit's going to command a lot of focus and attention
because of how great they are. Coming off an embarrassing loss (Sunday
in New Jersey), if we're not prepared to play our game in Detroit,
it's going to be something similar."
With 106 points, the defending Cup-champion Red Wings have clinched
the Central Division title and entered last night one point behind
Dallas for the top seed in the Western Conference.
Despite the Isles' 14-22-9-1 record this season against the other 16
NHL teams (including the Rangers) that either have clinched a playoff
berth or are mathematically in contention, they are 7-2-2-1 versus
Western Conference playoff foes, including a 2-2 tie with Detroit in
"They're one of the hottest teams in the league, but they've already
solidified their spot, so we should be more desperate," SteveWebb
said. "Maybe we can catch them on their heels and close this thing out."
Even without grabbing two points tonight, the Isles, who finish up
with games this weekend against Atlanta and Carolina, also can clinch
if the Rangers don't win tomorrow against the Devils or Saturday
But as Webb noted, "We'd hate to rely on somebody else to do what we
should have done a long time ago."
JUST FINE : Isles were fined $25,000 for violating media-accessibility
rules. They had announced they were not going to practice on Tuesday
but they did hold a session at their training facility in Syosset. ...
Defenseman Kenny Jonsson (migraines) practiced and might return after
missing Tuesday's tie with Rangers. He acknowledged he's still
experiencing headaches on ice, but medical staff has told him he
definitively hasn't suffered latest in series of concussions.
For Isles, One Goal: 2 Points in 3 Games
By DAVE CALDWELL
UNIONDALE, N.Y., April 2 - The Islanders never seem to do things the
easy way. They needed a victory over the Rangers on Tuesday to make
the playoffs but lost a two-goal lead in the third period and settled
for a tie that really did not settle much of anything.
The Islanders still need a victory, or a Rangers' loss or tie, to make
the playoffs. Today they traveled to Detroit for a game Thursday
against the Red Wings, who have a 20-3-0-1 record since Feb. 10 and
are contending for the best record in the N.H.L. "I think every team's
fighting for something," said Michael Peca, the Islanders' captain.
The Rangers (32-34-10-4) must win both of their remaining games,
Friday against the Devils and Saturday against Montreal, and hope for
the Islanders (34-32-11-2) to earn no more than 1 point, either by a
tie or an overtime loss, in their last three games. After playing
Detroit, the Islanders play Atlanta at home on Saturday, then finish
the regular season on Sunday at Carolina.
The Rangers will edge the Islanders, 82 points to 81, if they win
their final two games and the Islanders lose their last three games.
If the Rangers win out and the Islanders finish 0-2-1-0 or 0-2-0-1,
the Rangers will get in because they won the season series, 2-1-2-0.
But any other combination favors the Islanders. Even if the Islanders
lose all three games and the Rangers have a victory and one tie or an
overtime loss, both teams will finish with 81 points, and the
Islanders would have more victories, 34-33.
Not that the Islanders are crunching the numbers, or so they claim.
"Honestly, we don't care about them," Islanders goaltender Garth Snow
said of the Rangers. "They're not even a factor in our thinking."
Rather than preoccupying themselves with the drama that they have
waded into, the Islanders say they spend most of their time thinking
about getting ready for the postseason.
"There's no doubt we're going to make the playoffs," Peca said.
Making the playoffs appears to be a long shot for the Rangers, but the
Islanders are not exactly streaking. They are 4-8-3-0 since March 3,
and 1-3-2-0 since March 22. They cannot get out of first gear in their
drive to the playoffs.
"As long as we go in there skating and playing hard, we've got a
chance," Islanders right wing Arron Asham said of Thursday's game in
But they were walloped the last time they faced a bona fide Stanley
Cup contender - a 6-0 loss to the Devils on Sunday. Meetings, a team
dinner, a hotel stay on Eastern Long Island and a secret practice
followed that loss. The league fined the Islanders $25,000 today for
not telling the news media about the practice Tuesday morning, but the
Islanders felt as if the time leading up to the Rangers game provided
them with a fresh start.
"I think we learned a hard lesson," Peca said. "We've got to realize
that every game is important. If some of the guys don't realize that,
we'll have to do things to change it."
The Islanders do not have to win the game against the Red Wings
(47-20-9-3); they could get into the playoffs by beating either
Atlanta or Carolina. Islanders Coach Peter Laviolette, when asked if
he would prepare his team any differently for those three games than
he did for the game against the Rangers, replied: "Same way we did
with this one. We haven't won anything yet."
The Islanders are not overmatched against Detroit; they tied the Red
Wings at Nassau Coliseum on Dec. 17, 2-2, in the only meeting this
season between the two teams. The Islanders believe they can beat any
opponent if they hunker down and concentrate.
"This type of intensity, we're going to face in the playoffs,"
Islanders center Aleksei Yashin said. "We have to get ready for that."
It helps that Yashin is playing, by far, his best hockey of the
season. Yashin scored a power-play goal and had an assist against the
Rangers; he has 9 goals and 8 assists in his last 12 games.
Peca's line, with Shawn Bates at left wing, played its best game in a
while on Tuesday, Laviolette said. Dave Scatchard's line was on the
ice for both Rangers goals, but they were scored by two stars, Brian
Leetch and Aleksei Kovalev.
"They knew their season was on the brink," Peca said of the Rangers.
The Islanders were disappointed they had lost the lead but knew the
Rangers would be making a last-ditch charge. And at least the Rangers
did not win. As the Islanders like to say, destiny is still in their
"We're all excited here for the last three games," Asham said. "We've
been waiting all season for this. All it takes is 2 points. I'm sure
we'll be desperate for these games."
Thursday, April 3, 2003
Red Wings: Notebook
Wings have plenty to play for
By Ted Kulfan / The Detroit News
Islanders vs. Red Wings
Faceoff: 8 o'clock tonight, Joe Louis Arena.
TV / radio: Fox Sports Net, ESPN / WXYT 1270.
Records: Islanders 34-32-11-2, 81 points; Red Wings 47-20-9-3, 106
DETROIT -- There appears to be more at stake for the New York
Islanders in tonight's game against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.
The Islanders are fighting for the eighth and final playoff spot in
the Eastern Conference and could clinch that position with a victory.
But if you take a closer look at the standings, the game is of
enormous importance to the Red Wings, who are in a tight race not only
for the top spot in the Western Conference but also in the NHL.
Home-ice advantage throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs is on the line.
The Wings trail the Dallas Stars, who beat Anaheim on Wednesday night,
by three points for the Western Conference lead. The Wings also are
three points behind the Senators, who play at Washington tonight.
The Wings need to earn at least five of a possible six points in their
last three games to win the Western Conference -- they would own the
tiebreaker, which is total victories, over the Stars.
"We saw how important having home ice in the seventh game was against
Colorado last season (in the Western Conference finals)," center Kris
Draper said. "It's huge. The atmosphere, the excitement. It's a nice
thing to have."
The Wings play at Columbus on Friday and Chicago on Sunday to close
the regular season. The Stars finish the regular season at home Sunday
"It's still a good race with Dallas, and we have an opportunity to
catch them," forward Kirk Maltby said. "We have to do our job and keep
winning these games and see what happens."
The Islanders lead the Rangers by three points for the final spot in
the East and have three games remaining. The Rangers have two games left.
"It's going to be a good challenge," Lewis said. "They need two points
to get into playoffs. They will be motivated. We know what's at stake,
and they do, too. We'll have to depend on all the things that have
gotten us to this point."
Former Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman was added to the Hockey Hall of
Fame's selection committee Wednesday. Bowman, who retired after
winning his record ninth Stanley Cup last season, replaces Coyotes
executive Cliff Fletcher. Bowman was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991.
The committee will meet June 11 to consider the nominees for induction
... Defenseman Jiri Fischer (right knee) will be evaluated by doctors
this morning but won't play tonight regardless of what happens. He
possibly could play Sunday in Chicago.
... Captain Steve Yzerman is likely to play tonight but probably not
Friday against Columbus.
Fedorov talks are on hold
Wings, center won't negotiate new deal until after season
Fedorov, club call off negotiations
Lewis sticks with lines instead of making constant changes as Bowman did
Thursday, April 3, 2003
By Tom Kowalski
DETROIT -- Steve Yzerman didn't need a lot of time to ponder one of
the major differences between Detroit Red Wings coach Dave Lewis and
former coach Scotty Bowman.
"Scotty sure didn't hesitate to change lines," Yzerman said after
Wednesday's practice as the Wings prepared to play the New York
For the majority of the last two months, a period in which Detroit has
a 20-3-0-1 record, the Wings have stuck with their line combinations.
When Yzerman returned from knee surgery to full duty last month, he
was placed with Sergei Fedorov and Brendan Shanahan and has stayed there.
The lines didn't even change last week when the Wings lost two of
three games and failed to score in the losses.
Yzerman admits that if Bowman was still around, there could've been
"If we were playing a bad game, after one period he would change it
all around," Yzerman said. "Louie generally sticks with it, he gives
us a chance to work our way out of it. Which method is better? I don't
know, but this is more traditional."
Yzerman said he wasn't criticizing Bowman's methods, indicating he and
the other players almost became numb to the constant change.
"I had just gotten used to the fact that you could end up anywhere,"
"Now you know when you come to the rink who you're going to be playing
with," said Detroit's Kris Draper. "With Scotty, it didn't matter. You
Lewis' patience has apparently paid off. After the aforementioned
shutout defeats, the Wings have responded with two lopsided victories.
The Wings are also still in position to win the Western Conference
title, with an outside shot of taking the President's Cup as the team
with the best overall regular-season record in the NHL.
"Louie likes what he sees with these line combinations so he's keeping
them," Draper said. "Scotty was obviously known for changing lines. No
matter what the situation was, he'd change lines at any given moment.
This is working, so why change it?"
That statement echoes Lewis' philosophy, but he makes it clear that if
things go south, he'll tear a few pages from Bowman's old playbook.
"You do things that are successful. When things aren't going well,
don't be afraid to change," Lewis said. "You have to change if things
aren't working -- that's what I was doing (in January)."
The Wings experienced a lot of injuries and weren't playing well in
January. Lewis tinkered with the lineups a few times, but then
returned to most of the traditional lines, like the "Grind Line" which
features Draper, Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty.
"January was a tough month so there was line juggling going on then,"
Draper said. "But once we got healthy and then went on a pretty good
run in February, why would you go away from it?"
"I like the continuity. We're more into a rhythm as a team," said Lewis.
"You've got to give a lot of credit to the players because a lot of
teams identify lines as No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4. If they're on
the No. 1 line and they get changed to the No. 3 line, they're very
upset," Lewis said. "With our guys, you're just part of the team so
they deserve a lot of credit. They'll play anywhere -- as long as they
Fedorov said he's not upset the Wings have postponed contract talks
with his agent until after the playoffs.
"I totally understand. Kenny (Wings general manager Holland) doesn't
like to negotiate during the playoffs," Fedorov said. "I want all my
focus to be on hockey."
Fedorov, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1,
continues to maintain that he wants to remain in Detroit and is
confident that a deal will be consummated after the postseason.