Isles' Wiemer gets in line
By PETER BOTTE
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
Jason Wiemer was an integral member of the Islanders' most consistent
line last season.
But an injury to Dave Scatchard and an expanded role for Jason Blake
had left Wiemer without much of a role until first-year coach Steve
Stirling found one for him in Saturday's 4-1 victory over Anaheim.
Wiemer, who had been averaging barely 10 minutes per game through
October, thrived as a checking winger on the left side of Michael
Peca and Mark Parrish. With offensive squads such as Ottawa (tonight)
and Dallas (Thursday) slated to visit Nassau Coliseum this week,
Wiemer's new line likely will remain pitted against the opponent's
top offensive unit.
"Geez, he stepped up (Saturday)," Stirling said of Wiemer. "You
didn't notice him, but he was out there against (Sergei) Fedorov all
night long. He didn't score any goals or get any assists, but if you
really watch the game and know the game, he had a real good game."
Blake, whose eight points are the most of any Isles forward aside
from those on Alexei Yashin's line, was used Saturday on an effective
unit with Shawn Bates and rookie Trent Hunter.
Blake and Bates each had spent time on Peca's left flank to start the
"I thought Wiems would be smart on the wall, and physical when he
needed to be. I'm just trying to find the right niche for Wiems and
trying to get more minutes out of him," Stirling said. "I thought it
was an opportunity to give him some incentive to go against a top
line. And he did the job."
SENS AND SENSIBILITY: This year, the Senators don't just arrive in
town as Yashin's former team. They come in as the opponent that
convincingly ended the Islanders' season last spring. The Isles (5-3-
2) continue their four-game home stand with their first meeting
against Ottawa since their five-game ouster in the first round of the
playoffs in April. Including postseason, the Sens are 25-3-7-0
against the Isles since 1996. ... Hunter has three goals and four
points in his last three games.
KVASHA PILING UP POINTS, NOT SMILES
By EVAN GROSSMAN
November 3, 2003 -- At a time when Oleg Kvasha has plenty to be
smiling about, playing some of the best hockey in his tenure with the
Islanders, the brooding Russian left wing seems to be smiling a lot
He's not even raising his stick or pumping his fist like he used to
do when he scores goals anymore.
So he was asked after an up-tempo skating practice at Syosset
yesterday why the celebrations have stopped. He shrugged his
shoulders, curious as to why he was even being asked about it.
"Why should I?" he said.
Because scoring goals is supposed to be a happy occasion.
"But I am happy," Kvasha said.
Good thing for that, because if his line weren't one of the hottest
units in the league, Kvasha probably could qualify for a free case of
Prozac, based solely on his disposition.
Kvasha and his linemates - Alexei Yashin and Mariusz Czerkawski - are
putting up some of the best numbers in the NHL, despite the frown
Kvasha seems to have tattooed to his face.
"It's great when we play well and the puck goes in the net," Yashin
said, "and we create a lot of chances and the team can get a win."
Going into tonight's Coliseum visit by the Senators, who knocked the
Islanders out of the playoffs last spring, the Yashin line has put up
numbers on pace with some of the best units in the NHL.
With a total of 31 points between the three of them, Yashin, Kvasha
and Czerkawski are outproducing Vancouver's top line of Markus
Naslund, Brendan Morrison and Todd Bertuzzi, who have 29 points
In the East, the Yashin line is scoring at a higher rate than anyone
except Ilya Kovalchuk's line in Atlanta, while Boston's top unit of
Joe Thornton, Glen Murray and Martin Lapointe has just four goals.
The three have combined to score 15 of the Islanders' 31 goals this
year and have taken nearly one-third of all the team's shots on net.
Czerkawski, Yashin and Kvasha are the Isles' top three point-scorers,
and have dominated just about every game they've played this season,
including Saturday's win over Anaheim.
Offensive support seems ready to also come from the Islanders' second
and third units, which all helped to earn that 4-1 victory.
"I thought they played the game well and I thought they played it
hard," Anaheim coach Mike Babcock said of the Isles.
Wiemer Move a Key to Isles' Shuffle
By Alan Hahn
November 3, 2003
With a top line finally established thanks to a rejuvenated Mariusz
Czerkawski and a determined Alexei Yashin at both ends of the ice,
Islanders coach Steve Stirling has been shuffling the deck on the
rest of his lineup. He thinks he might have found something in
Saturday's 4-1 win over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Further proof
will come tonight when the Islanders host the deep and talented
Ottawa Senators at Nassau Coliseum.
Stirling moved Jason Wiemer to the left wing with Michael Peca and
Mark Parrish for a rugged two-way line, then put speedsters Jason
Blake and Shawn Bates together with Trent Hunter for a high-energy
line. Both lines appeared to click.
The Bates line scored twice. Blake compared it to the successful line
he played on last season with Wiemer and Dave Scatchard. "Nothing
fancy," he said, "just a hard-working line."
Stirling praised Wiemer's performance with the line, which was
matched up all night against Ducks star Sergei Fedorov's line and
shut it down. Stirling said promoting Wiemer, who had previously
centered the fourth line with rookies Justin Papineau and Sean
Bergenheim, was about "finding the right niche for Wiems and finding
some more minutes for the guy." Wiemer never sulked in his reduced
role. When his line did take the ice, he showed noticeable effort
with the youngsters. He also took a few bad penalties, which annoyed
the coaching staff. But instead of punishing him, they decided to
"In fairness to him and me, it's easy to pick on guys who aren't
doing as well as we'd like or you'd like," Stirling said. "I thought
Wiems has been OK. I thought it was an opportunity to give him some
incentive. See if he could go up against a top line, a little more
playing time and a little more of a role. And he did the job."
Notes & Quotes: Will this finally be the year the Islanders end
Ottawa's dominance at Nassau Coliseum? The Isles' home winless streak
against the Senators, which includes losses in Games 3 and 4 in the
first round of last year's playoffs, is 17 games. Over the past 15
regular-season games, they are 0-10-4-1. Their last victory over
Ottawa at the Coliseum came Jan. 6, 1996 ... The Islanders shouldn't
rely on a packed house to cheer them on like in last spring's
playoffs. Coming off a matinee game against Anaheim that produced the
smallest Coliseum crowd in more than two years (10,782), team
officials don't expect a big turnout tonight ... Goalie Rick
DiPietro's 1.66 goals- against average is the third-best in the NHL
among goalies who have appeared in at least seven games. Ottawa's
Patrick Lalime (1.60) is No. 2.
Radio: ESPN (1050)
Sound Tigers need all the time available to beat Grizzlies
By MICHAEL FORNABAIO
Not only have the Bridgeport Sound Tigers solved the problem of how
to score in volume, they appear to have discovered how to score in
the nick of time as well.
After seven offensively challenged nights to start the season,
Bridgeport has scored 12 goals over a three-game winning streak. Only
two of those came Saturday night, but those came with 1:10 left in
regulation and 30 seconds into overtime for a 2-1 win at Utah.
The Sound Tigers had defeated the Grizzlies 6-2 Friday night at the E
Center in West Valley City, Utah.
"The only common thread I saw was we generated a lot of chances off
transition," Bridgeport coach Greg Cronin said after Saturday's
game. "Our passing was exceptional. We're fun to watch when we've got
that speed going."
One noteworthy Bridgeport scoring streak ended Saturday, Jeff
Hamilton's five-game goal-scoring streak, which tied a franchise
high. Hamilton, though, was one of the best players on the ice in
Saturday's game, in Cronin's eyes.
Justin Mapletoft extended his scoring streak to eight games when he
deflected home Cail MacLean's shot for the tying goal. The streak
matches one he had in the 2002 playoffs.
Only two Sound Tigers have had longer scoring streaks, only one in
the regular season. Raffi Torres had an 11-game streak in the 2002
playoffs, and Trent Hunter scored in 10 consecutive games early last
Blaine Down, who got the second assist on Mapletoft's goal Saturday,
made his season debut, coming back from offseason shoulder surgery.
Ben Guite was a healthy scratch for the first time this year to make
room for Down in the lineup.
"Downer gave us some energy," Cronin said. "He played very well."
Utah goalie Jason Bacashihua had denied the Sound Tigers at every
turn through the first 58:50 Saturday night. Bridgeport put 28 shots
on him from the second period on.
Mapletoft tied the game with 70 ticks left on the clock, deflecting
home Cail MacLean's shot.
"Mapletoft deserved to get the tying goal," Cronin said. "He was
working hard in front of the net."
Ryan Kraft scored his third goal in as many games on the rush early
in overtime, led ahead by Alan Letang, who got his first point of the
"Kraft put a bullet over the goalie's shoulder," Cronin said. "It was
kind of an innocent play, from a bad angle."
Wade Dubielewicz made 29 saves for the Sound Tigers, who have earned
at least one point in the standings in each of the last five games.
Bacashihua made 31 saves.