PARED-DOWN ISLES NEAR 23-MAN LIMIT
By EVAN GROSSMAN
September 27, 2005 --
The new-look Islanders will look a lot like the team that will skate
into the regular season for coach Steve Stirling tonight when they
face the Flyers in an exhibition game in Philadelphia.
With the roster freshly sliced to 25 players over the weekend,
Stirling was contemplating the last of his personnel moves before the
end of the preseason. Essentially, there are two more cuts to make.
"My gut says we'll have probably 90-95 percent of our lineup in
[tonight]," Stirling said. "[I] don't know about Thursday [against
the Rangers] yet, but [tonight] is probably going to be, minimum, 90
percent. I'm just trying to figure out the last couple of spots.
"I'm thinking about giving [Mattias] Weinhandl the day off because he
just played five [games] in six [nights], so there would be a method
to my madness there. And then if he doesn't play, whom do I play?
I've got some decisions to make on defense. We're close. But I just
want to do what's fair and have the chance to get the best look at
GM Mike Milbury said during training camp that the Islanders will
carry the maximum 23 players on the regular-season roster. In the
past, the team has carried seven defensemen and a pair of extra
forwards to round out that number.
The eight defensemen yesterday included the five regulars plus Tomi
Pettinen, rookie Chris Campoli and Bruno Gervais. The three were
competing for the sixth and seventh defense slots behind Alexei
Zhitnik, Janne Niinimaa, Brent Sopel, Brad Lukowich and Radek
Up front, Stirling skated 14 forwards yesterday, a group that
included rookies Robert Nilsson, Petteri Nokelainen, one-way signee
Justin Papineau and enforcer Eric Godard. Aaron Asham (ribs) did not
Impressive youngster Jeremy Colliton was assigned to Bridgeport . . .
Rick DiPietro will start tonight in Philly.
Changes suit Snow
NHL rules reducing size of goalie gear has not affected 6-4 Garth
BY ALAN HAHN
September 27, 2005
It took Garth Snow a few days into training camp to get comfortable
in goal and in his new, NHL-regulated equipment. It wasn't until the
Islanders' first intrasquad game before a packed crowd in Yarmouth,
Nova Scotia, that the veteran goalie found a groove.
"I needed to hear an anthem," Snow quipped to goalie coach Sudsie
Anyone who figured Snow's performance would suffer with the
downsized equipment - the leg pads are each one inch narrower and the
shoulder pads are a lot less bulky - needs to hear this: less might
be more for Snow.
"I think he'll be quicker," Maharaj said, "especially with less
equipment to weigh him down."
Snow, who at Rick DiPietro's request was re-signed by the Islanders
(three-years, $2.25-million), is often named among a group of
goaltenders, including Florida's Roberto Luongo and Anaheim's J-S
Giguere, who were notorious for oversized gear. Snow was never caught
cheating, but never denied that he found creative ways to protect
himself. But during the lockout, when the NHL put together a
committee to oversee rules changes, goaltender equipment was one of
the first changes to immediately pass. The original plan was to
reduce the width of the leg pads two inches each, but the committee
eventually settled on a one-inch reduction.
The 6-4, 215-pound Snow still takes up a large area of the goal and
if his preseason performances have proved anything, he's still very
effective at stopping the puck. In four appearances, Snow has a 1.40
goals against average and a .952 save percentage. His best
performance might have come in Sunday's 3-2 shootout loss to the
Devils, in which Snow stopped 44 shots through regulation and
overtime. He was beaten by Zach Parise and Alexander Mogilny in the
Coach Steve Stirling said Snow has been "pretty sharp so far" and
figures the equipment issue that has followed Snow throughout his
career should be put to rest. "Now that it's a level playing field,"
Stirling said, "he seems to be doing OK to me."
With his "Lighthouse" development plans at Nassau Coliseum at a
frustrating political standstill, Charles Wang put $1.1 million into
a renovation of the team's Syosset-based practice facility, Iceworks.
Included in the makeover is a beautiful new locker room area, with
marble and hardwood amenities and a spacious lounge for the players,
along with a completely refurbished lobby, bleachers and large murals
of Islanders past and present.
The team had intended to renovate the Coliseum locker room, as well,
but when work was set to begin a few pipes burst in the aging
building, causing flooding that scrapped the plan.
As expected, the roster was cut to 25 yesterday. Rookie forwards
Robert Nilsson, Petteri Nokelainen and Sean Bergenheim, and rookie
defensemen Bruno Gervais and Chris Campoli as well as defenseman Tomi
Pettinen were kept along with the NHL regulars. Stirling said he
planned to have "90 to 95 percent" of his team in the lineup for
tonight's game against the Flyers in Philadelphia. Mattias Weinhandl,
who played in all three games this past weekend, might get the night
off ... Shawn Bates returned to practice after missing the past week
of games while recovering from a hip flexor strain. Arron Asham
remains sidelined with a rib injury he suffered two weeks ago in
Yarmouth ... Goaltender Rick DiPietro practiced yesterday after
missing the past three games because of wrist tendonitis. Stirling
said DiPietro will start tonight.