YASHIN DRAGS DOWN ISLES
By EVAN GROSSMAN
January 2, 2006 -- One of Alexei Yashin's New Year's resolutions
should be to spend less time in the doghouse.
You can count on one hand the number of dominant performances Yashin,
the Lord of Dogtown, has had in an Islanders uniform a total
quickly being gained on by the number of times he's been demoted to
the fourth line.
Yashin and Miro Satan were both demoted to the fourth line Friday
night in Ottawa for the Isles' fourth straight loss, a lineup shakeup
that saw No. 79 play a season-low 10:16 against his former team. A
third-period penalty following a lifeless effort on nearly four
minutes of power-play time earned captain Yashin a seat on the bench
for much of the final period, unquestionably his low moment of the
Of Yashin's team-high 36 points, 15 have been recorded on the first
goals the Islanders have scored in games this season. Late in games,
in step with when the Isles have wilted most of the year, Yashin has
been virtually invisible.
Rick DiPietro is out day-to-day with a knee sprain and will not play
tonight against Tampa at the Coliseum, the first of five of seven on
home ice. Wade Dubielewicz and Jeff Hamilton were recalled from
Bridgeport and Wyatt Smith was returned to the minors, while Alexei
Zhitnik (tailbone) is expected to play.
The Isles trail No. 8 Tampa by five points in the standings and are
just eight in front of No. 15 Pittsburgh, the worst team in the East.
Isles must try to avoid meltdowns
BY ALAN HAHN
The calendar turned to a new year with the Islanders desperate for a
Behind them is a challenging two-week stretch that produced just one
win in six games and dropped them to one game below .500 (17-18-2)
for the first time since Nov. 12. What follows them into the new year
is a season-high streak of four straight losses.
And here come the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Goalie Garth Snow will get the start tonight against the Tampa Bay
Lightning at Nassau Coliseum while Rick DiPietro rests a mild knee
sprain suffered in Friday's 4-3 loss in Ottawa. Defenseman Alexei
Zhitnik, who left .Friday's game with a bruised tailbone, will return.
One way to stop a losing streak is to play strong hockey for 60
minutes. The Islanders have not done that. .Instead, they have blown
two-goal leads in each of the past three games. Most of the damage
has been done in the third period, in which the Islanders have been
"We got away from the little things," coach Steve Stirling said,
speaking of the most recent meltdown against Ottawa. "Chipping when
you're supposed to, getting to center ice, we don't get it in deep
like we're supposed to. The little things that good teams do, we
One big thing that hasn't received much attention yet and has been a
major reason for the team's recent struggles is its penalty kill,
which has dropped from the top 10 in November to 24th in the NHL. The
Islanders have allowed at least one power-play goal in the past 11
games and have killed off just 73.4 percent in that span. By
comparison, 82.2 percent is the current median percentage in the NHL.
At home, their penalty kill is the worst in the league at 77.2
percent. In the past nine home games, the Islanders have .allowed at
least one power-play goal and have a kill rate of just 73.5 percent.
Notes & quotes: Wyatt Smith, who was centering the fourth line, was
returned to Bridgeport. Jeff Hamilton, who has five points in six
games, was recalled. Goalie Wade .Dubielewicz also was recalled and
will serve as Snow's backup.