New Year, Old Rivalry (7:30pm)
Islanders at Ottawa Senators
(FSNY, ESPN Radio 1050 AM)
By Francis Rizzo III
(Jan. 1) The Islanders ended 2003 on an up-note, with a six-game win
streak, and big wins against conference foes Philadelphia, Toronto
and New Jersey. The first game of the new year brings the chance to
add another big victory, when the boys in blue visit the Ottawa
The Isles got a measure of revenge earlier in the season, beating the
Sens for the first time on Long Island since 1996. The win came in
the middle of a three-game winning streak at the beginning of
November, a bad month for Long Island hockey. The Isles would like to
do things a bit differently this time around, of course, but deja vu
against the Sens would be more than welcome.
November didn't treat the Senators any better as they went 4-6-1-2 as
the leaves began to fall. A preseason favorite, Ottawa's disappointed
at times, even going 0-0-1-1 against the last-place Penguins. But in
December, they got their hockey legs back, and enter Thursday's game
on a seven-game unbeaten streak and a two-game winning streak.
The road's been rough for the Islanders this season, though they have
three wins in their past three games away from the Coliseum. But
thanks to the six-game road losing streak that preceded those
victories, the Islanders road record stands at 5-9-2-1. The odds,
therefore, favor Ottawa, as the Sens have been comfortable at home,
with a 10-7-3-2 record. Their undefeated streak at home stretches
over five games, allowing just 11 goals in that span.
Despite their November swoon, the Sens are a top-five team in several
categories, including goals and goals against. Their lowest-ranking
is 18th in the league, which is their times shorthanded. In the rest,
they are 11th or higher. The Isles have begun climbing the ladder
statistically, moving up to 19th in penalty killing, where they once
reigned as number one overall.
In the last Isles-Sens contest, the Isles picked up a 6-3 win at the
Coliseum, despite being outshot, 32-26. Oleg Kvasha had the game-
winning goal, as six Islanders buried chances, while Shawn Bates,
Adrian Aucoin and Mariusz Czerkawski had two points apiece. Rick
DiPietro stopped 29 of 32 Ottawa shots, with help from six successful
Islander penalty kills. The Isles scored on one of their two chances
with the advantage.
Fans who enjoyed seeing the Devils often in December should get a
kick out of January, which is peppered with three games against
Ottawa, wrapping up the season series. The two squads will play three
contests in 19 days, facing off twice in Ottawa, before returning to
Long Island on January 19th for the regular season finale. The Sens
hold a huge edge in the two franchises' history, with the Islanders
record after 11 years stands at 9-24-10-1.
Islanders at Ottawa Senators
7:30 p.m., January 1 @ Corel Centre
by Francis Rizzo III
(Jan. 1) The Book on the Senators
Considered one of the best young teams in the game, Ottawa's scored
the second-most goals in the East and has allowed the third-least.
Equally adept at home or on the road, the Senators have picked up
their game in recent weeks, to go 6-1-3-0 in their past 10, after
losing five times in the previous 10.
The Senators are led by Marian Hossa in goals, assists and points,
and by Daniel Alfredsson in powerplay points. Zdeno Chara leads
Ottawa's blueliners in scoring, while his fellow defender Wade Redden
is tops in ice time, playing over 25 minutes a game. Emerging forward
Peter Schaefer has the plus/minus lead with a +15 and Chris Neil's 77
penalty minutes are the highest in Canada's capital.
Todd White helped fill some of the void left by Alexei Yashin's
departure from Ottawa over the past two years, but he's been slowed
by repeated shoulder injuries this season and is on pace for just 15
goals this season. He's come on strong lately, though, picking up
five points in his past five games, including a pair of game-winners
and a shorthanded goal.
After three seasons of improvement in Ottawa, Martin Havlat's stalled
a bit in year four, with seven goals on the season and just one point
in his past four games. Havlat missed training camp and the first
five games of the season thanks to a contract hold-out, a situation
that's rarely conducive to a good season.
Between the Pipes
The main man in Ottawa is still Patrick Lalime, as it's been for the
past three years, but he's got to be feeling the heat from back-up
Martin Prusek. After all, in his past six starts, Prusek's lost just
once. He took advantage of Lalime's flu in early December to get four
straight starts, before suffering a back injury. Lalime's played the
majority since, but has just two wins in his past four. In Lalime's
career against the Isles, he's 8-5-2.
Last Time Out
Ottawa stretched their unbeaten streak to five with a 3-0 win at home
against the Boston Bruins Tuesday. Martin Prusek stopped 24 Boston
shots for the shutout, as Todd White put away the shorthanded game-
winner 14 minutes into the first period. Just over 30 seconds apart,
Marian Hossa and Antoine Vermette provided insurance goals in the
second. Neither team scored on their five powerplay chances.
On the Island
The Islanders spent New Year's Eve Day in Pittsburgh, and wrapped up
2003 with a six-game winning streak, beating the Penguins, 6-1. Jason
Blake had a four-point game, while Garth Snow stopped 21 shots for
his sixth-straight victory. The powerplay connected for a sixth-
straight game as well, and Oleg Kvasha buried a shorthanded goal, the
second of his career.
Go To Guy
Trent Hunter's emergence as a legitimate every-shift threat has been
a theme to this Islanders season. And it took another step forward
Wednesday, as he put away another pair of goals, his first after
being held without a goal in seven-straight. The three-point game
against the Penguins pushed him further ahead of his fellow rookies,
a spot he's gotten comfortable in despite trailing most of the top
freshman in games played by five or six contests. He's not just
scoring, though. He's scoring important goals, picking up his fifth
game-winner of the season Wednesday.
In the Nets
Garth Snow took the ice for a 12th straight game and made his
requisite save-of-the-game, helping the Isles to a blow-out win
against one of his former teams. In his past five games, he's allowed
just eight goals. Playing marathon hockey is nothing new to Snow,
though, as he played 10 straight for the Islanders late last season.
Before being called up, Dieter Kochan was ranked tenth in the AHL in
goals-against and save percentage.
1 - Trent Hunter (3-4-0)
2 - Garth Snow (2-3-3)
3 - Mark Parrish (4-0-1)
In the Corners
Thursday's game is the second of the four-game season series... The
Isles hold a one-game edge after a 6-3 win on Long Island in early
November... Eric Godard was scratched Saturday... Ex-Isles to Watch:
Zdeno Chara (1997-2001), Wade Redden (1995 Draft Pick) and Bryan
The Scoop on the... Ottawa Senators
By Corey Witt
(Jan. 1) Happy New Year! Now let's get back to business, and that
means a date in the Canadian Capital.
There's no time for celebrating the New Year as the Islanders are in
Canada's capital for a New Year's Day rumble against the Ottawa
Senators. Unlike the Isles, the Sens, who are playing superb hockey
lately, had New Year's Eve off.
Where They Stand:
The Senators have been a hot team by gaining 15 points in their last
10 games. A record of 18-10-5-3 seats them in second place in the
Northeast Division, eight points behind first-place Toronto. In the
Eastern Conference, Ottawa ranks fifth with 44 points. On home ice at
the Corel Centre, Ottawa currently has a five-game unbeaten streak
and a 10-7-3-2 home record. Overall, the Senators are rolling on a
six-game winning streak.
Ottawa is coming off a very strong December as they finished up 2003
with nine wins in 14 games. In that month alone, they collected 21
out of their 44 points in the standings. In half those games, they
allowed one or fewer goals -- and the most goals they gave up was
three, which only happened once. The Senators are playing some of the
best hockey in the NHL right now, which should make this match-up
"We've had a great December and it's something we want to continue on
into this month," said defenseman Chris Phillips in the Ottawa
Sun, "and for the rest of the season."
"It was a pretty good month," Sens' Head Coach Jacques Martin added
in the Sun. "Both the games that we lost, we could have won. Against
New Jersey (a 2-1 loss), we played pretty good but had some
breakdowns at the end. And against Boston (a 3-2 loss), we had a
chance to win, too. We've just got to keep it going."
Ottawa didn't have a fast start as many expected, and they decided to
refocus and change their tempo. It appears that the Sens are playing
with all gears going, as most NHL observers expected them to be doing
at this point in the season.
"We're playing more like we did last year," said Todd White in the
Sun. "We're limiting the other team's chances. For the most part,
we're playing better defensively and we're creating offence off the
Our confidence has been high," said Daniel Alfredsson. "We're not
shooting ourselves in the foot as much anymore. Earlier, we wanted to
win so bad, it hurt us. We were going after goals all the time and
not taking care of our own end. Now, we're playing better
In other newsÃ¢â¬Â¦ When Senators' defenseman Curtis Leschyshyn hits the
ice tonight, it will be his 1,000 NHL game. The 35-year-old
Leschyshyn was originally drafted in the first round by Quebec. He
moved with the franchise when they relocated to Colorado and had
spent a total of nine NHL seasons in that organization.
"To be honest, I didn't think I'd be around this long, not when I
first started," said Leschyshyn in the Sun. "You hope when you get
into the league that you can play for a long time. A lot of it
depends on what you do on the ice and what it takes to stay healthy.
I've been fortunate to get this far. I've missed some games along the
way. You play for your team, and that's the goal every night, but
this is a nice accomplishment. Just to be able to be in the game that
long is nice."
The Ottawa Senators goal total of 113 relies heavily on two men.
Captain Daniel Alfredsson and Marian Hossa anchor the right wing
position on the Sens' two top lines. Hossa leads the team in goals
scored with 16, assists with 22, and in points with 38. Alfredsson is
in a close second in each category with 14 goals, 20 helpers and 34
points. The two even take the most amount of shots on the club with
117 and 101, with Hossa holding the advantage.
Although the Senators have a high-octane offense, their defense does
not struggle as a result. As a team, they have a collective
plus/minus of +103 with Peter Schaefer leading the way with a +15.
Zdeno Chara is a close second with a +14. Forward Petr Schastlivy is
the only Senator regular who has a negative rating, with a -1. Chris
Neil leads Ottawa in penalty minutes with 77.
In the crease, Patrik Lalime is turning in another respectable season
as the Senators starting goaltender. In 26 appearances, he compiled a
record of 12-10-4 with a goals against average of 2.18 and a save
percentage of .907. He also has one shutout, which came against the
Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. His back-up, Martin Prusek, has emerged as a
solid back-up. In 11 appearances, Prusek has collect two shutouts off
of a 5-3-1 record. His GAA and save percentage is a low 1.85 and a
high .930, respectively.
The Senators have two injuries logged into their medical report.
Winger Vaclav Varada is out with a left knee injury, which will keep
him out for about four week as of Dec. 13. Defenseman Anton
Volchenkov will miss the next 3-4 months with a torn labrum in his
right shoulder. Both players are on the Injured Reserve.