Next One drills Isles
BY PETER BOTTE
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
They got their first look at The Next One last night, but this
clearly is more about what's next for the Islanders.
Rookie phenom Sidney Crosby's first game on Long Island was much like
many of Mario Lemieux's appearances with the Penguins at Nassau
Coliseum over the past two decades. The multi-generational stars and
linemates posted three points apiece, including two goals by Crosby,
as the Pens sent the uninspired Isles to an embarrassing 5-1 loss
that ended with the first chants for coach Steve Stirling's firing.
"I heard them. I heard them booing, and I can't blame them, the way
we played," Stirling said. "Tell them to get in line. ... Everyone is
looking for answers."
That includes GM Mike Milbury, who lamented his team's
inconsistencies before the game - and called on forwards such as
Trent Hunter and Mike York (one goal apiece through 13 games) to
shoulder some of the burden that mostly has been carried by first-
liners Miroslav Satan and Alexei Yashin.
It was Yashin who buried the lone Islander goal, cutting a 2-0 lead
in half at 13:40 of the second with his eighth in 13 games. The
reserved captain later attempted to lead a team meeting after
Stirling left the locker room, but as one team source
said, "Everyone's already sick of meetings. It's all just talk now.
This has to be fixed on the ice by everyone."
"You can't get booed in your own building. (It's) just awful," said
goalie Rick DiPietro, who provided little inspiration in returning
after missing Tuesday's win over Boston with a swollen knee. "(When
you're) losing on the road, you can't hear them booing through the
TV. But we heard them loud and clear tonight."
The Pens beat DiPietro for five goals on 33 shots, including a
highlight redirection by Crosby at the left post off a perfect feed
from Lemieux on a 5-on-3 power play early in the third.
The Isles (6-7-0) continued to play passively and look thoroughly
disorganized in their own end. They're now just one point ahead of
last-place Pittsburgh (3-5-5) in the Atlantic Division.
"We have to be better," Yashin said, "in every part of the game."
SID SMACKS ISLES
By EVAN GROSSMAN
November 4, 2005 -- Penguins 5 Islanders 1
Mario Lemieux has been showing Sidney Crosby the NHL ropes. Last
night must have been the lesson in how to kill the Islanders.
Super Mario has owned the Isles throughout his career, but last night
it was Sid the Kid sticking a fork in Steve Stirling's team in front
of an ornery Coliseum crowd that left the building calling for the
So poor was the Islanders' effort last night in a 5-1 loss to the
Penguins, the team held a short look-in-the-mirror meeting following
the game. But all the meetings in the world wouldn't have been able
to put the clamps on Crosby & Co. last night.
Lemieux has picked the Islanders apart throughout his career. When he
assisted on Crosby's second of the night, threading a pretty pass to
the tape on the Kid's stick at Rick DiPietro's left post, Super Mario
registered career point No. 131 against the Isles. With 50 goals and
now 81 assists, Lemieux is one of the great all-time Islander
killers, but in his first game against them last night, Crosby (three
points) swung the biggest sword.
Crosby, the 18-year old rookie, opened the scoring with his third
goal of the year 4:40 into the first period. He assisted on
Pittsburgh's second of the night to make it 2-0, at which point the
Isles appeared as if they were on life support.
"It's a lack of concentration," said captain Alexei Yashin, who
scored the only home goal. "It seems like we're losing focus."
They never could catch up with the speedy Pens and lost the majority
of the battles for loose pucks. The Islanders could have easily
changed the name across the front of their jerseys to Bad Bounces the
way things went.
With four minutes remaining in regulation, the announced crowd of
10,793 made their first sounds of the game when the chants of "Fire
Stirling!" fluttered down from the upper level.
"I heard them booing and I can't blame them," Stirling said. "Tell
them to get in line."
Isles GM Mike Milbury is probably at the front of that line now. The
Isles hadn't lost to the Pens in regulation on home ice since March
4, 2002, and went 4-0-0-1 at the Coliseum the last two seasons
against a team that regularly finished at the bottom of the Atlantic.
Those days are apparently over.
The two points the Pens earned last night brought them to within one
of the Islanders. With an upcoming schedule that includes games
against Ottawa, the Devils, Philadelphia and Boston, the Islanders
could find themselves looking up at the Pens when they next play Nov.
Fans taken for a ride?
November 4, 2005
The boss' wife received a nice letter last month from a Mr. Charles
B. Wang, owner of the Islanders, with a brochure promoting
various "family friendly" offers.
Some of them looked pretty good, such as a $99 "Family Fun Pack" that
includes four tickets, four T-shirts, four hot dogs and four sodas.
Others, well, let's just say the boss quickly forwarded the letter
and brochure for SportsWatch to peruse.
That rarely is a good sign.
One offer in Wang's letter stood out like a frozen puck to the
temple: the "Kid Super Thrills Program," described as "an
unbelievable birthday gift or a remarkable reward for your child's
It included rides on the Zamboni between periods. For $250 a pop. And
a chance to drop the first puck at center ice. For $500. And to stand
behind the radio broadcast team for a period. For $250. And to high-
five players. For $100. (It was not clear whether the $100 covered
one hand per player or two.)
The kindest word to describe all this: "cheesy."
Chris Botta, the Islanders' VP of communications, yesterday promised
to look into the matter. Three hours later, he called to say the
entire thing had been a mistake and that Super Thrills had been axed.
"It is fair to say we were guilty of being overzealous in trying to
create additional revenue streams," he said. "That program has been
Botta said it never should have been included in the Oct. 14 letter
sent to about 500,000 households, but he could not say exactly when
the decision was made to cancel it. He said the team got calls about
Zamboni rides but not about other Super Thrills offers.
Other deals, such as the $99 package, have been popular, Botta said.
The Islanders are up against it in the long climb back from lockout
limbo, with attendance entering last night averaging 12,928.
Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Not this
desperate, though. Killing the idea was better late than never.
'Fire Stirling' chants ring out as Crosby's 2 goals lead Pens' rout
BY ALAN HAHN
November 4, 2005
Thirteen games into the season and Islanders fans - those few souls
who stuck out last night's dreary 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins
at Nassau Coliseum - have spoken: Coach Steve Stirling, you are
officially on the hot seat.
"Tell them to get in line," Stirling said.
The Islanders continued their trend of mediocrity, and the only
thing they have been consistent at is inconsistency. A loss that was
followed with a win was followed with a loss. They haven't streaked
in either direction so far, with just two consecutive wins and two
consecutive losses within a 6-7 start.
"I see a reluctance to extend themselves beyond being good, average
or mediocre," Stirling said of his players, who last night did a
pretty good job of being mediocre for most of the game. "I see nobody
going out on a limb and saying, 'Let me see what my limits will be.'"
Limitations are evident with this team, which looks nothing on the
ice like it does on paper - whether it is an 0-for-4 effort on the
power play against the league's worst penalty-killing unit or passive
play against the Penguins' dynamic top line of Mario Lemieux, Mark
Recchi and rookie Sidney Crosby, which combined for three of the five
goals and a half-dozen more scoring chances. Crosby had his first two-
Is it defense, which struggles with the fundamental skill of clearing
Is it the fact that any line with Alexei Yashin, who scored the
Islanders' lone goal, is the only one that has produced thus far?
Is it the coaching, which rarely makes notable in-game adjustments?
Is it the general manager, who rebuilt this team based on the new
rules and has yet to see the plan come to fruition?
Too many questions without answers, much like the Islanders'
performance against Lemieux, Crosby and the Penguins, who built a 2-0
first-period lead on goals by Crosby and Recchi and had the Coliseum
crowd of 10,793 moaning and groaning by the first intermission.
Yashin's goal, his eighth of the season and 17th point in 13 games,
at 13:40 of the second made it 2-1, but it was quickly a 4-1 deficit
by the second intermission.
"You can't get booed in your own building. That's just awful," said
goalie Rick DiPietro, who returned after missing a game with a
bruised knee. He made 28 saves and some of them kept the score from
getting completely out of hand.
DiPietro heard the small but vocal chant of "Fire Stirling" that
emanated from the 300 seats during the third period. He shook his
head in disgust.
"That's the first time I've ever heard that," DiPietro said of the
anger directed at the coach.
Stirling heard it and said he didn't blame the fans for booing or
"Every time we give up a goal or every time they score a power-play
goal or our power play doesn't go well . . . no question, you start
to question, maybe I had the wrong guy out there on the power play or
the wrong guy out there killing penalties or the wrong guy taking the
faceoff," Stirling said.
The recurring images from last night will involve struggling center
Mike York and the defensive pair of Janne Niinimaa and Brad Lukowich,
each of whom was on the ice for two back-breaking goals in the second
period after Yashin's goal.
Rookie Erik Christensen's goal came off one of those all-too-common
scrambles in front of the net to make it 3-1 just 2:03 after Yashin's
score. Another troubling deficiency, defensive-zone coverage late in
periods, came up again when John LeClair, completely unchecked in the
slot, tipped a shot past DiPietro at 19:22 to make it 4-1.
Crosby added a final goal, off a five-on-three power play, at 4:01 of
the third to complete a three-point night.
Pens burn York often
BY ALAN HAHN
November 4, 2005
Center Mike York was a minus-3 last night, in part because of
Pittsburgh's top line of Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby and Mark
Recchi, which scored three times.
"They're one of the most talented lines in the league," said York,
who took a hooking penalty when he tried to stop Lemieux on a rush in
the first period. "Mario's one of the best players in the world and
Crosby sees the ice very well. So they work well together. They're
always a threat to score."
The 18-year-old Crosby had the first two-goal game of his career and
added an assist for his second three-point night. The NHL's rookie of
the month for October showed off his uncanny vision and ability to
get to places where the puck could find him.
On his first goal, which came on a power play, Crosby buried a puck
at the right post. On the second Penguins goal, Crosby centered a
puck that deflected in off Recchi's skate. Crosby scored on a five-on-
three power play when he chipped a feed from Lemieux over goalie Rick
"They're dynamic," DiPietro said. "Lemieux and Recchi speak for
themselves. And Crosby brings another dimension to that line."
Lemieux, who is also an owner of the Penguins, empathizes with
Islanders owner Charles Wang and the frustration surrounding the
politics that have slowed the Islanders' bid to do a major renovation
of Nassau Coliseum. Wang has offered to pay for the construction
without public funding.
"It should be a no-brainer for the community and the politicians,"
Lemieux said. "If an owner is willing to pay for his own arena, what
else more would you want than that?"
Lemieux is still waiting for a permit to run slot machines to raise
funds for an arena to replace Mellon Arena, the oldest in the NHL.
The Coliseum is the third-oldest building, after Madison Square