PhotoGrid_1429137559894

Head-to-Head Season Stats
Stats
Capitals
Islanders
Record 2-0-2 2-1-1
Goals 12 11
Shot Attempts 186 211

 

Season Stats
 
Capitals
Islanders
Rank
Stats
Rank
Stats
Shot Attempts For/60 16 53.5 1 60.5
Shot Attempts Against/60 6 49.6 18 52.7
Shot Attempt % 12 51.9 5 53.5
Goals For/60 16 2.26 4 2.55
Goals Against/60 13 2.06 21 2.36
Goal % 11 52.3 12 52.0
Shooting % 10 8.1 14 7.8
Save % 14 92.4 27 91.4
Powerplay 1 25.3 16 18.7
Penalty Kill 14 81.2 26 78.0

 Key Matchup-

Alex Ovechkin vs. John Tavares: Two of the league’s best offensive players are matched up in this series. The two match evenly when it comes to possession, but Tavares has the upper hand in actually out-scoring the other team. Tavares holds the edge at 5-on-5; while Ovechkin does most of his damage on the power play.

NY Islanders-

Winning Formula: They are one of the best possession teams in the NHL, and the past three Stanley Cup winners have all ranked top-three in unblocked shot attempts which give this team confidence in their run. This team has what is now called the “best fourth line in hockey” in Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck. Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy (Cup winners with Boston and Chicago) have brought leadership and skill to this team while team captain, Tavares, plays phenomenal offensive hockey. Be on the lookout for Kyle Okposo whose value in stats has been eclipsed by the time he missed. He was posting about a point-per-game before his eye injury and is back on a line with John Tavares for the playoffs.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less:  If the Islanders relax gaps develop in their defense leaving the goalie to fend off pucks that should have never made it that close to the crease. Jaroslav Halak may have been amazing five years ago when he lifted the Canadiens to the finals, but he has played just 201 minutes of NHL playoff hockey. Backup Michal Neuvirth is even less tried, with just nine games four years ago in Washington. They don’t tend to draw penalties, but if they do they are in trouble as they have one of the worst kill rates in the NHL.

store2

Washington Capitals-

Winning Formula: Coach Barry Trotz beefed up the blueline over the summer with Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskan and it has produced great results. Washington is now a top-10 team defensively, jumping up from the bottom third last year, and the team’s possession numbers are better as well. Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom together and apart are amazing. Evgeny Kuznetsov and trade deadline acquisition Curtis Glencross should not be overlooked. The Capitals have a strong powerplay. Improvements have been made in the crease with goalie Braden Holtby learning from new goaltender coach Mitch Korn how to use his athleticism more judiciously and has improved his positioning in the last year.

How to Lose the Series in 7 Games or Less:  Never underestimate the power of a great coach. Trotz has changed the way this team plays and if they play the way they did before Trotz came into the picture they will find the puck coming dangerously close to their own net. When the Caps get down they have a difficult time bouncing back. This team takes a lot of penalties which is all the more troubling as their penalty kill although not bad isn’t especially good either.

Follow me at @TristinHuntamer

 

UNIONDALE, NY – The Winnipeg Jets were playing their last regular season game ever at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum before the Islanders move to Brooklyn next season into their new building were looking to leave their mark on history and they did getting a 4-3 road win to start a very important four-game road swing.

Ondrej Pavelec wasn’t very busy in the net but came up with the big stops when called upon as he made 18 saves and got his 4th win of the season.

Jaroslav Halak saw 30 shots and allowed four goals and made 26 saves in the loss for the Islanders.

The Jets got off to a slow start and looked shaky and sluggish in the opening frame.

It was actually a Nikolay Kulemin boarding penalty for a very dangerous hit from behind to Jets defenceman Mark Stuart that woke the Jets up as they hammered home two power play goals during the major and that seemed to give the whole bench life.

The Jets were up 3-1 at one point before the Islanders came back and tied it up before the Jets eventually scored to get the win.

“I thought they made it tough for us after [they went ahead],” said Islanders forward Kyle Okposo, who said he lost his man on Ladd’s game-winner. “They clogged up the neutral zone and didn’t allow us many entries.”

Both teams scored two power play goals but for Winnipeg it was finally a sense of relief to get there lackluster power play going.

Winnipeg goal scorers were Andrew Ladd who got his 3rd and 4th of the season, Paul Postma his 1st, Jacob Trouba his 1st. Bryan Little picked up three helpers.

“Andrew got the big goal when we needed it tonight,” coach Paul Maurice said of the Jets captain, who matched his goal production for the first eight games of the season by scoring twice Tuesday. “He did it the other day [against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday] when we needed one right out of the gate. There’s your leadership.”

New York got goals from Brock Nelson his 6th, John Tavares his 4th, Mikhail Grabovski notched his 3rd.

Kulemin was assessed a five-minute major for boarding and also given a ten-minute misconduct in this rather chippy affair as there was a lot of chirping and hitting between the two teams.

The Jets’ Ladd was oh-so close to notching the club’s first hat trick since current Islander Eric Boulton who is the last player in franchise history to get three in a game as he did it in 6-4 win over the Devils way back on Dec.18 2010. Ladd missed an open net in the dying seconds of the game and is going to have nightmares about it.

“It was not our greatest start but we had a strong finish,” Ladd said. “I thought after the first period, after we had that power play, we got two big goals to kind of get energized and back going.”

Good news for Winnipeg forward Evander Kane who has been out with a lower body injury since opening night is on the trip and has skated with the team the last two days no date has been set for his return.

The Jets will face New Jersey on Thursday night and look to get back to the 500 mark on the season.

Follow me on Twitter @hrank94

 

I love hockey fights! After a hard day or a loss from my team I enjoy kicking back and looking up the latest brawls between the toughest guys in the world. Rules for fighting in hockey have become stricter, but it is still there. Not only is it not going away soon, but it shouldn’t.

The argument over fighting in the NHL has been about as knock down and drag out as any fight ever was on the ice. Both sides scrapping and usually the result is exhaustion and more penalties, but the game and the fight will continue another day in another arena. I will say that despite my love of fighting in hockey there have been some contests that were either too brutal or too detrimental to the sport. The Penguins-Islanders brawl on February 11, 2011, was one example of this. That series of fights was the result of retribution for an injury at a prior game and resulted in 65 penalties that included 15 fighting majors and 21 game misconducts adding up to 346 minutes. I may love fighting in hockey, but sometimes the physical harm to players isn’t worth the excitement. Colton Orr knocking Todd Fedoruk unconscious on March 21, 2007 during a Rangers-Flyers game took fighting too far. An injury can ruin a player’s career or cause him to lose games. That is why “fight etiquette” exists to stop fights from getting out of hand. The NHL set Rule 46 (For information on Rule 46 see: http://www.nhl.com/ice/page.htm?id=26336.), which updated the 1922 Rule 56. Rule 56 regulated fisticuffs and introduced the five for fighting major penalty while Rule 46 took out the language “fisticuffs” and introduced stricter penalties and fines. However, it is the unwritten “etiquette” that keeps the fighting tradition alive while preventing it from reaching unhealthy levels.

Cases such as the Penguins-Islanders Brawl and the Orr-Fedoruk fight are extremely rare instances of fighting getting out of hand, but they are used in many arguments by the media and some NHL officials to ban fighting from the NHL. The majority of fights don’t get out of hand and serious injuries are rare. This is not due to Rule 46, but due to the unofficial “fight etiquette” that is upheld by “enforcers”. In hockey, there are unwritten rules that are understood by its players and are built out of respect and fairness. The role of “enforcer” on a hockey team is unofficial. Enforcers occasionally play regular shifts like other players, but their primary role is deterring opposing players from rough play and protecting star players. A basic overview of the “etiquette” is as follows: Opposing enforcers must agree to a fight, either verbally or in physical exchange on the ice. An agreement such as this helps both players avoid being given an instigator penalty, and helps keep unwilling participants out of fights. Enforcers typically only fight each other, and it is a rare occurrence for players who are not enforcers to participate or instigate fighting although it does happen in cases of retaliation. “Free passes” are given by enforcers to rival enforcers who decline fights due to playing with injuries because there is no glory in winning a fight with an unfair advantage. If one of the enforcers has to decline an invitation to fight during a given game it can result in a rematch when the teams meet again. This is one of the reasons that enforcers may fight early in a game without obvious reason; long standing rivals may have the same early game fight result as well. An enforcer trying to initiate a fight with another enforcer who is near the end of his shift is bad etiquette because the more rested player will have an advantage. Another aspect of this unwritten etiquette is that players remove gloves and discard sticks and other equipment to prevent serious injury as well as never assaulting referees and linesmen. At the end of a fight, whether the player wins or loses, he must accept the outcome or risk losing of respect from players and fans alike. Justice is handed out in the form of retaliation when this basic fight etiquette is deemed violated.

“Fight etiquette” is not limited to enforcers. There are occasions when fights break out in heat-of-the-moment situations (see retaliation fights below) between non-enforcers. These fights have their own etiquette that are not only based on respect, but also prevent players from getting injuries. Players, even in a scrum in front of the net, tend to pair off one on one and fight only from the front. Back fighting, sucker punches, and ganging up are rare and discouraged both by the rules and by “fight etiquette.”

There are many reasons why fights occur; many are strategic reasons and others are personal reasons.

Strategic reasons could be retaliating for unfair play either between a victim and assailant, enforcer on the victim’s team and the assailant, or enforcer on enforcer. These types of fights can take place instantly after an incident, later in the game in which the incident happened, or in retaliation for actions taken in previous games. An enforcer must time fights that take place after an incident carefully because the instigator rule could put the opposing team on a Power Play. In a close game this is not advisable.

Another strategic reason for fighting is to build momentum and gain a psychological advantage. This type of fight raises morale for the winner’s team, and can get the home crowd energized. It’s a gamble to start a fight for momentum; if an enforcer loses the fight, the momentum can swing the wrong way. He could energize the other team and psych out his own.

Intimidation is another strategy used. An enforcer intimidates other players that may be a threat to the more skilled player’s game and thus creates space and safety for his team’s star players. In the 1950’s Gordie Howe showed himself as an enforcer by breaking Lou Fontinato’s nose. This incident intimidated opponents and allowed him more space to play and score. Intimidation is also used by teams that play each other frequently as a warning.

On rare occurrences enforcers will start fights with more skilled players when their team is trailing in points at the end of a game when they have nothing to lose. In these cases they are trying to cause a reaction penalty, but these are rare due to the instigator rule.

There are typically two personal reasons for fights. The first is that young enforcers need to prove themselves as enforcers to keep their spot on their respective teams. The other personal reason is rivalries that rarely involve individual incidents and are based on bad blood between teams or players.

On ESPN NHL in 2007 John Buccigross interviewed Ross Bernstein who wrote the book, “The Code: The Unwritten Rules of Fighting and Retaliation in the NHL”. When Buccigross asked “What would happen if the NHL banned fighting?” Ross Bernstein responded “It would not be good. Believe it or not, fighting serves a purpose in the game and actually deters 99 percent of would-be acts of disrespect and dirty play. Fighting has no place at the youth levels, but in the professional ranks, the game polices itself. The specter of seeing a hulking figure such as 6-foot-7, 275-pound Minnesota Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard sitting at the end of the bench makes guys think twice about what they do out on the ice. Plus, fighting sells tickets. Like it or not, it is a part of the game.” Fighting allows players to deal out justice for incidents that referees may have overlooked, it has many strategic values, and it protects more players