Ovechkin Listed Week-To-Week, Simon Gagne out 6-8 weeks, and other NHL related going-ons.

Corey Masisak of the Washington Post is reporting the Capitals have said Ovechkin has been listed week-to-week, initially everyone thought he'd be day-to-day at worst, but apparently the upper body strain Ovi suffered on Sunday against the Blue Jackets is enough to make him miss more games than we thought.

This is a blow to the Capitals who have been looking like a different team lately, and taking Ovi's stick out of the line up isn't going to help them get back to their winning ways. All is not lost, however, Ovechkin is a freakish human being and I'd be surprised if he's out for more than one week, actually, although I don't know the severity of the injury, Ovechkin isn't the type of player to be sidelined for a long time, so we'll see what happens with that.

Meanwhile, Simon Gagne of the Philadelphia Flyers has been sidelined for 6-8 weeks, from what I understand he's getting surgery to have not one, but two hernias repaired and needs that time to recover. If you have Gagne on your fantasy team, like yours truly, expect a December-January return, and who knows how he'll do when he gets back, I think I'll hold on to him unless someone surprises everyone and has the season of his career that happens to still be available.

Tom Renney, assistant coach for the Edmonton Oilers, had a conversation with Newsday's Islander corespondent Katie Strang and apparently said the Isles are a playoff bound team:
"It was fits and starts getting the job done. Scott came in here with a really good game plan and structure and a way he wanted to get things done. Last year you saw the beginning of that and at the front end of this year--where guys were still trying to get in line with it--but now it’s corrected itself and I think they’re an excellent team. I think they’re a playoff team.”
Now I'm not sure of Renney is drinking the same Kool-Aid he did when he thought the Rangers he was coaching last year were Stanley Cup-bound using his system, but hey, whatever's clever.

Speaking of the Oilers, they skate vs. the aforementioned Islanders tonight at Nassau Coliseum, Isles are coming off a 3 game win streak which saw them down the Rangers, Capitals, and Sabres, whereas the Oilers have lost 4 of their last 5.

Philly Flyers and Tampa Bay are currently in action, at the time of this, the Flyers are up 5-1 in the 2nd with 8:15 to go. That game was moved up for tonight's game 5 match up between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees, NY leads the series 3-1, opening pitch is at 7:57. The other game happening tonight is a west coast clash between the Phoenix Coyotes and the LA Kings, Shane Doan is going to start after being destroyed against the Ducks, speaking of which, James Wisniewski received a suspension for that elbow to Doan's face, and he earned it, I'd not be surprised to see Jeremy post his further thoughts on it later on, so I won't go into too much detail there.

ESPN released their week 6 power rankings, I usually look at them for fun and not for real analysis, ESPN is lacking on hockey, and every other sport, but that's neither here nor there. They have the Penguins at number one right now, rightfully so, they have the best record in the league. Some peculiar things though is the Devils ranked at number 8 while winning I think a total of 1 game at home, while the Islanders were ranked at 20, with one home win, and they made that the reason they weren't higher. Again, ESPN can't be taken seriously, but you can look at their list here.

Also, the NHL schedule is finally picking up, it was skimpy the first few weeks, so I think there should be more wiggle room in the coming weeks, and I'd not be surprised to see teams finally decide on their lines they'll probably use for a majority of the season, this is the first week where there's multiple games every single night, and that's something to be excited about.

Making Excuses is In Vogue for the 2009-2010 Season.

Be it Colin Campbell making excuses as to why action is hardly taken on borderline hits, such as the aforementioned one in Jeremy's previous post, or losing to the Islanders.

Yes, the Islanders had the game by the throat by the middle of the second period in last night's, truth be told, 5-0 romp of the Buffalo Sabres at Nassau Coliseum. While the Sabres are one of the hottest teams of the season, I want to note they've also played the fewest games in the NHL, the Islanders seemed to rub their faces in it last night. What's more is the Sabres up until last night, had given up the fewest even strength goals in the league, 9 to be exact. The Islanders managed to put up 4 goals against the Sabres last night, and scored the fifth and final goal, on the powerplay. What does this mean? Well, it could be that we haven't seen a large enough sample size of the Sabres to jump on the Sabres are hot wagon. I'm guilty of it myself, most teams seem to be cooling at this point, but the Islanders are heating up. They're actually meshing and playing like a team for the first time in a long time, so long, in fact, that I can't remember the last time they played this way.

Jeff Tambellini put up a hat trick, his first career hat trick, actually, last night. His previous high water mark was two goals in one game, oh yeah, that was actually on October 26th, of this year. What up surprise player of the year? It seems the Islanders are getting more scoring from their "secondary" scoring than from their primary scoring at this point. Tambellini is a surprise because it seemed earlier in the season he was going to show all this potential, and no production, as he's done throughout his career. He has points in three consecutive games at this point, which I think may be a career high for him as well, though that stat isn't handy to me right now. Who were the other scorers from the Isles you may ask? Why, it was Richard Park and JOSH BAILEY. Yes, Bailey finally found his stick scoring a goal, which most Islander fans have been dying for this season, seeing as how well he did at the tail end of last year, there's been high hopes for Bailey in Islander Country. John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Matt Moulson were held to 0 points in 5 on 5 play and Okposo and Tavares tallied assists on Jeff Tambellini's third goal of the night. So the Islanders are getting scoring from players that aren't on their top lines and were still out shot 38-30.

Where are the excuses? Oh, just the Buffalo Sabres being flu ridden, the Caps didn't play to their full ability, and the Rangers didn't have Marion Gaborik. All of the teams out shot the Isles, but were not able to convert when they needed to, so why make excuses? Why not just admit you ran into a goaltender who wasn't going to let you beat him. Speaking of goalies, Martin Biron posted his 200th career win against his former team, and to make it sweeter, he shut them out. He didn't do it on his own, though, jumping to my mind most immediately was Radek Martinek making a beautiful save in the crease on Biron's behalf in the first period. It was good positioning by the Isles that beat the Sabres, not to mention, their winning seems less flukey this year than it did last, I think the Atlantic division is earning it's title as one of the toughest divisions in the east. The Isles are currently tied for points with the Flyers, and have a .500 record for the first time since the 2006-2007 season, when they went to the conference quarterfinals.

Of course, I'm not going to jump the gun and say the Isles are playoff bound just yet, but the chances are looking a lot better than they did last year. Well done, Islanders, when you end up having a winning record for a sustained amount of time, maybe only then, will other teams (and fans) show some respect. Attendance was horrible for the game last night, with the official number being 8,889, this number is punctuated by the fact that they were giving out free tickets to anyone under the age of 14 who showed up in costume. Hockey fans, take notice, I think the league just got a bit more competitive.

Shane Doan Is Toews'd & Confused

James Wisniewski, come on down - you're the next contestant on The Price is Irrelevant Because Colin Campbell's Judgement on Hockey Morality is Arbitrary, Inconsistent and, Frankly, Screwed Up Eight Ways From Tuesday (Don't act like you don't watch).

During a Ducks power play in last night's Coyotes-Ducks tilt in Glendale, Wisniewski gave a hard elbow to the jaw of a streaking Shane Doan, who was moving with the puck in the Ducks' zone, in a collision that sent both skaters to the ice, but left Doan stumbling to regain his footing shortly thereafter:

Doan would eventually return and get his vengeance in a grudge match that saw Doan land a few punches on Wisniewski before pile driving him to the ice and landing once last haymaker before the stripes intervened. (Maybe if either of the jerseys said "Crosby" on the back, they'd have intervened as quick as they did
in Pittsburgh last night, where the refs' moved quicker than Kyle Wellwood chasing a ham sandwich so as not to subject pretty boy Sid's Travolta Face to any potential punishment.)

Here's Doan's retaliation:

I suspect we'll be hearing from Campbell's NHL Disciplinary Lottery Balls shortly, and I wouldn't hold my breath for any particular result. The max fine ($2,500) is as likely as a pat on the head and a "Now, Jimmy, go apologize to Shane."

In related news, the Coyotes won said matchup, extending a three-game win streak and moving them into a tie for 2nd place in the Pacific Division with the Los Angeles Kings. MVP goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was the 1st Star after stopping 32 of 34 shots through regulation and overtime, then pitching a shutout in the shootout, stoning Anaheim supersnipers Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Teemu Selanne. (SHB-fave Sami Lepisto was the 3rd Star.). Both teams sit one point back of division-leading San Jose and will face off in Glendale Monday night. Center Icers should definitely tune in, and look for yours truly during any action in the corners at the bottom right of your screen. I'll be the guy explaining to Rob Scuderi exactly what a Sally he is.

UPDATE: a credible-quality video finally made it to YouTube. You no longer need suffer my embarrassing digi-cam recording of my circa-1993 TV screen. Check it out up there.

UPDATE, Episode II: The NHL has thrown a 2-game suspension at Wisnewski today. He'll miss upcoming games against Pittsburgh and Nashville, and should be available for Saturday's game against...Phoenix. Keep your head on a swivel, Jimmy.

The New York Islanders dressed as the Washington Capitals for Halloween and vice versa.

That's the only thing I can come up with to explain Friday night's confounding defeat of the Washington Capitals at the hands of the New York Islanders. At the Verizon Center, no less. It's confounding because the Capitals dominated the game in shots on goal and chances, not to mention by the third period it appeared the Islanders had all but thrown in the towel.

Propelled by Dwayne Roloson making 17 saves in the third period alone and forcing the game to overtime. The overtime winner went to Mark Streit, with an assist by John Tavares, of course. Tavares may not become the Calder trophy winner this year, as the draft class has more or less translated well in the bigs, but he is going to have quite the career. Every time he touches the puck, something happens, he's able to create chances and space, and if he's not scoring, he's finding someone who can. I can't really place who's style of play he mimics, I feel as though I've seen someone play like this before, the Ovechkin and Crosby comparisons aren't accurate, neither are the Jason Spezza comparisons. I don't know if Malkin is the closest I can come to, Tavares says he thinks he plays like Dany Heatley, but Heatley is a lot faster in my opinion.

Whatever the case, the Capitals powerplay put up astronomical numbers by this year's standards, netting two in six attempts. The Capitals powerplay situation is a bit confusing to me as well, they're not unable to score for lack of talent, but before tonight it seemed they were struggling just to hold the other team on defense. Really, the Capitals actually played relatively well, they didn't play like a team that should have lost the game tonight, I chalk the loss up to the fact that once Dwayne Roloson got warmed up, he started playing out of his mind. Put a hot goalie in front of a great offensive team like the Caps and see that offense become frustrated when they can't put it away.

Both teams this season have shown they're a bit hesitant this year to just put their foot on the other teams throat and just put the game away, so the third period was an edge of your seat type period. Especially with the Capitals getting so many chances and failing to capitalize (no pun intended).

What really needs to be seen from the Islanders standpoint, they're a team that should have some confidence right now, they need to build upon these two big wins this week. The Capitals on the other hand, and I feel I say this every time they lose, they need to play their game, simplify, get pucks on net and crash. They've proven they can be successful when they sort of dumb down their game and stop overthinking everything, and I'm confident they'll rebound, by hell or high water, they'll come back and I'm expecting them to eventually go on a tear. Right now, I think the Capitals are looking at the Penguins and saying "we should be there right now." All in due time.

Capital Punishment?

The Washington Capitals have been rolling since they were on a slight losing streak earlier this season, and they'll look to continue their ways against the New York Islanders, who just came off a big win against the crosstown rival New York Rangers.

Reigning league MVP and Rocket Richard winner, Alexander Ovechkin will be looking to break through against the Islanders, as in their last meeting the Isles defense was able to hold Ovi pointless through 60 plus minutes of hockey. The Caps have to be the favorite in this game and there aren't many teams which the Caps would be underdogs to.

In other New York news, the Rangers take on the Minnesota Wild in Minnesota tonight, and the Rangers will look to rebound from the 3-1 loss they suffered on Long Island Wednesday. Marian Gaborik, who would have been returning to the Xcel Energy center for the first time since signing with the Rangers in the off season has been scratched, though he's expected to make a start in Boston on Sunday. Chris Higgins is out with a lower body injury and Sean Avery is also out with his right knee nagging him again. Dane Byers, P.A Parenteau and Donald Brashear will fill those spots on the roster tonight.

Picks for tonight are something like this:

Washington will take the Islanders
Pittsburgh's season will continue to roll on past the Blue Jackets
Toronto will NOT beat the red hot Sabres
The Rangers should make quick work of the Wild, even with their injuries
Chicago should be able to overtake Montreal
Dallas will beat Florida
I have to favor Anaheim over the injury ridden and Luongo-less Canucks, while Raycroft can be a starter anywhere else, I have my doubts about Vancouver.
I think the Avs great start can continue tonight against San Jose.

Rangers look like a totally different team without Marion Gaborik.

I've been debating how to attack this subject the whole drive home, and I came to two conclusions:

1) The Rangers don't look so great without Gaborik, it's amazing how much of an impact he's made in his short tenure with the Rangers thus far. The Rangers powerplay looked as anemic as it did last season, registering one shot on goal in two chances. I was able to feel the tension of the Ranger fans around me, as they groaned every time the Rangers had an open side of the net and missed. It wasn't even that the Rangers weren't taking shots, they actually out shot the Isles 35-32 by the end of the game, it's just the shots the Rangers took were from such unbelievably bad locations that I found myself asking why would you shoot from there?

2) The second point is less on the game and more on the crowd itself. It's sort of unbelievable what the Islanders scoring the third goal did to Ranger fans in the audience. It's was akin to the Hulk's "you won't like me when I'm angry," it's as if they ripped through their clothes and turned green and started attacking anything within striking distance. I'm also not sure where a lot of the Ranger fans went after that goal was scored, and if  they weren't being thrown out for fighting, they were running for the hills to beat the traffic. The normal "let's go Rangers" chants reverberated through the Coliseum through the first two periods, which was answered by the Isles fans chanting "Rangers suck," and of course the chicken dance was played as it usually is in Rangers-Islanders games at Nassau Coliseum.

A bonus thought, the Islanders REALLY, REALLY need a new arena. I guess I didn't notice it as much when I was sitting ice level for the Capitals game, but from the 300 seats, the Coliseum is looking horrible. There's actually not much appealing about the place, and I found myself saying over and over "I hate this place." I'm not really 100 percent sure that it's going to happen, but it really should. The Islander Ranger rivalry is one of the best in all of sports, and it'd really be a shame to see the Isles leave.

I really wish there was a lot more to talk about, but much like most Rangers Islanders games, it was just a chippy affair where one team really took the reins and that was more or less it, they're never great offensive shows or anything, although I have to believe if Gaborik was healthy, he'd put on a clinic.

Rangers fans should be a little concerned about the fact that the organization has been pretty tight lipped on what's ailing Gaborik, I do hope he returns soon, because the Rangers sure could use him right about now.

Oh and for your Tavares tracker, he put up the third goal of the game for the Islanders, so he now has 4 goals, 4 assists, and 8 points total. Not bad for a 19 year old kid.

John "don't get me wet" Tortorella vs Scott "my system never works past the second" Gordon

Ah yes, the New York hockey rivalry 2009-2010 edition begins today, and while the results this year probably won't be much different from the last, it's always fun to be a part of.

Gordon and Tortorella are assistant coaches for team USA, and while Gordon was gushing and blushing over Tortorella like a school girl with a crush, Torts refused to answer the same questions about Gordon. You have to love the game face Tortorella puts on for game nights, it's not part of your job to compliment how great a coach is when his team has a 1-4-5 record. No, Gordon doesn't really deserve compliments yet, he hasn't earned them, and he won't until the Islanders start winning.

Tonight would be a great night for the Islanders to get themselves in gear, maybe the first high energy atmosphere to come to Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum will make them feel like they need to deliver a "big game" type performance. Lord only knows, the Islanders could use a big game performance every night out, but I digress. Unlike other teams who are fighting to stay where they are (i.e. the Phoenix Coyotes), the Islanders seem content with their same old losing ways and blaming the fact that the Lighthouse Project isn't being built yet.

I'm a supporter of the LHP, I grew up going to Islander games, and for as much as I cannot stand the way they've been playing, I do think they should get a new arena, if only so the Rangers can keep their pushover of a little brother. I do think if the Islanders had a tradition of winning past 1983, getting the Lighthouse approved would have probably been much easier.

Alas, I'm somewhat tired of reading about off ice politics when it comes to the Islanders as well, and if you're here, reading this, the political part probably isn't as important as the game of hockey that's going to be played at that old barn in Uniondale tonight. So moving forward...

The New York Rangers have been oh-so-hot lately, but they'll have to do it tonight without oft-injured Marion Gaborik tonight. This is not a very big test for the Rangers, since the Islanders have been luke warm at best, since the start of the season, posting the leagues SECOND worst record, only behind the Toronto Maple Leafs.

What the Islanders need to concentrate on, if they want to win, which I think we should give them the benefit of the doubt that they don't like losing, is simplify their game and just play smart defensively, especially in the third. What the Rangers need to do to win is, well, just continue playing the way they've been playing, and not really change a thing. That, and just hope the preseason predictions regarding the health of Gaborik don't come to fruition, or Ranger fans are in for another season of screaming "SHOOOOOOOOOOOOT!"

Other notes: Vinny Prospal has proven to be a key player in the Rangers offense this season, and that's one thing I can say has nothing to do with Gaborik and more to do with Prospal's presence of mind when on the ice and his nose for the net. Jeff Tambelllini is coming off his first multi-goal night as an Islander, scoring two in the Islanders third straight loss on Monday, if he can keep that going and Matt Moulson can play his game, Henrik Lundqvist can be facing more than a few scoring chances. John Tavares started the season on fire, but he's been simmering since, so the Islanders really need to get secondary scoring going, since the kid cannot be expected to carry the entire team.

Regardless of the winner, this should be a hard fought game and should be a fun one to watch, I'll probably post a game wrap up post later on tonight, you know, after the game.