Happy New Year’s Eve, LHH. It has been a less-than-ideal 2022 for the New York Islanders, but it has ended reasonably well—much better than it started, that’s for sure—and should set them up for an exciting first half of 2023.
They don’t play today, but they are in Seattle to ring in the new year and then will play tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Since it’s late in the day already and because tomorrow is National Hangover Day, these will likely serve as tomorrow’s bits, as well. I’ll post an early game thread tomorrow afternoon and sprinkle in the scores, a few new bits if there are any, and the FIG link, as well.
- The Islanders are dealing with a ton of injuries, but they have still managed to find consistency and wins. [Newsday]
- Part of that has been the excellent play of Hudson Fasching. Like many, I worried his jolt was pure adrenaline à la Cole Bardreau in 2019-20, but he has sustained it. And he’s fitting in well. [Islanders]
- Sounds like he’s not going anywhere for a little while, either, because both Simon Holmstrom and Oliver Wahlstrom were placed on IR, with Holmstrom listed as day-to-day and Wahlstrom listed as out indefinitely.
- Day-to-day doesn’t necessarily mean anything good, though, because Adam Pelech has been day-to-day for a month and, along with Wahlstrom and Holmstrom, won’t make the four-game western trip. Starting to be concerning. [Newsday]
- This week’s Weird Islander was Brent Sopel. Matty Kemmerer, a Coliseum usher, joined Mike and Dan to discuss Sopel, who brought excitement and left disappointment. I can tell you the folks in Section 313 at the Coliseum were not big fans of his. [LHH]
- Bold predictions for all the New York teams in the new year. For the Islanders, they’ll acquire Vladimir Tarasenko and see Ilya Sorokin win the Vézina Trophy. [amNY]
- Stan Fischler tells the tale of the 2003 playoff chase with the Rangers. [Maven’s Memories]
Last night’s NHL scores include the Devils knocking off the Penguins—in regulation, thank you very much—sending Pittsburgh to its fourth straight loss. Also, the Hurricanes dominated the Panthers, who are now below NHL .500 and eight points out of a playoff spot entering the New Year.
- Florida still has some talent, so I’m reticent to say they’re done, but it would take quite a bit for them to make it at this point, which is a stunning fall-from-grace for last year’s Presidents Trophy winner (even if the roster make-up is pretty different from that squad).
- The most impressive performance last night was by Connor McDavid, who recorded his eighth career five-point night en route to a 7-2 Oilers win over the Kraken. That puts him at 72(!) points through 37 games, which is just nuts. He’s on a 17-game point streak and has 37(!) points in that span. [NHL]
- A story that still isn’t old: What led the Rangers to scratch Alexis Lafrenière? Simply, he isn’t performing well. Sure, he hasn’t been in the best position to succeed, but he’s also not forcing the coaches to play him higher in the lineup and hasn’t grabbed the torch when he has played higher in the lineup. [Sportsnet]
- A Winter Classic legacy project that will benefit a charity and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Dorchester. [NHL]
A little bit of character assassination to ring in the new year:
J.T. Miller might have a character problem! There have been whispers all year that something isn’t right in the Canucks locker room, and Miller has allegedly been a big reason why. I have heard it discussed on podcasts that there is a Miller faction and a Bo Horvat faction in that locker room. And the whispers seem to be backed up by Wild reporter Michael Russo, who has been doing this a while and probably wouldn’t float such a statement if he hadn’t heard the whispers from sources, too.
Then the other night, he freaked out on third-string goalie Collin Delia for not getting off with the extra attacker, even though Miller was just skating around his own zone and camping out behind his own net with the puck. He yelled “get the f*** off!” a few times and then smacked his stick against the net.
Now, with that little time left, Delia probably should have gotten off. But he’s not a Canucks regular, he’s a third-stringer. He may not know the cues, and most goalies are coached not to leave the net until the puck is in the offensive zone (or at least out of the defensive zone). And at the end of the day, you could probably chalk it up to the heat of the moment. Hockey players are pretty tough characters, so I’m sure Dellia was hardly fazed by it. In a vacuum, it’s probably not a big deal.
However, this isn’t a vacuum; it’s another instance to throw on the pile of Miller generally being a dick. More importantly, Miller wears an ‘A’, and he did not handle that like a good leader.
Nor did he handle it like a good hockey player, frankly. Just skate forward with the puck and try to get in the offensive zone, and then your goalie will skate off. Don’t waste time yelling at your third-string goalie. Worry about what you can control.
If all the bad character stuff is true—and there is quite a bit of smoke there at this point—it seems like the Isles lucked out not acquiring him, to say nothing of the fact that he scored 99 points out of nowhere last season and was always unlikely to repeat it. Apparently, his defense has been atrocious, too.
Given JT Miller’s penchant this year for passing the puck directly to the opponent I don’t blame Colin Delia for staying in his net— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) December 30, 2022