UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Ray Barone may be the most famous Long Island sports writer around, but I've yet to see him come out to Nassau Coliseum and hopes that changes today. Have also had trouble finding his stuff on the Newsday website, although I hear it's very good.
The Panthers are in town today, visiting the struggling Islanders with a 2 p.m. kickoff. The frozen rain has now turned to snow, so this should be a nice walk later on today.
Just kicking this thing off, reminding you to come on back around lunchtime where I should have the starting goaltender for the Panthers (since Tomas Vokoun shut them out earlier this season, I would think it's him, although...) and other pertinent information.
Merry New Year everyone. Hope you have better New Year's Eve plans than I do. Pittsburgh airport, here I come!
-- Greetings from atop Nassau Coliseum, where thankfully it's a lot warmer inside than out. Freezing out there. But at least there's snow. That's nice.
Word on the street is that Tomas Vokoun is in net today, with Richard Zednik the healthy scratch with Shawn Matthias getting his own line.
Pete DeBoer to Randy Moller about Vokoun: ''You have to go with your money guy.''
On Shawn Matthias: ''We brought him in here to push guys for jobs. Hopefully he'll bring a shot of energy.''
Also, mixing up the lines. This much I know: Gregory Campbell takes over the pivot of the
Sawgrass/Sunrise/Sunshine Express line, with David Booth and Nathan Horton on the wings. Stephen Weiss -- who is part of the press elevator mural here now -- is centering Cory Stillman and Michael Frolik. Will give you the rest of the lines later. Think it's going to be mix and match.
''We've gotten away from our work ethic,'' PDeB said. ''We're shaking up the deck a little bit.''
-- Surprise, surprise: Rick DiPietro is not playing for the Isles today. Joey 'I'm Lovin' It' MacDonald is in net for the Potvins.
-- One thing the Isles are doing well: shorthanded goals. The Isles have eight this year. Florida gave up two (well, one came into an empty net) on Monday against the Habs.
-- For those of you listening to the Florida radio feed, you better hope for a lot of Florida goals. Randy Moller has some 'Old School' calls awaiting. Going to be classic.
More pregame from PDeB:
''We all saw prior to Christmas that we
have guys in the organization capable of pushing people for jobs,''
DeBoer said. ''I haven't liked the way we've competed the last three
games. Zednik's a casualty tonight, but it could have been any number
of guys. I hope the message is received. Play hard or someone else
will come in and do that.''
''Playing hard may not be the right
wording,'' DeBoer said, ''but we need more from Richard Zednik. We
need more from a lot of different guys. Nathan Horton, Cory Stillman.
A lot of people. It's a small picture, only three games. A lot of
people would say don't panic, but we don't have that luxury here. We
can't let three losses turn into six or seven. We have to fix it
''We need a win, this is a very
important two points,'' DeBoer said. ''The decision was to go with
the veteran, the money guy. We pay Tomas a lot of money to win games
ALSO: General manager Jacques Martin has
been to each of Florida's road games this season, but missed
Wednesday's game to scout the World Junior tournament in Ottawa.
Martin is scheduled to join the team when it gets to Canada.
-- For you Islanders fans out there, the Isles called up Trevor Smith from AHL Bridgeport and the 23-year-old whom the Isles signed as an undrafted free agent last year will make his NHL debut. Smith is up because Mike Sillinger is on the IR with a hip injury.
Also, Mitch Fritz put on waivers, goalie Yann Danis recalled on an emergency basis.
Will be live momentarily....
-- Also, big news from NBC: Former Florida television voice Dave Strader has been summoned from the bullpen to work tomorrow's Winter Classic from Comisky, err, Wrigley Field. Doc Emrick has laryngitis. Congrats Strades. Looking forward to the game -- and the call.
-- Big news from the Coliseum: The Marvel super heroes are here, from Spider-Man to Captain America to Iron Man. Hope nothing happens crime-wise today with these fellas watching hockey and all.
--The famous Islanders ice girls have the flag out...making me feel more patriotic than ever...
GAME ON -- GAME ON -- GAME ON
-- Matthias centering what's left of the CPR line with Campbell up with Booth and Horton; McLean with Tarnasky and Stewart...
-- Panthers about to go on the power play...delayed penalty, getting some chances...anyway, power play with old pal Jonny Sim heading to the box at 2:55..
-- Isles kill off penalty, but Panthers are looking good...three huge scoring chances here in the first six minutes..first, Horton gets pass in f
ront and fires high; next, Booth's backhander is stopped with a great glove save by MacD; and at 6:30, Frolik finds Campbell but MacD makes another strong save. Horton just got robbed with another great save by MacD...
Shots: FLA 8-2.. Scoring chances like 6-0
--Taking another timeout here, Isles finally start putting some pressure on Vokoun...still scoreless...
--Old pal Jiggs McDonald is here tonight as well, working for the Isles tonight...
--Panthers on the kill...Campbell into the box for slashing, which I think is a pretty serious crime...shots: 11-7 or, Slurpee time @ 7-11...
--Richard Park appears to give the Isles a 1-0 lead, but goal is called off and Sim goes back into the box for goalie interference...not so sure about that one...anyway, Florida back on the power play at 15:48...
--Islanders kill off the penalty...we have 2:08 left in the opening period...shots, Florida 11-8...pretty bad job on that last power play...
YOU'RE MY BOY BLUE...PANTHERS SCORE, BRETT MCLEAN SCORES BY DEFLECTING NICK BOYNTON SHOT WITH 1:36 IN THE FIRST....FLA 1, NY 0...
AND THAT'S ONE PERIOD HERE IN NEW YORK...DOLPHINS 1, JETS 0....WE'LL BE BACK WITH STATS AND MORE IN A BIT....
-- Back to action here in the second period...FLA outshot Isles 13-11 in the opener...FLA 0-2 on power play, Isles 0-1...50 percent on faceoffs, both sides winning 12...Weiss leads Cats with three shots, Guerin and Comrie three each for the Isles...
-- Panthers back on the power play...
-- Taking a Ice Girls timeout, Panthers still leading in shots, but now its 13-12...haven't been able to get anything going offensively here in the first six minutes save for a few chances...
ISLANDERS SCORE...MIKE COMRIE KNOCKS PUCK PAST VOKOUN WITH SKATE, IT STANDS...IT'S 1-1 AT 7:50 OF THE SECOND..
-- Taking another Ice Girl timeout here with 6:13 left in the second...Panthers have one shot this period, but have been putting on some pressure of late....shots: NY 19-14
-- McLean heads to the box with 5:55 left in the second...Isles' second power play of the night...they are 0-for-1
-- And the Ice Girls are back on the ice...good for us...
ISLES TAKE THEIR FIRST LEAD OF THE NIGHT, PANTHERS FAIL TO CLEAR, COMRIE FIRES FROM GOAL LINE AND GETS SECOND OF THE DAY...ITS ISLES 2-1 WITH 4:55 LEFT IN THE SECOND...
MAKE IT 3-1...SEAN BERGENHEIM WALKS AROUND SKRASTINS, BEATS VOKOUN TOP SHELF AND THE ISLES HAVE A TWO GOAL LEAD...GOAL COMES WITH 23.9 SECONDS LEFT...BAD, BAD PERIOD FOR THE CATS...\
END OF 2 FROM LONG ISLAND, IT'S 3-1 ISLES...
--Goalie change: Say hello to Craig Anderson...close the book on Vokoun, 22 shots, three goals...third time in four games the Panthers have gone to the bullpen...
-- OK, this one is just about done..It's 4-1 now, and I'm saying good day to this unless something else happens. Check back later for a special post-game On Frozen Pond entry with plenty of quotes, notes and general venom.
This has been brutal.
And embarrassing. No excuses today.
At least the Ice Girls were here.