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Plans Announced for 2013 NHL Awards

The NHL has announced plans for how awards show will be handed out this season. The awards are usually handed out during a ceremony in Las Vegas after the Stanley Cup Final, but due to the lockout the award winners will be named during two live broadcasts during the final.

The day before Game 2 the league will announce the winners of  the Masterton, Selke, King Clancy and Lady Byng trophies, the Jack Adams Award, the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award, the NHL Foundation Player Award and the NHL General Manager of the Year Award. The announcement will come at 5 p.m. during a live broadcast on NHL Network.

Prior to the start of Game 2, the NHL will present the winners of the Hart, Calder, Norris and Vezina with their awards, along with the Ted Lindsey Award. The event will air on NBC Sports Network at 7 p.m.

The Islanders have two players up for awards this season. John Tavares is up for the coveted Hart Trophy, along with Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin. And Matt Moulson is up for the Lady Byng for the second year in a row. Patrick Kane and Martin St. Louis are also up for the honor.

The NHL Awards show will return to Las Vegas in 2014.

Isles Sign Chris Bruton

Per an Islanders Press Release:

The New York Islanders announced today that forward Chris Bruton has agreed to terms on a one-year, two-way (NHL/AHL) contract.

Bruton, 26, scored 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 69 games last season with the Peoria Rivermen of the American Hockey League. The Calgary, ALTA, native led Peoria with 134 penalty minutes, while posting a plus-2 rating.

He split his first professional season (2011-12) between Peoria and the ECHL’s Alaska Aces, totaling 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in 65 games.

Bruton played four seasons of junior hockey with the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League from 2004-2008, helping the club win the 2008 Memorial Cup Championship and serving as team captain in 2007-08. Following his junior career, Bruton played three seasons at Acadia University in Nova Scotia.

Christian’s Comments: Much like the re-signing of Eric Boulton, this move is a depth/toughness signing by the Islanders. Since it’s a two-way deal it is likely Bruton won’t even make the Islanders lineup. It would be a safe bet to say he spends the year in Bridgeport.

Now for your enjoyment, some video of Bruton hitting people:

Matt Moulson Named as a Finalist for Lady Byng

For the second year in a row Matt Moulson has been named as a finalist for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy. The award goes to the player “adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

Moulson played in all but one of the Islanders 48 games during the regular season, which ended his streak of 284 straight games played. The 29-year-old winger recorded only four penalty minutes on the year, while scoring 15 goals and 29 assists for 44 points.

Due to the lockout there is no planned awards show like in years past and the winner of the Lady Byng will be announced during the Stanley Cup Finals.

Islanders and Rangers to Play at Yankee Stadium

It’s finally official: the Islanders and Rangers play one another in an outdoor game at Yankee Stadium.

Reports that an outdoor matchup between the two New York rivals surfaced back on April 16. The game will be played as part of the 2014 Coors Light Stadium series.

“The New York Islanders are honored to take part in the National Hockey League’s outdoor stadium series,” Islanders General Manager Garth Snow said in a press release.  “Our fan-base is one of the most passionate in the NHL.  The support we consistently receive from our fans was on display during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs and I expect it to be on an even greater scale when we take on the Rangers.  This is what makes the games against the Rangers one of the best rivalries in the league.  I look forward to seeing a strong contingent of the orange and blue in the stands at Yankee Stadium.”

The face-off for the Yankee Stadium game is set for 7:30 p.m. It will be the second game that week to take place at the stadium in the Bronx. Three day prior, the Rangers and Devils will play one another there.

Christian’s Comments: The idea of having several outdoor games in one season has been met with mixed reviews from hockey fans. Some like it, and some are understandable against. But with all of that being said, the idea of two games in New York, especially one that includes the Islanders, is an exciting prospect.

Both games will take place during Super Bowl week in New York and that gives the NHL an opportunity to show off its product to new sponsors, who are going to already be in town for the nation’s biggest single sporting event. It is a chance for the league to show how exciting hockey can be and why it would be worth investing in.

You also have the massive media attention it will also garner. New York is the biggest sports market and when its hockey teams are successful reporters come out in droves to cover the sport. Just look at last years New York Rangers run to the Eastern Conference Finals. Now think of the attention this will get if both the Rangers and Islanders are doing well leading into the outdoor game.

Finally, from an Islanders perspective this is a huge sign that the league is taking notice to what is happening on Long Island. The Isles just wrapped up a season where the team surprised everybody and made it to the playoffs. And then shocked the Pittsburgh Penguins, taking the opening round series to six games. John Tavares is quickly becoming a bona fide superstar in the league and is up for the Hart Trophy. And things are looking up for the Islanders. The fact that the league has decided to include them in what will be a showcase of the NHL’s product is a major stepping stone.

End of Series/Season Thoughts

(Check Out New York Hockey Journal’s story on last night’s game here)

The Islanders’ season came to an end last night with their 4-3 overtime loss to the Penguins. It was a tough way for it to end after such an exciting during the last month and a half.

While they may have lost the series, the Islanders have a lot to be proud of. They battled through this series and took it to a team that everyone expected to roll right over the Islanders. Players like Michael Grabner, Travis Hamonic, Frans Nielsen, Andrew MacDonald and the rest of the squad brought their “A” game night in and night out.

As Travis Hamonic said after the game, this series could have gone the other way, but in the end it was Brooks Orpik who dashed the Isles hopes of extending their season one more day.

But just as astound as the Islanders run, was the response from the fans last night and through this series. Nassau Coliseum was as loud as it has ever been and you could see how the players responded. And even after it was all said and done, they still gave the Islanders a heroes send off as they chanted “let’s go Islanders” and “M-V-P” at John Tavares.

And from a different angle.

Now with the steps this team has taken they will prepare for next season and have a few things to sort out. As of right now the biggest one seems to be goaltending. Evgeni Nabokov played well for the Islanders, finishing the regular season with a 2.50 goals against average and a .910 save percentage, but struggled in the playoffs.

The Islanders will need to figure out if they want to keep him on for another year or give the keys to Kevin Poulin, who is believed to be part of the future for the team in net. Their of course is still the option of bringing back Rick DiPietro after banishing him to the minor leagues. Or always trying to convince Tim Thomas to throw on an Islander uniform… But that’s a long shot at best.

For now the Islanders and their fans can think about this past season and how far this team has come and how this could just possible be the beginning.

Game 6: Penguins @ Isles Pre-Game

UNIONDALE, N.Y — The Islanders and Penguins are set for Game 6 tonight at the Nassau Coliseum.

The biggest story lines coming into the night are will Frans Nielsen play, and if not will Brock Nelson take his spot? How will Evgeni Nabokov respond from Game 5? How will the Islanders respond in general from a poor performance in Game 5? And how will they solve Tomas Vokoun?

As of now it is unclear if Frans Nielsen will play tonight. He told reporters after the morning skate that he could still feel it, but was feeling better. It will be the coaches call if he plays or not.

“Yeah (it’s the coaches decision),” he said after the skate. “I guess they have to talk to the doctors too about it and if they’re comfortable and don’t think it’s something that’s coming back.”

While it’s unsure if he will play. There is no question that he wants to.

“You always want to be out there,” Nielsen said. “Of course it’s going to be a fun one tonight. I’d love to be a part of it, so hopefully they let me go.”

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Bridgeport call up Brock Nelson is speculated to be the fill in for Nielsen if he can’t play. He skated with the team during the optional skate. 

He had a strong year with the Sound Tigers in the AHL, putting up 52 points (25 goals. 27 assists) and has caught the eye of head coach Jack Capuano for many of his skill stets.

“He’s much stronger,” Capuano said. “He was on of (Bridgeport’s) top players and when I look at Brock I think of the vision that he has. I think of the hockey sense that he has… We wouldn’t put a guy in that we felt wasn’t necessarily ready.”

Nelson was just trying to take everything in this morning during the skate.

“It’s a lot of mixed emotions. It’s a big time of the year,” Nelson said. “This is when you want to be playing hockey. A lot of excitement and I’m just trying to take it all in. I’m Just not worry about the big picture and just take it in little details one at a time.”

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The Islanders had a major issue in getting pucks past Tomas Vokoun on Thursday and will try to solve that tonight at the Coliseum. New York put 31 shots on Vokoun in Game 5, but did not get too many quality chances on the penguins goaltender.

“I don’t think we tested him enough,” Kyle Okposo said of their performance. “On one shot, we didn’t have a whole lot of second and third opportunities. It was just kind of one and done. We want to get more pucks and bodies to the net.”

The Islanders will need to test Vokoun tonight and really force chances. This is a team that has responded in the face in adversity and has faith in one another.

“We found ways to win all year,” Okposo later said. “Of course we’re going to have faith. If you don’t you might as well not even come out, but we believe we can win in here. We’re excited to play this game and hopefully another game tomorrow.”

 

WFAN to Carry Game 6

WFAN will carry the broadcast, along with WRHU, of tomorrow night’s Islanders-Penguins Game 6. Chris King will be on play-by-play and Kevin Dexter will be color analyst.

This is the second time this week that a major sports radio station has opted to simulcast a broadcast of a playoff game. On Thursday, Game 5 was carried on 98.7 ESPN New York.

“We’re pleased to work with WFAN Sports Radio and our broadcast partner at Hofstra University, WRHU, to broadcast this pivotal Stanley Cup Playoffs game to our fans throughout the tri-state area,” New York Islanders Senior Vice President, Michael Picker said in a press release.

The Islanders and Penguins Game 6 matchup begins at 7 p.m.