April 26, 2013 - 11:12 AM
By John Vogl
The playoff race in the Eastern Conference is over as far which eight teams will advance, but the seedings still need to sprout. That means the Islanders have a lot more to play for tonight than the Sabres.
Buffalo will finish its disappointing season with Fan Appreciation Night in First Niagara Center. The Islanders will try to give their fans a favorable postseason matchup.
New York is eighth in the East, but it has the same number of points (54) as sixth-place Ottawa and the seventh-place Rangers. The two teams from New York each have one game left, while the Senators play twice.
The Isles will want to win to give themselves the highest seed possible.
Continue reading "Islanders still need victories while Sabres focus on saying goodbye, Miller's 500th game" »
February 23, 2013 - 5:57 PM
Islanders center John Tavares has seven multi-point games this year, second in the NHL to Steven Stamkos' eight. (Getty Images)
By Mike Harrington
Yes, you read that headline correctly. Thanks to Alex Ovechkin's hat trick and the Capitals' 5-1 win over New Jersey earlier this afternoon, the Sabres have slipped into 15th and dead last place in the Eastern Conference.
And things could get even worse in Ron Rolston's home debut tonight against the New York Islanders: If the Sabres lose tonight in regulation and Columbus gets a point at St. Louis, the self-proclaimed "Hockey Heaven" will be dead last in the NHL. Ooof.
A few more numbers to ponder for tonight:
---Thomas Vanek is now tied for the NHL scoring lead with Sidney Crosby at 25 points and Vanek has gone pointless in five of the last six games. John Tavares of the Islanders is tied for fifth at 22 points and his 11 goals are one behind Vanek and Pittsburgh's James Neal for the NHL lead.
---Watch the second period tonight. The Islanders lead the league with 23 goals in the middle stanza -- while the Sabres' 28 goals against are the most by any team in any period. I asked Ryan Miller about the middle-period troubles Thursday night in Toronto and he attributed it to long changes, which is still because every team has that issue. Then Miller fessed up to the changes combined with the team's lack of puck possession.
"Long changes and we don't have the puck and we're not getting the puck deep. There you go," Miller said. "Start form the simplest thing to do and build from there. Guys have to execute. It's brought up, it's mentioned, it's highlighted. You got me.
"I'm trying not to be caught up in it too much. I'm trying to do my job but you guys ask me questions about the game and that's my evaluation. We're trying to figure it out. I think we got a pretty good handle on it. We've just got to execute."
Continue reading "By the numbers: Tonight's key points to start the climb out of last place in the Eastern Conference" »