- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
LAST SEASON 30-39-13 (14th in East)
KEY ADDITIONS G Evgeni Nabokov, C Marty Reasoner, RW Brian Rolston
KEY LOSSES RW Trent Hunter, D Radek Martinek, C Doug Weight
MONTHS OF FRUSTRATION finally boiled over last Feb. 11, when the Islanders hosted the Penguins. Nine days earlier Pittsburgh goaltender Brent Johnson floored New York counterpart Rick DiPietro with one punch in a fight-filled game. The rematch resembled Road House on ice, as the teams combined for 346 penalty minutes. It wasn't a shining moment for either club, but the Islanders felt they had made a point.
"It was a matter of people coming in and thinking they could push us around and do what they want," winger Michael Grabner says. "We were just showing them we're not going to take everything."
New York played better after the brawl (11-10-6), and it's not as if there's a shortage of talent on Long Island. "We had five 20-goal scorers last year, and that doesn't include Kyle Okposo [who had 19 goals but missed 44 games due to a torn labrum]," says center John Tavares, who led the team with 67 points.
Okposo will be back, but the biggest difference-maker will be defenseman Mark Streit, who sat out last season with a rotator-cuff injury. The new captain, a six-year veteran, plays in all situations and will be the blue line's offensive catalyst. While there is hope for the Islanders, their inconsistency and reliance on young players means that results are still another year or two off.