Saturday, January 31, 2009

Point Every Two Games

As someone said elsewhere, "Okposo gets better with each game." That statement held true on Saturday (1/31) as the Isles ended what had been a dreadful month with a third consecutive win. It's just win, win, win these days in Isladerland, we guess.

In scoring his 10th goal of the season in the 3-1 home victory over Florida, Kyle reached a threshold that we at Okposo Net had been personally rooting for. To this point in the season he has tallied 18 points in 36 games, which puts him on a pace of a point every two games. While this statistic may seem insignificant to most fans, to us it looked earlier this season as if the 'point every second game' pace was unreachable. Happily, we were wrong.

The expectations of his development have been raised, though, and we don't mind saying that you now almost expect Kyle to have a major impact in every game. Whether it's assisting on a goal, aiding the power play effort, or getting open for a smart pass from a teammate and banking a goal, the potential has shown itself.

Just as his prospect star began to slightly dim and adversity appeared, Kyle responded. We say unequivocally that he will be a major cog in the Islander machine that GM Garth Snow is attempting to build in the coming seasons.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Kyle Stays Hot

In a game the Islanders really needed to lose (to secure prime drafting position), Kyle and the "Kid Line" had other plans for the evening. In Atlanta to take on the Thrashers on Thursday (1/29), the Isles didn't miss a beat despite a seven day layoff and won 5-4. This blog's namesake had his first 2 goal night and was voted the second star of the game.

Kyle has scored 4 goals in the team's last 3 games (2-0-1) and coach Scott Gordon is seeing production from the aforementioned Comeau-Bailey-Okposo combo. Young Josh Bailey helped on the early Kyle goal (7:29 in the first period) while both linemates assisted on the late goal (12:39 in the third period).

Though there are many deficiencies in the 2008-2009 version of the Islanders, fans need not fret about the developemnt of the "kids" or the play of all-star defenseman Mark Streit. Both are humming along just fine.

The win broke a 14 game road losing streak. Next up, the Florida Panthers at home on Saturday (1/31) night. We'll see if KO can up the goal streak to four games.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Kyle Closes First Half Well

Kyle Okposo, who with each game looks more and more like the stalwart scorer many predict he will become, ended the first half of the season on a high note. Okposo, who had missed time with a wrist injury earlier this season, tallied two power play goals this week.

Against Washington on Monday 'Okie' salvaged a point for his team by tying the game late and sending the Isles to overtime. Though the Isles dropped the game in the extra period, they were able to hold on and win two nights later. Against the Anaheim Ducks, Kyle netted another power play goal, just 2:38 in. Curiously, Frans Nielsen and Mark Streit assisted on both goals. As you can see on the right hand side of this page, Kyle now has 15 points in 34 games.

The Isles are now idle for 7 days, as the NHL celebrates its stars in Montreal. The aforementioned Streit will be representing the Long Island franchise. Good luck to him and we hope Kyle doesn't lose his hot touch during the hiatus.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Okposo: Already a Draft Success

As of the morning of Thursday, January 15 Kyle has 18 points (7 G, 11 A) in 39 games as an Islander. While researching for this article it became apparent that Okposo is already a success for the Isles in terms of drafting, especially if he can keep up a point per 2 games pace (or better). The Islanders are of course (in)famous drafters, wheelers and dealers, especially during that forgettable Milbury Era. Here is a look at past Islanders draft picks that Okposo has already outplayed. The list is in reverse chronological order:

2005 Drafted 15th overall, center Ryan O'Marra never played an NHL game for the Isles and was packed up as part of the deal for Ryan Smyth. O'Marra has played a couple of exhibition games with the Oilers but is currently mired in the minors.

2004 Winger Petteri Nokelainen, selected 16th, was plucked away by the Boston Bruins following the 2005-06 season after only 15 games with the Isles. Nokelainen notched only 1 G and 1 A during his brief stay on the Island.

2003 Winger Robert Nilsson, chosen 15th, had potential but became expendable during the shrewd Smyth trade. Nilsson played 53 games for the Isles, scoring 6 G and adding 14 A for 20 points. Though Okposo has not technically surpassed those assists or points yet he will soon!

2000 The oft-injured winger Raffi Torres was picked 5th overall but has not lived up to that expectation anywhere yet. Torres had a meager 6 A in 31 games with the Blue and Orange.

1999 A staple in Vancouver, center Taylor Pyatt was picked 8th. As an Isle he managed only 4 G and 14 A in 78 games. Only two spots down was defenseman Branislav Mezei who was chosen at #10. Mezei had a mere G and 6 A in 66 games. A busy draft, the Isles also picked #28, d-man Kristian Kudroc who never suited up for the Islanders.

1998 Picked 9th overall d-man Michael Rupp played 0 games with the Isles before re-entering the draft in 2000 and getting picked by the metro rival New Jersey Devils.

1997 Selected 5th, d-man Eric Brewer would played a couple of seasons for the Isles before eventually becoming the captain of the St. Louis Blues. Brewer played 89 games with the Blue & Orange racking up 5 G and 8 A.

1996 Picked at #3 was winger J.P. Dumont. Conversation on that ends here.

1995 Defenseman Wade Redden was chosen with the #2 pick. Nothing further will be said on the matter.

1994 Winger Brett Lindros was selected with the 9th pick. We probably remember that more than he did thanks to the concussions. He managed 2 G and 5 A on 51 games.

1990 Center Scott Scissons was chosen with the 6th pick. He wowed with 0 points on 2 games.

1988 The Isles picked up d-man Kevin Cheveldayoff with the #16 choice. Who? He played no games in the NHL.

1987 D-man Dean Chynoweth was the #13 pick for the Islanders. Chynoweth, unlike Scissons, played a considerable amount of games for the team. However he was completely inept on offensive scoring 2 G and 10 A in 147 games.

1984 Yet another defenseman, with the 20th pick the Islanders grabbed Duncan MacPherson. Another "who?" MacPherson never played higher than the WHA and therefore saw no time on the Isles blueline.

1976 Notice the big gap between years? That means good drafting! Forward Alex McKendry was the Isles' #14 pick during the Bicentennial year. McKendry played all of 10 games over a few years with the Isles notching 0 points. He would have a little more success after moving to Calgary.

In sum, kudos to you Kyle. Keep up the good work, kid!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Three Things You Did NOT Know About Kyle

Most people think they know Kyle Okposo. But were you aware of the following?

1. Growing up in Minnesota, Kyle's first love was not ice hockey, but rather football and/or basketball.

2. Since their days together in high school at the famed Shattuck-St. Mary's School, Jonathan Toews has been Kyle's best friend, competitor, and rival. In their 2005 championship season at SSM, Toews outscored Kyle by one goal (48 to 47).

3. Somewhat curiously, Kyle's pre-game "pump up" music is Seal. No word on whether Kyle has purchased the artist's latest album.

And now you know...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Shut DiPietro Down

As the Isles play Calgary tonight, Joey MacDonald is once again between the pipes for the visitors. And #1 goaltender Rick DiPietro is once again on the sidelines, with swelling in his surgically repaired knee.

For MacDonald, it is his 36th game of the season. He has done an admirable job up to this point, having a strong November before the Isles recent downswing. He is not a #1 goaltender, but he has shown this season that he is a good #2 option for the future, and is someone that can be counted on for at least 20-25 starts.

In the meantime, DiPietro continues to say the right things about coming back and helping the team in the second half. However, at this point, with DiPietro consistently not at 100%, GM Garth Snow needs to do what is best for the future of this organization and shut DiPietro down until the 2009-10 season.

The pros with this decision far outweigh any cons. First, it lets DiPietro become 100% healthy for next season - not 80%, not 95%, not 98%. Given DiPietro's lengthy injury history in a short span of time, this is a must for the Isles, who still have him under contract for another 12 years (keeping mouth shut here). Having him play what essentially count as meaningless games for the Isles this season only provides a greater chance for another major injury with little return - and at this point, another major injury could very well destroy his effectiveness permanently or possibly even end his career. As the money is already a sunk cost, the best way to gain value from this investment is for a healthy DiPietro to return to All-Star form next year and write this season off as a wash.

Secondly, if DiPietro does come back and play effectively, he could essentially kill the chances for the Isles to pick up John Tavares or Victor Hedman in the draft. If the season ended today, the Isles would be guaranteed to get one of those two in the draft, a potential turning point for what has become at times a moribund franchise. Fact is, the Isles really need to get either of these players, and really don't need to finish 24th out of 30 teams. While it has been nice to see the Comeau-Comrie-Okposo line gel over the past few games and the youth is finally beginning to produce, the Isles are still a complete work in progress. As such, a potential superstar like Tavares or a bedrock defenseman like Hedman is a must to get the fans excited once again. DiPietro returning to form only hampers any chance of getting either of these two.

Instead of constantly wondering whether DiPietro is fine to play or not (something that has occurred rather often this season), let MacDonald finish out as the #1 goalie, and let Yann Danis (or whomever) get some extra time in net to see if he is worth keeping around. A healthy Rick DiPietro in 2009-10, along with Okposo, Comeau, Bailey, Nielsen, Streit and Tavares/Hedman could actually provide some signs of life for long-suffering fans. Or, the Isles can roll the dice for no real reason, and if they come up snake eyes, the Isles will be looking for another #1 goaltender very quickly.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Five...Five Game...Five Game Point Streak Subway? No, but that's what Kyle Okposo owns after Friday (1/2) night's game in Phoenix. Kyle, who is playing the best hockey of his brief NHL career right now, has 2 goals and 5 assists over the span. Unfortunately it didn't translate into a win, as the Isles dropped the contest 5-4 despite attempting a late 3rd period comeback.

The highlights of the evening were two goals involving Islanders at opposite ends of their playing careers. The first man in focus is Josh Bailey, who scored his first NHL goal at 3:41 of the 3rd period. Congratulations must be extended to the 19-year old for netting the first goal in what we hope is a prolific career!

The training staff was kept busy taping pucks on this night as Doug Weight recorded his 1,000th NHL point some 13 minutes of play later. Weight assisted on a pretty Richard Park goal, and the Glendale crowd and both benches saluted the veteran center. Weight wasn't content, however, helping Park score a second goal with just 28 seconds to play for career assist 1,001. Despite the loss, it was really nice for Weight to have his family in attendance to witness the milestone moment. We only wish Doug would have recorded the point on home ice so the Long Island fans could give the 17 season veteran an extended standing ovation.

Congratulations to Doug, Josh, and Kyle, our personal three stars of the night!