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Flyers take a chance, deal for rights to Isles captain Mark Streit

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Flyers acquire Mark Streit from Islanders

Acquiring Isles captain Mark Streit could really help the Flyers on power plays. (Justin K. Aller/Getty)

By Allan Muir

Facing both a dearth of talent on their blueline and an historically weak free agent crop, the Philadelphia Flyers made a preemptive strike Wednesday. They acquired the rights to New York Islanders defenseman Mark Streit in exchange for a fourth round pick in 2014 and Adirondack Phantoms winger Shane Harper.

It’s a low-risk/high-reward venture for Philly GM Paul Holmgren, a man with a lot of work ahead of him this summer to rebuild a team that came nowhere close to living up to expectations this season.

He’s had luck fishing these waters before, paying for the chance to negotiate exclusively with a player before they hit free agency, picking up Kimmo Timonen from the Predators. He’s also come up short, acquiring and then redealing Dan Hamhuis when he could seal a deal before free agency.

But at this point, it sounds like there’s a deal to be made with Streit, a 35-year-old with extremely low mileage on his tires after just seven years in the NHL.

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  • Published On Jun 13, 2013
  • NHL playoffs: Penguins top Islanders in Game 6 OT, advance to second round

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    Brooks Orpik

    Tyler Kennedy hugs Brooks Orpik after Orpik’s game-winning goal in overtime in Game 6. (Kathy Willins/AP)

    By Allan Muir 

    The NHL playoffs revolve around the discovery of unlikely heroes. And they don’t come much less likely than Brooks Orpik.

    The stay-at-home defender failed to score a single goal during the 48-game regular season. He’d never lit the lamp in 77 postseason contests. But when Tyler Kennedy put one on a tee for him 7:49 into overtime, Orpik blasted a miraculous shot that somehow managed to hit the crossbar and both posts before crossing the goal line to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a series-clinching 4-3 win over the gritty New York Islanders.

    Despite being outplayed in every facet of the game by the Isles, the Penguins relied on character and experience to fight back from three deficits before finally ending the season of the gutsy eighth seed.

    Fair to say the Isles deserved a better fate. They outshot Pittsburgh 38-21. They outhit the Pens. They crushed them in the face-off circle. But they couldn’t put them away when when they had the chance, and that’s the difference between a team that goes on and a team that goes home.

    John Tavares, Colin McDonald and Michael Grabner scored for the Islanders. Jarome Iginla, Pascal Dupuis and Paul Martin also tallied for the Pens, who now move on to face the Ottawa Senators in the second round.

    Here are some observations from the game:

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  • Published On May 12, 2013
  • NHL playoffs: Penguins rout Islanders 4-0 in Game 5, take 3-2 series lead

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    Tomas Vokoun

    Goalie Tomas Vokoun (92) had a solid showing in place of Marc-Andre Fleury. (Justin K. Aller/Gettty Images)

    By Eli Bernstein

    This series was supposed to be a cakewalk for the Penguins. After demolishing the Islanders 5-0 in Game 1, you could almost hear Morgan Freeman narrating their march to the next round. (No? Just me? OK, then.)

    But after that initial pasting, the Islanders decided that they wanted to savor their first playoff appearance since 2007. What resulted were wide-open games that featured overtime heroics, wild momentum swings and delirious, bottle-throwing Long Island crowds as the Isles fought back to tie the series at 2-2. Game 5 in Pittsburgh would be pivotal, and each side had a glaring question mark in net that needed to be addressed. The Penguins got their answer in the form of a 4-0 shutout that put them back in control, 3-2, as they return to New York for a potentially decisive Game 6 on Saturday night. The Islanders, on the other hand, have a tough choice to make.

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  • Published On May 09, 2013
  • NHL playoffs: Islanders down Penguins 6-4, send series back to Pitt tied at 2

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    Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury allowed huge rebounds and was consistently out of position in Game 4. (Getty)

    By Sarah Kwak

    Well, it turns out that the 5-0 blowout from Game 1 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders was a pretty misleading opening act. Since that game, which the Penguins dominated, each meeting has been a wildly exciting and competitive contest. You want sound goaltending, by-the-book defense, blocked shots or clogged neutral zones? Change the channel. At this point, this series is all about entertainment value.

    Game 4 on Tuesday at Nassau Coliseum delivered another frenzied night, as the Penguins and Isles traded goals all contest. New York finally took a lead midway through the third period, when John Tavares banged in his own rebound for the game-winner as the Isles defeated Pittsburgh 6-4 to tie up the series at two games apiece.

    Some observations:

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  • Published On May 07, 2013
  • NHL playoffs: Penguins rally, beat Islanders 5-4 in overtime in Game 3

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    A crucial victory for the Penguins leaves the Islanders rueing a game they could have won. (Seth Wenig/AP)

    By Adrian Dater

    For starters, how great was it to see boisterous Islanders fans twirling orange towels in the air at Nassau Coliseum? For too long, their materials of no choice have been white flags.

    We can also safely assert that it was a fun game to watch between the heavyweight, top-ranked Penguins and the spunky Isles. Does that mean it was a particularly well-played contest? Does that mean there weren’t a few really boneheaded errors by both sides? No and no.

    The Islanders got incredibly sloppy and, well, stupid with their play after taking a quick 2-0 lead. Ditto for the Penguins in the third period after they took a two-goal lead of their own into the final 20 minutes of regulation. Ultimately, the Penguins prevailed in OT to claim Game 3 and a 2-1 lead in this opening-round series.

    Here are a few more observations from Game 3:

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  • Published On May 05, 2013
  • NHL playoffs: Sidney Crosby returns, but Islanders even series with Penguins

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    Brian Strait

    Brian Strait and the Islanders improved their physical defensive play on Friday. (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

    By Sarah Kwak

    As if anybody didn’t know before Game 2 of Pittsburgh’s series against the New York Islanders, Sidney Crosby made his presence so very known on Friday night. Despite scoring a pair of goals in 23:21 ice time, the captain, playing his first game since breaking his jaw on March 30, couldn’t help his team fend off a furious attack by the Islanders, who erased a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Penguins, 4-3, and even the series at one game apiece.

    Here are some thoughts and observations from a surprising night:

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  • Published On May 03, 2013
  • NHL playoffs: Pittsburgh Penguins overwhelm New York Islanders

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    John Tavares (right) was largely ineffective against Pittsburgh’s aggressive marking. (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

    By Allan Muir

    The New York Islanders outhit the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of their first-round series Wednesday night. They controlled the face-off dots. They even fired 26 shots on Marc-Andre Fleury, the same number that the Pens managed to land.

    And yet the Isles were never in a contest that they lost 5-0. Not for a minute.

    Shows how far you can trust the surface numbers, eh?

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  • Published On May 02, 2013
  • NHL playoffs preview: No. 1 Pittsburgh Penguins vs. No. 8 New York Islanders

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    John Tavares makes his NHL playoff debut against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins.

    John Tavares’ playoff debut against the Penguins will likely be short and not very sweet. (Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

    By Sarah Kwak

    EAST PREVIEWS: Pens-IslandersCanadiens-Senators | Capitals-Rangers | Bruins-Leafs

    WEST PREVIEWSHawks-Wild | Ducks-Red Wings | Canucks-Sharks | Blues-Kings

    Regular-season recaps

    Jan. 29: Islanders 4, Penguins 1

    Feb. 05: Penguins 4, Islanders 2

    March 10: Penguins 6, Islanders 1

    March 22: Penguins 4, Islanders 2

    March 30: Penguins 2, Islanders 0

    Notable injuries

    Penguins:  C Sidney Crosby (broken jaw, day-to-day); D Brooks Orpik (lower body, day-to-day)

    UPDATE: Crosby ruled out for Game 1

    Islanders: none

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  • Published On Apr 30, 2013
  • Breaking down the NHL’s Eastern Conference playoff race

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    The Rangers have some ground to make up, but an easy schedule could send them to the playoffs. (Bill Wippert/ Getty Images)

    The Rangers have ground to make up, but an easy schedule could send them to the playoffs. (Bill Wippert/Getty Images)

    By Allan Muir

    Herewith, the second of our looks at the final week of regular season action. Today, the Eastern Conference. Our Western Conference playoff breakdown is here.

    In the wake of Saturday’s action, five teams have officially clinched berths in the Eastern playoffs, leaving three spots up for grabs.

    The Islanders are in the catbird seat after a thrilling 5-4 shootout win in Winnipeg on Saturday. The Devils are drawing their last breath. That leaves the Sens, Rangers and Jets to battle it out for the final two spots.

    Here’s a look at how each of these teams closes out the season and how their chances stack up.

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  • Published On Apr 21, 2013
  • Source: Rangers to play Islanders, Devils at Yankee Stadium in 2014

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    Yankee Stadium will feature a bit more ice next season when it plays host to two NHL matchups. (John Iacono/SI)

    By Allan Muir

    If one outdoor hockey game each year is special, the NHL is banking that six is even better.

    Multiple sources are reporting that the New York Rangers will skate in a pair of outdoor games next year at at Yankee Stadium. The Blueshirts will play the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 26 and the New York Islanders on Jan. 29.

    The timing might seem odd, but it plays out as a genius act of coat-tailing. With the Super Bowl slated for the following weekend, the largest media contingent of the year will be descending on New York City that week. What better way to fill their downtime–and help promote the sport–than with a pair of hockey spectacles.

    The games will complement a burgeoning outdoor schedule that already features the Red Wings and Maple Leafs facing off in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1. Other matches in the works include Pittsburgh vs. Chicago on March 1 at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, along with the expected return of the Heritage Classic on March 2, when Vancouver will host Ottawa at BC Place. There also are reports that the Los Angeles Kings will to host the Anaheim Ducks at Chavez Ravine on Jan. 25.

    You can expect cries of overkill from some corners, but the league is gambling that the public’s appetite for these outdoor spectacles is nowhere close to being sated. Odds are they’re right. You can bet the games will sell out and draw huge numbers on TV.

    And that’s why it’s not just the paying public that’s excited by this news. These games will provide the league a chance to soothe any ill will that lingers with sponsors in the wake of the lockout. NBC Sports, the network that invested heavily in the league almost two years ago to the day, will gain five new appointment dates on its schedule. There will be five new title sponsor deals, like the one that’s worked out well for Bridgestone, and five new opportunities for the rest of the league’s affiliates to line their coffers.

    We’ll have more as the story develops.

  • Published On Apr 16, 2013