Congrats to the South-Islanders

Last night the Tampa Bay Lightning became the first team to advance to the NHL’s final four, securing a berth in the East Finals by sweeping the top-seeded Washington Capitals out of the playoffs. For fans of the New York Islanders, watching the Lightning advance could very well be bittersweet; five of Tampa’s 20-man playoff roster (1/4) are ex-Islanders and they all have played a major role in upsetting first the Pittsburgh Penguins and then the Caps.

Dwayne Roloson has been Tampa’s backbone and is now victorious in seven consecutive games after his team was down 3 games to 1 against the Pens. The 41-year-old netminder was traded to the Sunshine State on January 1 in exchange for defenseman Ty Wishart.

Sean Bergenheim was signed as a free-agent this past summer (August 17)and is making first-year GM Steve Yzerman look like a genius. The former first round pick has seven goals in his first 11 playoff games after tallying 14 goals in 80 regular season games. He is part of a great line with ex-Ranger Dominic Moore and ex-Flyer Steve Downie that has dominated this postseason.

Nate Thompson was claimed on waivers by the Lightning in January of 2010 and has done everything the team has asked of him as a fourth-line center. We used to joke that he was Isles’ coach Scott Gordon’s pet because he followed the coach from Providence of the AHL to Long Island; apparently now his teammates refer to him as ‘Nate Boucher’ because he does everything and anything that rookie coach Guy Boucher asks of him.

Marc-Andre Bergeron is a defensive liability on any team, as the Islanders found out during his 69 games with the club in 2006-07. He did score 12 power play goals during that time and it’s his rocket shot that has kept him in the league despite his defensive deficiencies. He only has one goal in seven playoff games with Tampa, and yes it was a PP goal; oh and it was the game-winning goal that eliminated Washington.

Eric Brewer hasn’t played for the Islanders since 2000, but after stops in Edmonton and St. Louis he was acquired by the Lightning on February 18. He has provided solid defense and some scoring (1g-5a), while adding some experience to Tampa’s bruising blueline.

Tampa has been fun to watch and hopefully they give us another entertaining week or two or three as these playoffs roll on.

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The Night the Lights Went Out…

On Friday night at Prudential Center with 9:12 left in the second period and Tampa leading New Jersey 3-0, a portion of the arena lights went dark, leaving one half of the ice less lit than the other half. That was at 8:18 pm; an announcement was made shortly after that they were trying to solve the problem, but the next announcement didn’t come until 10:07 when the PA announcer said that the game was postponed and will be completed at a later date.

The Devils out-shot the Lightning 20-7 until the lighting failed, but it was Tampa who led by three goals scored by Steve Downie, Brandon Bochenski and Steven Stamkos.

The players were not made available to the print media afterwards but coach Devils coach Jacques Lemaire and GM Lou Lamoriello both spoke after the game; here is what they had to say after one of the most bizarre nights in the three seasons that the team has been in Newark:

Jacques Lemaire:

Have you ever experienced anything like this?

“Never, never; the thing is if we don’t have, I looked and we all looked at the ice the way it is right now with the lighting that we have, to me (and to all of us) it would be dangerous to keep playing like this.”

What was the explanation that you were given?

“None, myself I don’t know exactly; Lou will try to explain after I’m done.”

Are you saying that unless either team needs the points this game won’t be completed?

“Lou will answer that question, any questions about the game?”

Not a great start to the second half of the season…

“I thought we, well goal-wise it wasn’t a good start, but I thought it was a great start the way we played. We didn’t allow a lot of chances, a lot of shots; and we had quite a few, we came close numerous times to get a goal, get back in the game and this is exactly what we needed to get a goal. I felt that we were playing really well.”

It was getting late; did you want to restart no matter how late it was?

“There was a time limit; they’re playing tomorrow (in Philadelphia) which is an important game for them. We’re playing tomorrow (in Montreal) which is another important game, so we didn’t want, myself I didn’t want this game to go on until midnight and then get into Montréal at 3 am and play tomorrow. So I guess this game will be played if any team needs it.”

Has this ever happened to you before?

“No, never. But I’m not an electrician (smiles).”

Lou Lamoriello:

“First of all, what happened was a circuit breaker went down. We found which one it was, and then they could not get the computer to work with the circuit breaker and PSE&G has been here and they determined a short period of time ago that they will not get this fixed tonight so the game was called. We have been in constant contact with the league. The officials as you saw went out and looked to see if when they put the LED boards on if there was enough light to play, but it was too risky. One end zone there was too many shadows and safety has to come first in a situation like this. As far as the details for this game being rescheduled, what the particulars will be as far as where it will begin being played, I do not have any of those. They have not been transmitted to me, nor to my understanding have they been discussed.”

Was there a specific league rule about what to do when something happens like this?

“I do not have the rule, I think it will be determined by certainly by hockey operations and the only situation that I’m aware of is when the young man got hurt in Detroit and what they did at that time. But that was in the first period, where I believe they left the score the way it was and just started the game over again; I think Nashville was ahead 1-0 at that time. I’m not saying that that is what will transpire here, we’re in the second period and I really don’t have any answer right now.”

Were you talking to the commissioner at all?

“I was talking to Colin Campbell. I did not ask any of those questions right now; it was more when do we decide that this game is canceled. We were communicating with them and the officials and trying to get the word to the fans and the media as quick as we can; and also to our players. Both teams have games tomorrow night, we have flights, so things had to be rescheduled.”

Is it your understanding that it’s possible the game will not be replayed?

“No, I don’t even have that answer. I believe it will be replayed, because of how it affects other people, it affects standings, and it affects points. But the details of what the decision is, of when and how, I do not have the answer to that.”

Would it have to be replayed in New Jersey?

“I would assume so, but I don’t want to assume anything. This is our last game with Tampa so…”

But you will be in Florida…

“I would be awfully surprised if it’s not played in the venue it was scheduled to be played in.”

Did you guys discuss at all finishing the game in the practice rink?

“No.”

Was there an agreement from both sides that the game should be stopped?

“I don’t want to get into any of those discussions. That is the decision of the officials on the ice as far as the lights.”

In all of your years at Providence and in the NHL, anything like this ever happen?

“No, this is my first experience with this happening at this time during the game. We’ve had a couple of isolated situations prior to a game, but not during a game.”

When were the players told that there would be no more game?

“As soon as you people were told. They were sitting in the locker room, they were undressed, most of them, drying off because there was going to be a warm up once the game started. We made new ice hoping that they would get the lights on, but the players could not go out there cold; that was decided that that would take place. So there was constant communication between both teams, the league and the officials.”

Once in a lifetime event right?

“I hope so.”

Did the commissioner make the final call on this?

“The league has to make the call on this. But I don’t think that it’s a case of where a decision had to be made, I think the commissioner and the league waited as long as they possibly could. Once they decided they could not get this fixed in a reasonable period of time — when I say reasonable period of time, I mean hours — we did wait 90 minutes by the way. I think once you go that period of time and they’re still in the same place they were when they started in the first minute, it’s not a good chance of getting done. But I’m not an electrician. I only know what I’m being told.”

Is this like 4 and a half innings or can the fans go to another game if they have the ticket stub?

“Well that’s going to be decided. That has not been discussed and will be on newjerseydevils.com, once we know exactly what the status is of this game.”

Devils-Lightning Postgame Quotes [12.04.09]

Here are some of the postgame quotes after Friday’s 3-2 Devils win over the Lightning:

Vladimir Zharkov:

You had your first career point – an assist on the second goal – talk about the play…

“There were two guys behind the net, I wasn’t sure if he was going to pass. He missed the puck and tried to pass it again, and I got my stick on it; Bergy made a nice shot.”
It was nice to get an easy point like that right?

“Yeah, I like to get points. It was a very hard game, after we lost last game. It was good for our team, for me.”

A couple of times you collided with Tampa’s Victor Hedman, he’s a pretty big guy right?

“Yeah, he’s a big guy; the NHL is filled with big guys. It’s no problem for me, I can play against them big or small – it doesn’t matter, this is the NHL, you know.”

Martin Brodeur:

Was it a slow start tonight?

“A little slow, I thought the game was slow; they weren’t faster than us. It was just that we wanted to make sure we started well; I thought we played well, but we didn’t create much, for whatever reason. They didn’t give us a lot of room out there, so it was kind of a chess match.”

Talk about Matthew Corrente stepping up with two fights tonight…

“It’s nice; I don’t know much about that part of his game because I don’t see him play in the minors when he was there, but he’s been holding his own really well here. I think he’s done that, especially against the guys he’s fighting, he’s in a pretty good weight class there. It’s definitely nice when the young guys show that they belong as far as the physical aspect of the NHL game is.”

Did you see Steve Downie set up there on the tying goal?

“No. I was looking at (Ryan) Malone going across and I just saw (Steven) Stamkos wide open, so I got in position as fast as I could; he’s a shooter not a passer, you know? He kind of fooled me there too, like everybody. I can’t worry about a guy back over there (behind me). He had a prime shot there, it was a good play.”

The first goal did it go between the post and your leg pad?

“My skate, yeah I think it went off of my skate and just trickled in a couple of inches.”

You’ve seen some good defenseman come through here, how impressed with Andy Greene are you?

“Well, it’s definitely nice for him to get the opportunity to get the type of ice-time he’s getting. He’s been working really hard throughout the last few years, he’s been in-and-out of the lineup and been questioned a lot. So definitely, for us players, you feel for guys like that do everything and are a good teammate. For him to get this opportunity and do so well, it couldn’t happen to a better guy.”

Victor Hedman:

Frustrating the way you lost tonight?

“Oh yeah, big time. We came back strong to tie it, with three minutes left. But we have to play a full 60 minutes. We had them beat at home (too) when they scored with one second left when they tied the game, in our home opener. We have to play the full 60 minutes.”

They’ve beaten your team ten straight times, it has to be frustrating in that regard?

“Yeah, very frustrating, absolutely; I know we play them once more this year, so we’ll try to get that game.”

It looked like you had momentum after you tied the game, were you shocked at the outcome?

“Not really, we made a nice goal there and we didn’t play the puck the way we were supposed to after that. They made a good goal on the tip-in there at the end.”

Jamie Langenbrunner:

Did you get a piece of the winning goal with your stick?

“That’s what they’re telling me, I’m not a 100% certain so, I’m sure they’ll look at it again.”

After two slow starts in a row, are you satisfied with the way the team started tonight?

“We were still a little bit flat. Both teams, for whatever reason, there was a lot of neutral zone play, and we didn’t have a whole lot of shots in the opening period. We need to get a little bit stronger starts, but we’re battling. It wasn’t a perfect game, but we were able to get the two points.”

A lot of fights tonight, what do you think when you see the kids like Corrente and Mark Fraser dropping the gloves out there?

“It’s great to see; both of those guys got some nastiness in their game. Matt’s shown a few times he’s not afraid to do that and it’s great to see. He’s playing like he wants to be here, he’s playing to do whatever he can to be here; it’s great to see.”

Jacques Lemaire:

Was Greene your best player tonight?

“Yes he was – no doubt. Why? All the good passes, all the retrieves that he made, the nice pass to his partner, skating with the puck away from people, holding onto the puck and making the right pass, hitting the right guy in the neutral zone.”

He played over 30 minutes, did you know that?

“Yeah.”
How’d he become so good?

“I don’t know, he’s got confidence, he’s playing with a lot of confidence. He’s on top of his game — he started a little slow, he had good moments and then all of a sudden he started to be our top defenseman.”

Rob Niedermayer won the face-off that led to the first goal how was his game?

“I liked what he did, I thought on the fourth line he did a great job, at times I used that line a little more frequently because they started to forecheck hard and they were going even better than (Dean) McAmmond’s line. So I played them a little more.”

Did they get sloppy with three penalties in the third or did your team draw them?

“Oh, I think we drew at least one that I was sure of, but the other ones, I didn’t see.”

What do you do with Jay Pandolfo coming back?

“I put him on the wing (smiles). And take another guy out.”

Who goes bye-bye?

“We’ll see. I have to see all the brains that work with me.”

Zharkov is a very excited kid; does he play with that excitement?

“Yeah I like what he does, he’s really strong and a good skater; good with the puck. He’ll be a player; he’ll be a player, in a matter of time.”

Is Colin White okay?

“We’ll see tomorrow.”

Did you see the play that he got hurt on?

“No.”

How about Brian Rolston, tying the game with your first goal?

“Rollie, well that’s Rollie. He’s got a good shot; he gets the puck at the right time. He just stepped into it; I’ve seen him score quite a few goals that way.”