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by Staff Writer / New York Islanders
November 21: Rule Changes, Marty and Yes, Line Combinations

I want to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all of the Islander fans out there. We look forward to seeing you at our two games this week: Buffalo on Wednesday night and our Friday afternoon game against Ottawa.


Dave: I was just curious why the breaking up of Yashin and Satan. They were the top line and now Bates, Blake, and Hunter are heating up so why wouldn't you leave them together and have two strong scoring lines?

As you can see, this was written a week ago. Yash and Miro are back together. These things change. We're going to continue to tinker so we get the best results night after night.

Brian: Why doesn't Yash take that shot from the top of the circle. Is it me or wasn't that his bread and butter? Also, how does Nilsson compare to Crosby?

I've had no problem with Alexei's decision-making. Yes, that's a shot we like him to take and he's often been successful from that spot, but sometimes he has a better option. When you have a 40-goal scorer like Miro near the net, you have to consider the option. Alexei's our leading scorer and one of the top ones in the game, so we're going to let him continue what he's doing. As for Robert, no reason to compare him to Sidney Crosby or anyone else. He's Robert, he's an Islander, and we like him very much.

Ken from Wantagh: Coach, as a man known as someone who treats the fans with the upmost respect (like being the only coach in sports classy enough to answer our emails), I was wondering how much the chants against you bothered you last week.

It's part of the business. Like I told the press after the game, I understood the fans' frustration. To be honest, I don't think I heard the chant until it went on for a bit because I was so frustrated by our team's performance.

Chris Thompson: I love your new lines, the team's playing real well BUT, I still think we need to see more of Blake and Bates on the PP.  I know they are the PK masters but we need more speed on the PP.

This is one of the luxuries of having a lot of offensive options. Fact is, I can put just about any of our forwards out there for the power play. You could make the same case for Matty Weinhandl as you do for Jason and Shawn. I especially like holding back Shawn because he's had some injuries and he's so crucial to us on the PK and 5-on-5, but I'm sure you'll see Jason, Shawn and everyone else out there on the power play at some point.

Rob: Am I losing my mind, or has Radek Martinek been our best defenseman this month?

You're not losing your mind, Rob. If not the best, Radek is right up there - which is saying a lot when you consider we had him in the press box for a bunch of games early on. Marty got off to a slow start, but now he's been the player we knew we had. He has been exceptional in all three zones. When Marty is on top of his game, it makes us a much better team. The coaching staff is very proud of how he has come along.

Frank V. of North Patchogue: I think most would agree that the present rule changes have sped the game up and provided more scoring chances than in the past. What future rule changes would you like to see, if any, to further "tweak" the game?

I believe the NHL and the Competition Committee did an excellent job with the changes they have made. As the season goes on, I think you can see the excitement in the game and all of the team adjusting to the new rules. Right now, I would be in favor of no new major changes for next season.

Joe P: For a few games, the Islanders looked terrible. Now they look great for the last seven. They won five and could have won the other two. It wasn't that long ago the fans were venting at the Coliseum. Now the team appears back on track. I know the rollercoaster drive me crazy. How the heck do you handle it?

It's a cliche, but the season really is a marathon and not a sprint. I cannot get too down or frustrated when we're playing poorly because the team doesn't need that from me. What they need are answers, solutions. On the flip side, now that we're playing better we can't get too high, either. I feel my coaching staff has done an excellent job of staying on an even keel during the highs and lows and not over-reacting to the tough stretches. This is a sport that is so much about emotion, but you can't get too burned out on it too early because then you have nowhere to go.

Kevin: I think you are one of the star players on the Isles.  I think you putting Asham back on line one was an excellent move. Kvasha isn't that hot lately (don't tell  him I said that, he's a pretty big fella). It seems like the more fluid the names sounds, the more fluid the line plays.  Asham, Yashin, Satan just rolls off your tongue.  Also Blake, Bates and Hunter are magnificent. I just want you to know that Zhitnik is absolutely amazing. While everyone focuses on offense, he plays incredible defense, although he gets some penalties he necessarily doesn't deserve. I just have to say that the Islanders are set up for some great hockey, and us fans are ready too! Thank you, Mr. Stirling. Let's Go Isles!!

The emails after a good road trip are so much better than after a loss.

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