Skip to main content
The Official Site of the New York Islanders

THE NYI PLAYOFF CHASE BLOG

by Staff Writer / New York Islanders

MAKING HIS POINT
When we heard Ted Nolan had scheduled a team meeting for 1:00 pm at Islanders Iceworks today, we figured there would be two ways he could go. One would be a long film session with a lot of discussion of systems and limiting scoring chances for opponents. The other possibility would be a motivational, challenging talk for the troops, touching on the issues he vented about in his post-game briefing with the media Saturday night.
 
Well, we don't know exactly what was said, but this might say it all: the meeting lasted 11 minutes.
 
The Islanders return to practice on Monday at Islanders Iceworks before taking on the Rangers on Tuesday night at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
 
 

SUNDAY'S BIG EAST FINAL SCORES

Rangers 7, Toronto 2

Carolina 4, Florida 3 (OT)

Deep Thoughts: Now that the weekend is over, realistically you're looking at the Rangers and Lightning as in and five teams going for the remaining playoff spot...

We can certainly understand the frustration in Islander Country, but the Islanders are not out of it. They are not playing well and are not responding to the loss of some key players to injuries and Chris Simon to suspension. But -- and we acknowledge this is a big but -- if the Islanders can figure it out by Tuesday, there is still hope. They host the Rangers on Tuesday, Toronto on Thursday. Then the Islanders play in Philly on Saturday, in New Jersey (against a team that might rest some top players) on Easter Sunday. If the Islanders can win all four games in regulation, they can claim the eighth spot...

Painful, yes, but give credit where credit is due. The Rangers, with an infusion of some youth and contributions from unlikely sources each night, have put it together at the right time. In addition, Henrik Lundquist has been as good as any goalie in the second half. Two more points for the Rangers and they clinch a playoff berth. Do the Islanders need any additional motivation for Tuesday?

The Hurricanes, needing two points and nothing less, found a way in Sunrise tonight with two late goals to tie and an OT tally from Ray Whitney. Could that spring the defending Cup champs into a big week? You know what they say: momentum is only as good as the next game's starting goaltender.


7 TEAMS, 3 SPOTS

                                     Games

                                      Remaining        W          L         OTL       Pts                 

6.        NY Rangers       3                       41        29        9          91     

7.        Tampa Bay        3                       43        32        4          90                 

8.        Montreal            3                      41         32        6         88

9.        Toronto             3                       38        30        11        87 

10.      Carolina            3                       39        32        8          86      

11.      NY Islanders     4                      36        30        12        84    

12.    Florida                 3                      34         30        15        83

 

***

 

Sunday, April 1, 12:55 pm: Two games of interest

SUNDAY'S BIG EAST MATCHUPS

CAROLINA AT FLORIDA
Carolina 38-32-8 (Road: 18-17-4) at Florida 34-30-14 (Home: 23-12-5) - 5:00 pm
 
Position:
Carolina is tied with the Islanders at 84 points, four behind eighth-place Montreal. A win by Florida in regulation would put them even with the Hurricanes and the Islanders.

Last Game: Carolina continued their freefall against Tampa Bay on Friday, losing 4-2. It was their third consecutive loss. Florida is going the other way, having won three in a row, including their 3-2 defeat of Washington on Friday.

Injuries: Carolina defenseman Glen Wesley is a no-go for tonight"s game because of a fractured foot. Scott Walker is a question mark to play. Head coach Peter Laviolette said he was "banged up."

Streaks: After winning three games in a row to stay in the playoff hunt, Carolina dropped three straight, including lopsided decisions to Philadelphia and Toronto.  Florida has points in six of their past seven games keeping their playoff hopes narrowly alive.


TORONTO AT RANGERS
Toronto 38-29-11 (Road: 19-14-6) at NY Rangers 40-29-9 (Home: 19-15-5) - 7:00 pm
TV: MSG; Radio: 1050 ESPN Radio
 
Position:
The Rangers are squeezed into the seventh spot, one point behind Tampa Bay and one ahead of Montreal having played one fewer game than both teams. Toronto is on the outside looking in at 87 points, trailing Montreal by one point.

Last Game: The Rangers took care of business against the Flyers last night, topping them 6-4. Jaromir Jagr provided two goals and an assist, while Michael Nylander contributed three assists. Toronto squeaked out a victory against the Penguins last night. Pittsburgh tied the game at four in the closing ten seconds, but Toronto's Tomas scored the game-winner at 3:55 of the overtime period to secure the 5-4 victory.

Injuries: The Rangers will not get back defenseman Fedor Tyutin until Tuesday's game against the Islanders. Jed Ortmeyer sat out last night"s game with a sore knee and is questionable for tonight.  No new injuries to report from Leafs country.

Streaks: With two teams on their way up, something has got to give tonight. The Rangers have won six of seven, while the Leafs have picked up points in four straight having gone 3-0-1.

 

***

 

Saturday, March 31, 11:10 pm: Teddy not happy with the effort, but not giving up, Isles get no help from out-of-town scores

TED NOLAN'S POST-GAME PRESS CONFERENCE

* Following tonight's game, Ted Nolan was displeased with the team's effort and made it known to the media.

"I thought Dubielewicz played as well as he could, but he was probably the only one who gave us a chance in this hockey game to win.

"Every team in every sport loses people. That's the beauty of sports. That doesn't mean you feel sorry for yourself. We've got to work with what we've got. We have to keep playing with heart and a desire to play this game. We don't need the type of athletes who don't continue to do that on this team.

"Stranger things have happened. There are still four games left and I don't believe in giving up until the last song is sung. We'll continue to try and salvage something here and get a better feeling in our room."

 

SATURDAY'S BIG EAST FINAL SCORES

Toronto 5, Pittsburgh 4, OT

Montreal 4, Buffalo 3

Rangers 6, Philadelphia 4

Tampa Bay 5, Washington 2


Deep Thoughts:
It couldn't have gone worse for the Islanders tonight. After being completely outworked by Ottawa they received no help with the out-of-town scores.

The Islanders will have to look deep down for these final four matchups. Luckily, two are against teams directly ahead of them. If they can muster wins against the Rangers and Maple Leafs, it will make for an exciting two games on the road against Philadelphia and New Jersey.

 


7 TEAMS, 3 SPOTS

                                     Games

                                      Remaining        W          L         OTL       Pts                 

6.        Tampa Bay        3                       43        32        4          90    

7.        NY Rangers       4                       40        29        9          89                  

8.        Montreal            3                      41         32        6         88

9.        Toronto             4                       38        29        11        87 

10.      Carolina            4                       38        32        8          84      

11.      NY Islanders     4                      36        30        12        84    

12.    Florida                 4                      34         30        14        82

 

 ***

 

Saturday, March 31, 9:10 am: Five of seven teams in action

SATURDAY'S BIG EAST MATCHUPS

ISLANDERS VS. OTTAWA
NY Islanders 36-29-12 (Home: 20-12-6) vs. Ottawa 46-24-8 (Road: 21-12-5) - 7:00 pm
TV: FSN NY 2; Radio: Bloomberg 1130

Position: The Islanders keep getting help from elsewhere, so they still have a fighting chance to reach the postseason despite losing two in a row. They're only two points back of eighth-place Montreal and one behind Toronto. The Islanders and Leafs have five games remaining, while Montreal has four. Ottawa is battling New Jersey or Pittsburgh for the fourth spot in the East.

Last Game: The Islanders spotted the Sabres a 5-1 lead after 20 minutes last night, and couldn't climb back. They got within two goals a few minutes into the third, but couldn't get any closer, falling 6-4.

Injuries: Rick DiPietro (concussion), Ryan Smyth (leg), Bruno Gervais (ankle), Freddy Meyer (finger) and Richard Zednik (personal reasons) were out for Friday's game. Only Smyth is a possibility to play tonight among the players who missed Friday's game. With so many regulars out of the lineup the Islanders could also dress recent signings from Europe and veteran NHLers, defensemen Deron Quint and Todd Simpson.

Streaks: The Islanders are going up against an Ottawa team that has won seven of their past nine games. For the Islanders, Jason Blake has four goals in his past five games, and is one shy of his first 40-goal season.


BUFFALO AT MONTREAL
Buffalo 50-20-7 (Road: 23-10-4) at Montreal 40-32-6 (Home: 24-12-3) - 7:00 pm

Position: Montreal dropped from seventh to eighth in the East following their loss to Ottawa last night. Buffalo, meanwhile, is two points away from clinching the Eastern Conference title.

Last Game: Mike Fischer score two goals and added an assiss, while Mike Comrie added a goal and two assists as the Senators topped the Canadiens 5-2 last night.

Injuries: With Cristobal Huet still on the shelf, Jaroslav Halak should get the nod again despite the loss last night. Buffalo is without Maxim Afinogenov, but that hasn't stopped the Sabres from continuing their scoring punch.

Streaks: Montreal snapped their five-game winning streak with the loss last night. Buffalo has won four of five.


RANGERS AT PHILADELPHIA
Rangers 39-29-9 (Road: 20-14-4) at Philadelphia 21-45-11 (Home: 9-21-7) - 7:00 pm
TV: MSG; Radio; 660 AM

Position: Tampa Bay leapfrogged the Rangers, who are in seventh place with 87 points. They're one point ahead of eighth-place Montreal, two in front of the Leafs and have three points on the Islanders and Hurricanes.

Last Game: The Rangers took a 2-0 lead against Montreal on Tuesday, but ultimately lost 6-4.

Injuries: The Rangers are suffering a number of key injuries - Karel Rachunek (MCL), Marcel Hossa (MCL), Fedor Tyutin (knee) and Kevin Weekes (quad). Tyutin skated with the team and is hoping to return for Sunday's game against the Leafs. Jed Ortmeyer might also be out after suffering a knee injury on Tuesday. Look for Brad Isbister to join the lineup tonight.

Streaks: Montreal halted the Rangers' four-game winning streak on Tuesday. The Rangers resume their schedule against a Flyers team they're 5-2-0 against this season.


WASHINGTON AT TAMPA BAY
Washington 26-38-14 (Road: 10-22-7) at Tampa Bay 42-32-4 (Home: 20-17-1) - 7:30 pm

Position: Tampa Bay bettered their playoff chances by defeating Carolina 4-2 last night. The win put the Lightning in sixth place, one point ahead of the Rangers with four games remaining.

Last Game: Vincent Lecavalier scored his league-leading 50th goal of the season and added two assists to help Tampa Bay knock off Carolina, 4-2, last night at the RBC Center.

Injuries: Goaltender Johan Holmqvist returned to the lineup and picked up his first win since March 20th. Paul Ranger also played in his first game since March 7th, logging 15:39 and tallying one assist.

Streaks: After consecutive losses, the Lightning bounced back in their first game since John Tortorella guaranteed Tampa Bay would reach the playoffs.


PITTSBURGH AT TORONTO
Pittsburgh 45-23-10 (Road: 20-14-5) at Toronto 37-29-11 (Home: 18-15-5) - 7:00 pm

Position: Toronto is right-smack-dab in the middle of the seven teams fighting for the final three playoff spots. They're in ninth, one point behind eighth and one point ahead of tenth. The Leafs will have a fight against the Penguins, looking to win the Atlantic Division.

Last Game: Toronto was the lone team in the mix not in action on Friday. They last played on Thursday, losing in overtime to Atlanta.

Injuries: No new injuries to report from the Leafs' side. For Pittsburgh, Gary Roberts is a question mark for tonight's game after getting hit in the knee with a Sidney Crosby shot in their 4-2 win over Boston on Thursday.

Streaks: Toronto has points in three consecutive games, including wins over Buffalo and Carolina. The Penguins have won four straight, but the last three victories have been against teams not bound for the postseason.

 

***

 

Friday, March 30, 11:30 pm: Still There for the Taking

POST-GAME NOTES
 
* Veteran defenseman Deron Quint was signed by GM Garth Snow today and offically becomes an Islander if he clears waivers at noon on Saturday. If he does, there's a good chance you could see Quint in the lineup Saturday night. Quint has played 458 NHL games over ten seasons with Winnipeg/Phoenix, New Jersey, Columbus and Chicago. The 6-1, 190-pound Quint has played the last two seasons for the Berlin Polar Bears of the German League. This season he was 18-28-46 in 52 games. Both Quint and fellow newcomer Todd Simpson are likely to skate at Islanders Iceworks on Saturday morning. Neither the Islanders or the Senators, who both played last night, are expected to have morning workouts.
 
* Asked tonight post-game in Buffalo to name his starter for Saturday, Ted Nolan said he would confer with his staff on the plane home and announce his starter tomorrow. Our hunch is that Nolan gives the start to Wade Dubielewicz, but we've been wrong before.
 
* A reminder that Saturday is Fan Appreciation Night. The fans have done their part all season and the Islanders will have Team Posters, courtesy of Valtech Research, for everyone in attendance. In addition, the Islanders will be giving out prizes all night to lucky seats winners. Prizes include signed practice jerseys and a trip to the Stanley Cup Final. See you Saturday night.
 
 
 
FRIDAY'S BIG EAST FINAL SCORES

Ottawa 5, Montreal 2

Tampa Bay 4, Carolina 2

Deep Thoughts: The Islanders have been hit with a ton of bad luck and they have also played some of their poorest hockey of the season in the last two weeks. Yet still, it's like the hockey gods are telling Ted Nolan's team -- which was one of the toasts of the league until mid-March -- "Hey, we're still here for you. You've got five games left and a lot of guys out of the lineup, but if you want it -- go for it."

Ottawa, on a tear of late, beat Montreal before jumping on their charter to Republic tonight. The Hurricanes dropped another one, this time at home, to Tampa Bay. So as Howie Rose tried to make clear before signing off tonight, the Islanders have plenty of reasons to get up in the morning and put on their hard hats Saturday night. It's amazing how much better these standings would look 24 hours from now if the Islanders could grind out a win.

We officially welcome the gritty-gutty Florida Panthers into the picture. Their 3-2 victory over Washington tonight gives them 82 points with four games remaining. Could Cinderella reside in Sunrise?

 


6...MAKE THAT 7 TEAMS, 3 SPOTS

              

                                     Games

                                     Remaining        W          L         OTL       Pts                 

6.        Tampa Bay        4                       42        32        4          88    

7.        NY Rangers       5                       39        29        9          87                  

8.        Montreal            4                      40         32        6         86

9.        Toronto             5                       37        29        11        85 

10.      Carolina            4                       38        32        8          84      

11.      NY Islanders     5                      36        29        12        84    

12.    Florida                   4                    34         30        14        82

 

***

Friday, March 30, 2:00 pm: Smyth and Hilbert game-time decisions, three games to watch tonight

LINEUP NOT SET
Notes from the morning skate at the HSBC Arena

Here's what we know:
* Both Ryan Smyth and Andy Hilbert skated today. Hilbert joined the group ten minutes into the skate, while Smyth came out a little later. Ted said after practice that they're still game-time decisions.

* If Smyth and Hilbert are out, here are the lines we could see:

Park - Robitaille - Blake
Yashin - Kozlov - Satan
Asham - Sillinger - Hunter
Tambellini - Regier

* Ted had this to say regarding the lineup situation:

"Despite these injuries, we're still going to put out a very competitive lineup. We have a group of guys who want to win and will play hard for it. That's what we want and that's what we need at this point in the season."


FRIDAY'S BIG EAST MATCHUPS


ISLANDERS AT BUFFALO
NY Islanders 36-28-12 (Road: 16-16-6) at Buffalo 49-20-7 (Home: 26-10-3) - 8:00 pm

TV: FSN NY 2; Radio: Bloomberg 1130

Position: After two days off, the Islanders are still only two points out of a playoff spot and have games in hand on the teams they're chasing. Buffalo, meanwhile, has locked up a playoff spot and is gunning for the top seed in the Eastern Conference and the President's Trophy. Buffalo's magic number is four for the conference title and they're currently tied with Detroit for the best record in the league.

Last Game: The Islanders couldn't fight back from a 3-1 deficit against the Devils and eventually lost 3-2. Alexei Yashin and Jason Blake scored the Islanders goals.

Injuries: Rick DiPietro (concussion), Bruno Gervais (ankle), Freddy Meyer (finger) and Richard Zednik (personal reasons) are the only players definitely not skating tonight. Ryan Smyth (leg) and Andy Hilbert (shoulder) are questionable.

Streaks: After picking up points in four straight games, the Islanders lost in regulation to the Devils to end that streak. Alexei Yashin extended his point streak to four games (2-2).

 

MONTREAL AT OTTAWA
Montreal 40-31-6 (Road: 16-19-3) at Ottawa 45-24-8 (Home: 24-12-3) - 7:30 pm   

Position: With five games remaining on their schedule, Montreal is currently tied with Tampa Bay in the seventh spot at 86 points. They're two points ahead of the Islanders. Ottawa is tied with New Jersey for the fourth spot in the East.

Last Game: Montreal fell behind 2-0 to the Rangers, but bounced back with five goals in the second period to chase Henrik Lundqvist. The Canadiens ultimately won 6-4. Alexei Kovalev scored twice and Saku Koivu set up four goals. Jaroslav Halak won his fifth game in a row. Head coach Guy Carbonneau said he's stay with Halak until he lost.

Injuries: Goaltender Crisotbal Huet is close to returning, while Alexander Perezhogin is still out with a head injury.

Streaks: Montreal is one of the hottest teams in the East, having won five games in a row. Halak has been the constant in goal, allowing ten goals in that stretch.

 

TAMPA BAY AT CAROLINA
Tampa Bay 41-32-4 (Road: 21-15-3) - Carolina 38-31-8 (Home: 20-14-4) - 7:30 pm

Position: Tampa Bay was closing in on Atlanta for the division lead, but the Thrashers took a five-point lead in the race following their 3-2 overtime win against Toronto last night. The Lightning are still in playoff position, occupying the seventh spot with Montreal. Carolina, on the other hand, is on the outside looking in, and two points back of the Lightning.

Last Game: The Hurricanes haven't helped themselves, losing the past two games by lopsided scores - 6-1 to Toronto and 5-1 to Carolina on Wednesday. Tampa Bay also fell in their last game, losing to the surging Florida Panthers 5-2 on Tuesday. If Florida keeps up their winning ways - they're only four points back of the Islanders - it will be a seven-team race for the final three spots.

Injuries: Johan Holmqvist is back after being out with the flu and is expected to start tonight after two losses by Marc Denis. Defenseman Paul Ranger could return tonight after suffering from a knee injury.

Glen Wesley is unlikely to play tonight after sitting out last game with an injured foot. Carolina has been without fast-skating defenseman Bret Hedican since the beginning of March. He is listed day-to-day with a lower body injury.

Streaks: Both teams are riding two-game losing streaks and battling to make the playoffs. With no ties in the NHL, someone will stop their skid.

Note: In case you haven't heard yet, Lightning head coach John Tortorella guaranteed, following their 5-2 loss to Florida on Tuesday, that Tampa Bay would make the playoffs.

 

***

 

Friday, March 30, 10:30 am: Newsday's scoop on DiPi's concussion, Thrashers take one from Leafs

NEWSDAY EXPLAINS IT ALL
In Friday's editions of Newsday, seen now on its website here , the Islanders for the first time acknowledge that Rick DiPietro suffered a concussion on March 13 in Montreal. The team also explains why it waited to release the information officially.

In a column http://www.newsday.com/sports/ny-spwally0330,0,793064.column?coll=ny-sports-headlines  in Friday's Newsday, Wallace Mathews implores the Islanders to do the right thing and shut DiPietro down for the season. Wally says no playoff chase is worth jeopardizing DiPietro's career. You won't get an argument with that from anyone in the organization, from bottom to top. Believe us: the Islanders will continue to do the right thing by their young star goaltender.


YESTERDAY'S BIG EAST FINAL SCORE

Atlanta 3, Toronto 2, OT

Deep Thoughts: The Thrashers helped the Islanders (a bit) by defeating the Leafs in overtime. Slava Kozlov scored the game-winner on the power play with less than a minute to go in the extra session. The point gives the Leafs 85 points, one point ahead of the Islanders and Hurricanes. The Islanders are back to having a game in hand on everyone surrounding them.
 
Looking to tonight's games, Tampa Bay takes on Carolina and Montreal travels to Ottawa. But the game that really matters is the Islanders in Buffalo.


6 TEAMS, 3 SPOTS

                             Games

                                    Remaining        W          L         OTL       Pts                 

6.        NY Rangers       5                       39        29        9          87                  

7.        Tampa Bay        5                       41        32        4          86    

8.        Montreal            5                      40         31        6         86

9.        Toronto             5                       37        29        11        85 

10.      Carolina            5                       38        31        8          84      

11.      NY Islanders     6                       36        28        12        84    

***

Thursday, March 29, 2:40 pm: Regier (not Darcy) gets the call, Dunny starts again and Brotherly Love

WHERE DO WE BEGIN?
Major notes from today's practice

Here's the roundup, folks:

     * Rick DiPietro did not practice with the team at Islanders Iceworks today and did not accompany the team on its flight to Buffalo. He is out for Friday's game and remains listed as day-to-day.

 

    * Islanders head coach Ted Nolan told reporters after practice that veteran Mike Dunham will get the start Friday night in Buffalo. Wade Dubielewicz will be the backup.

 

    * Ryan Smyth (leg injury) skated on his own before practice. Andy Hilbert (shoulder injury) did not practice. Both players were on the charter to Buffalo at 2:30 pm today and will be game-time decisions on Friday night.

 

    * Steve Regier has been recalled from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League. Regier will play if Smyth or Hilbert do not.

 

    * Doing everything he can to bolster the Islanders lineup (despite injuries on Long Island and Bridgeport), GM Garth Snow continues to search for reinforcements on the blueline and we could see a new face or two on Saturday.

 

LAST NIGHT'S BIG EAST FINAL SCORE

Philadelphia 5,   Carolina 1

Deep Thoughts: We saw first hand last week how tough the Flyers are despite being out of the playoff race for some time, so we guess this should not really have been a big surprise. But it is a pleasant surprise for the other five teams in the hunt (and how about those pesky Florida Panthers?) That's two lopsided losses in a row for the defending Cup champs, who remain tied with the Islanders and Toronto for ninth.
 

6 TEAMS, 3 SPOTS

                                    Games

                                    Remaining       W        L          OTL    Pts                 

6.         NY Rangers      5                      39        29        9          87                  

7.         Tampa Bay       5                      41        32        4          86    

8.        Montreal            5                      40         31        6         86

9.         Carolina            5                      38        31        8          84      

10.       Toronto             6                      37        29        10        84 

11.       NY Islanders     6                      36        28        12        84    

 


SCOREBOARD WATCHING
The players and coaching staff are trying to focus squarely on winning their own games. Win the remaining six games, and the Islanders are almost definitely in the playoffs. But just like we're doing here with the Playoff Drive Blog, assistant coach Danny Flynn has been diligent about keeping his team up-to-date on the teams competing for the final East spots.

Since earlier this week, upon entering the Islanders' practice room at Syosset, you'll notice to the left, a whiteboard with the six teams fighting for the final three spots, their point totals, results from the night before, remaining schedules and the updated NHL standings.

Even before Flynn put the board up, Mike Sillinger has been talking about keeping tabs on the teams battling with them.

"It's always fun to keep track of the other teams, especially this time of year" said Sillinger. "If the other guys weren't watching before, they'll definitely know what's going on now. It's nice to see when other teams help you out like last night with Carolina losing, but we'll benefit most by concentrating game-by-game on what we have to do to win. With six games remaining, we can control our own destiny, which is the most important thing."

 

THURSDAY'S BIG EAST MATCHUP

TORONTO AT ATLANTA
Toronto 37-29-10 (Road: 19-14-5) at Atlanta 39-27-11 (Home: 21-11-6) - 7:00 pm

Position: After earning a big win against Carolina on Tuesday, Toronto joined the Hurricanes and Islanders at the 84-point mark, which places them tied for ninth in the East. This is the only game of the evening concerning teams 6-11 in the East, so a win by Toronto against Atlanta would put them in a three-way tie for seventh with Tampa Bay and Montreal. Atlanta also has a lot riding on this game. A win would put them five points ahead of Tampa Bay for the top spot in the Southeast Division.

Last Game: As noted in yesterday's blog, Toronto gained some life by defeating Carolina 6-1 on Saturday.

Injuries: No new Leafs injuries to report. The Leafs are still without Michael Peca.

Streaks: After losing three of four games, the Leafs have won back-to-back games against Buffalo and Carolina to get back on track. Boyd Devereaux (3-1) and Matt Stajan (1-3) each have points in their past three games.

 

***

Wednesday, March 28, 4:00 pm: Guest contributor Nick Santora, Long Island native, writer and producer of 'Prison Break' on Fox and bigtime Islanders fan

Editor's note:
Proving yet again that there are so many more Islanders fans - and in the unlikeliest of places - than any baseball-obsessed sports editors would like to admit, we have connected with Nick Santora, a very successful television and film writer/producer in Hollywood via Long Beach.

Nick, who writes and produces the fantastic drama on Fox, "Prison Break," and has also written episodes of "Law & Order" and a little HBO show called "The Sopranos" is a huge Islanders fan who catches every game he can and logs on daily to this website. He also has a new book coming out called "Slip & Fall" that received the honor of being the first book distributed through the new publishing arm of Borders Books. In other words, he's living the dream.

Despite the hectic life of a writer in La La Land, Nick - showing that he hasn't forgotten where he came from -- has graciously offered to contribute to newyorkislanders.com. Imagine that: as he prepares to work on Season Three of "Prison Break," Nick is also going to find time to send his thoughts on his favorite team. Pretty cool, huh? Here's Nick's first piece. Enjoy.

- Chris Botta

'DOGS BY NATURE

By Nick Santora

Recently, as I was reading up on my beloved Islanders from my home in LA (3,000 miles from what I will always call "home") I came across a mention of how the Isles were underdogs coming into the season and how they've surprised so many people by playing great hockey and making this final push for the playoffs.

As I read this, my only thought was: "Of course they were 'dogs and of course they've surprised everyone."

All things Long Island are, by nature, underdogs.  How?  Simply put, Long Island and its incredible residents are, and always will be, living in the literal and figurative shadow of the Empire State Building and all things Manhattan. 

Long Island will always be looked at as the Little Brother to New York City and there is nothing that can be done about that ... and you know what?  Good!  Because a big brother always gets cocky, treats his little brother like an underdog, doesn't give him the respect he deserves ... and before big brother knows it, Little Brother has him in a headlock and is beating the heck out of him behind the garage.  Mom's calling them in for dinner but Little Brother doesn't care - he'll eat his pasta cold - he's too busy teaching big brother a lesson about overlooking the underdog.

Long Islanders hear it all the time ... you're not tough enough, you're just suburbanites.  But think about it.  Who's tougher?  The guy who lives on 86th Street and walks 10 blocks to work or the guy humping it an hour and a half each way, every day, on the LIE or the LIRR.

And Long Islanders have a secret weapon - being overlooked, being the underdog. Therein lies our strength.  I was born in Queens, but Long Island was my home.  And I know about being an underdog.  When I picked up and moved from Long Beach, NY to Los Angeles with no job and no prospects to find a job, no one gave this kid from the blue-collar family with no Hollywood connections a chance to make it in LA.

A short time later, I've been fortunate enough to be able to write and/or produce for The Sopranos, The Guardian, Law & Order, Beauty & The Geek and most recently, Prison Break.  I've written feature films and on June 1 my first novel, Slip & Fall, becomes the first book to be published by Borders Books. (Available at all Borders and Borders.com - sorry, shameless plug, but I gotta eat).

Have I been lucky?  You bet I have.  Have I been blessed with an incredible and supportive family?  Damn right.  But I also had my secret Long Island weapon - being the underdog, being the guy everyone overlooked - and I used it to my advantage because the only weapon we have stronger than being proud, ferocious underdogs is our work ethic. 

Long Island is home to the hardest working, salt of the earth, grind it out, get-the-job-done kind of people in the state.  We do it all - build, farm, fish.   We don't ride the subway when it snows, we dig our damn cars out.  We don't just pop over to the Hamptons in the summer to "be seen," we keep the entire town running.  We work, commute and work some more - and no one does it better.

And I don't care if you're from Moose Jaw or Massapequa, Quebec or Quogue - once you lace up and put on that jersey with the picture of our island sewn to it - you're a Long Islander.  And with that, you are, no matter how talented, no matter how gifted, labeled an underdog.  But, as a Long Islander, you also absorb the great tradition of work ethic that permeates our soil, runs through our blood, seeps from our pores.

We grind it out on the Island - whether you're a window washer named Nate or a winger named Nystrom, whether you're a gardener named Dave or a goalie named DiPietro.  

So let 'em all overlook us, label us, call us underdogs - our citizens and our Islanders.  We love it.  We revel in it.  We cherish it.  Because, at the end of the day, it's the dog you overlook that winds up taking a chunk outta your leg.

***

View More