Just one day after blanking the NEFHL league-leading San Jose Sharks in a 1-0 nailbiter, the Islanders continued their march through the West by greasing the Oilers 7-2.  With solid defense, improved goaltending, and scoring from unusual places, Coach Larry Robinson said, "We've never gotten the respect we feel we deserve in this league.  After all this talk about the West this and the West that, we're going to start out 2009 by extinguishing the Flames in Calgary."
Boasting three of the top 7 scoring defensemen in the league, the Islanders lead the league in scoring with 3.68 goals a game.  With only Ilya Kovalchuk in the top ten goal-scorers, the Islanders' balanced attack has befuddled many other teams.  "You just can't tell who's going to step up on any given night." said Coach Robinson.  "We have 100 points from our top 3 defensemen in half a season.  Big Z and Raffy seem to be competing in an effort to stay with our squad next season."

An example of the lack of respect was posted by Lightning GM Paul just last night when he ignored the Isles (and Bruins, Blues, Sharks and Kings) to describe the Thrashers as 'the best team in the league'.  Isles Assistant GM Matt "Action" Jackson said it best after the victory over the Sharks, "I am inspired by the cohesiveness of this team.  No matter how Coach Robinson shuffles the lines... No matter who gets hurt...  The guys have pulled together and shown that this is a team sport.  Blakie's hat trick last night was a thing of beauty.  How can you consistently stop a team when second and third liners step up and their shots go in?'

J.S. Aubin has filled in well with a 6-3 record when starting goaltender Rick DiPietro has been hurt.  Ales Hemsky has 33 assists to go along with his 9 goals and Plus 14 rating.  "Ales has finally figured out how to play responsibly on defense." Coach Robinson said.  "For most of his career, he's been a playmaker on offense but disappeared in his own zone.  This season, for the first time, he's taken lessons from Bobby [Holik] and Steve [Rucchin] and is using his skills at both ends of the ice."

While not in the top 3 in defensemen scoring, UFA pickup Greg Devries has been a rock on the blueline with a Plus 17 rating. 

Near the end of the interview, Coach Robinson added, "There's still room for improvement in the second half of the season.  Our Power Play is still getting better.  After experiencing nearly complete futility over the first 20 games (7% efficiency), the guys have picked it up and are now almost at 16%.  We can do better."

No serious roster moves are expected on Long Island before the trade deadline.