As the “Lets Go Islanders” chants rained down from the Madison Square Garden rafters, while the horn sounded on an entertaining game, the Rangers’ Ryan Malone showed the only fight the Rangers could muster in the 3rd period by giving a couple of cheap shots to Brian Strait. Too little too late, as the Islanders took the first matchup of the season against their rivals in an impressive 6-3 victory.
After a long summer it was time for Islanders fans to dust off their jerseys, and come out to support there team one last time at the old barn. My brother and fellow blogger Andrew and I were fortunate enough to nab tickets over the summer and attend this weekend.
The atmosphere inside of the Coliseum was truly something else. As for outside, the fans did not disappoint. As a fan that typically loves to be early for and Islanders games, I was blown back by the amount of tailgaters and early-comers at the arena. I mean let's face it. This was the last home opener at the old barn, so that was expected. But what made this day even better, was the play of the team which I believe is inspiring this fan base to continuing looking towards the future, but even more importantly, THE NOW!
Entering Nassau Coliseum tonight was very different than every other season; there was a vibe circulating around the concourse that was unlike the previous years. Tonight’s home opener marked the beginning of the end for the 43-year old Nassau Coliseum, the only building that the Islanders have ever called home.
The game opened up with a raucous crowd welcoming back the orange and blue to the ice. Unlike previous years, the Islanders came out all at once and stood around the logo at center ice as opposed to one by one, signifying that this year is all about the team and what it has meant to Long Island since 1972.
It appeared that this rainy Saturday would be nothing but a dreary day on Long Island with every resident hoping for a few rays of sunshine to brighten up the day. Well, the sun may not have appeared from behind the clouds, but things are certainly shining bright after the New York Islanders made some bold trades that have drastically improved their roster.
The New York Islanders have acquired defenseman Johnny Boychuk from the Boston Bruins and Nick Leddy from the Chicago Blackhawks.
Despite the New York Islanders still needing to add a top-four defenseman to their blue line to help ensure themselves a chance at making the playoffs next season, they still have an abundance of d-men that are ready to compete for a regular spot in the line-up.
Travis Hamonic, Calvin de Haan, Lubomir Visnovsky, and Thomas Hickey are likely four guaranteed defenseman to play on a nightly basis. Matt Carkner, Matt Donovan and Brian Strait are three blue liners that will play as well, solidifying six defenseman with one ready to sit and play when called upon.
Today marks the first day of September, meaning that New York Islanders training camp will be opening up in the next few weeks. This time of year gives the coaching staff an opportunity to observe the types of players they have developing in their system, test out line combinations, and see which prospects are prepared to take on full-time roles in the NHL.
Presently, the Isles have 16 forwards and seven defenseman on one-way contracts, including two legitimate NHL goaltenders who do not have to worry about fighting for their job.
That leaves the Isles with 25 players on their roster.
The 16 forwards is the number that got every hockey expert on the twitter-sphere proclaiming that Garth Snow was absolutely going to trade someone in order to bolster his blue line.
Rumors run rampant and blame is being cast like a fly fisherman in the wake of yet another early playoff exit/flameout by the Pittsburgh Penguins. This time it was a blown 3-1 series lead against the New York Rangers.
I believe a large portion of the reactions, or over reactions at times, isn’t so much on the losing alone but rather how they have lost. I would like to think that even the most Kool-Aid drinking Penguins fans, who believe just because they have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, that they should be in the Cup Finals every year, realize the difficulty that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The fandom demands of players being traded and coaches being fired is an oft found react...
Regardless of their unexpected success taking them into the playoffs last year, there were many areas that the Islanders needed to improve coming into the current season. The core of the team was established, but among many other things the defensive corps was a major concern and the departure of captain Mark Streit only made things worse.