Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bad Night in Lowell

From guest blogger Brian Carey...

Perhaps it was the all too familiar post-Rangers hangover or the sparse Lowell crowd, but right from the drop of the puck, you had that feeling it was going to be a long night, ultimately leading to a 6-1 defeat. The Islanders left most of their veterans home, leaving the job of facing the Devils to those players mostly destined for Bridgeport. In fact, Ted Nolan didn't even make the trip, leaving the coaching duties to his assistants. That should have been a clear indication that the Isles attention was focused elsewhere (MSG anyone?).

Not surprisingly. the Isles came out sluggish in the opening 5 minutes and it was 3-0 before I was halfway through my first beer. Because you had very few players that were really playing for jobs with the big club, no one seemed intent on making a real run at a comeback. Tim Jackman did his best by dropping the gloves twice, but couldn't spark his teammates to any action.

There was some solid play by veterans Park and Sim, and Hunter stood out as well. As you might expect given the score, there were no particular defensive standouts, and I'd be hard pressed to make a choice between Berard, Campoli and Gervais. Hopefully there will be some more inspired play the last few exhibition games and someone will stand out.

On a personal note, had a chance to meet Garth Snow, as well as Chris King and Steve Mears. All were very friendly and took a few minutes out for some hockey conversation.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Fight Night in the Old Barn

Wow. Without a doubt the best preseason game I've ever been to. Granted, if you're only interested in crisp passing, pretty goals, and stellar goaltending, perhaps you were less than satisfied. But for pure entertainment value, it's hard to beat our first and only home preseason game of the year.

For those that missed it - a comeback from a 4-1 deficit, a win in OT, 45 penalties totaling 165 minutes, 6 game misconducts, and the return of the chicken dance. Yes, I did just say 165 penalty minutes in a "meaningless" game. Plus we all became more familiar with our new faces, with goals being scored by Comrie (2), Guerin, Fedotenko, and Vasicek (plus three assists from Berard).

This is the kind of game that can really bring a team together. With so many new faces, the ability of our guys to gel as a "team" was a big question mark entering the season. Time will tell, but this one game may have done more for team chemistry than any training camp team-building exercise ever could. It was great seeing our guys stick up for each other, and battle to get back into the game. It was the kind of game, meaningless or not, that makes you proud to be an Islanders fan.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Camp Opens Tomorrow!

The team will be arriving in Moncton later today, with camp officially starting tomorrow. It was an eventful summer and we had a lot of Isles news to hold us over, but nothing can match the start of camp and, in less than a month, the season. Here are some of the key questions that will finally be answered over the coming weeks...

Will Berard make the team? Or will Gervais and Campoli have a solid camp and prove they deserve to be on the roster? Maybe there will be a surprise and we'll see a new face (Johnson, Fata, McDonald) step up and make the decision even tougher for Snow and Nolan. I have a top 6 in mind at this point, but a lot can happen during camp to change opinions.

Which young forwards will we will see in orange and blue? Ok, so Bridgeport is wearing orange and blue too this year, but you know what I mean. Anyone who's been following this team or who's read the "Countdown to Camp" series on the Isles official site knows that we have a lot of forwards competing in camp. And there's simply not enough room for everyone. The "locks" to make the team are - Guerin, Comrie, Satan, Hunter, Sillinger, Fedotenko, Vasicek, Sim, and Bergenheim. I would assume Simon is close to a lock as well, once his suspension is complete. That leaves two spots to be filled, with a lot of familiar and new faces in the mix - Bates, Park, Hilbert, Tambellini, Nielsen, Comeau, Regier, Walter...etc. Frankly, I have no idea at this point how it is all going to shake out. For me, this is the biggest story I'll be following during camp.

Will DP stay healthy and continue his rise towards being an elite NHL goalie? I was hugely impressed by DPs development last year, and continue to think he is the key to our success in '07-'08. I love Dubie, but our success clearly rides on Ricky's shoulders.

Will Ted Nolan once again defy ALL prognosticators and lead this team back to the playoffs? I only get angry looking at so-called "expert" predictions for the coming season, but I guess I'm a glutton for punishment. We continue to get no respect throughout the hockey world. Lucky for us, they still play the games. I believe we will have a better team than we did last year. Not dramatically, but enough to be in the mix come playoff time once again. From there, anything can happen.

The last question is for us - can hockey once again thrive on Long Island? Sure, winning cures all, and will bring back all the fair weather fans. But in the meantime, can we as fans help to build support for our team? The team has done a lot to help connect fans with the team - ITV, the Blog Box, the marketing campaigns - but no one can help build support better than the fans. Go to the games and demand better coverage from our local media. It's a start. Like I've said to many people, I love being able to get in and out of the Coliseum lot on game nights, but nothing is better than a game with 16,234 loud fans supporting our team. Let's go Islanders!