On Friday night, the team posted a great win with more offense than I ever would have imagined for a season opener. We enjoyed a tighter but equally exhilarating win at home on Saturday to open the season 2-0 for the first time since Peca and Yashin were fresh faces on the Island.
Just when I thought opening weekend couldn't get any better, it did.
Immediately after the game, those of of lucky enough to be contributing to the NYI Blog Box were escorted from our seats above Section 201 down to the Isles tunnel. That feeling in and of itself was surreal. I'd been in there once before, but never with the buzz of a just concluded game still in the air. For a hockey fan, it was a great experience. In the short walk to Ted Nolan's press conference room, we got see DP riding the stationary bike while enjoying some playoff baseball on the TV, Bergenheim and Sutton chatting to some friends and family, and equipment being shuttled out for the Sabres.
In the room, Chris Botta of the Islanders was nice enough to arrange for Chris Campoli to come in and answer questions exclusively for the bloggers. Among the highlights:
- On the prospect of Berard's signing looming over his head - "Just go play the game". Chris was clear that he worries about only the things in his control. He said he prepares every night to do his job, which is to play the game. If for any reason he doesn't play, it means he needs to work harder to get back into the lineup.
- On being paired with Gervais - "We know each other well, on and off the ice". He indicated they've developed good communication with each other and have been moving the puck well so far this year. He said that as a couple of young players, they don't always get respect from other teams, especially their best players.
- On the questionable officiating - "I think no matter where you play or who you play for, you always think the referees are against you". Basically he said that they understand that not every call will go their way, so they need to do what they can by playing smart. He referenced last season's questionable video reviews and concluded the only solution is to "put it in so everyone can see it".
- On his early season offensive contributions - "Shooting the puck...I got away from that last year a little bit". He indicated that contributing offensively is a big part of his game, and his confidence in his shot is high at this point in the season.
After our time with Chris, we were able to stay and watch Coach Nolan's press conference in the midst of all the "legitimate" press on hand. From there, we took a quick trip to the locker room. All the while, players (MAB, Dubie), coaches (Nolan, Ruff), and staff were all in our midst. Like I said before, an amazing experience for a hockey fan.
On the way out, Deb Kaufman was nice enough to stop and chat for a bit. She clued us in on where to get the best snacks next time we are "behind the scenes". Thanks to Deb for being so gracious and giving us some of her time.
As a final note, thanks to Chris Botta and Corey Witt for organizing everything for us. The treatment was great and I look forward to doing it again soon! Also, it was a pleasure meeting all my fellow bloggers and hope to see you all again at future games.