Monday, October 12, 2009

Columbus Day Matinee

Happy Columbus Day, all. Just as Christopher Columbus set sail back in 1492 en route to discovering uncharted territory, the Islanders hope to sail past the Kings today to discover their first win of the young season.

I'll do my best to make that the last lame Columbus metaphor in this post, but I can't make any promises. But on that subject, here's some interesting Columbus trivia to commemorate the day. Columbus died believing that the land he found was actually the East Coast of Asia. He thought the Earth was smaller than it actually is, and that he sailed unfettered around virtually the entire globe. Amazing that the man lauded for the greatest non-scientific discovery in history died not knowing what he accomplished.

Anyway, enough with the history lesson. We have a game to play. The Kings have been working their way East, as they opened the season at home winning their first two of their first three and scoring 15 goals in the process. They then traveled to St. Louis where they played a tighter game, beating the Blues 2-1. Today they play their first of two NY-area games in this Columbus Day matinee against our winless (and technically lossless) NY Islanders. The Kings haven't seen postseason play in six seasons, and hope that this is the year that the rebuild finally pays off with some spring hockey.

The Islanders have to be hungry coming back home after the debacle in Boston on Saturday night (what a way to introduce live hockey to my nephew). If this were the NFL, you'd have to love their chances against a West Coast team traveling east for an early afternoon start. But this ain't the NFL, and the Islanders continually find new and unique ways to give up valuable points. Regardless, I can only hope that this year's Columbus Day game is an improvement from last year's 7-1 whooping at the hands of the Sabres.

Here are the three key things I am looking for out of today's game.

1. A regulation win. Well, duh. Actually, I'll just take a win in any form. That will give the Islanders 5 points through four games. Last season, the Islanders had 5 points through 10 games. Progress in Islanders Country is measure in inches, not miles, and a win today would be a nice reminder that it's not 2008 anymore.

2. Better play from Sutton and Witt. If we are going to have success this season, we absolutely need better skating and stronger play from these 2 cogs of our defense. We have reason to be optimistic with the play of the Tavares-Okposo-Moulson line, but all of that will be for naught if our D is old and slow.

3. Josh Bailey needs to make his presence felt. It's only 3 games and I'm still bullish on Bailey, but he's been more or less a non-factor thus far. I don't need stats to make me happy, I just need to notice him more. We drafted him to be a playmaker, and he was well on his way towards the end of last season. Let's hope it's just taking him time to adjust to all that extra muscle on his frame.

In an ominous sign, today's media notes point out that the only meeting last year between the Kings and Isles went to a shootout (Isles lost). Biron is set to start in goal, so at least if it does go to the shootout we might see at least one Isles save (sorry, Rollie).

On a side note, Colin Wilson is making his NHL debut tonight. He is one of the names that will forever be linked with Josh Bailey in determining the success or failure of last year's draft day maneuvers.

Halfway through the first, no score. A brief fight between Joel Rechlicz and Raitis Ivanans, not won by the Wrecker. A few noticeable strong plays from Witt, so my #2 key to the game is working out so far.

Ryan Smyth just go a nice Coliseum welcome (sarcasm notice!) as he tried unsuccessfully to beat Witt up the left boards. And now, they just announced a promotion to text your guess for who will score the Isles first goal. Are they always so confident that they can wait until 15 minutes have been played before announcing this contest, knowing we'll be scoreless? Sadly, yes. Seconds later, Okposo is robbed just outside the crease.

Schremp showed some really nice moves around the net and got a great shot off, but was denied by Quick. In his 2+ games thus far, he's looked pretty solid. No doubt worth extending his "probationary" period. It's not as if Tambellini's absence is killing us. But I'll keep my expectations in check...there was once a day that I was proclaiming Marc Andre Bergeron the second coming. Proof that conclusions should not be drawn after a few good games. End of first, scoreless.

I spent the first-half of the second period having a nice conversation with Nick Giglia from Let There Be Light(house). I've been reading his work from day 1 but this was my first chance to meet him in person. A sharp guy, and the work that he has done on behalf of all Lighthouse supporters and Islanders fans has been invaluable. Thank Nick!

On the powerplay, Streit twice fails to keep the puck in the zone. Not typical of him. Tavares is set up for what would have been a trademark Tavares goal from down low, but he wasn't able to get his stick on it. It would have been nice to hear this place erupt. PP is over, no scoring.

A terrible non-call against the Kings moments before the put it past Biron to make it 1-0. It irks me irrationally when the refs directly influence the outcome of a game. I'd rather lose 7-1 then lose 1-0 when that one goal comes after a bad non-call. End of second, 1-0 Kings.

2-0 Kings as Drew Doughty goes top corner on a laser from the high slot. With the lack of scoring chances the Isles have generated today, it doesn't seem likely that a comeback is pending. Likely our first regulation finish of the season.

I always think of Kids Day as a good opportunity to sell the game of hockey to young (potential) fans. Sadly there hasn't been too much in this game to convert these kids to fans for life. On that note, I'm signing off unless this team makes a liar of me and mounts a nice Bruin-esque comeback.



Fish Bulb said...

How's the holiday matinee crowd?

Anonymous said...

Sutton and Witt were terrible in Boston. They need to pick it up. Agree on Bailey too. He's still young and doesn't need to light it up. Just be more of a presence.

Carey303 said...

Crowd is good for a weekday afternoon. I'm a bad judge, but I'd estimate about 12,000+.

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