October 12, 2008

Isles Win Home Opener

The Islanders came to Uniondale fresh off a tough 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils the previous night. Their goal was to come out flying for their fans in the first home game of the year. Fortunately for the Islanders, that is exactly what happened.

The Isles scored four first period goals and added an empty net goal in the 3rd period to defeat the St. Louis Blues 5-2. The Isles goals came from Mike Comrie, Trent Hunter, Sean Bergenheim, Andy Hilbert and Bill Guerin.

A last minute change saw me actually attend the game. I sat in Section 324 and had a great time. I liked the presentation of the game much better than other home openers I've been to in past years. The team had a band play live, Seven Mary Three, and I didn't think they were all that bad. The elevating stage they played on was a pretty cool sight. I also liked the player intros this year. For some reason every time they tried to use the flame throwers it wouldn't work right. I liked all the flashing lights and the smoke. I guess I'm a sucker for special effects like that but to me it was really cool.

It was great to see Scott Gordon's system work so well last night. You could see how the team used the two-man forecheck to try and cause turnovers. When the Isles did force turnovers, the transition was much quicker than anything I can recall seeing last season. Two games in, it seems Bergenheim may have been the biggest beneficiary of the new system. His style is excellent for the system, and I was shocked to see he only got 10 minutes of ice time last night. I noticed him so much that I thought for sure it was more than that. Good for him.

I also realized just how much we missed Jon Sim last year. Wow. He was really all over the place, standing in front of the net, calling for fast break passes, mucking it up along the boards, and even chirping to get under the Blues' skin. We sorely lacked that last year. Its only a matter of time before we see the fans love for Sim come out. He has been excellent these first two games.

One more player I want to acknowledge at this time is backup goalie Joey MacDonald. Facing a lot of criticism from skeptical fans, MacDonald has not let it phase him one bit. He has stepped in for Rick DiPietro and has really done a fantastic job. I couldn't have been more pleased with his efforts this weekend. His reaction time is amazing and he moves very well for a bigger goaltender. Some of the saves he's been making have made me drop my jaw. It certainly has made me feel a ton better about loosing Dubie to Russia. Hopefully he can continue like this all season, but in the early going I have come away impressed with him.

Radek Martinek left the ice with an apparent shoulder injury late in the first period. All i could do was groan as once again the Isles best defenseman might have to miss some extended time. I will obviously hope for the best but given Martinek's track record, I won't hold my breath. We'll see what happens though.

For anyone who isn't aware, the team changed their goal song this season and the reaction so far from the fans has been largely negative. The team had been using Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll Part 1" since the 1993 season, with the exception of one season where they tried something else. The new custom song was difficult to hear, and I thought it was...OK. The part that bothered me was the "Lets go Islanders" part of it. Not that I don't want it in there, but it didn't come out the best that it could have. As someone who really likes the Rangers custom song, it left a little to be desired. The "Lets go Rangers" chant fits in very well with their song. So for the most part it was OK. I would like to hear it alone, on the teams website available for download. It sounded like there was more of a guitar part than most could hear, and some sort of sing along "woooahhh" part that no one could hear. Which brings me to one part. Although I was impressed with the presentation, there was one thing that did bother me - the sound system. It was brutal at times. It was difficult to hear some of the music playing, especially the goal song. I suppose that will be the next upgrade in the future at some point down the line, just like the team has upgraded their video board.

Overall, a fun home opener to attend. I'm curious to see how DiPietro feels and when he will be ready to start. I won't be surprised to see MacDonald in net again tomorrow afternoon at the Coliseum against the Sabres. Keep Rick out as long as he needs to. I'm glad DiPietro agrees that they shouldn't be taking any chances. We need him for the long haul for obvious reasons.

That's right, Sean and I will be back at it again tonight at 10 PM at
MYWCWP. As always, we'll be taking calls and IM's via AIM throughout the show. Hope to hear your feedback on the opening weekend and all things Islanders!


No comments: