The shortened 2012-13 NHL season is underway. Despite the results, a 2-1 regulation loss to division rival and the defending Conference champion New Jersey Devils, things weren’t all that bad. Especially considering what everyone was thinking when they read the line combos and defensive pairings before game time. What was relatively obvious to the viewers was who had played competitively during the lockout and who hadn’t. Moulson surely had not played, and in my opinion, looked sluggish to start.
I waited until this morning to post something as not to let my emotions get the best of me. With that being said, it may, or may not, be reflected here. Ah hem.
Plus: David Ullstrom and, despite what other folks watching the game may say, Colin McDonald. They generated some scoring chances later in the game. Ullstrom missed a good opportunity low in the slot in the 3rd, but they certainly put some pressure on the Devils D when they were out there.
Plus: Hamonic’s goal was a beaut. Even better than the goal itself, was Okposo’s and Grabner’s work along the boards and the eventual kick out pass that put it right on a wide-open Hamonic’s stick. He absolutely buried that short. In general, Hamonic’s play was solid all night.
Minus: Though there weren’t a ton of them, the occasional defensive breakdown led to scoring chances for the Devils and eventually the game winning goal. Lack of chemistry and practice time perhaps?
Minus: Inability to capitalize on the momentum from Hamonic’s goal. The Islanders allowed the Devils to answer quickly following their game tying goal. The barn was full and it was absolutely rocking.
Plus: The crowd, despite given very little to cheer for, was ample and vocal.
Minus: Where were the ‘welcome back’ initiatives that so many other teams offered their fans? No discounted concessions (that I could see), the only team store discounts were if you spent over $100 on merchandise. Nothing! Check that, a magnet. A schedule magnet. On opening night, we usually get towels. Where were the towels? I realize the Islanders are 30th out of 30 teams in payroll and will be running on ‘empty’ for who knows how long, but nothing?!?! Season ticket holders were offered nothing yet either on all accounts of those whom I spoke with. I spoke with some friends from New England; even the Bruins (public enemy #1; Jeremy Jacobs) were handing out Dunkin Donuts gift cards, t-shirts on every seat, concession vouchers etc.) I am frustrated regarding this topic.
Plus: Doug Weight? I use a question mark here because it seemed he coached well and had the right guys out at the right time. I couldn’t see replays but it appeared he had decent match ups most of the night and the line combos were working for the most part (considering Keith Aucoin had been with the team for less than 24 hours If you’re wondering why I am mentioning Doug Weight and not Cappy, welp, Cappy was in the hospital last night getting kidney stones removed (according to Art Staple of Newsday, he is doing well and will recover completely).
Minus: Slow starts. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. You undersand. It’s been the team’s death knell since. . . well a long time.
Plus: Evgeni Nabokov. The Devils outshot the Islanders 28-19; if it wasn’t for Nabby, the games 3rd star, it would have been much much worse. He played as well as anyone could have expected and the feeling was that the team was ‘in it’ and had a chance through all 3 periods.
Minus: The guy and his girlfriend sitting directly behind me, who were Devils fans. Never fails. Go to a concert? I get the ‘screamer’ behind me. Go to a game? I get the ‘die hard’ fan from the other team. Perfect. I’m sure you all have been there at some point!!
Next up? The high flying Lightning (6 goals opening night vs. Caps) on Monday at 1PM.