Today the New York Islanders opened their gates to die-hards and curious onlookers alike, continuing their work toward coalescing in time for their match against the Devils this Saturday. Fans witnessed lots of 3 on 2s and everything else under the sun you’d expect from a normal day at the office for a hockey player.
Obviously, practice is usually as delightful as a dentist’s visit or watching the proverbial paint drying in that room you swore you’d paint like over two years ago. But what a sight indeed to see a fresh sheet of ice, the humming of the lights, etc. and the anticipation of another hockey season.
Fragmented or not, I am glad hockey is back. Will the Islanders make it to the playoffs is a question better left unanswered until the end of February, but the fact that we can actually even think that question at this juncture is relieving to say the least.
John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, and Matt Moulson all looked solid on their feet and Rick DiPietro looks like he’s as strong as I’ve seen him in recent years. Nevertheless, I’m most definitely writing a feel-good piece at the moment simply because the kid in me came out in full effect once I sat my butt down in the Lower Mezz, dead center ice. Hearing the familiar sounds of the game made me forget almost all my initial rage at both the NHL and its players, although I still have some linger resentment that I’m sure a few consecutive wins will help assuage or altogether obliterate.
One particular note of interest: the Islanders only dressed 8 defensemen. Joe Finley and Lubomir Visnovsky were no-shows, and if you’ve been following my brethren over at Lighthouse Hockey and IslesTalk et al. you know that Visnovsky is opting to stay (stall really) in Europe rather than rejoin the team. Not my favorite player at present.
Whatever the case, tomorrow evening I’ll be joining other fans for an Islanders’s 7pm scrimmage at the Coliseum. I feel that then will we all get a sense of what to expect these next few games. For I believe that if the Islanders DO NOT sweep their first two games at home, this season will feel like an endless migraine for fans and players alike, and in all honesty their hopes at a run for the playoffs dwindle considerably. Islanders must hit the ground running, and I do meaning R-U-N-N-I-N-G, because you know that the Rangers and others with similar dominance will be doing exactly that.