The ringing of a post when an opposing player takes a shot on your net that would have beaten your goaltender. It’s a sound that is of great relief to the fans of that team and, I’m sure, the goaltender. You can literally hear the sighs of relief from the seats in some cases.
However, when it is “your guy” who hits the post on “your team”, it’s a sound that brings utter frustration and disappointment to you. Equally so, I am sure that the guy who hits the post probably feels the same way. So close, yet so far away.
To me, the sound of a ringing post is what sums up the home opener for the Isles. So close, yet so far away. If that shot by Kyle Okposo had ONLY gone in. How might that have changed the face of the game? How might that have swung the momentum for a team that really needed a spark? How might that have shaken the confidence and poise of the Florida Panthers, who had a major part of their roster retooled during the off season?
There isn’t much more that I can add to Gary’s observations about the first game of the season for the Islanders. He was in the seats viewing it all. I was listening to it on television and wishing I was there among the sell out crowd. Yes, Howie Rose and Butch Goring certainly give a detailed and complete account of the game that enables me to follow along, but there is a profound element that is missing when you are not in the “old barn” at the game itself. Yes, I still then have to rely on play by play via Chris King and the radio, but hearing the sounds from the ice and feeling the emotional reactions of the fans gives a far different perspective than simply listening from the confines of my living-room.
To me, the opening period was the downfall of the Isles. They seemed to come out tight and nervous, and the Panthers took advantage of that. The Islanders mustered only 5 shots on net, while the Panthers doubled that total and capitalized of a 5 on 3 power play as well.
The fourth line of the Islanders seemed to be the group that came out with the most fire. Marty Reasoner, Jay Pandolfo and Matt Martin were the most consistent forwards and had the best scoring chances. Martin, in particular, despite his goaltender interference penalty, played a style he needs to demonstrate every game. Just go to the net, keep hitting and play your game, Mr. Martin.
On the back line, Mark Streit was not bad. There is certainly some rust that needs to be shaken off in real game situations, and he was partially responsible for Florida’s first goal. Still, he made the power play for the Isles look much better and have a great deal more puck movement. I think it will just be a few games before Streiter has his A-game form back.
Additionally, my “favorite” guy of the night was Travis Hamonic. The “hammer” stood up for his goaltender, played a physical game, made some nice defensive plays, and set Kyle Okposo up for the shot that was almost a goal. Travis came out ready to play and it showed all night. He certainly has not taken a roster spot for granted, and I am definitely glad of that fact.
What can you say about Al Montoya? He came out picking up his game where he left off last season. He simply did NOT deserve to lose a 2-0 contest. If your goaltender only gives up 2 goals, you should pick him up and score 3 or more for him. Montoya came up big several times, especially in the first period when the Isles were a bit disorganized and out played. You couldn’t have asked much more from the guy.
Finally, well, there was the “post. As I said earlier, to me, that ringing of iron typified the luck of the Islanders in a single instance. I can still remember hearing that sound and my head automatically dropping as I groaned in utter frustration. I also growled a few colorful words best not written here as well. In that brief moment, what could have been the shot that might have completely altered the complexion of the game just became an “almost” that will be forgotten long before the season is a quarter of the way over. So close, Okie, but they will come, my friend.
So, up next is the new look Wild for a Columbus Day matinée. The Isles need to put this one behind them and come out with the intensity and fire that they have demonstrated they can show. It was just one game, and there are 81 still to go, boys.
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