Tavares, Wisniewski and Ricky’s Return

The first 17 minutes of the Islanders first period of the 2010-2011 season saw their first power play, their first goal against and their first line center on the ice.

John Tavares who suffered what the Islanders termed a “mild concussion” (not that’s there is anything mild about concussions) and did not return. With Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo already on the shelf, this would normally be the equivalent of losing a wing on a 747. Though with a rejuvenated Doug Weight, a healthy (albeit rusty) Rick DiPietro and a newly bolstered defense corp with James Wisniewski leading the way, the Islanders we’re able to scratch their way back from 2 goals down to force overtime against the Dallas Stars. Here’s my take on what we saw Saturday night.

DiPietro had a rough 1st period

Rick DiPietro, playing his first game on Coliseum ice since this shutout against the Toronto Maple Leafs last December, had what you would call a bad period. He gave up 1 soft goal and was a little rusty leaving some big rebounds out in front. He settled down and had a fine game the rest of the way. He made some big saves when he had to, and considering the lack of playing time the team has had in front of him, I think it shows promise. In the locker room, DiPietro was completely disgusted with that second goal and the fact he felt the team earned a point in spite of his play. That’s just Rick being hard on himself, as the last 2 goals he had no shot on.

Bolstered Defense

The new defense showed some real good things, and that they definitely are a work in progress. While James Wisniewski introduced himself to Islanders Country with a rocket from the point that turned out to be a power play goal and a hit that left 6’2″ Jamie Benn with rubber bands for legs. Milan Jurcina showed that he can use this tremendous frame to toss people around. Mike Mottau played a solid if unspectacular game. Andrew MacDonald looked great firing his incredibly heavy shot from the point. Radek Martinek was his usual underrated self and Mark Eaton is going to be a huge player for this team. He is extremely smart hockey player who from a defensive standpoint will lessen the blow that is Mark Streit’s absence. Now, there were some blown coverages, and some giveaways in the neutral zone, but I think over time, this group is going to be just fine.

No Offense?

Did anyone think the opening night offensive star would have been Doug Weight? Weight who is completely healthy for the first time in 2 seasons, played a fantastic game. He had a jump in his step, he showed his trademark soft hands, and ended up with a 3 point night. He also ended up the top line center after Tavares left the game. I thought Blake Comeau had a fantastic game. He was physical, he took 2 penalties both of which were bad calls (the one in overtime was ridiculous), and he played as if he were a man on a mission. I can’t help but wonder if this is the year he puts it all together. Matt Moulson had his usual dirty game, parking himself in front of the opposing net and scoring the tying goal on the doorstep as he did many times last season. Josh Bailey has matured in a way that I don’t even recognize him out there. He’s a completely different player and he looks primed for a breakout season. El Nino, as they call him, impressed me in his 12 minutes of ice time, and was almost giddy when he talked about his reception from the crowd during introductions. What impressed me most?….that fact that Tavares and Okposo weren’t in the lineup, and this team kept firing away at a goalie who nearly stood on his head for his team. They earned that point and never gave up

Attendance

Opening night at the Coliseum has always been a sellout. If you want to tell me the Yankees were playing in the Bronx, that’s fine, if you want to tell me fans we’re protesting the new ticket prices maybe, maybe not. All I know is I got to the Coliseum at 4:30 and there were roughly a thousand people tailgating in the parking lot. I can also tell you, that building was loud. When the tying goal was scored you would never have known there was 3,000 short of a sellout. So think of whatever you’d like to think about attendance numbers or what not, it was a good showing by the fans and a nice show put on by the team and the players as well.

Notes

Sorry this is a little late, my daughter is sick and teething and that is not a good combination.

As if we needed confirmation, John Tavares will be out of the lineup today against the Rangers, if I had to guess, I’d say Friday or Saturday is a good return date for him.

DiPietro gets the start this afternoon. He has had some of his best games against the Rangers in his career so I would expect a solid performance from him today.

I would expect Michael Grabner to make his Islanders debut today. Watch this kid as he could be the faster skater on the ice.

The defense should stay the same as well as they’ll need to gel together. It doesn’t bode well for Jack Hillen getting back into the lineup quickly.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, no one should be wearing #27.

I’ll be at today’s game, enjoying it from my seat in Section 309. As much as I love the Blog Box, it’ll be nice to watch the game as a fan today.

Enjoy!

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About the Author: The New York Islanders have been a huge part of my life since I was 7 years old, and during the past 27 years I have experience many ups and downs with this team. The back end of 4 straight Stanley Cups, the Drive for 5, the Easter Epic, trading of my heroes John Tonelli, and Kelly Hrudey. Mike Bossy's early retirement, Pat LaFontaine for Pierre Turgeon, Dale Hunter, David Volek, Ron Hextall, Al Arbour's retirement, Bill Torrey to Florida, Mike Milbury, John Spano, The Milstein's, Hoistgate, the sale to Charles Wang, Draft Day 2000, Alexei Yashin and Michael Peca, Milbury's "reassignement", 40 days of Neil Smith, Ted Nolan, The Lighthouse Project, Kate Murray, Scott Gordon, going from 5 to 7 to 9, Josh Bailey, John Tavares, Calvin deHaan, El Nino, the 2 Kirill's and hopefully.....much, much more. I have been an Islanders blogger for the past 3 years, starting on Myspace, then for IslesNation.com and currently for HockeyIndependent.com, and I have been selected to the 2010-2011 New York Islanders Blog Box. I am an IT Manager for a quite large facility working for a government agency. I am married for 7 years to an incredibly patient woman and am the proud father of a beautiful 1 year old daughter. Email: ajstabile@gmail.com Twitter: Twitter.com/tonystabile

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