Thursday, November 1, 2007

Thoughts on the Hurricanes that Blew Through the Old Barn and Tonight's Lightning Surge

Well, despite our schedule woes Islanders fans finally have something to watch let alone cheer for. It was nice to be able to sit in front of the TV tonight and know what I was watching rather than flipping channels to see if some gory after Halloween flick was on. Huge win for the boys and their confidence, especially on a MUST WIN type of night.

First, let me address Mike Sillinger's 1000th game. Ever since Mike became a part of this team it has seemed quite different from those days when Peca and Yashin were running things (or can you even really say they were running the team? In Peca's case, he decided it was better to have a small group of friends than a family in the locker room). There has always been an aura around Mike Sillinger due to his value to any team making a playoff push: his skills at faceoff's, his clutch scoring touch and of course his exemplary leadership. I am so happy that Mike got a chance to spend what amounts to a feat only accomplished by 222 individuals before him on the Island and with fans who truly care. Now on to the meat of the story.

Saturday night's blowout only seemed to confuse and bewilder a fan base that has been so ardently behind our boys in the blue and orange. Don't get me wrong, Carolina came out with a purpose and determination and should be given plenty of credit for the shalacking that they dished out. But despite all of their effort and of course the schedule which B.D. Gallof masterfully addressed today on his HockeyBuzz blog, we need to take a moment to break down exactly what happened. My first problem lays with our 100 mph slapshot friend, MAB. Now, I have no problem keeping this guy on the power play, but do we need to have him on a regular shift, especially with Sutton. I'm not one to put down players but both of them look like pylons when they're on the ice together. The sad fact is, there is no one else they can pair them with due to the success of both the Gervais/Campoli and Witt/Martinek pairings. Am I the only one praying that Berard comes back 100 percent sooner than predicted? At least when he was playing a regular shift with Sutton, they played actual DEFENSE! I'm starting to get the picture that Edmonton fans were painting last year when we picked up Bergeron, though the end of last year he was never this sloppy. Oh well, you move on and forget the bad ones and cherish the good ones, so on to tonight.

I think part of the reason that the Islanders played so well tonight is not because of the preparation variance that Coach Nolan threw at them. I believe that it was that they had something to play for. Everyone has heard the "Win one for the Gipper" speeches. Well, Silli thank you for the motivation. Guys like Trent and Feds needed that kind of boost considering that they've quieted down considerably since what is now the strangest scheduling month I've ever seen. It was like watching a youth hockey team that plays on the weekends, has the rest of the week to practice and then is back at it again on Saturday. Let's also not forget, Ricky who stood on his head at times, especially in the first period when Sutton and MAB let not one, but TWO Tampa players behind them and uncovered (one of them was St. Louis). That is just inexcusable. I don't care how long you've been off and not playing game situations but that is just basics when it comes to positioning. But now with this win the Islanders can finally look ahead to a schedule where they will be busy starting Saturday night.

Having Al Arbour back on Long Island will be a breath of fresh air in the lungs of many Long Islanders. This man brought this community together as well as his players for some of the best years this Island has ever seen. The one thing I regret is that I was not alive during the "Cup Years". However, I was at his 739 banner raising against the Blackhawks those many years ago in January and now I get to be there again Saturday night courtesy of a friend within the organization. So thank you to my friend, Ted Nolan and especially Al Arbour for bringing back "Old-Time Hockey" to the place we call home. See you Saturday night.

As a P.S. I just wanted to acknowledge Marc Denis for his soccer skills. There is a cardinal rule in Hack-E-Sack that he probably never learned and I'm sorry that Billy Jaffe probably never heard this either: You NEVER Self-Hack! Those of my generation probably know what I mean. Those of you who are a little older are probably shaking your heads collectively right now. But fear not, those days are long gone even for me. See you in the next installment.

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