|Islanders hockey returned this weekend.|
Long Island's hockey team returned to the ice on Friday night, and to the Nassau Coliseum on Saturday night, as the Islanders 2013-14 season got underway. As the team's opening set of games concluded, the Islanders came out with three out of a possible four points to begin October. Some may disagree, but I say, "not bad."
Obviously, the weekend's results were going to cause some-what of a stir in Islanders Country. The Isles, who have made a habit of blowing late-game leads in the past, squandered a third period lead in each of the two games before forcing a shootout in both of them. Because I have a hard-time calling a shootout win or loss anything more than a tie, the Islanders haven't proved themselves "better" than their opposition during opening weekend; however, a shootout win on the road and a shootout loss at home gave the Islanders three points for two "ties", so I give the Islanders the advantage on this one.
Every point is crucial. While this season isn't a sprint to the finish like it was in 2013, accumulating early points could make all the difference in the standings when playoff time comes around. The Islanders have more points than over 50% of the NHL through the season's first week, and no matter how early on in the season we are, I'd rather be on this side of the line.
Quick recaps of each game, Isles three stars of opening weekend and plus/minus after the jump.
New York Islanders at New Jersey Devils - Game 1
This was the Islanders first game of the season. The Isles fought off one-goal deficits in the first and second periods at the Prudential Center before Frans Nielsen scored to give the Isles a 3-2 lead early in the third period. Michael Grabner scored two goals for the Islanders, Damien Brunner scored two goals for the Devils, and Evgeni Nabokov and Martin Brodeur made huge saves for their respective clubs. Nabokov and Brodeur each stopped the first five shots of the shootout, but the sixth round was the difference-maker. Nabby saved, and Matt Moulson roofed the puck on Brodeur for the 4-3 victory.
Columbus Blue Jackets at New York Islanders - Game 2
Opening night at the Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders and the Blue Jackets played their first game as division rivals in the newly-formed Metropolitan Division. After a scoreless first period, Lubomir Visnovsky and Matt Moulson tallied goals for the Islanders. The Blue Jackets would add two of their own in the middle of the third, and Sergei Bobrovsky and Nabokov put on a goalie clinic before the Islanders fell to Columbus 2-1 in the shootout, and 3-2 on the game. John Tavares tallied his first two assists of the season, including a beautiful no-look dish to Moulson on the Islanders' second goal.
Three Stars of the Weekend
3. Matt Moulson - Moulson scored the GWG in the shootout in Jersey, and a beautiful goal for his first of the season and another shootout goal in the loss to the Blue Jackets. Moulson and Tavares still click.
2. Michael Grabner - Grabner scored two goals and an assist in his first game of the season, and he could have had four. He had his chances against the Blue Jackets, too. It could be a big season for Grabner.
1. Evgeni Nabokov - The Islanders have zero points if it wasn't for the play of their goaltender. While he did allow a soft goal against the Devils, Nabby made a gigantic sprawling save during the third period of a 2-2 game, which led to the ensuing go-ahead goal by Nielsen. Nabby also stopped all six shots he faced in the shootout that night. Against the Blue Jackets, Nabby stopped 26-of-29 shots, many of them spectacular.
-Grabner looks like he's ready to score 50 goals this season. Seriously, that first goal in Jersey was something out of NHL 14.
-Tavares and Moulson still have "it."
-Nabokov looks sharp, making saves to bail out his defense.
-Like to see the Isles fighting back on the road again. Picking up right where they left off.
-Brock Nelson and Matt Donovan look like they belong. Great to see Nelson drawing penalties.
-Mark Streit who? Visnovsky absolutely ripped that slap-shot past Bobrovsky.
-Peter Regin in the first game.
-Crowd was loud at the Coliseum on Saturday night.
-Donovan had a chance to do a little more on the Blue Jackets' second goal of the game.
-I love Kyle Okposo, but I just don't think he gels with Tavares and Moulson. He still works hard, but something doesn't look right when he's lined up next to them.
-Squandering home-ice leads is a no-no, especially since they weren't that good on home ice in 2013.
-Colin McDonald missed the net after a beautiful feed had him in the slot, one-on-one with Bobrovsky.
-Peter Regin in the second game.
-Weak call against Visnovsky towards the end of third on home ice.
I'm Chris Triants, and this is my blog.
Let's go Islanders!