After a season that put the New York Islanders back on the NHL radar, the team opens their inaugural season tonight in Brooklyn against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Islanders take center stage at the Barclays Center after leaving their home of 43 years, Nassau Coliseum. I have to admit I’m not a fan of the move, at all. Yes, the Coliseum was small and a bit outdated but there wasn’t a bad seat in the place! The fact that it wasn’t a huge venue brought you that much closer to the action. Bye-bye tailgating and cheap buckets of beer at the Mariott, hello over priced tickets and a betch of a commute. I don’t think the fan experience will be nearly as intense as it was in Long Island but I hope I’m proved wrong. Okay, rant over…HOCKEY IS BACK, WOO!
This season we’ll be looking at a very similar Islanders team built, around it’s young talent, with captain John Tavares at the forefront. He’s part of a strong line with Kyle Okposo, Michael Grabner, Frans Nielson and Ryan Strome. Anders Lee and Thomas Hickey resigned and the Isles picked up backup goalies Thomas Greiss and Jean-Francois Berube. An important move since current goalie, Jaroslav Halak, will not play tonight and remains day-to-day afert suffering an upper body injury in the preseason. Greiss will get the start while Halak continues to get ready for the season. It doesn’t help that the Isles are facing defending champs, the Blackhawks, without their number one goal but as we saw in their seven game playoff series against the Capitals, the Isles have a lot of fight in them.
Hoping to see the team, that opened last season with their best start in franchise history, carry that same kid of spark throughout the rest of the season. Don’t doubt the Islanders folks. Being in Brooklyn now gives the team more street cred right?!