The Last Hurrah at Nassau Coliseum Begins

Well IsImage previewlanders fans, this is it.  This is the last time the Islanders will ever be opening up at Nassau Coliseum.  The building will be absolutely ROCKING & the "Light It Up" promo that the Islanders have started for the first home game will be a nice touch to what will definitely be a very emotional ceremony.  (Maya G/Flickr)

As for the actual game, we can only hope to see exactly what we saw last night, sans the penalties/mini third-period breakdown.  The lines were clicking, Brock Nelson looks like an absolute stud, John Tavares looks to be in midseason form with beautiful passes & set-ups all over the ice, and Johnny Boychuk & Mikhail Grabovski made themselves right at home with a couple of points.  Speaking of Boychuk, what an absolute cannon.  They don't call him Johnny Rocket for nothing.  If the Islanders can get him the puck a couple of times a game it brings a whole new level to the Islanders offensive attack.

To quickly summarize last night's game, this is what I noticed:

-Cory Conacher didn't look terrible on first line, but didn't make a huge impact.  As the season progresses I believe Brock Nelson will continue to impress & move his way up to the first line on the wing.

-Josh Bailey looks exactly how I expected him to look:terrible.  He looks completely lost out there, not knowing what to do with the puck when he has it and kind of meandering around when he's on defense.  Good thing Anders Lee is only one call away.

-Although they won the game by two goals, I did get a little nervous towards the end of the game.  The third period swoon still came, and in order to not give up any goals the Islanders need to continue to play their game, not try to play against the clock.

-The Defense & Goaltending otherwise looked exceptional.  Everyone on D played well, you didn't hear Griffin Reinhart's name much (which is a good thing), and minus a small hiccup in the third period Jaro Halak looked very comfortable and poised in net.  It's nice to know that at least for the meantime the Isles won't be giving up any fluke, Nabby rolling around in the crease goals

Keys for the Islanders:

- Keep trying to force penalties.  The Islanders greatest weapon last night was their powerplay, and if they continue to get chances they should be successful on it.

- Play your game for 60 minutes.  The Isles seemed to be complacent towards the middle of the third period, and did a lot of casual dump & chase.  I understand you don't want to be too aggressive & get caught shorthanded on a rush but playing too conservative lets the opposition be able to penetrate the zone & possibly get an open look/fluke goal.

-Get the crowd involved.  It's the last home opener at the Coliseum & it is going to be LOUD.  Take advantage of that.  When the arena is full, it honestly might be the loudest in the league.  Fuel al that energy to play hard all 60 minutes.  The Islanders were only 13-19-9 at home last year, so their record needs to be much better in order to make a playoff push.

Keys for the Hurricanes:

- Get Jiri Tlusty involved.  The man was a one-man wrecking crew last year against the Islanders, and with Jeff Skinner & Jordan Staal out again the offense needs to come from somewhere.  Why not from a guy who when he plays New York scores like he's Sidney Crosby?

- Stay disciplined.  As mentioned before, the Islanders power play looked deadly last night.  I don't know whether Cam Ward or Anton Khudobin is starting tonight but either way you don't want to hang out your goaltender to dry on 5-on-3s during the course of the game.

- Give the Islanders a 2-0 lead.  Just kidding, of course, but realistically the key to beating this Isles team (hopefully not) has been to sustain pressure when they are up.  They start playing sloppy, they lose their focus, and eventually the goals pour in.  If Carolina can keep their composure down, they won't be out of the game if they're down late.

Islanders Lines:

The lines, from what I've seen & heard, will remain the same.  That means

Conacher-Tavares-Okposo

Grabovski-Nelson-Strome

Bailey-Nielsen-Kulemin

Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck

Leddy-Boychuk

Hickey-Hamonic

Strait-Reinhart

Johnson is slated to start this game.  Why I'm not sure, as Halak looked good last night & wasn't really tested all that much.  I can see later in the season why you'd want to rest him, but for now it can only get him in a good rhythm to ride the whole season.  Either way Johnson is a solid goalie & he should be a brick wall back there.

Hurricanes Lines:

Tlusty-Staal-Semin

Gerbe-Rask-Lindholm

Malone-McClement-Dwyer

Terry-Nash-Brown

Faulk-Sekera

Hainsey-Liles

Gleason-Harrison

Ward?  Same deal as Halak there's no reason to take a goaltender out of their rhythm.  Although there was a goalie controversy last season, I think Ward gets the nod over Khudobin.

Prediction:

I do believe that the Islanders will be able to pull off a win in the last home game at NVMC.  There's a lot to love about this team, and although they did have some mishaps, I believe with time and practice they will clean all that up.  3-1 Islanders with Chad Johnson having a stellar game, and John Tavares, Ryan Strome, & Cal Clutterbuck with the goals.  It should be a great game to go to, a fantastic atmosphere.  Let's go Islanders!

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-Chris Passarelli