Isles Fall To Devils In Brooklyn
The New York Islanders made history last night, playing the New Jersey Devils in the first ever NHL game in Brooklyn. Granted, it was only a preseason game, but the sporting event brought in many fans since this is the future home of the New York Islanders.
Unfortunately, the final result isn't exactly what everyone would have liked to see, a 3-0 loss to one of their top rivals in the Metropolitan Division. But as stated above, this was only a preseason game with rosters lacking regular skaters for two teams that were looking to shake off some rust and evaluate line combinations and prospects.
Evgeni Nabokov played the entire game for the Islanders, making 22 saves on 25 shots and looked solid. Of the three goals, he only let in one fluky play in the first period. He failed to smother a loose puck with his glove that allowed for an easy rebound goal for Jacob Josefson's first of the preseason.
The Isles turned up the pressure over the second half of the first period but were unable to get anything past Corey Schneider. The second period resulted in a goal from Patrik Elias, who finished a nice tic-tac-toe passing play from Damien Brunner and Josefson. Visnovsky's failure to move the puck out of the zone led to the Devils counter attack that gave them a 2-0 lead.
The third period saw a weird hop put the game completely out of reach for the Isles. Steve Bernier's shot ricocheted off of Nabokov before bouncing down and into the back of the net.
The end of the game saw Justin Johnson go head-to-head with Cam Janssen and Travis Hamonic drop the gloves with Jeff Carter. They were both spirited fights but did not do anything to change the outcome of the game as the Isles went back to their dressing room after a very frustrating loss in Brooklyn.
The Islanders power play, despite moving the puck well down low, lacked a real quarterback from the blue line. This is where a player like Mark Streit will be missed. Visnovsky will have to work his way into this new role with the team in order for the Isles to continue to be successful with the man-advantage.
For the record, one of the Isles power play units had Matt Martin and Colin McDonald playing together as well. It was clear that head coach Jack Capuano was trying various combinations that he normally doesn't use during the regular season which may have contributed to the powerless power play.
The Bailey-Nielsen-Okposo line looked strong during different moments on the ice. They will have to be a key trio for the Islanders to start off the season strong.
The top line of Moulson-Tavares-Bouchard does not seem to have much chemistry developed between these three just yet. Moulson, not once but twice missed an empty net after JT set him up in the slot. Bouchard, who is very quick on his feet, seemed out of sync with his new line-mates. This doesn't mean these three won't gel by the start of the season, but it is clear that they are still learning each other's ways on the ice.
Matt Donovan and Griffin Reinhart both looked great for the Islanders. Each defenseman played with poise and control and were fun to watch.
Overall, the Islanders looked a little flat for most of the game. The Devils weren't very exciting to watch either, for that matter. The underlying difference is that the Devils got the bounces they worked for and were able to capitalize on their opportunities, where the Islanders did not.
Thoughts on the Barclays Center
Our very own John Santamaria reviews the Barclays Center and it is an excellent read, providing his own personal opinion as well as that of several Isles fans who were also in attendance for last night's game.
For my take, I have a few things to say about the building since it was my first time there. The arena immediately hits you with a strong presence just from walking down the street as soon as you leave the LIRR. The concourse on the lower level is much wider than Nassau Coliseum, and their concession stands are more inviting and well kept.
There are also many more bathrooms (at least it felt that way).
My father, brother and I were sitting in section 210. We had a pretty clear view of the entire ice, only being 11 rows up in our section. But the arena doesn't have that same feeling to it as the old barn. There are many blank spaces at the top of the arena behind the last row of seats with just black walls overlooking the crowd.
The overhead screen at center ice is enormous, and will quickly make Isles fans forget about the little TVs at the top of the 300s at Nassau Coliseum.
But the upper level concourse is tight, and almost made me feel like I was back at home during intermissions.
Additionally, the back of each seat has a cup holder for the people sitting in the row directly behind them. A great idea on paper, but a terrible one for when people stand up and try to exit their seats. There is limited walking space, as with any arena. But adding cup holders just turned an uneasy walk into an obstacle course.
Kudos to whoever decided to use the same songs from the Coliseum (such as Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes before each Isles power play) and having the Stanley Cup winning banners hanging from the rafters to make Isles fans feel like they were at home.
It was also great that they continued the Islanders tradition of honoring a United States War Veteran that was in attendance for last night's game as well. Classy move.
Stand Clear Of The Closing Doors, Please
The commute was not fun, as I expected. It was great to see a ton of orange and blue overtake the LIRR as opposed to the usual Rangers jerseys that are typically seen heading into Madison Square Garden, but there were not enough seats to accommodate everyone.
But seeing Jamaica Station look like this was pretty awesome.
If the Isles have a competitive season, a rocking packed train of Islanders fans going to and from games could be a fun experience.
Where Everybody Knows Your Name
One thing I always loved about Nassau Coliseum was knowing that I would likely run into someone I knew at every game.
Going to the Coliseum is not supposed to be a popularity contest, but being that it is Long Island's one and only arena that houses a professional sports team allows for people to always see a familiar face. The same could be said for last night's game in Brooklyn.
Not only did I bump into a few friends and acquaintances on the train, but I saw some in my very section and throughout the concourse.
It even continued after the game, bumping into some people just before transferring at Jamaica Station.
Luck of the Island
Somehow my brother managed to lose his printed out ticket between the front doors of the arena and the ticket scanners. With a large, looming crowd behind us, we assumed that the hopes of him finding it were almost impossible and our first Barclays experience was going to be a major disappointment.
My brother continued to scan the floor outside the arena while my father and I waited impatiently inside. With our tickets already scanned, we were not allowed to go out and help him.
Like with most people in this situation, my father and I were getting tense and frustrated. Arena hosts continued to approach and tell us that we had to step back from the scanners since we were too close to the incoming crowd.
I was about to snap at an arena host when he walked over to ask us to move for about the fifth time. I began explaining that my brother lost his ticket and was out there searching for it when I noticed this host was holding a folded piece of paper that looked just like mine.
When I told him the situation, he looked at me in shock and unfolded the paper. Sure enough, it was my brother's ticket. Fortunately for him, this ticket had just been handed to the host by a complete stranger just before he came to escort us away from the front of the arena. I called my brother and he came back to enjoy the rest of the game with us.
In addition to him buying the first round of beers, he also bought himself a shot.
Overall, last night's game, despite the loss, was a great experience. But this still wasn't the Nassau Coliseum. Improvements can and should be made by the time the Islanders call this place home.
Either way, Isles fans should look to make the most of their time left of the next two years in Nassau because the Barclays Center will mean a different feel for everyone.