The curtain has risen on the 36th season of Islanders hockey. This season will be the most important season in the teams last 25 years. This we all know. What we do know know is how the season will play out and in the most early returns the news is positive. Scott Gordon's new system has been implemented and accepted by the players. They have much work to do to perfect it but it seemed to work against the St. Louis Blues and created some scoring chances while being muffled by Martin Brodeur on opening night.
The team scored 4 goals in the first period in an offensive explosion that Islander fans have been dreaming of. 2 of the 4 goals were a direct result of Gordon's puck pursuit system. Having seen the system up close you really do notice a difference. The team is on the puck in the offensive zone and were rarely caught flat footed coming back on the back check. Turnovers in the offensive zone often result in scoring opportunities because they take the defense out of their rhythm. More goals are scored off of turnovers than off the rush when your dealing with a team that doesn't have a high powered offense. No one will mistake the Islanders for the Red Wings or Penguins any time soon so the more turnovers the team can create in the offensive zone will more than likely result in more goals.
Injuries are taking their toll on the team already as already on the shelf Mike Sillinger are joined on IR by Campoli, Bailey, Sutton, DiPietro and Martinek. I know what you are thinking reading this, Martinek and DP hurt? Your shocked.. appalled that these 2 guys are hurt. We should see Josh Bailey's debut sometime in late October as all Islander fans want to see the kid on the ice. He was given a nice ovation on opening night when he was introduced putting to rest the thought of the fans holding him responsible for Garth Snow's decisions on draft night. It is not his fault and its good to see the fans aren't holding him accountable... YET.
DP or not DP. If Rick is healthy enough to be on the bench then why isn't he in net? Is it a ruse to get him more playing time in practice because he missed most of camp and looked horrid against the Panthers in pre season? Everyone around the team is tight lipped as they do their best impression of Bill Parcells when discussing the injured. I do not know what the team is attempting to gain by taking this tact but it appears for the time being this is the direction they are going. The only thing I know is that when Rick was in the crease for warm-ups before the Blues game he looked very delicate. That is my observation only but he looked VERY cautious and didn't move from side to side and only went to his knees once. Is there something more serious going on with Rick? Time will tell.
The first 2 games of the season has got the fans attention. In conversations with the fans on opening night they are cautiously optimistic of the teams new direction but still do not expect much in the way of overall season results. Most realize it is a work in progress and are tempering their expectations. I did not hear one comment about Ted Nolan or Nikita Filitov and heard mostly positive comments about Gordon and Bailey. I am looking forward to today's game to see chapter 3 of the season. Voice your opinion here!