The New York Islanders opened their season tonight at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum against their rivals, the New Jersey Devils. Both teams came out extremely flat, but the Devils came out on top 2-1 in a nail biter.
There was no scoring in the first period, but both teams came out looking atrociously. There were several missed connections from both teams, and there were clearly some chemistry issues with new players having extremely limited practice time with new teammates. The Islanders had only recorded three shots on net in the first period. Fourteen minutes into the second period, however, Travis Zajac had a gorgeous deflection-one timer, on a pass from Ilya Kovalchuk. Henrik Tallender also recorded an assist on that play. Throughout that period great saves were made by both Brodeur and Nabokov, but it would end at 1-0 in favor of the Devils. In the third period, the Devils took a penalty and the Islanders went on the power play. The Isles would capitalize on this chance, as young defenseman Travis Hamonic ripped a wrister from the slot that got past the veteran Marty Brodeur. On the next Devils possession, however, David Clarkson shot a wrist shot that went 5-hole on Evgeni Nabokov due to the fact that he was screened, which put the Devils up 2-1, which would be the final score.
The most obvious thing when both teams first hit the ice was how bad the passing was for both teams. Neither team did a good job of getting the puck into good scoring areas. The Devils did show glimpses of good play making, but overall they had a lot of bad passes that resulted in turnovers. The Islanders had a few bright spots, particularly the strong play of Evgeni Nabokov, Colin McDonald, among other glimpses from John Tavares, Travis Hamonic and Andrew MacDonald. What surprised me was the fact that Hamonic and MacDonald were the first pairing of d-men, as this pairing did not include their captain Mark Streit. However it didn't seem that he was missed much as those two did a pretty good job. Waiver claims Brian Strait and Joe Finley played decently at best. Here's hoping that Thomas Hickey can prove to beat one of them out, however.
The Islanders next game in Monday, January 21st at 1 PM. You can hear a more comprehensive analysis of this and Monday's Isles games on our weekly radio show, which is Tuesday at 6:30 PM. See you all there!