What, the season already began?

With the Islanders not beginning real play until Friday -- although Rick DiPietro's preseason debut intrigues -- it would have been fun to spend all week chuckling, "Heh, the Rangers are 0-2 before our season even begins." But no, the Short Island Smurfs' opening overseas series was with the bizarrely constructed Lightning. So 0-2 wasn't going to happen. Dammit.

Instead, that record is the other way around, and resurrected Bolts coach Barry Melrose is already climbing uphill. Better yet, after spending like top-heavy drunken Hollywood owners this summer -- can't you just wait until Jerry Bruckheimer buys and moves the Las Vegas Predatory Lenders and makes a Belfour-ian "bazillion dollars!" offer to buy Crosby, Malkin, and Whitney? -- already the club wants to "upgrade its blueline and shed salary."

Melrose laid into his team in many colorful ways after the defeats:
"We don't compete. Until that changes, we're going to have trouble."
Ouch! I don't know if I've ever heard a coach sound like that (click the preceding link for more quotes and inspirational gimmicks) after 120 minutes of the season. Should be a fun year.

Please, Please, Protect the Goalies
Something disturbing I noticed from tonight's game highlights: Two occasions where the puck carrier crashed the crease at high speed (once each for Lundqvist and Kolzig). This cannot keep happening.

(Warning: Islander Frontier crusade No. 7 incoming...)

Now, I know you need to "go to the net" with or without the puck in this sport. That is canonical. But with rule enforcement the way it is now, skaters are allowed to carry themselves at high speed toward the net without being impeded (hooked, chop-blocked, whatever) yet are not penalized when they go out of control and hit the goalie.

That's not right. If the goalie is standing his ground, in his crease, he shouldn't have to worry about a guy torpedoing his knee, head, or other valued anatomical real estate. If you're skating, you oughta be allowed to skate unimpeded, yes, except by legal check or by the goaltender's already established position!

Likewise, if you have the ability to get to the net with speed, rule enforcement ought to require you to avoid the goaltender -- or at least be penalized for it (Or perhaps old-school style: Be administered a thorough compensatory beating while the refs look the other way and call no instigator. I'm flexible on this. But some standard needs to be set and enforced).

It's not about discouraging crashing the net; only about reasonably protecting the health of the most important player on most teams. The way the game is played now, it's too much of an injury risk, and I'm under the impression it's also against the rules. There needs to be a deterrent.

Unless they allow the goalies to check (and be checked by) opposing players ... Hmmmm ...

A Word about Howard
Finally, I don't want to give this much attention or its own separate post, because it's pure tripe. And Drive for Five already addressed it judiciously. But when Newsday said it was increasing coverage of the Islanders, I didn't imagine that meant message-board-worthy effluvia like the "column" (rant? frat boy taunt?) turned in by one Johnette Howard.

She (I assume the "-ette" suffix implies female gender, but it's not worth the bother to check) has drawn or requested the assignment of compiling random rips at not only the Islanders club but also its fans. Seriously? This is worthy of print? I enjoy -- and try to offer -- constructive criticism of the club when appropriate. Which is why my jaw continued descending as I read each line: I kept thinking there would be a point. Kept thinking I would encounter a reason for the column other than stirring up reaction. I reached the end without finding either.

It's not just the inciteful tone, with its naked, desperate appeals for reader reaction, but also the poor construction and baseless critiques. The criticism didn't even sting, it just bewildered. Came across so vacuous and amateur. I guess this is Newsday's way of trying to cheaply drum up more readers ("Piss them off and they'll flood the comment forums with page views!"). But for me, it just confirms that I won't miss anything by skipping over every piece except Logan or Strang's.

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