After a preseason of relying on dodgy Web feeds from Western Canada with announcers who can't pronounce even a five-letter Finnish name, the Islanders are actually visible good and proper on MSG+, courtesy of the Empire's decision to showcase John Tavares and his in-uniform debut in front of Isles fans. (Devils fans be damned ... which is only appropriate ... Devils -- get it? Damned? I know I know, I kill me.) Billy Jaffe and
Howie Rose Jiggs! and Butch and the return of Deb Placey! Voices like hot chocolate on a snowy day.
Now, unlike the NHL's message to Kansas City, I will never tell you a preseason game is something to get fired up about. But try telling me you're not ready to see the gang on Coliseum ice. Tonight is the year's only true home preseason game, and being the second-to-last one before the real season, it should involve some level of organized play by actual roster candidates. (Plus your obligatory Micheal Haleys. But we also get half a game of Yann Danis.)
The Isles site teases some of last night's combatants who will also play tonight: Josh Bailey, Jeff Tambellini, Dustin Kohn and Micheal Haley. Meanwhile, from practice Chris Botta reports (and Katie Strang, too) the Isles have officially cut Jesse Joensuu (he really did not impress me in K.C.), Justin DiBenedetto, Sean Bentivoglio, Tyler Haskins, ex-Devil Tony Romano and Nate Lawson.
For the Devils angle, John at In Lou We Trust has a preview -- this is only the Devils' second preseason game. John also has a typically thorough preview of what he expects from the team this year. (Always the Cup with those spoiled guys, I swear.)
Ironically, while I saw last night's little-known K.C. romp, I'll miss this one, being out-of-region and without Center Ice until the real games begin. But don't let that stop you from chatting it up in comments or leaving your game observations -- but please, not your phone number; that's for LighthousePersonals.com. At minimum, do let those of us who are off the grid know how it went. And if you're at the game, you can now leave mobile comments here if you're so inclined.
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Bonus observation from last night in Kansas City (full report still coming tomorrow) -- What I love about live in-person hockey. All the stuff you see that never makes even an HD screen. Which Jack Hillen outlet passes were brilliant, which ones failed because the winger turned wrong, and which ones failed because he forced it. Stuff you don't get on the live broadcast (until Super Billy breaks it down from the overhead view).
Also, Hillen and Bruno Gervais each faked out the Kings' forecheck a couple of times and used the opening to skate the length of the ice to create a scoring opportunity. That kind of subtle start to an end-to-end rush is, frankly, one of the joys of hockey.
P.S. Even in sarcasm, this seemed like an exclamation point-heavy post. I think I do that when on little sleep.