As we all know the New York Islanders are back! Although this isn't the brightest of squad's we have watched in years past I am still pretty excited. This shortened season could give way to some of the weaker teams in each conference. Although it's tough to admit your team is bad, it is something you have to do with the Islanders. However, you cannot do so without a "but" in there. This is because we have a lot to watch this season! Before I get to how I get to the Coliseum when I can (all the way from Conn), I want to share what I am most ready to watch over the next few months.
Growth of young potential stars: Right now the Islanders have 3 guys who are all under 25 years old and are all big time players in the making. Everyone of course knows I am talking about Kyle Okposo, John Tavares, and Michael Grabner. I may be overstating the ability of Okposo and Grabner when I say star, but we can all agree that Tavares is a real player. He has the met the baseline requirements for "big" in the league with a 6 foot, 200 pound+ frame and all the skill a guy could need. Not only am I looking forward to watching him take a step forward but to see how he involves his teammates. I think the growth of Tavares could be what propels the other two the furthest, especially if they are sharing ice time.
Goalie Situation: This might be the most confusing and saddest part of the Islanders roster. Nabakov and Dipietro both on the roster. Goalies who had so much promise and have seemingly become shells of there former selves. Who will get the most minutes and could one get hot enough that a shortened season might get the Islanders in the playoffs? One can dream?
Washed Up or Ready To Go: Lubomir Visnovsky (I had to look up the spelling): I am really excited to see him play in Orange and Blue. Sure he had a down year last year in Anaheim with only 27 points, but this is a guy who is just two years removed from a 50 assist season. 50! To have him in the back with an offensive mind and talented youngersts in front could make for some fun "two-line" passes, especially to Grabner streaking between the opposition. Not only do we have Lubomir, but we also have Brad Boyes? Boyes has been a mystery man for years now, did you know he was on the All-Rookie Team With Ovechkin and Crosby, No joke. The team is below and link where I found an official story.
2005-2006 NHL All-Rookie Team
G Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
D Andrej Meszaros, Ottawa Senators
D Dion Phaneuf, Calgary Flames
F Brad Boyes, Boston Bruins
F Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
F Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
I am sure we cannot expect that from Boyes because I bet Buffalo was for a couple years before giving up, but just imagine if Boyes were to get hot during this short season. I keep coming back to the short season because I believe it is the best way for a weaker Islanders team to possibly sneak into the playoffs.
Getting to Nassau:
The Islanders sure didn't make it easy for us. They couldn't even get a LIRR stop or provide a free shuttle (my main gripe with the organization). Since I am in Conn I have to get to Manhattan and then find a garage before hitting the LIRR to Westbury. The a cheap cab ride will drop you off door side for the game. The biggest pain is the process of getting to Penn Station. I believe I have found the best nyc parking in either the Secure Parking on West 30th (on map here) or another spot on 34th and 9th. Both make it easy to park, walk to Penn and hop on the LIRR. I have tried doing the train the entire way, but being on the train late at night instead of in your own car which goes right to your house is much more comforting.
Now one of the reasons I posted this was to ask anyone else how they get to the games? Not being close has proved to be a pain, but watching live hockey is worth it, even if its losing hockey.