The final New York Islanders home opener in the history of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum commences on a Saturday night, against a battered opponent that can play the proper foil if the Islanders don't let the hype and excitement get to them.
It was a bit of a messy season opener in Raleigh the night before, but some good early goaltending, some nice power play work in the first half of the game, and positive debuts by the newcomers eased some of the transition.
For tonight's rematch, an event made for tailgating and starting the Coliseum's final season party off right, the Islanders will use the same lineup. Only change is Chad Johnson in goal for the second half of the back-to-back.
So nice start last night, but nothing much accomplished yet, right? Point Blank had a great quote from Kyle Okposo on that topic after the morning skate:
"We’re out there to get two points. We know the history and we can talk about the history and recap all the history when the season is over. And when we’re hopefully bringing home some hardware."
The official site had thoughts from Josh Bailey on driving to the game on a day like today:
"It’s always exciting, it’s a special night," Bailey said of the home opener. You drive to the parking lot and see fans tailgating, having a good time, getting rowdy and it’s always a great atmosphere."
It's an atmosphere elders have told their kids about. An atmosphere many of us remember fondly from the classic years, as well as every unfortunately sporadic year that came closest in the years since. An atmosphere everyone tasted in the spring of 2013. It goes without saying, it's one all fans are hoping the team can build and sustain throughout this 42nd and final season at the Coliseum.
For analysis, excitement and angst, these are the fun early moments of the season: No trends exist, all samples are small, every episode and role could be a blip on how the rest of the season and the roster shakes out. All 30 teams are in action today, in fact.
For tonight in Uniondale, it's just about enjoying a hockey game, in a building that's hosted a library full of great ones.
A bunch of LHH regulars are planning to shake user names and lift a glass of recs, tailgate details here.
Log your First Islanders Goal picks over here.
Expected Lines and Pairings
Cory Conacher - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo
Mikhail Grabovski - Brock Nelson - Ryan Strome
Josh Bailey - Frans Nielsen - Nikolay Kulemin
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck
Thomas Hickey - Travis Hamonic
Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk
Brian Strait - Griffin Reinhart