"The season is a marathon, not a sprint."
You hear the above phrase uttered a lot when people discuss the baseball season. It can also be applied to the hockey season. Despite the Islanders laying a 2-0 egg to Florida in front of a sold out crowd on Opening Night (10/8), all is not lost.
Sure, I would have liked to have seen a more solid and consistent effort from the Islanders in front of a loud packed house on Saturday night. The fans were ready to see potential and promise turned into profits, at least with respect to the on-ice product. Mike Bossy was on hand to drop the ceremonial first puck, the player introductions were spectacular, and the decibels were deafening.
Unfortunately, the air came out of the balloon once the game started.
While the team didn't send the crowd running for the exits with a total stink-bomb, they did leave their fans wanting much more than they received after a long summer.
Al Montoya was given the nod as the starting goaltender by Jack Capuano in the coach's first NHL season opener. Montoya played well, saving 27 of the 29 shots he faced.
At 16:37 of the opening period, Stephen Weiss banked home a loose puck that tricked through Montoya's pads and seemed to stick in the crease. Florida, who had out shot, out-physicaled, and out-everythinged the Isles, were up 1-0. The fans, who expected a goal barrage from the Isles, were checking their ticket stubs to make sure they were at the right show. Just 3:08 later, reeling a bit from Florida's shot barrage and after taking consecutive penalties, Montoya allowed a 5-on-3 slap shot to hit the twine.
On a night with far too many Islanders penalties, lines that seemed out of sync, far too few shots, and heaps of defensive mistakes, 2-0 was the final.
The crowd, enticed all summer by thoughts of a young and potent crop of scorers, didn't get to hear the new "mystery" goal song even once.
After the game, Capuano went to his familiar "too many passengers" line and said that the team couldn't take any periods off. He didn't have a look of worry on his face; maybe one of slight embarrassment due to his team stumbling out of the gate.
With a short turnaround for an afternoon game on Monday (10/10) and 81 games remaining, I suspect that the Islanders' performance will be much improved for the matinee.