You could hear fans and reporters all saying the same thing. “Again, really?” Just like the last few seasons, the Islanders had control of the game and let it slip away in the third period. Columbus eventually beat the Islanders, 3-2, after a shootout following overtime.
Considering it was only their second game of the season, we’ll let it slide for now, but here’s a look at five things that were noticeable during their home opener:
5. Brooklyn in the house: If you attended the game you’ll notice a set of new Nets banners hanging in the rafters. For those who frequent the Nassau Coliseum, you’re pretty used to the conference championship, Stanley Cup and retired Islanders banners that have lined the rafters for decades. You’d even be pretty familiar with the Billy Joel concert sellout banner by now. But the new red, white and blue Nets banners honoring their championship seasons played at the Coliseum in 1973-74 and 1975-76 sure do stand out.
Considering the Islanders and Nets will soon share a home again, this time in Brooklyn, there will be some minor assimilation between the two franchises and this is one clear path towards a merge in history and tradition.
If you look around the Coliseum there are only a handful of things that mention the Barclays, mainly season ticket marketing. There is one flashing marquee on the boards and the scoreboard that has “New York Islanders” written in black and white. It’s noticeable because it’s the same font and coloring as many of the words associated with the Nets marketing at Barclays.
4. Nabokov looks good: It’s the second game of 82, but Isles goalie Evgeni Nabokov looked very good in the home opener and also in the first game of the season against New Jersey. Granted the Islanders lost in a shootout, but Nabby made nearly a dozen clutch saves at opportune times for Columbus to kick the door wide open.
The key will be to get him ample rest in the regular season so he stays healthy come crunch time and eventually the playoffs. Backup Kevin Poulin is good enough to fill in.
“Nabby not only made the big save, but he also stopped the second and third opportunities as well and that kept us where we needed to be,” said Islanders coach Jack Capuano. “He’s played a lot of hockey. He’s a warrior and played hard tonight.”
3. Tavares-Moulson combo is lethal: Tavares and Matt Moulson make for a powerful offensive punch.
“They put pucks in,” Capuano said. “They were in constant motion.”
At 14:01 of the second period Tavares and Moulson showed their chemistry with a beautiful pass-goal combo. Tavares, in the corner to the left of Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, made a pass to a quick-skating Moulson in the slot that landed in the back of the net, which put the Islanders up 2-0.
2. Wearing the “C” at home: Tavares played in his first home regular season game with the Captain’s “C” on his chest. This may not be a big deal in terms of gameplay, but for the sake of Islanders history and the organization’s fans, it’s special. Tavares, if everything goes right, could go down as one of the best and longest tenured captains this franchise will ever see. They organization also updated its graphics outside the team locker room that lists Tavares as the current captain.
1. High hopes: One shortened-season back in the playoffs and the Islanders gained instant credibility in the NHL. They will be taken seriously. They have plenty of key pieces that will help this team move fast, play powerfully and again continue to shock teams.
“I thought our guys played hard,” Capuano said. “We got three out of four points [in two games].”
It’s still early. In fact too early to comment about being in contention for anything, but the thought process is geared towards winning and playing impactful hockey as this franchise continues its rebirth.