Seeing as Islander hockey has disappeared for a few days, I've found myself periodically staring at the Islander 07- 08 magnetic schedule provided on opening night by the good folks at Global Real Estate Services. And what a strange schedule it is. The Isles have only 3 games on tap from the period of October 13th through the 31st. For enjoying such a relaxing October they are punished by 13 (by my count) pairs of back to back games commencing in November. If the thought of that doesn't get you exhausted consider the final 8 games of the year are against Atlantic Division rivals. Of course, the season closes with a home and home against the Rangers. These guys will need a rest at season's end, but hopefully it will be a brief one before the start of playoff hockey.
As a fan of any contact sport, you know injuries are part of the game. You grow to expect them. What you don't expect, however, is to lose your first UFA signing of the Summer for the whole season after an injury sustained on opening night. While I still do not understand the cause of the injury (there have been rumors that it had existed previously in a lesser form and that poor ice conditions may have done him in, or perhaps that he simply sustained damaging contact to his knee), it is very deflating news. He had 17 goals with Atlanta last season and many were hopeful that under Coach Nolan he could have achieved more. Plus, I thought he was a good fit with Hunter and Sillinger, who now find themselves with a familiar winger in Hilbert. Not being able to see the potential that GM Garth Snow saw in Sim will bother me this year.
I think the line combinations as they were played in Philly are about right given the players we currently have healthy and playing. Again, I like Hilbert on the third line with his old line mates while Vasicek, Satan and Bergenheim can concentrate on scoring. And speaking of this line, Miro has to start lighting the lamp soon as I just can't see the Isles excelling without a guy like him contributing offensively. A lot happened this Summer and many fans, myself included, made the argument that we made some serious headway in gaining back much of the scoring we lost on 7/1 (111 goals by Greg Logan's count in Newsday). Remember though, we made the playoffs by the slimmest of margins last year. Just getting back to last year's scoring level is not enough. I truly think we can play better defensively, that Nolan now enjoys an improved understanding of this team, and that the chemistry of the Isles is vastly improved. And that is all very encouraging. That said, however, if our goal scorers don't score, we're in for a long season.
Apologies for the misleading subject, and thanks for reading.