Friday, September 28, 2007

A few quick notes...

It's great to be able to watch the Isles on TV again, even if it is a preseason game and the Rangers' broadcast. I won't be able to catch the whole thing, but here are just a few notes from the first half of the game:

  • Nice job by Joey McDonald surviving early pressure and keeping a clean sheet through 20 minutes in front of a lineup heavily populated with Sound Tigers.
  • Berard is not one of the "regulars" in the lineup tonight. At first, I interpreted that to mean that the tryout phase of his preseason was over and he's made the roster. But when I realized that so many vets were sitting this one out, that interpretation seemed less reliable. Saturday and Sunday may still be make-or-break time for Bryan. I know a lot of you are hoping that Berard has nothing to do with this team come next Friday. I'd really like to see him make the team and carry the power play. If he proves unable to do so, let's just hope that the contract ends up signing is easily digestible.
  • Any signs of life from Bergie are welcome. If he can contribute consistently on offense, this team will be at least a notch ahead of expectations. How great would it be to see him make an impact on the league and give the other teams fits? Who was the last young player to do that for the Islanders? Anyway, great to see Bergie find Lundqvist's five-hole with that backhander. Even if it hadn't found its way in, it was a good, low, hard shot that likely would have produced a rebound.
  • I'm surprised that the white sweaters don't look as bad as I thought they would. Seeing the entire uniform helps them look stronger, mostly because the blue pants create a nice contrast. The numbers on the front continue to seem mostly pointless. They are too small to be visible during normal gameplay. You can see them when the camera zooms in, but then you can also see the players' faces so you know who they are anyway. The one thing the organization really got right was putting the (too narrow) horizontal stripes at the very bottom of the shirt hem. The teams that have the white shirttail hanging below their stripes look odd, at best.
  • Halfway through the 3rd, it's still 4-1. Once Morrison replaced McDonald, it looked like the floodgates might open. The result of this game has negligible value, but it's never fun to get embarrassed. Let's hope the kids finish it out strong.
Finally, Islanders Outsider would like to extend its sincere condolences to Ted Nolan on the loss of his brother, Richard. According to this notice, Richard Nolan was a founder of the Ontario Native Firefighter Society and served as Garden River fire chief. May the Nolan family find comfort in its time of sorrow.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Isles Presence at Shea

Not much to say about the 6-1 loss to the Devils in Lowell tonight. From the looks of it, the Devils had a much better lineup out there. I guess you could say that the kids who received an opportunity to show the coaches something came up a little short. Of course, I say that only based on the brief recaps I have read. I'm not sure if this game was shown on Islanders TV, but I was unable to catch it if it was. So, the one thing I'd really like to know is how Berard looked tonight. If you can contribute anything in this area, please do so in the comments or shoot me an e-mail. After the 3-assist performance against the Rangers, I figured Berard just needed one more solid showing to solidify his spot on the roster. I have my doubts as to whether he was able to give that tonight.

So, I was at Shea tonight. I certainly don't have anything good to say about that result, so I'll leave the commentary to the Mets bloggers. However, early on in the game I noticed someone sitting a few sections away wearing the royal blue '72-'73 replica sweater. It looked really sharp. Kudos to you, Mets/Islanders fan for promoting the team in such refined hockey garb.

About midway though the game, the video board (is it still technically DiamondVision?) showed a couple of the Ice Girls and a joyful bunch of Isles fans. That's when I remembered that it was NYI365 Appreciation Night at Shea. (I was there with a friend and our wives, obviously not with the group.) Anyway, I hope that all of you full season subscribers were shown a good time by the Mets despite their daily pitching implosion. At least we had something to cheer about for 4 innings. And, if I heard the PA correctly, the t-shirts shot into the crowd by Mr. Met and the Pepsi Party Patrol during the 7th Inning Stretch were Islanders t-shirts. All in all, good night for Islanders publicity, bad night for Islanders hockey and Mets baseball.

Update: I just read on Corey Witt's blog that tonight's game was not shown live on Islanders TV due to bandwidth limitations at Tsongas Arena. That should severely limit the Berard contributions. Will we all be rushing to watch the archived broadcast tomorrow? I'll have to stick with my original plan of watching the season premiere of The Office.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Emotional Reactions

The following is a little rant I posted for friends on a private message board on July 2 of this year:

Dark days ahead for the Islanders. I fear we are headed for a replay of the abyss that was the mid-to-late 90s. Laughingstock of the league. I can't wait for all of those game recap references to the "hapless" Islanders to return. From 1995 through 2000, you would have thought that was the name of the franchise: the New York Hapless Islanders.

I don't know how Snow and Wang expected Ryan Smyth to re-sign with no one to play with. After a five-year revival, the Island is once again a place where no quality NHLer will want to play. It was fun while it lasted. Now we can look forward to a top line of Hunter-Sillinger-Satan. That's a solid 3rd line on a good team.

Congratulations to the Rangers for pulling off the Drury-Gomez double. I don't know if the chemistry will work, or if the money will work long term, but it was a crushing blow to see the Rangers and Flyers bring in the class of the free agent class while the Islanders replaced Smyth, Jason Blake, Tom Poti, Alexi Yashin, Richard Zednik, and Viktor Kozlov with Jon Sim. That's a lot of roster spots to fill, and a lot of goals to make up for, and there's not much left out there from which to choose.

Maybe Garth's Plan B was to go with the kids if he couldn't bring back Smyth. Maybe Nolan will get the best out of Bergenheim, Nokelainen, and Bentivoglio. If he doesn't, Garth's first full off-season as GM will have been a complete disaster. He doesn't even have a viable roster right now, and I'm not sure the team even meets the salary floor. It's sad that the only thing I'm excited about right now are the rumors that Ziggy Palffy might come out of retirement. But he'd probably sign with the Rangers too.
Now that was a serious overreaction. I apologize for my impatience. The free agency period is longer than 24 hours. In the end, Garth did a respectable job filling those roster spots. Jon Sim looks like he could be a big contributor playing in an appropriate role. Bergie is trying to prove he deserves more than 4th-line minutes, Nokie is gone to Boston for Walter, and Bentivoglio will have the opportunity to develop at the Bridge. And if you can take comfort from the observations of Evan Grossman, we have a hard-working, focused, and united club making the trip back to Long Island from Moncton.

As the season begins and progresses, I will try to avoid taking too many reactionary positions. But visit any team oriented message board, and that is what you will find: heat-of-the-moment, reactionary, and emotional declarations. Such is the life of the sports fan, who lives and dies with agony or ecstasy daily. And, if we're being honest, sometimes we only nod approvingly at the ecstasy and scream our heads off at the agony.

I'm just thankful I haven't had to blog about the Mets over the past month.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Blog Box in the Press

Neil Best gave the Blog Box a brief mention at the end of his column for Newsday today. After noting that Monday's preseason game against the Thrashers was the first of its kind to be streamed live exclusively on the Internet, and recognizing the adoption of Islander Mania as the team's official message board, Best had this to say about the Blog Box:

That is unusual, but not as unusual as this: the NYI Blog Box, in which select fans are chosen not only to blog - they already are doing so on the site - but to blog in a designated area at games.

I'm pretty sure I'm not eligible for that.
I've been wondering how the mainstream media will perceive and react to this little venture of ours. I certainly don't think reporters and columnists will be, or should be, threatened by it in any way.

As for live-blogging games from the Blog Box in the Coliseum, I've heard whispers that we won't be permitted to do that. Live-blogging the games was never really a major draw to me anyway. Can you picture 12 blogs all featuring the following entry?

7:48 PM: Sparky just tripped over an Ice Girl's squeegee and got his snout caught in one of the photographer cutouts along the glass.

I am, however, definitely looking forward to blogging about the experience of watching games from the Blog Box.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Blog Box Opens Its Doors

Welcome, Blog Box readers! I'm thrilled that the Blog Box has finally gone live and initiated the official launch of Islanders Outsider. I've been holding back a little on posting until this day arrived. I hope you will take the time to look around and read the old entries before they get bumped to a second page. Please feel free to comment as you see fit, and look for more frequent updates soon!


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Boomer Not Aboard

On yesterday morning's Boomer & Carton in the Morning show on WFAN, Boomer Esiason spoke excitedly about NHL training camps opening this week. His partner, Craig Carton, did not seem quite so enthused. As I noted earlier, I'm really not familiar with Carton's work. I thought that his time at WIP in Philly was an indicator that we could look forward to some hockey talk on WFAN's morning drive show. It may be that he's simply not jumping up and down at the thought of training camp starting. However, based on the exchange I heard yesterday, we may have to look to Boomer to bring the hockey.

But here's the kicker (or, in this case, the quarterback): Boomer Esiason, raised in East Islip, NY, is not an Islanders fan. Perhaps this is common knowledge, and if I think about it, I can even picture him on TV at MSG. But it is disappointing to get that confirmation. I was looking forward to having a Long Island native on a high-profile sports talk show pumping up the Islanders. Instead, he roots for the high-profile city team. Call me deflated.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Six Years Later

One of the great challenges of writing is overcoming the fear that what you want to write has already been written by someone else, and he or she has written it more eloquently than you could ever hope to write it. Sometimes it is best to acknowledge this reality and share it.

On this solemn anniversary, I invite you to read the thoughts and feelings of a fellow Blog Box member, B.D. Gallof.

Monday, September 3, 2007

The End of the Summer

And so we have reached the unofficial end of the summer. Although my favorite weather generally occurs in spring and fall, I don't relish the transition from summer to fall. The end of winter signals three seasons of light and warmth to come. Labor Day sounds the alarm that those three seasons have been reduced to one, and it is the one that leads us back to cold days and long nights.

Growing up, Labor Day meant going to the U.S. Open and then back to school. In college, Labor Day had little significance because we were already back in school and didn't get the day off. These days the first Monday in September represents a return to normalcy in NYC. Starting tomorrow commutes will be longer and more crowded, mornings with light traffic will be the exception, and movies will be sold out before you even think of going. There's something to be said for summer in the city.

So I am left to fight the feeling of good things slipping away. How does one do that? Fortunately, there are countermeasures that may bring just the necessary thrill. If your rooting interests lie in the correct corner, October baseball may await you. If you are an angler, the next 2-3 months are your surfcasting playoffs. And the best thing about Labor Day? The opening of training camp for the New York Islanders is only 11 days away.

Soon we will be treated to daily updates from Moncton. The exhibition schedule commences September 17th. October 5th and a rematch with the Sabres is barely more than a month away. The days may grow shorter and colder, but a full season of Islanders hockey brings with it all of the hope and excitement necessary to warm the heart through a long winter.

And you know what else? While you're speculating on line combos and who will survive the last cut, don't forget that the unofficial end of summer is truly that. Summer doesn't end for another few weeks. September and October are beautiful months. Whether your preference is Montauk Point, Jones Beach, Cape May, or the local park, get out and enjoy the sunshine!

Note: If your musical tastes permit, End of the Summer is just one of several great albums by contemporary pop-folk artist Dar Williams.

Update: I just read that Chris Botta has sworn off including "culture things" in his NYI Point Blank blog, so maybe now that I've done that once, I'll try to do more of it here.