Part of me wishes that I had stayed up as late as necessary last night to recap the events of the day when they were freshest in my mind. I was truly wired when I arrived home and that energy would have served me well in capturing the experience of attending my first home opener as a credentialed blogger (and a successful home opener for the team at that). Fortunately, I have pages of notes, ample chunks of available memory, and the excellent work of my fellow bloggers to help bring the story back to life. In the end, I think you will get a more measured account of the highlights (read: hundreds of words instead of thousands). At least, that's what I was hoping when I started this.
Fellow blogger Tim Marino of The Fantasy Fancy made the drive out to the Coliseum with me. I think we were both emboldened by each other's company. Arriving with a partner-in-crime certainly eased my nerves walking up to the press gate. We obtained our media passes without the slightest bit of hassle and began circling the outer concourse of the nearly empty coliseum in search of the Blog Box just above Section 201. It was remarkable to watch how quickly the old barn filled up as soon as the gates were open to the public.
So what does a Blog Box look like? Inconspicuous it was not. The Blog Box was formed by a series of high tables and high stools on top of risers, all backed by a giant NYI Blog Box banner. We each had an assigned seat with power outlets available. The team also provided us with game notes, media notes, the NHL's daily stats packet, and a packet of all the press clips that were relevant to the game.
It was an absolute pleasure to meet my fellow bloggers. The Islanders really selected a quality group of dynamic people. Also joining us in the Blog Box were Richard Deitsch of SI.com and Tripp Mickle of Street and Smith's Sports Business Journal. In an exciting twist to the debut of the live Blog Box, these gentlemen were in attendance to write stories on, well, us. It was fun to be interviewed and very interesting to get the perspectives of seasoned pros on what we were doing. I'm looking forward to reading their pieces and will certainly link them here when they are published.
Now, to break things up a little, let's stray from the narrative for some specific notes from the first period:
- Radek Martinek received a huge ovation from crowd during the pre-game introductions in light of his contract extension. The fan base really respects him and rightly so.
- Tim pointed out to me that Freddy Meyer was not in the lineup, nor was he announced as a scratch. This fueled speculation that a Berard signing was imminent. I later learned that Greg Logan, HockeyBuzz, and B.D. Gallof were right on top of the story, and I just hadn't heard it yet. Sometimes you're so close to the action, you miss it!
- Humorous moment: When Christie Brinkley dropped the puck for the ceremonial faceoff, she immediately retreated, thinking that there would be some actual stickwork involved. She's a new fan, so we'll give her a break as she learns the details of the game.
- Early in the first period, the crowd seemed a little tentative, but ready to explode if given a reason. It was around this time that I repeated to myself, and then to Tripp, that when the Coliseum is full and excited, there's no better building.
- Five minutes in, it was evident that the Isles were playing crisp hockey.
- With about 13:30 left in the first, the scoreboard showed highlights of the previous night's win against the Sabres. Right in front of the Sabres. I hoped that this didn't motivate them.
- With about 12:00 left, Comrie took an elbowing penalty and was the recipient of a retaliatory hit. Captain Guerin was there to back him up immediately.
- For all the talk of the Hilbert/Tambellini issue, one thing we have to realize is that Hilbert's greatest impact on the performance of the team probably won't be measured in ways that are easy to see. But Ted Nolan seems very in tune with that kind of impact. In his post-game press conference, Nolan would note that Hilbert is always first on the forecheck and first on the backcheck.
- Eric Cairns was introduced to the crowd and shown on the scoreboard to a rousing ovation.
- Ryan Miller was giving up some rebounds, which was a good sign at this stage of the game.
- The Islanders finished the first period with a 9-7 advantage in shots. Still, I was concerned that Don Koharski and Dan O'Halloran would furnish another Islander opponent with a favorable margin in power play chances.