"In reading the lives of great men, I found that the first victory they won was over themselves… self-discipline with all of them came first." Harry S. Truman
In the first 2 games we've seen a very disciplined and energetic hockey team. Despite the 2-1 loss to the Devils, I thought the Isles played well. The Guerin, Weight, Sim line appears to have good chemistry. The kids were flying around the rink and the play was fast - just as Scott Gordon promised. There were a few defensive miscues and some sloppy passing - that will improve as the lines flesh out and they gain some confidence & familiarity playing with each other. But they appeared to play well in the new system. Who knows what the outcome would have been if the game went to OT - after all, the goal by Elias was obviously a blown call by the refs. Last time I checked the rules, you can't be in the crease (actually, he was almost in the net) when you score. Replays also showed he wasn't pushed into the crease or MacDonald -- he got there all on his own. Should have been 1-1 at the end of regulation. Before I move on to Game 2 - I have to mention Okposo & the penalty shot. That old fox Brodeur gave Okposo the bait of the open window in the upper corner - and Okposo bit - and bit hard. Brodeur has a great glove as veterans all know. Chalk one up for age & experience over youth & skill. Okposo is going to have to bury those opportunities in the future if he is going to become one of the offensive leaders on this team. The Devils don't give away too many chances - and if you are lucky enough to get one - capitalize, because he who hesitates, is lost.
On to Game 2 - the Home Opener. Just a few side words about the game experience. The band that played before, during & after was awfully loud, and just so-so (maybe I'm getting old); the new t-shirt Gatling gun was kinda neat; but, the elimination of the Gary Glitter song after a goal was sad. My kids liked pumping their fists in the air and shouting "Hey" (followed by the less formal "you suck") after a goal. We all know it has literally nothing to do with hockey - but the crowd seemed a little lost on what to do after a goal. Look - I know Glitter has some creepy legal issues - but I don't think playing the song after a goal is an endorsement of his activities. Bring back the "Hey" song! While we are on the subject of music - if you ask me (and my boys) we used to love when the Isles played the music with the video of the pirate ship & skeletons shooting pucks - right before the start of a game. The music was pretty cool - and besides, mixing hockey with pirates & skeletons - it's a 10-yr old boys dream!!
Back to the game. The Bergenheim, Hilbert & Thompson line was quick & aggressive. FYI - kudos to Andy Hilbert on his 2-pt night. In BOTH of the last 2 seasons it has taken Hilbert more than 20 games to get his first POINT - that's right, I said POINT, not goal. Imagine going 1/4 of the season without a single point! Let's hope this is the new & improved Hilbert and not the one who for the last 2 seasons couldn't hit the broad side of a barn.
The Guerin, Weight, Sim line produced some good chances - and it seemed like everytime Sim was on the ice there was a scrum in front of the net or on the boards - good old-fashioned hockey. The line of Park, Comrie & Okposo skated well, and their aggressive forecheck, nice passing & crashing the net led to the first goal. While I don't think anyone is going to be afraid of any one of the Isles 4 lines, they all seem to be somewhat balanced. Balanced with average or slightly above average talent - but balanced nonetheless. I think the fact that the 5 goals came from 5 different guys is a good sign; getting one goal from 3 different lines - plus one shorty and one PP. That's balance.
On defense - the guys took the body and kept the front of the net clear. I can't say enough about the old warrior - Witt. He is an animal. My son (also a defensemen) proudly wears his Witt jersey to every game. Martinek left the game in the first period - so the D-men did a geat job picking up the slack and gobbling up the ice time.
One of my initial concerns with the Isles has been - can we score enough to win? You obviously can't answer that question after a mere 2 games. I think it's fair to say the team is capable - and if they stay disciplined in Gordon's ludicrous-speed system - and they drive to the net, we might just see more exciting games like we did Saturday night.
Leave you with a little hockey trivia - who said, "Jesus, what did the old man trade for these a**holes, a used puck bag?"?
Until next time......