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A blog by a long time New York Islanders fan who stays true to the fellas wearing orange, white and blue…but thinks the Islanders organization has some shaping up to do.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Game Day Preview: Isles @ Devils, 7:00 p.m., Prudential Center- SEASON OPENER

The curtain rises on another season of hockey for both the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils tonight, as the Isles come across the river to Newark before their own home opener. It will be the first true test for this young squad, under the leadership of new young coach Scott Gordon, and against a team they have had success against in the past, though there's no telling what this team will achieve in the next 82 games.

First off, the youth infusion Garth Snow has implemented has resulted in players such as Blake Comeau, Jeff Tambellini and Kyle Okposo having permanent roster spots, although there are still some veterans such as captain Bill Guerin, defenseman Brendan Witt and newcomer Doug Weight. With the movement, older forwards such as Miro Satan, Ruslan Fedotenko, and Josef Vasicek have gone elsewhere, leaving a need for the kids to step up and provide offense for the Islanders. Okposo has shown some skill especially in this preseason (five points in nine games, much like he had in the last nine games of the season), and time is still needed to figure out what Tambellini's role will be in the Isles' success. Alternate captain Mike Sillinger has been put on injured reserve, so Richard Park and Doug Weight have received the honors- Park at home, and Weight on the road.

On the defensive side of the puck, injuries have already hurt two of the top six defensemen, as Chris Campoli and Andy Sutton have been put on injured reserve, with Thomas Pock and Jack Hillen filling in their spots. A large part of the missed playoff chance last season was because two-thirds of the blueline had gone down by the time spring came around, and now it is all about getting the defense corps healthy and maintaining depth.

Last but in no way least, Rick DiPietro hopes to rebound and shake off the rust clearly on display Wednesday night in the preseason finale against Florida. The biggest concern is if he'll stay healthy, and how many games he will play to remain so. 60 should be the magic number, as he hasn't seemed to reach the 70-game mark just yet, and likely won't. As for staying content on the Island, as some people have been talking about, I think the major issue is him listening to coach Gordon and taking his advice and criticisms. Some people thought that was a problem between him and former coach Ted Nolan, and it may well have been, but whether it will be or not with Gordon is up to him.

With that said, it looks to be a great matchup between the Isles and the Devils, who have Brian Rolston and Bobby Holik back on the team, and will look to settle the score with the Isles early on. I myself am very excited for the start of the season, and I can't wait for that puck to drop!


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