Mariusz Czerkawski - he could do no wrong tonight; three goals and an assist; the last player to score a hat trick for the Isles was when he did it on April 9, 2000.
Darius Kasparaitis - don't get me wrong, I miss the guy. But when he is on the other team he is a player you love to hate; he is chippy and scrappy, but oh what a cry baby.
Heading to the Coliseum tonight made me reminisce about the good old days when the Isles of old would dominate any opponent that came into our building. With a sellout crowd and fans of the past showing their faces back at the Coliseum tonight, the Islanders gave us all something to cheer about. Was it the presence of the players that formed the nucleus of the Stanley Cup teams that inspired the Isles? Or maybe it was the sellout crowd and the noise in the building? Who knows. But they played some inspired hockey tonight in what turned out to be a seesaw type game.
After battling back and forth with the Pens for three straight periods, the Islanders were able to out duel them on the backs of Czerkawski and Connolly. Mariusz netted the hat trick and Connolly had 4 assists, a career night for him. Czerkawski looked unstoppable on the ice and the puck seemed like it was glued to his stick. Connolly was setting up his teammates left and right with crisp, clean passes. The Islanders played a very physical game as well with both Cairns and Chara doing a respectable job curtailing both Lemieux and Jagr. With the 6-5 victory tonight, the Isles can head off to Colorado in a positive frame of mind and hopefully get some momentum for the second half of the season.
Watching the ceremony taking place before my eyes, and hearing Mr. Torrey speak left me ready to lace up my skates and head onto the ice. The way he spoke about what pride the present Islanders should take in putting on that sweater each game made me realize how precious those Islander teams of the 80's were. I mean think about it...4 straight Stanley Cups? That is absolutely unheard of today, mostly because of free agency, and the difficulty most teams have keeping a strong nucleus of players together. But the Isles were able to do it in four consecutive years through the guidance of Mr. Torrey who put all of the pieces of the puzzle together. That is quite an accomplishment and something us Islander fans should be extremely proud of. So, thank you Mr. Torrey for providing the foundation for memories that will last a lifetime.
Sweet, Sweet, Mario
Is this guy absolutely amazing or what? Considering what an Islander killer he has been in the past, escaping the game with Mario only getting two goals is quite an accomplishment. I have seen all the superstars come in and out of the Coliseum, be it Sakic, Messier, Roenick, you name him. But nobody puts fear in my heart like Mario does. During each of the Penguin's power plays tonight, every time the puck was on his tape I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the red light to start spinning behind Vanbiesbrouck. He just seems to handle the puck so effortlessly and is a threat to score no matter where he is on the ice. On his first goal of the night, the Isles lost sight of him for a matter of seconds and before you knew it the biscuit was in the back of the net. You want to really scare me next Halloween? Show up at my door with a Lemieux costume on and watch me run while screaming in fear.
What Was That All About?
You would figure that every fan who attended the game tonight would have some sort of clue about the ceremony for Mr. Torrey. Well my friends, think again. The two seats next to me were empty as the ceremony began but just at the conclusion of the big event this guy sits down in the seat next to me in my row and says "What was that all about?" After picking myself up from the Coliseum floor, I proceeded to tell this poor man that it was only a ceremony for one of the best GM's of all time in any sport. He just kind of shrugged it off as no big deal, as I continued to chuckle on the inside.
Berube Gets An "F" On His First Day
I can only assume that Milbury acquired Craig Berube to add some toughness to the Isles lineup. But any true enforcer has to know how to pick his spots to give the team some momentum when it needs it most. Berube took a major penalty for boarding this evening that realistically could have cost the Isles the game. Considering the Pens have a power play unit of Lemieux, Jagr, Kovalev, Straka, and Lang they could have easily opened the game wide open during the major penalty. While I agree that we need a little more toughness on this team, Berube has to start playing some much smarter hockey to help out his new club.
Islander Fan Etiquette 101
Some fans tonight actually had such a lack of class that they started chanting "Mike Must Go" during the ceremony for Mr. Torrey. There is a time and place for this ridiculous chant but hearing it during the event for the "The Architect" was quite embarrassing to me as an Islander fan and just shows how some other fans just have no clue. Is Milbury another Bill Torrey? No, but nobody ever will be. So, please just give Mike a chance.
Billy, Where Are You?
As the Islanders of the past made their way onto the ice tonight, one integral part of the puzzle was missing...Billy Smith. Now, I have no idea why he wasn't present for the ceremony but we cannot forget what he meant to this franchise. He was the backbone of those teams of the 80's and protected his crease like a warrior. How could anyone forget the way he would swing his stick around along the ice, daring forwards to come near his domain. He gave those teams a sense of attitude and his value to the franchise and the run of 4 straight Stanley Cups cannot be forgotten.
(tid bits you may have missed)
Tonight's game was only the Isles third sellout this season. If you bring Mario, they will come I guess. It was great to hear Eddie "The Limo" Layton back at the Coliseum on his Hammond organ. There is a great audio clip of Bill Torrey's inspiring speech on newyorkislanders.com; I recommend listening to it. Tim Connolly is starting to eliminate his shooting phobia; opposing goaltenders beware. How great was it to see hats on the ice tonight after Czerkawski's third goal; I haven't seen that in a while. After reading comments made by Mr. Kumar during a chat with reporters this evening you understand that the ownership is truly committed to letting this team develop and not making any sudden changes. We have the stability this franchise has been lacking over the past few years, so give it some time. Nothing happens overnight.
Until next time..."Hail to the Architect"