Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Looking ahead, then back, then ahead again

The Islanders followed up their first loss of the season with their worst loss.  It was a game that reminded us long-time fans of the good 'ol days...of last season.  At home against an (arguably) inferior team and the Isles were completely outplayed.  With it being October and the Isles losing two bad games in a row, many fans did what they'd normally do: declare the season a bust and...

Understand that Islanders fans have reason to react so drastically.  Nick Costonika of Yahoo wrote a nice article on this final season at Nassau Coliseum that also pointed out a recent trend of the team that I (and others) know all too well - that the Islanders can't seem to win in November and December.  These two losses felt all too familiar and quickly sent the Islander fanbase into emergency cynicism mode.

I was among the mob.  The Pavlovian reaction was unavoidable.  With their next game on the road against a struggling but very good Boston Bruins team, the scenario was familiar.  The Isles would lose a tough one in Boston and then face Dallas, a tough Western Conference team, at home leading to a four game losing streak and erasing their perfect 4-0 start.

At least, that's how it's always played out.  It's been such a consistent occurrence that I looked at the schedule after the Dallas game to try and see where they would be able to make up the points.  However, the team went to Boston and squeaked out a win that I'm sure took a year off my life.  I wouldn't say I was back to full optimism when the Dallas game started, but knowing that the Stars played the night before (and went to a shootout) helped me muster some happy thoughts.  Then the circus arrived.  The game was so 1980s that I'm pretty sure Butch Goring - color analyst for the Islanders TV broadcast - called the game in between taking his second line shift deployments from Al Arbour.  The game ended with The Benevolent Frans Nielsen scoring a 3rd period hat trick and the Islanders winning their second game in a row.

Instead of worrying about the Isles trying to beat a bad Winnipeg Jets team in order to salvage points before heading out on their yearly death march (also known as the west coast trip), here I was looking at them atop the division.

A win against the Jets at home would give the team plenty of cushion in the standings to withstand the tough games in California.  And while a weekday (i.e. non-sellout) game against an awful opponent is a telltale trap game for the Islanders, this new-look team has proven the pessimistic version of me wrong twice already.  I was pretty confident they'd be 7-2 when boarding the plane for Colorado.  Let's Go Islan...

So about that west coast trip being no big deal...


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