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Isles/Rangers Opening Night

The kickoff games at home -- will they set the tone for the season?

NY+Islanders+on+the+ice+at+Barclays+Stadium.
NY Islanders on the ice at Barclays Stadium.

NY Islanders on the ice at Barclays Stadium.

Photo by Eric Wertz

Photo by Eric Wertz

NY Islanders on the ice at Barclays Stadium.

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The start of the NHL season is always an exciting time for fans of the Islanders and Rangers. That date that has been circled on the calendars of every fan of the team finally approached us. Hockey season is back.

Both teams opened their season against last year’s President’s Trophy winner, the Nashville Predators. This team led by the flash and talent of Filip Forsberg, PK Subban, and Viktor Arvidsson meant the fans attending the home openers were in for an action-packed game.

For the Rangers, they were coming off of a disappointing season and looking to make a good impression for the fans was new head coach David Quinn. Rangers franchise goalie Henrik Lundqvist was in goal for the team, which almost always means the game would be competitive.

After the introductions of the players and the standard singing of the National Anthem, hockey was finally back in Madison Square Garden. The first period was scoreless, which it typical for the first period of the season as the team are feeling each other out and getting used to playing back at game speed.

Early into the second period, Filip Forsberg from Nashville scored on a rush into the zone to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.

The Rangers showed their resilience however, leading to a Jesper Fast goal off of a feed from Filip Chytil four minutes later. The area known as ‘Rangerstown’ erupted and the Rangers were right back in the game.

Heading into the third, the game was tied but the Predators defensive talent changed that. Off of a faceoff, Mattias Ekholm fed PK Subban for a one-timer which was ripped past Lundqvist and the Preds retook the lead.

An empty netter from Colton Sissons sealed the win for Nashville, so it seemed. With 34 seconds left, Pavel Buchnevich tipped in a shot from the point to make it a one goal game again. The Rangers could not make the complete comeback and would end up losing 3-2.

Pekka Rinne, the winning goaltender for Nashville made 34 saves in the victory. Lundqvist kept the Rangers in the game with 30 saves but would end up taking the loss, even though the game winning goal was the empty netter from Sissons.

David Quinn was pleased with his team’s effort against a Stanley Cup competitor but expects more out of his team in the future. Talking about the forecheck, when asked about Lundqvist, Quinn said “He’s an incredible competitor, he’s one of the top goalies in the league”.

Also in his post game press conference, Quinn said “I thought we got better as the game went on” showing he liked his team’s play but there is still a lot to work on with the team in practice.

The Rangers look to build off of this impressive effort, even if they came up short.

In Brooklyn, the Islanders opened up against Nashville at the Barclays Center.

They started off the season on the road in Carolina with a 2-1 overtime win on a goal from Josh Bailey and an outstanding performance from Thomas Greiss.

Greiss would get the start again going up against the Predators backup goalie Juuse Saros. It was a loud atmosphere in the arena in what is likely to be the last home opener at the Barclays Center before the Islanders move to NYCB Live in Uniondale, and eventually to their new facility in Belmont. Games are supposed to be played at the Barclays Center in the future but those chances look slim due to low attendance and the arena not being built for an NHL team.

Not even four minutes into the start of the game, Nashville forward Viktor Arvidsson picked up the puck, embarrassed Ryan Pulock with a between-the-legs move and tucked it through Greiss to give the Preds a 1-0 lead.

Shortly after the halfway point in the first period, Josh Bailey took a puck behind the net and passed it to Calder Trophy winner Mathew Barzal who appeared to have his shot saved by Saros. However, the play was reviewed and it was determined the the puck crossed the line and Barzal tied the game.

With time winding down in the first, Mattias Ekholm came down the wing and ripped a shot past Greiss for his first goal of the year to return the lead to Nashville.

Early in the second, the Islanders latest free agent signing Luca Sbisa took a wrist shot from the blue line that was deflected by both Tanner Fritz and Valtteri Filppula. It was Filppula’s second goal of the year after he scored the Isles first goal this season as well.

The Predators offense outworked the Islanders later in the period leading to two quick goals from Craig Smith and Arvidsson, who netted his second of the game.

With Nashville up 4-2, Zac Rinaldo took a penalty late in the period and the Islanders power play struck for a goal. It was the Islanders captain Anders Lee who beat Saros from in close to trim the Predators lead to one.

This was the Islanders second power play goal in as many games showing the changes the coaching staff is addressing the weaknesses from last season.

The third period would go with a goal, locking up the Predators second win of the year as they hand both the Islanders and Rangers a loss in their home opener.

Islanders new coach, Barry Trotz, who got a huge ovation from the fans when he was introduced pregame, was happy with the team effort. Trotz said after the game “Our overall game, I thought we were pretty good”.

The new captain Anders Lee stated in his postgame interview “I thought we played a better game than we did on Thursday” showing that even in a loss, the Islanders are remaining confident.

Both fan bases should be excited to see what their team will bring this year as they had a promising against a top team in the league.

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About the Contributor
Eric Wertz, Staff Writer

Grade 12

"I'm an apostrophe, I'm just a symbol to remind you that there's more to see." ~Dan Reynolds

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Isles/Rangers Opening Night