My favorite hockey team, the New York Islanders, are doing a swing through California. And I am swinging with them.
The road trip with the boys, that they don’t know about, started last night as the New York Islanders played the Ducks in Anaheim. I think it is fair to say the game ended better for the Islanders than it started.
They took a bad offensive zone penalty in the first minute, and gave a up another power play goal just a few seconds later. They stuck with it though and after 64 more minutes of hockey, and 28 shootout attempts, they were victorious.
I feel bad that Anders Lee has become my whipping boy. I wrote about how early in the third game of the season he had won his first puck battle of the year. I’ll let you know when he wins another. He didn’t produce much in the way of scoring chances last night, make a stand out defensive play, or level someone with a hit. But it was one of his best games. Expectations are that low.
I thought it might be fun to hear what Ducks fans thought abut the New York Islanders. So I asked season ticket holders in my section. I was looking for an engaged sample. That’s not a very scientific way to take a survey.
One thing they all seemed to mention was how physically enormous the Islanders forwards are. Their perception is that we are a team that drafts for, and values, size above all else. I don’t know many Islander fans who perceive that.
During the game I kept hearing (after I pointedly solicited opinions) that the Isles play without any confidence. They don’t challenge when coming over the blue line, they don’t attempt creative playmaking, they’re tentative along the boards.
That was all pretty civilized for opposing fan interaction. After the game it was, “That Hickey guy is a dbag.” “He should go to the ref and admit it wasn’t a goal”. Even in the shadows of Disneyland, hockey fans submit to self-interest.
Which brings up a point. The Ducks, like the Islanders, have spent their existence as the second team in the outskirts of the market. Anaheim is very suburban in a Long Island sense. There are more kids and families at the games. The players are more ingrained in the community. And rival jerseys dot the landscape.