Yesterday, the NHL season would have started. Eight teams would have played one game already — Ottawa, Montreal, Boston, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Calgary, St. Louis, and Colorado.
The Islanders would have started out of the gate a day late against a team we all love to hate: the Pittsburgh Penguins. A healthy (?) Sidney Crosby, reigning MVP Malkin, and Marc-Andre Fleury (among others) against captain Mark Streit, John Tavares, and Evgeni Nabokov… who knows what could have happened.
Maybe our somewhat tightened defense, equipped with Travis Hamonic, Matt Donovan and Matt Carkner, would have come together and stifled the two-headed beast. Maybe it would look like kids trying to skate on peanut butter. Maybe Nabokov would be the assertive netminder he was in the back half of the season, or maybe he would have been the “eh, I don’t really want to be here” guy who lost a potential starting job to Al Montoya in the front half.
Maybe Johnny would channel Crosby and score four goals. Or maybe he would be held scoreless at a -2. Maybe Brad Boyes would have proven us wrong, or maybe he would have just glided out into no-man’s-land and thrown a couple of weak shots at a bad angle. Maybe the power play would have gotten off to a hot start with its new corps of Boyes, Tavares, Moulson, Streit and Visnovsky. Or maybe the Isles would have taken more penalties than they’d earned.
Maybe Matt Martin would fight a Penguin, or maybe he’d skate away. Or maybe he’d fight. Who knows?
All I know is that, instead of watching that Atlantic Division throwdown, Isles and Pens fans will be doing anything but that – watching their AHL teams play, or trying to catch up on Euro hockey scores. Maybe they’ll be watching old fight clips, or drowning their sorrows in a six-pack of beer and Law and Order: Choose Your Acronym reruns. They just won’t be watching NHL hockey… and we all know why that is.
Bottom line? Tonight, I should be gearing up to argue with some Penguins fans and drink some Mike’s. Instead, I’ll be working until 8 p.m. and then catching up on the Sound Tigers’ game against the Whale. Which isn’t a bad thing — it’s great hockey, but… it’s just not where I’d like to be.
Is it mid-November yet?