Tuesday, March 18, 2008

LIVEBLOG: Okposo's debut - Leafs 3, Islanders 1

We're live at the Coliseum tonight for the game between your New York Islanders and the Toronto Maple Leafs, and we're very excited to see Steve Regier and Matthew Spiller take the ice.

Oh, yeah, there's Kyle Okposo, too.

The 19-year-old future of the franchise (no pressure, kid) makes his NHL debut wearing Number 21, and not the No. 12 he wore in Bridgeport. Kenneth Dick of OkposoNet informs us that Okposo wore No. 9 at Minnesota, so basically the number on the back doesn't matter as much as the logo on the front, or the numbers in the points column that he can provide. Or, he just likes Brent Sutter better than Duane.

Lots of youngsters in the lineup and Rick DiPietro is out getting an MRI on his troublesome hip, so basically, the Isles get a jump on the 2008-09 preseason. And we're pretty much reduced to rooting HARD against the Rangers. (Go, Sabres!)

Here's a fun fact: Okposo was born April 16 (same day as my son!), 1988 -- five years after the Isles last won the cup, when I was a sophomore in college. Ouch.

Okposo playing with Park and Comeau, doesn't touch the puck but generates some cheers when he steps out on the ice for his first and second shifts. Other than waiting on Okposo, not a ton of excitement here with these 2 teams. Personally? I'm looking for someone - anyone - to run Darcy Tucker. And I'm not alone on that front.

Okposo gets his first shot on goal at the 11:30 mark - save Tokala. No score but the Isles lead in broken stick blades, 2-0. You're welcome.

GOOOOOOOOAL! Talk about end-to-end! Rob Davison gets his first, shorthanded, FROM HIS OWN GOAL LINE. His clear bounced along toward Toskala like a football. He went down, it got by him. That'll be on YouTube within the hour. You got the feeling once the puck was in the Toronto end and it was clear that it was on net, that it could be trouble. But a goal? Unreal.

That's the book on Toskala - he has trouble with the long shots. The reeeeaallll long shots.

Isles up, 1-0, after one.

Besides the arrival of Okposo, the only other good news surrounding the team lately was the news that Nassau County executive Tom Suozzi threw his support behind the Lighthouse Project. Read more about it here. Hopefully, the legislature will get behind it as well and we'll have a new home here sooner rather than later. But knowing Nassau County government, I'm not holding my breath.

Isles killing their third penalty of the game early in the second. Meyer drills Blake, then Dubie stones Kubina on a slapper from the slot. Another good kill.

Penalty on Tucker for hooking, Isles on the power play. Of course, the Leafs have the best scoring chance so far, with Stajan stealing the puck at the blue line and then flying around Berard, who does his best imitation of a fire hydrant. No goal. Okposo almost gets a chance charging to the net, but the pass doesn't get there. Meanwhile, the Isles kill their fourth penalty (too many men).

End of two, still 1-0 Isles.

Is it wrong to be looking up the top 30 2008 draft prospects according to International Scouting Services? That's what I'm doing between the second and third periods. Here's a list -- no profiles yet, but the top prospects are ranked. Here's a tip: Use the list to look these guys up on YouTube. There's plenty of highlights to enjoy. Love that Internet. Here are some profiles as well. Again, you're welcome.

Bad goal allowed by the Isles so I guess they're even on that score as well as the actual score -- and we're tied, 1-1. My hand to God I had just been thinking about writing that the Leafs will score midway through the period, then again with about three minutes left, with an empty netter to cap it off. We'll see - we're a third of the way there.

While the glass is being fixed, here's a thought: The NYI Mobile trivia question asked, who was the first Islander to win the Calder Trophy. And it was multiple choice - Potvin, Trottier, or Bossy. Of course it was Potvin, who was here first -- and yet the most popular answer was Trots at 51 percent??! Let's hope a bunch of weisenheimers texted the wrong answer on purpose, because that's just flat-out embarrassing.

WEAK call against Johnson for holding against Blake. Is this hockey?

Sure enough - a power play goal by Kubina. Give them enough chances, and they're going to score. We'll wait patiently for the make-up call, refs. It's 2-1 Leafs with 8:49 to go.

Leafs goal waved off, Blake called for interference on Dubie, two minutes. Awwwww, tough break, Blakie. And thank you, Mr. Official. Alas, the spirit was willing but the power play is still weak.

Dubie to the bench, breakaway - but Toskala makes the toe save on Comrie. And then there's the empty-netter. Game over, 3-1 Leafs. That's six straight losses and 10 of 12 for the Isles-slash-Sound Tigers.



Ted Nolan came out and said the veteran guys on the squad gave a poor effort and Bill Guerin agreed with him. Both praised Okposo's debut.


The young kids played extremely well. We need a better effort as a whole.

ON NEEDING TO GIVE A BETTER EXAMPLE: I don't care who's in the lineup, you care about who competes in the lineup. We played OK, but that's not good enough.

ON OKPOSO: You can tell he's a player when he steps on the ice, he has a great sense for the game.

We didn't want to give him too much in his first game but he did well. He wants the puck.

Dubie gave us a chance. That's all you want from your goaltender.

BILL GUERIN ON NOLAN'S COMMENTS: I 100 percent agree with him.

They didn't have too much to work on off the older guys. It just wasn't there. We're going to try to win with who we have. The lines were shuffled, but in the end, hockey's hockey. You can't use that as an excuse. We could have won that game tonight. We have to do our best to avoid getting down and avoid getting negative.

ON OKPOSO: He played well. Your first game in the league, you're nervous. I think only Mario
came in and had a good first shift and was ready to go.

It's quite a thrill, your first NHL game. (Guerin remarked that his own debut was too long ago to remember but recalled it was at the old Chicago Stadium.)

He got involved in the game and had a couple of opportunities. There's a reason he's here.

KYLE OKPOSO (whose locker is between Comeau's and Guerin's, for what it's worth):

I thought the game was faster than it was the first period, but then I calmed down a bit.

On his scoring chance: I had a little more time than I thought.

The first period I was very nervous.

It's not different than what I've played. Obviously the skill level is higher. But hockey's hockey, whether it's on the pond or here. You've played a thousand times.

All the guys were really supportive and just said to relax.

No comments: