Sunday, October 12, 2008

Who's worried about the offense?

Five goals? In one game? Four in the first period? That's like a week's output for the Islanders.

OK, so maybe the Blues were a step slow, playing their second road game in as many nights. But give credit to the Islanders for taking it to them right off the bat, grabbing a 4-1 first period lead en route to their home-opening win Saturday night.

Joey MacDonald started again amid a TSN report that Rick DiPietro had fluid on the knee. D.P. said any swelling that was in the post-surgery knee wasn't serious and that if it was, he wouldn't be the backup. Scott Gordon commented that even if the Isles lost their first three games without DiPietro, if the time off was good for him, it would ultimately be best for the club, which is, of course, true.

So the "JO-EY" chants rang through the Coliseum as MacDonald looked sharp again, further erasing what had been one of the club's many question marks heading into the season -- would the Isles have a capable backup in net?

As far as the avalanche of goals, they came thanks to aggressive play and a shoot-first-ask-questions later approach. Kylo Okposo got it started by grabbing a turnover in the corner and flicking a pass to Richard Park, whose rebound was knocked in by Mike Comrie. Trent Hunter fired a blast on the power play that beat Chris Mason, Sean Bergenheim followed with a score, and after the Blues cut the gap to 3-1, Andy Hilbert scored a shorthanded goal thanks to a terrific pass in traffic by Mark Streit, who has looked very good in two games.

Gordon noted after the game that it was only two points, but "it was the way we played. Hopefully that's going to be our identity as a team and that's how we're going to play."

Identity. It's something the Isles have lacked for some time. Under Ted Nolan, the team's identity was, well, Nolan. Now, under Gordon's system, this batch of young players has the chance to establish themselves, not only as individuals but as a group.

And if they can play this way -- especially at home -- for the rest of the season, then at least going to the Coliseum can be something we can look forward to.

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