Last Friday night the season started with the hopes of a shining youth movement getting underway to a successful first game. We saw Okposo make a good attempt on a penalty shot with Joey MacDonald putting on a promising performance in a 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils. It wasn't a win, but it left optimism for the following night's home opener at the Coliseum against the St. Louis Blues.
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Mac was in net again with DP riding the bench. Once again he put on a spectacular showing, bringing the Isles to a 5-2 victory. Many started to wonder if it was possible that this team was going to be better than they had originally expected, and then we ran into the Buffalo Sabres and a devastating 7-1 loss on Kids Day.
Since my school decided to remain open when it seemed almost every other school was closed for Columbus Day, I was unable witness this onslaught of a hockey game, but from what I was able to gather in the highlights and replays was that we were completely unorganized. The defense looked very sloppy, especially on that shorthanded goal by Vanek, but the rebounds that MacDonald gave up over and over again were atrocious. Is he the fault for the loss? Not entirely. Like I said, his defense did not give him much support, and neither did his offense.
Minus Bailey, Campoli, and Comeau, there have been six players that can be classified as our future dressed in these games. Gervais, Tambellini, Okposo, Nielsen, Bergenheim, and Hillen have combined for a total of four points in the first three games.
I know, I went "oooh" with an unsatisfied wince as well. We have to remember it is only the first three games under a new coach and under a new system. But four points doesn't spread out evenly over six players.
There's no need to waive the white flag just yet or start to fret over whether this team's future is dark and gloomy or bright and assuring. These games should contribute to the character-building of these players; if they're going to be able to rebound or not, if they can pull themselves out of this loss and contribute in their game on the road, Thursday against Steve Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
After all, that's what this rebuilding process is all about. The future of this team isn't going to emerge with one win or one goal being scored. It's going to be a process of determining who they are on the ice; how they're going to accept losing and winning. Gordon knows exactly that, too. On the radio after their home opening win Bergenheim was being interviewed after scoring his first goal of the season, but he had to cut the interview short for a team meeting.
Scott Gordon in his second NHL game earns his first NHL victory and instead of celebrating with a more relaxed situation after the game, he maintained his composure and went on with a team meeting. It shows that he is not someone that will take a big win lightly. No matter how perfect a game may seem there will always be areas for improvement.
Fans may be looking down at the floor with concern, but it's way too early to be overly worried. If the reasons stated above aren't enough for persuasion, keep in mind that we have yet to see DP in between the pipes. This, of course, is a whole different topic in which many are beginning to wonder what is exactly going on with Ricky. Gordon went on to immediately defend leaving Mac in net despite letting up a total of seven goals, stating it's not in his coaching methods to rely on throwing in the back-up mid-game of a lopsided loss.
I can only imagine how many questions will arise when Gordon feels the need to pull DP on a bad night. Never the less, DP has sat on the bench for three games - he's incapable of playing starter because of his knee but is perfectly capable of playing as the backup. Personally I don't see how that makes sense. What Gordon seems to be saying is that DP is perfectly capable of sitting down, but not playing the position of goaltender.
Whatever the true situation may be, hopefully DP will have gotten the rest and practice that he needs in order to play this Thursday. If not, it will be a perfect opportunity for MacDonald to rebound after a terrible loss.
Either way, there is a lot of work that needs to be done with this team and the coaching staff and players seem to be fully aware of it.
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