The Islanders were at the Barclays Center yesterday for their exhibition game against the New Jersey Devils. Isles Talk was there as I came in from Pennsylvania to see the game and take in the Barclays experience. I go to at least 7-10 Islanders games a year while visiting the Prudential Center on occasion. I usually take the Tappan Zee Bridge and eventually get to the Throgs Neck and Long Island, so it’s just under 13 dollars in tolls. On my way back it’s the Throgs Neck again and usually the George Washington Bridge as traffic is light by 10pm. So my total on tolls for a day is about 20 dollars. I was already in Queens yesterday morning for a funeral, so I took the car trip to the Barclays Center from Jamaica. I know, I know, should’ve just asked for a quick death. The Jackie Robinson was cake, practically no traffic. Getting to the Barclays while on Atlantic Ave? Yikes! All in all, it took me 50 minutes to get from Jamaica to Barclays, find a spot to park and I was there. I’ll be better the second time around.
I walked in and everything is brand new. Of course there’s lots of black so the place looks a little more enclosed than what it really is. Beautiful concourses, plenty of room to walk and my favorite part: they had a Starbucks!! The prices for food was what I had expected and that’s why I always go to family visits or a tailgates at the Nassau Coliseum parking lot. I got to my seat and I have to say, it was a good view. Definitely a basketball arena seating design and Barclays will kick themselves later for not making it a multi-sport. I consider myself to be a bigger guy, so their was plenty of space between the seats, except if you got stuck in the corner.
Then the game begins. Again, it’s preseason and as far as I’m concerned, no one got injured, so it was a good game. A couple of players stood out:
John Tavares is ready to go. No setbacks what so ever. Looks great.
Kyle Okposo looks like he’s ready to be better than last year.
Brock Nelson is maturing as a player and person in front of our eyes.
T.J. Brennan has a shot and it keeps the offense going.
Speaking of shot, I was sitting next to a fan who wanted the Islanders to shoot while maintaining the pressure, I had said “Give it to Pulock” and sure enough Ryan Pulock gets the puck and rips a hard slapper past Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid for his first pre-season goal. The fan then said to me “Good call!
Chad Johnson was in mid season form. Stopped a couple of point blank shots from the Devils.
The penalty kill is still a work in progress. Once the roster trims down, they’ll be able to work on it.
The ice reminded me of the (Bridgeport Sound Tigers) Webster Bank Arena a day after a WWE event. Translation: Not great. I was told it was better than last year, so the players will get a break from me on their performance.
For the Devils, I thought Keith Kinkaid played well, except for the miscommunication he had with his defenseman that lead to him gift wrapping the puck to a hustling Colin McDonald and to a 2-0 Isles lead.
Get to know Reid Boucher. He was on the Devils shootout roster and scored. He is fast, he can shoot and he will help improve the Devils overall offensive output.
The Devils took a period off in the first, but maintained great pressure for the next two and were able to tie up the game on a pair of powerplay goals.
In overtime, it was clear the Islanders were the better team using their speed to their advantage.
Overall, it was a fun game. I enjoyed the extra hockey time, but it was clear some people looked like they had a train to catch. At the Coliseum, people would wait for the three stars of the game and the interview. Not at Barclays. When the horn sounded, people were gone. The chants in the hallways were still there, but it’s not the Coliseum. I did hear a few car honks of “Let’s go Islanders,” myself included, but again it’s not Nassau.
The trip home takes a little longer. I have to take the Manhattan Bridge over and it took some time, but looking at New York City and the lights, made the wait worth it. Canal street is Canal street. The Holland Tunnel was okay but getting around to 280 in New Jersey was a royal pain. When I got home, including a pit stop for coffee, took me about 2 hours. So the tolls are less, if I plan correctly the parking is free, the seats were worth the money, but I’m sure I’ll be up top and the amount of travel time is just about the same as well. I will certainly be going to more weekend games to limit the traffic and travel time. Please don’t have an Isles rep call me.