The 2012-13 Connecticut season started with a stumble, as the Whale blew a 2-0 lead to lose 6-4 to half of the New York Islanders.
In ridiculously-close-to-Ranger fashion, the Whale were handed opportunities to win and simply couldn't convert. But that does belie the fact that Connecticut was outclassed and outright dominated for the majority of the night. Two power play goals (on five opportunities!) in the third period made this one look competitive but, really, it wasn't. Given the lack of intensity by the home team, one would think they were still in preseason ... guess the lack of Camp Tortorella took its toll.
Not going to wrap all the Whale games, but I went to this one so why not? On to the Late Hits:
*The baby Blueshirts survived an early onslaught and actually appeared to get out of the first period not just unscathed but up 2-0. That was, until Micheal Haley got hammered by Blair Riley. Riley wanted to fight off the drop, Haley appeared to say no so Riley went to, I believe, Sean Collins. Collins, in his only smart decision of the night, declined the dance. Puck dropped, play went behind the Whale net, Riley laid a light hit and Haley lost his cool - and ultimately the game. The Sound Scum went into their room on the heels of Riley's decimation of Haley, surely enjoyed the intermission, came out for the second period and pounced upon the little Rangers to the tune of five straight goals. Textbook. Terrible.
*Gilroy was del zastrous: his shots were inaccurate, he couldn't hold the blue line to save his life and his passes helped no one. It is of little wonder he isn't playing top flight hockey overseas - surely no one wanted him. Sure he didn't have a full training camp and is still getting in the swing of things but, let's face it, he wasn't very good when fit - a healthy scratch for that poor Ottawa team in the playoffs.
*Kyle Jean was the top Whale player but that's not saying much because they were quite terrible. He has good hands, decent smarts and a TON of work to do with his skating. Kris Newbury had his moments but the AAAA player always does at this level.
*As @mavanco observed, the Whale forced their offense to go through Chris Kreider when the kid was on the ice - a philosophy that failed. On a team largely devoid of talent, Kreider will at least learn how to handle being 'the man.'
*J.T. Miller did virtually nothing, his highlight was having a Sound Tiger try to hit him and end up taking the worse of it. Although, that is more than Andrew Yogan or Christian Thomas had happen to them, so good on the first round pick.
*Missaen was stellar the first period, square to the shooters. But from then on his lack of rebound control and work-in-progress footwork severely hurt him, as did the team in front of him. It must be remembered that he is a project, one that is far, far from completion. And, man, is he tall.
*Wonder if they intentionally have terrible ice at the XL Center, just to prepare the guys for the notoriously rutted Garden.
*Not sure which bothers me more: that they sell a poorly printed replica puck for $9 or that I paid $9 for it. What can I say? I collect a puck from every arena I go to. I feel shame.
*The much-publicized $2 beer, $1 hot dog promotion was legit, although you certainly got what you paid for: two bucks for Bud Select headache water and a greenback for a poorly-cooked hot dog your grade school cafeteria served.
*Can cross out hearing Brass Bonanza in Hartford off the bucket list. Granted, I heard it at the Whale Bowl two years back, but that was outdoors and didn't count.
*Hartford hockey fans can cross out ever getting NHL hockey again. For the home opener - the home opener - they announced a crowd of just over 8,000 in a building that holds 15,635; and if there were 6,000 folks who actually showed up, that would be a surprise. Despite seeing some MSG regulars, it was clearly not a New York crowd.
3- Casey Cizikas - two goals.
2- Nino Niederreiter - one goal and two assists.
1- Kris Newbury - two goals.
Scotty Hockey Three Stars
3- Kyle Jean - the one consistent Whale threat.
2- Brock Nelson - one seriously talented kid, with (hopefully) one seriously miserable career ahead of him if he stays in the Isles organization.
1- Blair Riley - one fight by Riley, one win by Bridgeport.