Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Islanders @ Anaheim Ducks Wed 11/10/10

When I saw this game on the schedule in August I couldn’t help but smile. Even though it means I will be up way passed my bed time for too many nights on this West Coast trip, I couldn’t believe that the Islanders would be playing the Ducks -- on my birthday. Stupid visions of traveling to Anaheim for my birthday first crossed my mind. Financially not feasible, I then turned my current fantasy to perhaps -- breaking the streak. The losing streak that is.

So far the record of Islanders wins on my birthday seems to be pretty fair. I actually have print outs of birthday emails that I cherish that say “That was for you, kid.” almost more so for the idea of being called “kid” by someone younger than myself than for the actual Islander two points in mid November.

But here we are again, in November, with the Islanders sitting at ten points and looking at an unbelievable losing streak that currently sits at seven games.

Last Saturday night was brutal in the locker room. No one really wanted to talk, but they had to. Matt Moulson, the goal scorer, was mobbed by the press as I stood back. I looked over at Trevor Gillies thinking he’s always a good interview and accomodating. But when I motioned to him, it was plain to see, he REALLY didn’t want to talk about it. Considering the man is somewhat frightening, I walked the other way.

I watched Matt Moulson talk to Stan Fischler as the MSG Network camera rolled. His disappointment was evident, but he knew his job and he did it well. Matt is never rude to the press, no matter how he feels.

I waited for the camera lights to go dark and the recorders to be turned off as the gaggle of reporters descended on Dwayne Roloson. I stood and waited for Matt with my recorder turned off.

“Hey Dee. How’s it going?” His strained smile tugged at my heart. Matt is a winner, and every time he feels he could have done more, it weighs on him.

We made small talk. I asked about the braided cords he wears. “Oh these. They’re full of liquid titanium. They’re supposed to relieve the stress in your neck and shoulders.” I asked how they were working. “Not that great right now.”

And because last year, at exactly this time, I set Matt Moulson on a quest to help me win a bet with Steve Carlson, this year I set Matt on a new goal. An easier one than the 20 goals before January 1st that I had put on his head last year for my birthday. This year, he only needs to deliver one.

“Matt, let me tell you how it’s going to go on Wednesday. If Rick is in net, Jason will score on him, because he can.” I had to keep myself from laughing hysterically when he said “Jason who?”

“Jason Blake. He’ll score on Wednesday.” I said quietly so as to not disturb the reporters in the room.

“Why?” Matt asked, which I assume means he doesn’t know the history behind Jason Blake and the NY Islanders. “Because he just will. Okay, so after he does, it’s up to YOU to counter. YOU will negate his goal.” And when I saw that he began to wonder if it was possible, I poked at his chest. “Because it’s my birthday and THAT is what I want you to do for ME.” I wasn’t going to go into the ten year case study I have on Jason Blake or how if not for him, I wouldn’t be doing this. I just want one damn goal.

A smile washed over his face as his sweat drenched hair hung in his face. “When’s your birthday?”

“Wednesday. The tenth. THAT’S why you’re going to score. That’s my present. Got it?!” He smiled, but didn't nod. Nodding would mean it was a pact that he would not want to break.

It’s a very bold and personal request for a lowly blogger to ask of an NHLer. Probably also one that is forbidden on the back of my press pass. But I couldn’t help it.

So while I am completely unsure of an Islander win over Anaheim tomorrow night, I can say I have total confidence in a Matt Moulson goal that cancels a Jason Blake goal. If I’m right -- I’m playing lotto because I’m obviously more clairvoyant than I think I am.

Also, for those who would like an interesting perspective on the game, Anaheim Ducks PR guy Adam Brady writes a blog for the Ducks website that is really very entertaining. Check it out.

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