In just five days, the Islanders will celebrate the beginning of a new hockey season when they faceoff against the Dallas Stars at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Opening Night is definitely exciting for dedicated hockey fans who have been looking forward to this season since the last one ended, but this night is also extremely important to the players on the ice.
"We are glad the preseason is over. With the exception of the two injuries to Kyle and Mark, we are relatively healthy," said Islanders head coach Scott Gordon. "I think the guys are looking forward to playing a real game now. There was a lot of training over the course of the summer. The anticipation of playing the first game is something that you wait all summer for, and why you do all the training."
Here on Long Island, Islanders forward John Tavares is full of excitement. He compared his impatience to the feeling of counting down the days until Christmas as a kid. He couldn't be more thrilled that the first game is right around the corner.
"Just the anticipation for it," Tavares said. "The build up for it, I think every year it's the same kind of feelings. I think I said this earlier during Training Camp, but the opening game is kind of like Christmas. The anticipation for it, there's so much excitement and you train so hard for it all summer. When it finally gets here, there's nothing like it."
Even though he's extremely excited to get the 2010-11 hockey season started, he knows the next five days are going to be very intense practice days. As a rule, the league requires each team to trim their roster to 23 skaters by Wednesday at 6 p.m. Currently, Tavares is practicing on the top line with Blake Comeau and PA Parenteau.
While he doesn't have anything to worry about, he said, "I think there's still a few spots being battled for," of the Islanders current 27-man roster. "(The rosters need to be set by) Wednesday so there's definitely still some guys battling. It's good though. It's good to have it throughout practice this week to keep the intensity high. It's great competition I think for everybody. It pushes everybody to another level."
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