New York Islanders forward Josh Bailey has been looking forward to the upcoming 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game between the Isles and the New York Rangers (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC) at Yankee Stadium. In the first edition of the player blog he is doing for NHL.com for the next three days, Bailey talks about the his experience playing outdoors as a youngster and his thoughts about watching the outdoor game between the Rangers and the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.
His first blog entry comes after the Islanders' 6-3 loss to the Boston Bruins at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Monday night:
This wasn't the way we had hoped to go into the outdoor game against the Rangers. It was a pretty bad start by us. They were all over us there, but I thought we rebounded well and clawed our way back into the game. The late goal they got in the second period hurt us, and we just didn't have enough in the third period. We weren't able to capitalize on a couple of chances and we lost the game.
They came out hard; I think they had 18 shots early, and you're just trying to weather the storm, find a way out of it. I thought we did an OK job of trying to keep them to the outside. We had a great second period, but we didn't find a way to get it done.
It's been kind of a bizarre season for us, a lot of ups and downs. We had a big "down" for a while, but lately we've been playing well, playing the way we want to play, and I think we've been seeing more and more results. We're going to have to play that way the rest of the season if we want to give ourselves a chance to make the playoffs.
Now it's off to Yankee Stadium.
I'm a baseball fan, but I'm more of a Toronto Blue Jays fan than a Yankees fan because I grew up near Toronto. I've seen a few games there, and I went to one this summer and remember a few of us sitting there and looking around and you couldn't help but get excited about the outdoor game.
I'm really looking forward to the practice and the skate on Tuesday. You get out there and we'll all have some family and friends come out after and take it in together. I have about 14 people coming down, and they're just as excited as I am, if not more. I'm happy to have that support and have all those people coming down.
I played quite a bit of outdoor hockey as a kid, as much as we could in winter. A lot of my buddies lived close and we'd play a lot of street hockey, and there were a few areas that would freeze over in the wintertime. I remember a lot of days when, if we had the day off from school, we'd bring all the nets, go out and shovel off an area and play. Same thing on the weekends or any other time we got the chance to play.
In the community I grew up in, we were kind of the first subdivision in the area, and there were other ones popping up through the years, and the construction areas would freeze over during the winter with the perfect amount of ice. It would be only a few inches thick, and we'd go out and shovel off a big area and have games out there. I'd also go to my grandparents' house – they own about 100 acres and they have a few ponds out there. I can remember that we'd get up early on Christmas morning and head down; my grandfather would get the four-wheeler out and plow off a huge area for us. We'd have a fire out there by the ice to keep us warm – me, my cousins and my brother would be out there all day long with all our new hockey equipment that we got for Christmas, new sticks and everything. It was always a great experience.
I watched the game between the Rangers and New Jersey Devils on Sunday. I didn't see it all, but I watched most of it, and it seemed like a great experience. Everyone enjoyed it, and I think that made it feel real; that we were going to be able to play there in a few days.
We know it's going to be cold playing outdoors, and I think we'll all adjust. I don't know what the weather's going to be like at this point, but I'm sure it will be cold. We'll try to warm up between periods as much as we can and stay warm on the bench when we're playing. It will be part of the experience. But in any game, once the puck drops you kind of forget about any of the distractions that go along with it. We're just going to try to enjoy the experience, and I know that when the puck drops, everyone will be able to turn the switch and be ready to go.
There are two points at stake, but it's going to be fun. You could even see some of the guys Sunday, when they were walking out of the tunnel, they were kind of looking around and taking it all in. It will be exciting, for sure. There's the whole buildup, and it's going to be a lot of fun. We can make it a lot more fun by getting the win.