There really is nothing quite like playoff hockey!
The Islanders are in the second round for the first time in 23 years and as the postseason moves forward, my involvement covering the team has changed a little bit.
I have to say it’s very strange not doing pre-game shows or interviewing a player during intermissions, but what’s really different is watching the game from the press box.
The print media and play-by-play announcers usually watch the games from higher up in the press box. I’m normally so busy during games and I stay down near the ice or in our studio to watch the game. I also usually listen to Howie Rose and Butch Goring as they call the action. This past week down in Tampa, I was excited to experience the game in a different way: I watched from high above the ice with a great view of each play as it developed.
It’s also a perfect view of the entire arena for all the pomp and circumstance before puck drop. Each arena around the league has something unique and special. In Tampa, I’m a big fan of their GIANT scoreboard, as well as their pre-game and in-game entertainment and presentation. The Lightning have an awesome 3D projection system they use on the ice, and from the press box it looks amazing.
With about eight minutes left in Game 1 and Game 2, I made my way down to ice level toward the dressing room to prepare for our post-game interviews. Once the room is open to the media, it’s kind of a free-for-all. Dozens of reporters and several cameras are there to get just a few minutes with each player. The Islanders are always very respectful and helpful when I’m looking for interviews, and I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing from John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Shane Prince, among others.
Tampa isn’t exactly the first place that comes to mind when you think of a hockey hotbed. People actually wear shorts and flip-flops to the games because it’s 80 degrees outside.
I was impressed with their strong fan base. They were fired up! Thousands of Bolts faithful packed downtown Tampa and Amalie Arena, dressed head-to-toe in blue-and-white. I did see some Islanders fans as I walked through the concourse before games. But none cuter than my Goddaughter and her parents, who are very good friends of mine. They drove across the state to show some blue-and-orange pride and it meant the world to me!
So, back to Brooklyn we go. I have no doubt that Tuesday’s Game 3 will be another thrilling atmosphere at Barclays Center. This week, it’s the Isles’ turn to show off their home ice skills and their stellar fans.