UBS Arena -- The Taj Mahal of Hockey

Isles' new home gets five stars! Jets win series opener vs. the Oilers. Bruins steal OT win vs. the Caps. Canadiens rookie, Cole Caufield will not dress for Game One, tonight vs. Toronto.

It hasn't opened yet but UBS Arena already is being touted as the best ice palace in the NHL, if not the world. 

As workers put finishing touches on the handsome edifice at Belmont Park, enthusiastic raves have  been widespread from the media to the fans.

Everybody.

"There's fabulous space," says New York Times lead hockey writer Allan Kreda. "The architecture is unique; plus UBS will have the cleanest air possible."

Fans who I've talked to recently can't wait to be there when it opens next Fall.

"Thanks to the coming UBS," says long time rooter Vinny Catania, "this is a great time to be an Islanders fan. We now have a top team, top ownership, top management and a first-class arena to go with them."

The accompanying photo gives you an idea how the building is shaping up. Reporters and NHL people have been frequent visitors not to mention fan tours. A few other comments follow:

Billy Hanley, Deli Manager (Massapequa, NY): “I’ve been waiting almost two decades for this new arena. Long island deserved a state-of-the-art facility. I couldn't believe I was actually there. It's great. I love the wider concourse and the outdoor decks.”

James Nichols, Teacher (Staten Island, NY): “The UBS Arena at Belmont Park is going to be a state-of-the-art building that is every bit as intimate as the Nassau Coliseum.”


Stan’s Java Jive

HEADLINE: STRIKE ONE FOR CONNOR MCDAVID

THE JIVE: Someone had better clue in the Oilers glamor boy that the Stanley Cup playoffs are not -- repeat not -- regular season games in the North Division. With all the fuss and fanfare about how The Great McDavid would carry Edmonton to an easy victory over poor, undermanned Winnipeg, it was Jesse Puljujarvi who carried the Oil. Well, not all the way; just the first goal of the game. After that the Edmonton offense went into hibernation and Paul Maurice's Jets just soared to a 4-1 rout. It should be noted that the oft-touted Leon Draisaitl fanned for the evening as well. Thus, the Oilers Double Cartel both finished the game a minus - 2; total: minus - 4 for the regular season producers. 

Now we all know that Edmonton coach Dave Tippett will deduce the Jets defensive formula and both Connor and Leon eventually will score. But there's more to this series than red lights. There's the matter of keeping the red lights from going off. In that regard, the Jets have a distinct edge.


HEADLINE: BRUINS-CAPITALS -- OT IS OK

THE JIVE: The Boston-Washington series has become a sudden death festival. That's three-for-three in overtimes and last night's was as thrilling as the others. The Beantowners 3-2 underlines an oft-heard bromide; Hockey is a game of inches.

This cliche was proven on the winning goal. Caps defenseman Justin Schultz went behind the net to retrieve the disk left by goalie Ilya Samsonov. Schultz must have been dreaming of a White Christmas because he somehow allowed the fleet Craig Smith to gain that elusive inch and captured the rubber. By the time Schultz awakened, the red light had flashed and -- presto, magic -- the B's lead the series 2-1. 


HEADLINE: THE UNBEATABLE TEAM FROM DIXIE -- MAYBE

THE JIVE: There's no way that the Hurricanes can get the acclaim they deserve for the pure and simple reason that Rod Brind'Amour's team lives in Raleigh, not Toronto. But the Canes never mope about that and why should they? They figure to knock off noble Nashville and move into the second playoff round. Our man in Carolina, Joel Cohen, says the Hurricanes double-dip formula for success is 1. Speed; 2. Talent. "Jordan Staal," adds Cohen, "has turned into an unstoppable power forward." Goaltending has held up well while Dougie Hamilton heads one of the more formidable defense units in the league. (A Carolina-Tampa Bay meeting has classic implications.) Last night’s 3-0 win over Nashville puts the Preds behind the 8-puck!


HEADLINE: THE MCDAVID CRUSADE IS UNDERWAY

THE JIVE: Now that Paul Maurice has answered 4,000 questions about how to stop Cannor McDavid the reality test tube finally was available last night. Give the Jets coach credit; he's had a whole season to dope his anti-McDavid formula for the playoffs. But when all's said and done it really has come down to the goaltending of Connor Hellebuyck. He's got to be better than Edmonton's Mike Smith on any given playoff night. Hellebuyck certainly was last night in Edmonton with 32 saves. Obviously, Smith did not do the job.


HEADLINE: Ducharme scratching Caufield for series opener is a head scratcher

THE JIVE: The Canadiens are making a huge mistake not playing Cole Caufield in the lineup for Thursday's opener vs. Toronto. Montreal is offensively challenged, from April 1st through the end of the season, they ranked 4th worst in the NHL in goals per game with 2.29. Caufield scored four goals in ten games this season with Montreal, and led the NCAA with 30 goals in just 31 games. He has scored goals his entire life, and it's puzzling to see that he will not receive that chance in game one. TSN's Director of Scouting, Craig Button, agrees with me, stating "This makes zero sense to me to not have Cole Caufield in game one." Their opponents boast a high powered offense, including the league's Maurice "Rocket" Richard winner in Auston Matthews, five-time 30 goal scorer John Tavares, and playmaking extraordinaire Mitch Marner. Ducharme's job is to put a lineup on the ice that will give his team the best chance to win, so it appears he is going to rely on Carey Price to repeat last year's playoff performance where he posted a .936SV%. Having Caufield out of the lineup will not make the Habs a better offensive team, but if they win, Ducharme will not be second guessed. 


HEADLINE: THE CLICHE MACHINE IS WORKING OVERTIME. 

THE JIVE: At playoff time the cliche-bromides fly off the screen -- radio.too -- at supersonic speed. It's early but, so far, the league leaders are: 1. Golden opportunity. Notice, it's never silver or platinum; 2. The (goalie; name anyone) would like that one back; 3. The paint when it really is the crease; 4. The Toy Department; that's moving rapidly up the charts; 5. The Wall; really means the boards; 6. Looks; when they really mean chances; 7. The back of the net; they use this joker even if the puck just makes it over the goal line. (If I write any more, I might get sick.)


TRIVIA CORNER:

Two different Rangers — also one Bruin — were nicknamed "Boxcar." Name one or both.

(Answer below.)


CLASSIC COMMENTS FROM YESTERYEAR:

"We're with you all the way, Punch, win or tie!" Telegram to slumping Maple Leafs coach Punch Imlach from the Toronto club's Board of Directors.


TRIVIA ANSWER:

Pat (Boxcar) Egan, a defenseman and Ed (Boxcar) Hospodar, a forward.