The New York Islanders open their season tonight in Newark, taking on the Marty Brodeur Farewell Tour.
The Islanders are expected to compete in the ultra-competitive Metropolitan Division this year. These expectations may seem a bit much for a team that has spent the better part of the last 20 years as the joke of the NHL.
The obvious reason the Isles should be on your “NHL Center Ice” list is that they have perhaps the best player in the league that isn’t named Sidney Crosby in John Tavares.
But, they also have another forward who is worth watching every night. His name is Frans Nielsen and he has become known among Islander country as The Danish Backhand of Judgment.
Nielsen garnered his moniker by becoming the best player ever at the
hopefully soon to be extinct shootout. Despite going a sub-par 2-7 in the shootout last year, The Danish Backhand of Judgment is still the NHL’s all-time leader in the shootout (of those who have at least 20 attempts).
Nielsen’s move is to lull the netminder until he makes a sharp move to his backhand before depositing the puck in the top netting. When he thinks the goalies are expecting the DBOJ, he will sometimes call an audible and just fire it through their welcoming wickets.
Shootouts are a mind game, and you don’t want to play mind games with a player with the intelligence of Frans Nielsen.
While Nielsen’s backhand-shelf move became the trademark that led to his awesome nickname , it is the other things he does so well that really endears him to Islander fans.
It is also what makes his nickname so great. The Danish Backhand of Judgment sounds like it should belong to some brute who throws punches, rather than a svelte Dane who uses finesse to outwit his opponents. He’s a quiet and humble player who’s reputation among his peers continues to grow with each passing game.
Nielsen is one of the most intelligent forwards in the league. He kills penalties, can work the point on the power play, and chip in offensively.
Watching him play is like watching a hockey instructional video. A consummate professional and terrific human being, Nielsen’s play brings a smile to the face.
So tonight while you’re pre-gaming for your big night out that will definitely end in disappointment, take advantage of the free preview of center ice and flip on the Islanders as they play the Devils. While the broadcast team and journalists talk about Brodeur and Tavares, keep an eye out for The Danish Backhand of Judgment as he goes all fundmentally sound on they asses.
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