Islanders' Matt Moulson, Kyle Okposo taken with the Final
NEWARK -- Matt Moulson and Kyle Okposo would much rather be playing into June than checking out the Final to watch their closest friends play. But for the two Islanders forwards, there's worse things than seeing someone you've known for years get this close to a Stanley Cup.
Moulson made the trip out to the Prudential Center Wednesday night to watch his brother-in-law and longtime friend, Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, make his Final debut. Okposo was going to watch from home in Minnesota to see his high-school pal, Devils captain Zach Parise, make his first appearance in a Final.
"It's been great to see Quickie become the cornerstone of that team," Moulson said Wednesday, before he headed out here with some family to watch Quick play. Moulson and Quick married sisters; Moulson's wife, Alicia, is seven months pregnant and stayed home, but Quick's wife, Jaclyn, and her brother, Sound Tigers forward Sean Backman, joined Moulson for the game.
Moulson could have had some mixed feelings about the Kings being in the Final -- he was in their organization for three seasons before signing with the Islanders in 2009 and never quite got a shot to stick in Los Angeles.
But after three straight 30-goal seasons with the Islanders, albeit with no postseason, Moulson isn't bitter, just happy for Quick and former Manchester Monarch teammates like Trevor Lewis.
"I don't have any ill feelings towards them," he said. "That's past. I learned a lot when I was there, and I can look back after a few years now and know that's all behind me."
Okposo hasn't been paying too close attention to the postseason so far -- "I think I've watched more NBA playoffs than NHL," he said -- but after an Eastern Conference finals that featured two of his offseason workout partners in Parise and the Rangers' Derek Stepan, Okposo figured it might be time to see what was going on.
"We've exchanged a few texts, but I've been trying to keep my distance and let him focus," Okposo said of Parise. "It's pretty awesome when it's the Finals and it's someone you know so well."
Okposo was able to burn up nearly a month playing for the U.S. squad in the World Championships in Helsinki, with former Isles coach Scott Gordon behind the bench. After finishing his season on an up note, scoring nine of his career-high 24 goals in the last nine games, Okposo feels as though this offseason, his fourth straight without playoffs, will be different. And not just because he's getting married next month.
"I'm getting older and I need to start to figure it out a little bit better when it comes to the offseason," he said. "Just finding what works for me and what doesn't."
Okposo had no insight to offer on Parise's possible free-agent destinations, though both will surely know by the time they're both married near the end of July -- Parise's is first, a week before Okposo's.
Aside from Moulson's first child coming in August, he's not looking to change much, other than the part where he's sitting in the stands cheering on family rather than having people cheering for him.
"Oh, it definitely stinks," he said. "Ever since Quickie's run started, all I've been thinking about is me being out there this time of year. I want it to be next year, and I know all our guys do too."