Hockey is back! It may not be as organized or as polished as we, as fans would like – but it was great to watch and listen to the game last night.
The Islanders put forth a solid effort last night, despite being shutout 2-0 by their hosts the Calgary Flames – there were a few positive takeaways from the preseason contest however.
If you follow me on Twitter (I mean why don’t you?) you may have caught my little quip on how disorganized hockey makes my head hurt. This wasn’t in reference to any team in particular, as it was clear watching both teams (and highlights from the other games last night) that everyone is working out their kinks. It’s also important to point out, that the Islanders didn’t field a majority of the players we’ll see during the season.
As a matter of fact, the guys on TSN made a few witty comments on the overall age of the Islanders. They had joked about the players standing around in the runway leading to the ice lacking the veterans to lead them onto the ice, they joked about how you know you have a young team when half the players have to get dressed at the hotel before the game (as a peewee and midget who’s not done that?), and then referenced Ryan Strome’s baby face and how he’d get carded the first several years of his career. All light hearted stuff, but true none-the-less.
Let’s get the negatives out of the way.
The young and inexperienced Islanders defenseman often made rushed decisions with the puck, clearing the puck right up the middle, clearing the puck late or at times – right to the opposition. Growing pains, no big deal.
Milan Jurcina getting injured, wasn’t said how extreme, just that he injured his groin and missed the second half of the game.
Evgeni Nabokov doing his best DiPietro impression (I had even joked about this on Twitter) straying out of the crease and misplaying the puck a few times. Shook his rust off though.
Kirill Kabanov showing a reluctance to shoot the puck, holding onto it a tad too long and making late passes unlike what we saw a few weeks ago during the rookie game.
Rhett Rhakshani leaving the game with another injury, although not ANOTHER concussion – this time to his knee.
Offense – the team struggled against the veteran heavy Flames, getting only 13 shots on net, thats after a full 60 minutes.
On to the positives
Evgeni Nabokov made 15 saves in the two periods he was in net. It took him a bit to shake the rust off, but you can see by his positioning and rebound control that the talent is there. I kept shaking my head ACTUALLY seeing him in net and hearing the phrase “Save Nabokov!”.
This youngster has zip, playmaking ability and that moxie you just cannot ignore. He hasn’t looked too far out of place against the big boys, I expect him to get an extra look and perhaps the nine-game treatment.
Here is a kid that not longer than a year ago was labeled a headcase and another problem child Russian. He turned things around in for himself and is taking camp as serious as anyone. He’s looked sharp on Strome’s wing and may find himself in Bridgeport this year should his play continue.
Marty Resasoner looks a bit rusty, granted he’s nursing his knee – but he showed some poise last night.
Jay Pandalfo made some heady moves with the puck last night. I like him for the fourth line if he gets a contract.
Steve Staios needs a contract. I’ve liked what I’ve seen and heard from him all of camp and preseason. He rounds out the defense nicely and adds needed depth.
Trevor Gillies has been hitting, they have been hard and clean. It looks like he spent his offseason really working on his game. (Now with video!)
With the a-team at home likely watching on Long Island last night – it was a decent game to watch overall.
There were some roster trims today via waivers, I’ll have something on that later on tonight.