Sunday, October 2, 2011

Isles Drop Pre-Season Finale, Survivor: Long Island



Last night in Bridgeport CT, the New York Islanders dropped their final exhibition game, 3-2, at the hands of the defending champions, the Boston Bruins.

There were some bright spots though, mainly on the powerplay, as the boys from Uniondale managed to click with the man advantage once again, in the form of a John Tavares 5-on-3 PP tally to put the Isles ahead 1-0.

Marty Reasoner also scored for the Islanders, who, despite blowing their lead, still played a fairly solid game against a very tough Boston team.


Evgeni Nabokov gave up all three Bruin goals, one of which was notched by Tyler Seguin, who should have a spectacular 2011-12 campaign. Nabby made 17 saves on 20 shots faced, and head coach Jack Capuano still felt that, despite his shortcomings, the Russian netminder did have his moments last night. I would agree with that assessment, and I'm not about to judge Nabokov after one subpar outing, especially when it comes against the Boston Bruins.

Al Montoya looked sharp, as he has all preseason long.

Now that the training wheels come off, the Isles have some decision-making to do. They need to decide who will stay and who's headed to the AHL or back to Juniors.

Some of those moves have already been made, as 17 players have been sent to Bridgeport, such as Casey Cizikas, Tyler McNeely, Justin DiBenedetto, Tony Romano, Calvin de Haan (who will get his shot with the Islanders at some point this season, as long as he keeps up his play, Aaron Ness (easily the most improved player at training camp, showed some real promise), and Ty Wishart.


In house, there are two final roster spots remaining, and it'll be interesting to see who the Isles' brass feels are deserving of those positions.

Not that I claim to have any say in this process whatsoever, but if I did, this is what New York's opening night roster would look like, given the players still left in the running:


LATEST PROJECTED OPENING NIGHT ROSTER:

Note: Players not listed in any particular order

Offense
1. John Tavares
2. Matt Moulson
3. Michael Grabner
4. P.A. Parenteau
5. Frans Nielsen
6. Kyle Okposo
7. Josh Bailey
8. Blake Comeau
9. Brian Rolston
10. Nino Niederreiter
11. Marty Reasoner
12. Ryan Strome* (on nine-game tryout, much like Niederreiter was at the beginning of last season)

Defense:
1. Mark Streit
2. Travis Hamonic
3. Andrew MacDonald
4. Steve Staios
5. Milan Jurcina
6. Mark Eaton

Goaltenders:
1. Rick DiPietro
2. Al Montoya

Scratches: 
1. Evgeni Nabokov, G
2. Matt Martin, F

There shouldn't be too many surprises here, other than perhaps Ryan Strome, who I think will get a chance to strut his stuff for a week or two at the NHL level, before the Isles decide to ship him back to Niagara so he can dominate the OHL and lead Team Canada at the WJC, and so on.


I also have a hard time giving Evgeni Nabokov a sweater, come October 8th, because even though he's played well enough not to get cut (and he won't be cut, they'll keep three goalies), Montoya's been better and therefore has the edge. As long as Rick DiPietro is healthy, he'll more than likely be the opening night starter. He's also impressed during these exhibition contests, but I'll want to see more consistency from him before I change my opinion of our oft-injured franchise goaltender.

Steve Staios has been a nice surprise, I'm glad to see that he's got a contract to play for the Islanders. He'll add much-needed depth to the blueline, though the Isles still need to try and find other ways to upgrade the defense. Mark Eaton and Milan Jurcina are hard workers, without a doubt, but no one's going to confuse them with Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermeyer, either. There are better players out there.




Just for comparison, this is how I thought the team would look before training camp opened up:


PRE-TRAINING CAMP PROJECTED OPENING NIGHT ROSTER:

Offense:
1. John Tavares

2. Matt Moulson
3. Michael Grabner
4. P.A. Parenteau
5. Frans Nielsen
6. Kyle Okposo
7. Josh Bailey
8. Blake Comeau
9. Brian Rolston
10. Nino Niederreiter
11. Marty Reasoner
12. Jay Pandolfo

Defense:
1. Mark Streit
2. Travis Hamonic
3. Andrew MacDonald
4. Calvin de Haan
5. Milan Jurcina
6. Mark Eaton

Goaltenders:
1. Rick DiPietro
2. Evgeni Nabokov

Scratches:
1. Al Montoya, G
2. Matt Martin, F


I have to be honest, I really thought de Haan would survive the final cuts this time around, but obviously the coaching staff would like to see him develop a bit more and I understand that. I sincerely believe he'll get his shot, like I said before, at some point this year.

As for Kirill Kabanov, he needs to go back to Juniors, but he needs to dominate there. It's time for him to aim for a higher level, because the way he's playing right now, I question whether or not he can even handle the AHL, let alone the National Hockey League. Kabanov has tons of skill, there's no doubt about it, but he must work on his awareness and discipline, he's not playing smart hockey right now and you can't get away with that in the pro ranks.



The season is less than a week away, and this blogger couldn't possibly be more excited. The game's just beginning folks, stay tuned.


Comments are welcome.

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Daniel Friedman said...

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