Well, as many have said, this was one of the strangest training camps and preseasons I can recall the Islanders having. Five total games over a four day stretch, which included two split squad matches and a 1-4 record was odd enough. On top of that, however, injuries to Mark Streit, Kyle Okposo and Rob Schremp only left many of us scratching our heads and rolling our eyes skyward.
Despite all of that, I still find myself feeling quite positive about the season. Yes, it’s going to take a group effort to make up for the loss of Streiter, but I think that the combination of James Wisniewski, Mark, Eaton, Mike Mottau and Milan Urcina as a “veteran” presence to add to a healthy, Radek Martinek, will be a solid enough group on the back line. All of the little things Okposo does throughout the course of a game will also be sorely missed, as well as the emerging skill of Schremp, yet grabbing Michael Grabner off wavers from Florida will help to some degree in my opinion. I still think that the forwards Gordon will go to war with will be exciting enough and one can expect them to compete game in and game out. Indeed, as much as it will be yet another test for the character of this developing team, I think they will surprise more than a few people by their play as the season unfolds.
As for the five preseason games, well, I don’t think the single win reflects the “big picture” entirely. Two of those games were played with a majority component that will not be on the club opening night. Also, in 3 of the games, the losses to the Flyers, Flames and Devils, it was really a single period collapse that resulted in the losses. To me, this was a problem that really cropped up last season, so I really hope it is addressed by the staff as far as preaching that magic word, CONSISTENCY. Still, overall, I don’t think the five games really said much about how “good” or “bad” this Islanders team will be this season by any stretch.
So, it is just two more days before the NHL season begins and four until the Isles start things up at home against the Stars. Frankly, I’m pumped. I love this time of the year with the new start and the anticipation of what is to come. Let’s hope the boys come out flying and the Isles can get a running jump out of the gate.
BTW, as a truly personal opinion, the Cammalleri 1 game suspension was a joke. Another example of the league dropping the ball. Preseason or not, it is frequently talked about how there is often a lack of respect shown by players towards one another. Yes, emotions run high in a hockey game, but you are responsible for your own actions. I think it’s about time that the NHLPA starts addressing this sort of thing within their body. Apparently, the league is going to practice lip service more than action, or, at the very least, demonstrate a level of inconsistency that boarders on the ridiculous.