Top Shelf (BARCLAYS EDITION): 9/22/13


Sep 21, 2013; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New Jersey Devils defenseman

Alexander Urbom

(33) and New York Islanders right wing

Kyle Okposo

(21) battle for the puck during the second period at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

A near-capacity crowd of 14K+ filled the Barclays center, bringing with it the same enthusiasm that filled every crevice of the Nassau Coliseum this past May.

All were hoping to be a part of history, asking themselves who would be the first Islander to score on Brooklyn ice. Or, curious to see if that same energy that almost ousted the heavily-favored Pittsburgh Penguins would be on display last night.

Historic an event it was, but the outcome was all too familiar for this young yet capable team–a loss chalked up to poor chemistry and lackluster backchecking.

None of the line combinations seemed to click out there, and whatever coach Jack Capuano was hoping for with his new additions, specifically Pierre-Marc Bouchard, never came to fruition.

Not much can be made in way of long-term predictions from one pre-season game, even one as hyped up as last night’s. But after hearing some of the player commentary, this team wanted a win here, and were quick to point out the obvious: nothing worked.

Special teams were lacking in every department, from assertiveness on the Power Play to organization and responsible puck management in their own zone during the Penalty Kill. Although the Isles would give up only 1 PP goal, they were a dreadful 0-5 on their own.

Of the players comprising last night’s squad, only the Frans Nielsen line seemed to be gaining their bearings, show some grit and intelligence and vision on the ice. And of the three that made that specific tandem, Kyle Okposo was by far the most ‘battle ready’ player.

Okposo showed courage in the corners, and was conscientious on his backchecking duties.

Josh Bailey showed some initial jump in his game, as well, but regressed as the night drew to a close. (At one point, Bailey accidentally ‘checked’ Lubomir Visnovsky near the Islander defensive blueline.)

Nothing the Islanders did helped feed off the energy permeating the Barclays center last night, and as is always the case, once the Isles trail the Devils, it’s quite difficult to comeback.

Cory Schneider looked impressive in his pre-season shutout, and most certainly the backup the Devils need for the season.

The Islanders are off this Monday, but not before their matchup down in Nashville later today.

And expect GM Garth Snow to begin making his roster changes after tonight’s Islanders-Predators matchup.


Snap Shots

  • Jack Capuano answers questions about the Power Play and players’ battle level. He emphasized that the youth are playing well. EOI asked whether Kyle Okposo was that ‘battle ready’ player to which he was referring. Here’s what the coach had to say about it all and about Griffin Reinhart, too:

"If some of these guys think it’s going to be easy, they’re going to be in for a rude awakening."

Some stern words from Coach Capuano, setting a tone, undoubtedly, that things will change in a hurry if the need arises.

  • Some soundbites courtesy of Matt Martin. Among other things asked, whether or not he and his teammates considered Barclays home ice last night:
  •  EOI asks Brian Strait about his ankle and playing at the Barclays:

In Case You Missed It

Two Minutes For Tweeting

Fellow EOI writer chiming in on Capuano’s veiled frustration with some of the play lacking in his veteran squad. Let’s just say that Isles youth is showing a bit more hunger.