Sep 21, 2013; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders take the ice for the first time at Barclays Center against the New Jersey Devils. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Islanders mixed up their practice groups Tuesday, shifting a few players between ‘Group A’ (the NHLers) and ‘Group B’ (the prospects) as the team moves ever closer to the start of the 2013-14 regular season.
Moving from the prospect group at Iceworks to the NHL group at the Coliseum were Matt Donovan, Brock Nelson, Griffin Reinhart, Ryan Strome and Johan Sundstrom. NHLers Joe Finley and Radek Martinek were reassigned to ‘Group B’ in Syosset, along with goaltender Anders Nilsson.
While lineup changes aren’t the be-all end-all of the preseason, the change in personnel among the two training camp groups signals an important step in the development of the team prior to the first true home preseason game.
Any one of Donovan, Nelson, Reinhart, Strome or Sundstrom could make the Isles’ Opening Night roster, but not all of them will. With an open spot on the blue line, Donovan is nearly a shoe-in for the regular season lineup, while Nelson and Strome are battling it out to see who fills in for Cal Clutterbuck while he’s out with an injury.
Head coach Jack Capuano has some decisions to make in the immediate future, not least important of which will be finding some line combinations that can produce goals. The Islanders haven’t scored a goal in their last six preseason periods, and the fan base is starting to get uneasy.
Friday night marks the return of Isles hockey to the Coliseum, a welcome sight for any Islanders fan, no matter how long it’s been since their team put the puck in the net.
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The excitement on Long Island is palpable, as the Islanders return to the Coliseum Friday night to take on the Nashville Predators (or “Perdators,” depending on where you get your information.)
Like I said: fan base = excited.
For the first time in recent memory, the Isles are running a training camp with serious competition for NHL roster spots, which is a great problem to have if you’re Capuano, GM Garth Snow, or just an Islanders fan.
Michael Grabner is probably near the top of everyone’s short list for Isles X-factor this season. If he can convert on a higher percentage of breakaway opportunities—which he earns because of his speed—the team will be more dangerous, with scoring depth on three lines instead of two.
It seems like Neil Greenberg was tired of the backlash he received after leaving John Tavares off his “Top 25 NHL Players Under 25” list. Or maybe he finally watched some Islanders tape before posting his second version. Either way, he got this one right.
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