Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Top Shelf is here on your Saturday morning to announce that the sky is not falling and the Islanders season is not lost after two consecutive shutouts in the preseason.
Of course, I jest as it never was in the first place but instead injecting a little humor as we react to the social media over-reaction of consecutive losses last week to the New Jersey Devils.
Hockey finally made its return to Nassau Coliseum last night as the New York Islanders defeated the Nashville Predators 6-4 in front of 9,338 fans.
New York dressed most of its regulars with the exception of Kyle Okposo, who was given clearance to resume skating earlier in the day and was present at Iceworks getting his reps in. Reports say he has a real good chance to be in the lineup for the preseason finale tomorrow as the team plays split squad in Ottawa.
Some line-juggling in training camp seemed to inject life into the offense, as Josh Bailey continued his outstanding play, after being paired with John Tavares and Matt Moulson. Bailey picked up his third marker of the exhibition season in 17:31 of ice time. The captain himself tallied twice on six shots and was a threat every shift as usual.
Of the youngsters trying so desperately to win limited spots for the October 4 opener at New Jersey, Ryan Strome was not in the lineup, which may signal that he is destined to begin the year in Bridgeport. Brock Nelson and Matt Donovan followed up their hard work in practice by turning in outstanding performances. Nelson picking up two assists in 16:40 and Donovan collecting a goal and playing a great all around game in 18:06. Both could and probably should open the season on the 23 man active roster.
On the defensive side of the puck particularly, only 3 garbage time goals made the score closer than it actually was and Lubomir Visnovsky and Andrew MacDonald were the only two to play over 20 minutes as head coach Jack Capuano spread out the ice time to get a good long look at all six.
What does this tell us about the upcoming 2013-14 season, screaming now towards its beginning? Probably nothing. Preseason to most is still just a time to get some important reps in, develop and re-develop chemistry among linemates and get a long look at some prospective talent in the system.
The Islanders will be ready on Friday and I am still holding firm to my prediction of a top 3 finish in the Metropolitan division. Offensively, this team will score goals and defensively, they will be adequate enough to challenge and win most nights. The goaltending will forever be a topic of discussion among fans and pundits alike until it isn’t but a swift transition game, good clearances and shot blocking will always play a key role in the teams bottom line goals against average. It does not fall squarely and solely on the shoulders of neither Evgeni Nabokov or Kevin Poulin.
In Case You Missed It
- A-Mac and Hammer back together and it feels so right.….(EOI)
- The new rule changes for 2013-14 and what they mean to you (EOI)
- Brett Cygralis with a nice feature on Matt Donovan (NY Post)
- Islanders official site recaps the win (NY Islanders)
- Art Staple on Grabner’s versatility (Newsday)
- The toughness of Jack Capuano is perfect for this team (NY Times)
Two Minutes For Tweeting
- Mike Willhoft and I will be in attendance as fans, representing Eyes On Isles. Come say hi in section 215, row 1. I’ll have Isles cap and blue Tavares jersey. A ton of section 329 members will also be in same section so it should not be too difficult to find us. ?
- Seth Jones is going to be a top tier D-man in this league, mark that down. Slipping to the Preds in the draft was great news for a team that lost Ryan Suter to free agency. Isles will score indeed and be in most of the 82 games they play this season because of it.
- The Preds defenseman gives the Isles credit…….or does he?
- Ah, time to break out the gear, huh? Crazy season is just around the corner with the season opener fast approaching. I get my coaching chops ready today as my son’s bantam team begins play.
- Thank you Mike……..thank you very much. Very well said. The booing of the move to Barclays has to stop, as they were the ones who voted down Mr.Wang’s OBVIOUS desire to remain in Long Island. Politics played a huge role as well. Time to move on.