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Islanders five takeaways preseason Game 1: Robin Salo stands out

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26: Robin Salo #45 of the New York Islanders scales the puck in against the New York Rangers during the first period in a preseason game at Madison Square Garden on September 26, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26: Robin Salo #45 of the New York Islanders scales the puck in against the New York Rangers during the first period in a preseason game at Madison Square Garden on September 26, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The New York Islanders were back on the ice for the first game of the preseason with a solid 4-0 win over the rival New York Rangers. The result of the game doesn’t really matter though. These are tune-up games, but anytime the Isles beat the Rangers it’s a good day.

So with the game done and dusted, I wanted to go over a few takeaways from the game. Again, the result doesn’t matter so this is going to purely focus on individual performances.

Five takeaways from Game 1 of New York Islanders preseason

Salo makes his case

We believe the Islanders six defensemen are set for the season. Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, Zdeno Chara, Scott Mayfield, Noah Dobson, and Andy Greene are, we believe, the six guys that will man the blueline in 2021-22. But if someone played well enough, maybe they could work their way into the equation as the sixth/seventh D?

Robin Salo, who just came over from Sweden, had one hell of an outing in Game 1. He didn’t put up the production that Erik Gustafsson did, but he showed that he can be physical, can see the game well, and that he can skate very well.

Anyone who was watching the game was all aflutter from Salo’s performance on the night. Can he work that into an NHL spot? It’s a bit early, but preseason is one game in and he’s already giving the coaching staff something to think about. That’s a good sign for the young defenseman.

Holmstrom was absent

This should be the year that Simon Holmstrom takes a big step forward. He needs to remind the Islanders management and coaching staff (and the fans) that he has something to offer to the team. But he didn’t show that tonight.

The 2019 first-round pick didn’t stand out today. Perhaps that’s due to his ice-time (12:38). The Islanders like him, so I believe he’ll get a longer look than some at camp. But so far, we need to see more from Holmstrom.

Alex Jefferies?

You’d think the NHL would know who’s out there on the ice. But if you looked at today’s game sheet you’d see that Alex Jefferies had two helpers. The only issue is that Jefferies didn’t play. He’s not even at camp. Jefferies is getting ready for the season with Merrimack.

Erik Gustafsson was “Alex Jefferies” today. The PTO defenseman had a good game on the scoresheet. I wasn’t particularly impressed with his skating, but that won’t be an issue if he can play defense.

Ilya Sorokin Dialed in

Ilya Sorokin was in midseason form tonight. The Russian netminder made his job look very easy even when it wasn’t. He was tracking pucks through multiple screens, reading the play well, getting his angle right, and being incredibly efficient in his movements.

Sorokin was dialed in for this pre-season tilt.

“Fourth” Line ready to go

I know I said I’d deal strictly with individuals but I had to talk about the “fourth line”.  And lets be honest, at this point the Fourth Line feels like a single entity. The trio of Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, and Ross Johnston (Matt Martin is still injured) was dominant against the Rangers.

Playing a second-line role in Game1, the “fourth line” put up three goals (all three players picked up a goal) and seven points.

We don’t know if Matt Martin will be ready for the start of the season so Johnston could get a prolonged stint. So it’s a good sign to see that the three can click, at least offensively.

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