The anticipation might not be the same as before the regular season home opener, but there's excitement surrounding the NY Islanders today as they're set to play their first pre-season game tonight against the NY Rangers.
After scrimmaging yesterday with a full roster, the Isles were at it again with the players who aren't scheduled to suit up tonight. Based on who participated in today's scrimmage, we can infer who will be in tonight's lineup.
The Isles will play about half their NHL regulars tonight, but three of the most anticipated participants will be rookies William Dufour, Matthew Maggio, and Isaiah George. The three may be the Isles' top prospects at training camp this year, all trying to better their odds of making the opening night roster or becoming one of the first call-ups during the season.
Joining the three youngsters at forward will be Arnaud Durandeau. Durandeau has been a surprise at camp, showing off his blistering speed playing alongside Mat Barzal and Bo Horvat. He's impressed Lane Lambert from the get-go, but the Isles bench boss was a bit critical of the 24-year-old after yesterday's scrimmage
"He's got quickness, and he's got speed. He pushes the pace, keeps the pace," Lambert said. "That position (with Barzal and Horvat) is going to be something where we can't try and force plays, and I thought, at times, we maybe tried that a little bit too much today."
It seem that was enough to separate Durandeau from the top line, as Horvat and Barzal played with Simon Hölmstrom today.
Semyon Varlamov and Jakub Skarek will be between the pipes tonight, as their positions seem to be cemented as the season approaches. Skarek, who will likely play half the game, will have to fight off Tristan Lennox for the starter's crease in Bridgeport.
The result of tonight's game will be marginal, as building chemistry and reaclimating to a game-type situation is the priority. The young players will be the ones to keep an eye on tonight, as it'll be interesting to see them take on NHL-caliber talent from other teams.