It wasn't a big surprise that Dylan Reese, who'd dropped back to Track 8 on the blueline's current triage station, was returned to Bridgeport yesterday. But that move was an echo of 20-year-old Travis Hamonic's impressive play since his call-up. Caution is the rule when gauging a defenseman's NHL introduction -- often they're sheltered, and often they play smart and simple first before a dose of confidence paradoxically gets them into trouble later for, in the parlance of our times, "trying to do too much." Think Luke Schenn his second year and Tyler Myers this past October.
But Hamonic's had an interesting variety of roles already, including a bit of both special teams. In the first Rangers game he started off paired with Reese before they shifted him to a pairing with Mark Eaton, as Reese saw less and less of the ice and Radek Martinek was made Reese's new crossing guard. In the second Rangers game and the Flyers game, Hamonic paired almost exclusively with Andrew MacDonald -- on Sunday seeing a healthy dose of the Scott Hartnell/Daniel Briere/Ville Leino line (Briere's game-winner came against Hillen/Wisniewski). [Those links are all to Behind The Net shift charts; unwieldy at first, you can actually drag the bars around and have some fun with them.]
For what it's worth, Hamonic is already credited with 12 hits in 5 games, a rate that would make him their most physical defenseman. While it's very early for Corsi-based conclusions, Hamonic was a plus in that department in all three of these losses. In other words, if you thought Hamonic has been one of the Isles' better defensemen, the underlying numbers think you're on to something. Which is scary, because of that whole "don't want to rush the kid" instinct. The Islanders are in the position of weighing big picture vs. immediate needs: So what if Hamonic plays too well to send back?
In the NHL, with the frequency of blueline trips to the trainer, decisions like that often make themselves. That's why I was sure both Reese and Hamonic would see time with the big club this year. Currently Mark Streit and Mike Mottau's injuries are long term enough to make room for Hamonic to stay in the NHL 8. And if he's here in that group, even when Milan Jurcina comes back Hamonic still probably has a spot based on performance alone.
By the time there are enough bodies to push him, will he have a strong enough resume to say, "Sorry, go push someone else"? Could be.
Media Rankings Survey
You know, when we started these, the idea was to track how impressions of the team changed from week to week. Changed. As in, "this week was not the same as last week." Alas, right now they're in an unchanging rut, and the polls reflect that, as all pile on.
|Outlet||Rank||Last Week||Their Commentary|
||New York is getting outhustled and outmuscled on a nightly basis and apparently coming undone as badly in the dressing room as it is on the ice.|
||Jack Capuano has coached in the East Coast Hockey League, so he's familiar with these types of players.|
|ESPN||30||30||This was a tough one given the New Jersey Devils' futility, but after the Islanders were swept by the New York Rangers, we believed there was no other option than to keep them at the bottom spot in the rankings. At least they know their way around here.|
|Sportsnett (Brophy)||30||30||The Islanders have not scored a power play goal in 11 games going 0-for-36 in that span.|
|30||30||One win in the last 18 games and their leading scorer is D James Wisniewski, who has 15 points, yet owns a league-worst minus-18 rating; the perils of playing 23:43 a night for the Isles.|
The liars are out, they have all the assets / Crawling for oil, they were bleeding for gold / Fruit tasting bitter, and lead in the air: / Butcher the womb and expect her to bear
[Sorry, one last Killing Joke reference to commemorate a great night at Irving Plaza]
NHL Power Rankings
Updated through Sunday's games. Formula and calculations courtesy of our user ICanSeeForIslesAndIsles. Explanation of how he does it is in the original post. If you have any questions about it, leave them in comments and he'll likely answer.
|W||L||OTL||Pts||GP||Win %||% Pts Earned