The Islanders official site and Newsday's Katie Strang report, and Connecticut Post's Mike Fornabaio amplifies, that the Islanders' seven-game losing streak and frightening failure to score (10 goals in eight games) will lead to the call-up of big AHL Bridgeport forwards Jesse Joensuu and Matt Martin, each of whom Fornabaio reported had good games last night in the Sound Tigers' 6-4 win.
|2009-10 AHL Bridgeport - Jesse Joensuu||46||11||22
|2009-10 AHL Bridgeport - Matt Martin||53||9
Joensuu has had a few looks at this level and has steadily improved his play this season since a disappointing 2009 training camp. Martin, 20, potted two goals in four NHL preseason games -- and 23 PIM -- enough of a glimpse to get Islanders fans dreaming that we have a budding power forward on our hands.
"Top six" may be too much to hope for either of these two, but big bodies who can make trouble in front of the net and put in goals from that precious real estate? Hell and yes.
Scott Gordon told Strang he believes Martin has improved his skating while at Bridgeport, a credit to the Sound Tigers staff (and to Martin, of course). Joensuu has been commended for rebounding from his bad camp to be Bridgeport's second-leading scorer.
The Islanders' struggles this year have featured a periodic lack of physicality in some areas; it's possible Gordon's hard in-motion forecheck and resulting hard backcheck leads forwards to avoid finishing hitting opportunities for the sake of getting back to cover. It's a fine line between finishing all your checks and making sure you don't take yourself out of the 5-on-5 flow. With smaller bodies, that challenge is all the greater. Joensuu and Martin first and foremost bring bigger bodies. Whether they bring goals? That will be fun to watch and find out.
Room for the move involves putting Josh Bailey on injured reserve and no doubt removing Jeff Tambellini -- he of 5:11 even-strength minutes last night -- from the lineup. (The Islanders, carrying just six healthy defensemen, already had one open roster spot.) That leaves one more body to take out from yesterday's game. Gordon said "no one is playing poorly," so it will be interesting to see who draws the
Comeau scratch straw.
Overall, this is an encouraging sign. Evaluating the progress of the kids in Bridgeport is a long-term goal for this season no matter what. Seizing the opportunity to do so in the middle of a seven-game skid simply makes sense.