Last night's Orange vs. Blue prospect camp scrimmage meant nothing, and yet it was fun enough to give us a little much-needed mid-summer dose of hockey. The game was streamed online (last night's game thread is here, video highlights below) and drew around 5,000 fans in person.
Each year we draw grand conclusions from this game, determining future stars and declaring worthless busts based on individual performances. Okay, no we don't. But we still joke about it, as Keith did in his 1st half, 2nd half and OT Twitter recaps.
Regardless, it's fun to chat it up, so here are some impressions:
- Ryan Strome should outplay everyone on the ice and he knows it, so he did. What were his quotes the other day? "Is it October yet?" and something like "Every day I wake up and think about making the Islanders." Yeah, something like that. He looked it here. I promised not to draw any conclusions from this game, but he's been working out with John Tavares for six weeks (and will continue to do so) and looks and sounds like he won't be denied a spot.
- I would not want to be the walls Strome will be bouncing off all summer until camp.
- That said, on Strome's first major rush down the right wing, Griffin Reinhart calmly directed him to the outside, then rubbed him out (gently) in the corner.
- Reinhart formed a pairing with Ryan Pulock, the last two first-round picks. [Rebuild reverie moment: Hey, remember back when "the last two first-round picks" were never in the organization at the same time. New day. Except for Nino.] You're forgiven, on this night, for picturing them as some dynamic future pairing.
- Not surprisingly, the established pros looked the best overall, with evident chemistry (and goals) among the Bridgeport players.
- Kirill Kabanov looked like he's looked every time I've seen him in one of these: Active, skilled with the hands, creating chances ... and not a big finisher. Hope he gets a healthy year to show what he can do.
- Anders Lee hit the high post early on, from essentially the same spot he scored his first NHL goal. No Pavelec this time.
- Jason Clark sighting: And with two goals.
- Conflict: Loic Leduc, one of the towering defensemen drafted last year, and Michael Dalhuisen, a college free agent signee, gave each other the business at a stoppage early on. Gave the game a little edge.
- Dalhuisen won the post-game hardest shot competition, clocked at 97 mph.
- Long Island native Joey Diamond did really well and was a crowd favorite, naturally. His AHL contract does not look like just a feel-good story in this context.
What is ridiculous in the regular season is ... actually kind of fun in meaningless exhibition:
- Victor Crus-Rydberg did some seriously crazy half-turned, through-the-legs nonsense to score.
- Adam Quine then did some zig-zag, puck-off-skate whack stuff before finishing it off with "the Forsberg" move. (If I were in goal I would've started clubbing people.) However, showing proper respect to the hockey gods, Quine said he would never try that with a game on the line.
- Taylor Cammarata then did the Phil Bourque toe of his blade on the puck while spinning enough to make me dizzy. To his credit, he didn't bury it when he had the chance after the goalie forced him wide. (If I were in goal, that gesture would've been enough to keep me from clubbing him.)
- Brock Nelson did a calm pull-and- f - a - d - e shot to score.
- Kirill Kabanov lofted the puck ... and tried to scissor kick it in. (He missed.) (But didn't hurt himself.)
On the other hand, nobody did anything good on the penalty shots. (Every time a penalty was called, coaches had the option of choosing a power play or staying 5-on-5 and getting a penalty shot. They chose a penalty shot every time.) Everybody missed. The goalies were awakened, but not tested.
... Which is just as well, because they got plenty of work during the rest of this back-and-forth scrimmage. All in all, a fun, light night that thankfully saw some goals and some snazzy trick shots.