Preseason games mean nothing, except to hockey-starved fans waking up from summer hibernation, and Thursday night's chaotic circus between the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils was no different.
Well, there are little bits of meaningful intrigue here and there, but mostly you get weird stuff. This game, a 5-3 win for the Isles in Newark, had a lot of weird stuff.
To wit: Eric Boulton exited the penalty box to score on a breakaway. Yes, Eric Boulton scored. On a breakaway.
Also: Brett Gallant and Krys Barch fought three times, which is not usual. However in the process they made a mockery of the new rule against removing their own helmets by gently removing one another's. Video from IslesEnforcers:
Further: Niederlander Mike Dalhuisen fought Ryan Carter.
And Boulton got himself ejected late in the game with a boarding penalty, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and a 10 apparently for arguing the call. That put the Islanders a man down for four minutes, and made the penalty summary a phonebook of "Barch, Gallant, Boulton, repeat."
But the penalties weren't done even then, as Joey Diamond (who also got a spearing penalty) got into a fight with Stephen Gionta. A longshot Long Island native getting into a fight with The Other Gionta with 35 seconds left just sounds so...so preseason. (And yet, it's what makes preseason a loveable no-stakes curiosity.)
Did I mention Eric Boulton scored on a breakaway?
In slightly less crazy but still notable developments:
- Josh Bailey scored not one, but two shorthanded goals.
- Kevin Poulin and Martin Brodeur combined for 36 shots against and seven goals against. Yeah. (Scott Wedgewood, who sounds more like a field goal kicker than a goalie, came in to face the Islanders' four measly third-period shots and gave up a goal to Peter Regin.
- Curious New Jersey free agent signing Ryan Clowe was hurt ("lower body) early in the first period and did not return.
- About Regin: He proved on his goal that it is indeed a Danish Backhand of Judgment. Frans hath spread the good word.
- Anders Lee finished a pretty power play combo with Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson. One of those guys might get the final forward job (injuries willing) by opening night. If not, he'll join the other two as a top line in Bridgeport.
- Eric Boulton scored on a breakaway. (Okay, that was already covered in the oddities above ... but you have to admit it's fun to say.)
These teams will get to renew the fun when they meet again Saturday in Brooklyn, with the Isles having more of their regulars for the home show, the Devils having fewer of theirs, and each team trotting out different goalies.
To be fair to Poulin in his bid for Nabby Backup Supremacy, he was worked hard tonight. The refs were in preseason by-the-book form and the Devils had a bajillion (okay, nine) power plays. That's a lot of movement for Poulin.
That's a fair summation of some of the craziness and the "what-to-look-for" stuff, but you probably kept a closer eye on some of the other lesser names and prospects. By all means, share your impressions and noticings in comments. The final roster depends upon it.
P.S. Eric Boulton scored on a breakaway.