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Islanders 3, Oilers 1: Isles leave Saskatoon with promise

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[Update: Couple of video interviews of Islanders blueliners past and future after the jump]

For what it's worth, the Edmonton announcers -- who had comical difficulty pronouncing several simple names -- were ripping the Oilers' effort. For what it's worth, the Islanders' young kids created a lot of promising sustained pressure, outshooting and outplaying the Oilers' not-very-NHL-like squad for much of the game. For what it's worth, Martin Biron played a whole game and demonstrated why he's a bona fide goalie: Never rattled, never shaky even after long stretches of little action. (Speaking of Biron, the never-short on words goalie shared thoughts with Katie Strang on battling for the number one spot.)

Jeff Tambellini was flying in front of his father. He picked up two assists -- the first setup for Radek Martinek was sublime -- and put in another good game playing with Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau. Matt Moulson also scored, continuing his bid to turn his AHL scoring prowess into an NHL gig.

Birthday boy John Tavares was held without a goal in his second preseason game, but he's looking like a quick study already. He was robbed on a breakaway and earned an assist on a nice feed to Moulson. Fellow 2009 1st-rounder Calvin de Haan also showed why the Islanders liked him so much: Smooth skater, smart reader of the play, good passer. Jyri Niemi (one of the pronunciation disasters on the broadcast) looked competent enough, and he was told he's heading back to juniors after the game.

So hard to take any of this with more than a grain of salt -- it's preseason, and the lineups that are fielded are a mish-mash of job aspirants and players trying to prove they know the coach's system. But the Islanders are 2-2 after their Western Canada tour. After Tuesday's game in Kansas City -- the same night as the all-important Lighthouse project zoning hearing -- and then back home (finally) the following night with the Devils, they'll have five full days to form a clearer identity with the players who are still around.

The real season cannot come soon enough.

NHL.com Highlights

Jyri Niemi on adjustments for the next level (and playing against guys he's used on PlayStation). Niemi's headed back to juniors now:


Longtime Islander Rich Pilon on having the club come to his neck of the woods, which he confesses is "the middle of nowhere":