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Islanders-Bruins in Bridgeport: Here lies intrigue

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Catch a glimpse of Cizikas tonight.
Catch a glimpse of Cizikas tonight.

On the fifth and final preseason game, the Islanders field a near-Opening Night type of lineup for home(-ish) fans in Bridgeport.

Andrew MacDonald, whose 2010-11 season ended with hip surgery, makes his first appearance, paired with familiar partner Travis Hamonic. With Steve Staios signed after appearing in the previous four, Mike Mottau and Mark Eaton (the former with Mark Streit, the latter with Dylan Reese) play to carve out space in the pecking order. And Newsday's Arthur Staple suggests Evgeni Nabokov (tonight's starter edit: Isles say Montoya starts) leads Al Montoya in the battle for the "regular backup role."

Unsigned tryout Jay Pandolfo, who has earned praise from Jack Capuano, gets another look tonight. Casey Cizikas gets his first game action -- even bumping Josh Bailey to wing to make room, Staple reports [edit: New information has come to light].

What's it all mean? Opening night is not tomorrow nor Monday but rather a week away. The final decisions may be made through another week of practices and health data (Nino Niederreiter's groin, for one). But this lineup looks very close to the real thing:

Excited, nervous, or scared? (Or all three?)

Forwards
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - PA Parenteau
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
Blake Comeau - Marty Reasoner - Micheal Haley
Jay Pandolfo - Casey Cizikas - Josh Bailey

Defensemen
Mark Streit - Mike Mottau
Mark Eaton - Dylan Reese
Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic

Goalies
Evgeni Nabokov
Al Montoya

The Adventures of Bailey & Comeau intrigue me to no end. Here you have two talented players, with different weaknesses, occasionally complementary of one another's strengths, who should on paper make two-thirds of a dangerous third line. I still bet they end up together on opening night, but their varying roles in preseason look to these eyes like an attempt to explore how they fit next to different parts.

Speaking on those two, Staple's excellent recap of last night quotes Capuano:

"We passed up way too many chances to get shots on net," Capuano said. "I thought Josh played pretty well and Blake elevated his game from the first one in Boston. But he still had opportunities to shoot the puck."

I also got a chuckle from this read in that same article by Staple, because it had COZO (Comeau Offensive Zone Orbit) written all over it:

My take: Comeau needs to do more driving to the net rather than staying on the perimeter. I think that's Capuano's take too, and his opinion matters far more than mine.

Cizikas, meanwhile, is surely Bridgeport-bound but one wonders if he's not long for the AHL. To me players like he and especially David Ullstrom serve as a warning to the slightly older players who might not deliver consistently: This Way Depth Soon Comes.

As the rebuild matures, it's not enough to be on the team's marketing art anymore. There are other young players in the pipeline who will soon be gunning for your jobs.

 

News and Notes

  • Live Stream Link: Here is the link to tonight's game. Blackout restrictions apply, but apparently last night those restrictions were, well, they were different than the first go-around. So if you are in a geographically curious area, give it a shot.
  • Ryan Strome played last night and isn't in tonight's lineup, but Fire & Ice reports no suspension for that hit is forthcoming. The NHL took a look, but with poor video feed they couldn't make a conclusion either way. Ah, the hidden treasures of having no one care about your preseason games!
  • Clarification for the Post's Everson: Steve Staios was a second-round pick, not a 1st. (Back in those days, there were not 30 teams.)
  • ESPN-NY on last night.
  • Notes from the Isles on some kids not playing tonight (Kirill Kabanov, Tyler McNeely, Justin DiBenedetto).
  • Humorous tidbit from today's skate: "Goalie Mikko Koskinen scored a goal today at practice during a close-range, 4-on-4 drill. Used his 9ft wing-span to tap in a rebound."

Elsewhere:

I haven't seen much from the Bruins' end on tonight's game, so as always, share what you see in comments.