One thing is for certain, we desperately need some actual hockey material around here after the last couple of days. Fortunately, in less than 48 hours, the Islanders will play some preseason games (two, in fact) and we can start to speculate how the final roster will look when the team breaks camp in a few weeks.
Arthur Staple was up farmer early this morning, and tweeted a couple of observations including positions for a few of the Islanders versatile players. Bear in mind that Jack Capuano is a frequent line blender, so player slots in camp mean little to nothing. Still, here's where the coach's head is at right now.
Capuano said yesterday that B. Nelson on LW and M. Grabovski at C is the way #Isles are approaching forward slots to start.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) September 20, 2015
So, for now -- which means nothing until the games begin tomorrow -- I can see #Isles breaking camp with 14F/7D.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) September 20, 2015
Brock Nelson and Mikhail Grabovski are just two of the Islanders many multi-taskers. I kinda remember Nelson playing more center last year than wing and Grabovski playing basically everywhere when he wasn't hurt. As always, I could be wrong. Having guys who can play multiple positions is a good problem to have, but I hope it doesn't lead to role confusion or a dip in chemistry building time.
New Zid in Town
Puntastic new acquisition Marek Zidlicky already has his role mapped out, according to an interview at the official site. He'll be on the power play as expected, jumping into the spot left behind by the dear departed Silver Fox, Lubomir Visnovsky.
One difference between the two is that Zidlicky is a righty shot, which is significant for Capuano.
"We've lost some guys on the back end that really helped our power play," Head Coach Jack Capuano said Saturday at Islanders Iceworks. "Having a guy like Zidlicky, a right shot, that's a strength of his. He's an offensive-minded guy, a smart guy, an intelligent hockey player. I see him being a big, integral part of our power play."
The change also looks to impact the life of one Thomas Hickey, who was Visnovsky's most frequent partner. Hickey is a lefty shot, so combing he and Zidlicky lets each play on their strong side. Any coaches in the audience can also add their positives and negatives to the righty/lefty debate.
Two guys who might not be so happy to see Zidlicky in camp are Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield, who were looking to break camp as NHLers. Having a vet sign at the last minute doesn't mean each is on the first bus back to Bridgeport, but they are going to have to really show something special for management to make room for them on the roster.
"It makes it difficult [for them], but at the same time there's a lot that can happen from now until then," Capuano said. "We've all been in that situation before. You come to the rink every day, do the best you can and let the cards fall where they fall."
"For me, healthy competition is a good thing."
The Islanders play their first preseason games on Monday, a split squad affair against the Flyers at Barclays Center and the PPL Center in Allentown, PA. I can't remember a time when I so desperately wanted to see some exhibition, meaningless hockey.
Here's the full schedule again, since you probably forgot.
|MON. SEPT. 21*||FLYERS||ISLANDERS||7 P.M.||BARCLAYS CENTER|
|ISLANDERS||FLYERS||7 P.M.||PPL CENTER (ALLENTOWN, PA)|
|WED. SEPT. 23||DEVILS||ISLANDERS||7 P.M.||BARCLAYS CENTER|
|FRI. SEPT 25*||ISLANDERS||DEVILS||7 P.M.||PRUDENTIAL CENTER|
|ISLANDERS||FLYERS||7 P.M.||WELLS FARGO CENTER|
|SAT. SEPT. 26||ISLANDERS||HURRICANES||6 P.M.||SCOTIABANK CENTRE (HALIFAX, NS)|
|MON. SEPT 28||CAPITALS||ISLANDERS||7 P.M.||BARCLAYS CENTER|
|SUN. OCT. 4||ISLANDERS||CAPITALS||5 P.M.||VERIZON CENTER|
* - denotes split squad game.
Adding an interesting wrinkle to this preseason is the inclusion of a forced 3-on-3 OT session in a few games, regardless of the score. The OT lets everyone get used to the new set-up we'll see this year and the anarchy that might ensue.
"It will be end-to-end action, a lot of open ice, lots of plays being made, a lot of great saves," Tavares, the New York Islanders' captain, says. "It is going to be a lot of fun to watch."
The Islanders will have three 3-on-3 test games his preseason:
- Wednesday, Sept. 23 vs. New Jersey at Barclays Center
- Friday, Sept. 25 at Philadelphia
- Saturday, Sept. 25 vs. Carolina at Halifax, NS
Should be fun to see the embryonic stages of the 3-on-3 OT. Alas, you'll need to be in house for two of the three games. Luckily, Wednesday game's against the Devils will be on MSG+.