For the record, the New York Islanders closed their preseason schedule after eight games with a highly forgettable 4-0 loss in D.C. to the Capitals, with close to their expected opening night lineup but nowhere near the performance they expect once games begin for real.
The lessons, in random order, with quotes from deeper Islanders site and Newsday coverage:
Even John Tavares needs reps to adjust back at center
“I was kind of getting used to the left side playing nine games there, so it was good for me just to get back in the middle and try to be in the right spots and get a rhythm there.”
That’s a reference to the World Cup, which Tavares spent on the left wing. The best forwards can handle either the pivot or the wing, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need a little adjustment time. Especially when they need their decisions and positioning to be second nature.
Practice up this week, Johnny!
Anthony Beauvillier and Mathew Barzal saw a real lineup
Whatever their readiness and potential usefulness to the Islanders this season, there is no doubt an adjustment when moving from spots as the best players in a league of 16- to 20-year-olds to a league where they are children among men.
So, perhaps, after impressive preseasons (against a range of competition and seriousness), Beauvillier and Barzal — who hit the crossbar behind Braden Holtby tonight — saw a more serious level of competition.
"It was a man's game tonight," Jack Capuano said. "I think it's a little bit of a different game. Both of those kids are playing against guys that are obviously will make their hockey team, so it's a great experience for those guys.
And a little more:
"I thought Barzal made some good plays," Capuano said. "We talk about him all the time, but there are still some times where the easy play is the play to be made."
This is the refrain for high-end 19-year-olds and you know it will be the refrain for Barzal under Jack Capuano. Beauvillier likely gets a different approach because he is known for already favoring easy/safe plays in more situations.
But we may have twice as many opportunities to see where this goes; if both survive cuts for the opening night roster, the Isles can continue to evaluate them for up to nine regular season NHL games before another contract-affecting decision is due.
Only four more days until a loss like this will cause crippling anxiety and a questioning of the meaning of life!— Dan Saraceni (@cultureoflosing) October 9, 2016
For now, I'll say yes. Doesn't mean they'll stick after 9 games. https://t.co/R0nZm8yISI— Brian Compton (@BComptonNHL) October 9, 2016
Jaroslav Halak is back, but...
Halak, like Tavares, may have needed this game just to be with his own teammates in a game situation again. Nothing to learn here though. After a good World Cup for Team Europe, tonight he made 23 saves on 27 shots — Holtby faced 24 — and conceded to usual suspects Alexander Ovechkin and TJ Oshie, among others.
So...mulligan for the whole team?
Move along. Nothing to see here. We do it for real on Thursday at MSG on MSG+.— Brendan Burke (@brendanmburke) October 9, 2016
Final roster declarations are expected the end of day Tuesday.