The New York Islanders close their thus-far-undefeated preseason with a visit to the Philadelphia Flyers early this evening.
Gametime is 5 p.m. EDT from the [bank or false accounts of some sort] Center, with TV coverage in the U.S. on NHL Network.
Toews Returns, if for but a Sunday
Among the expected Islanders roster for this one is Devon Toews, who was previously assigned to AHL Bridgeport but will presumably get to appear in one more preseason game. As this is the final tune-up, it should be as close to “real” game conditions for the promising blueliner as you can get before the games count for two (or sometimes three, because NHL math) points.
Not to be macabre, but this is also the final opportunity outside of practice contact for a player to become injured and alter — or ease — the decision-making for the season-opening 23-man roster.
On that topic, Shane Prince and Alan Quine have already simplified things by suffering injuries (or surgery for an existing injury, in Prince’s case) before training camp began.
9 Defensemen, 15 Forwards...3 Cuts to Come
The only lingering decisions are whether the Islanders will simply waive two-way veteran forwards Steve Bernier and Stephen Gionta, or take advantage of a few waiver-exempt youngsters (Anthony Beauvillier, Joshua Ho-Sang, Mathew Barzal) and, as is assumed with Toews, assign them to the AHL to start the season.
For all three that seems unlikely, though by degrees of probability: Barzal looks like a lock and an immediate key player; Ho-Sang is less of a lock but has looked active all preseason; Beauvillier didn’t spend any time in the AHL last season — thanks to the CHL/AHL age rule — and could feasibly be placed there if he doesn’t look like he’ll be a regular to start the season.
This, of course, is assuming Toews gets reassigned to Bridgeport after tonight’s game, the Islanders waive no blueline vets, and do nothing overly silly with Ryan Pulock, who now requires waivers to be returned to the AHL.
All of this, of course, is aided by the Islanders’ revolutionary decision to carry only two goalies on the NHL roster to start.
But we’ll see after the game and in the days ahead. It’s a good sign that even if Gionta and Bernier are the final cuts, the Isles will have real gameday lineup/scratch decisions to make when fully healthy.
Remembering Dave Strader
Sad news in the NHL today: longtime play-by-play announcer Dave Strader has succumbed after a long ordeal with a form of cancer. Strader came back from treatment last spring and was active in training camp in September.
NHL Network mourns the passing of Dave Strader. pic.twitter.com/91zrJ7HGDP— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) October 1, 2017
(This cancer, which I should read up on, targets bile ducts. All cancers are infuriating and suck: So much madness in the world, and then there’s cancer sniping away at us, or our loved ones, or the representatives of our diversionary interests...)