Preseason games mean nothing and the Islanders, in particular this year, don’t really have many decisions pending in training camp.
All that said, it’s good for a preseason punchline that their city rivals, who made a thing about getting more grit and identity this offseason after wilting to the Islanders down the stretch last season, were blanked on home ice while a bunch of Islanders grinders scored.
Again, just preseason, but in Sunday’s 4-0 win at Madison Square Garden, Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck and Ross Johnston each matched Ryan Reaves’ goal total from last season. To be fair to Reaves, who is guaranteed to be at the center of at least one non-Tom Wilson sideshow this season, he did not dress. Rangers gritty-and-pricey free agent signing Barclay Goodrow did, but he was tossed in the first period for boarding Bridgeport Islander Kyle McLean.
Okay, even with all the “but this is meaningless” caveats, that’s as deeply as we can care about last night; it’s still always fun to see a scoreline like Islanders 4, Rangers 0.
Next preseason game is Tuesday in Philadelphia.
More about last night, much of it via the Isles “Five Takeaways” post:
- PTO Erik Gustafsson got lots of looks, and Barry Trotz sounded like he’s a guy in the plans: “Happy with [Gustafsson’s] play. As he gets used to us and how we want him to play and hopefully he gets better and better.”
- Johnston’s nicely placed goal, of course, came in the spot Matt Martin normally occupies. Martin is supposed to be ready for the start of the season, but if there’s any delay or extra caution, it doesn’t hurt Johnston to have converted in that spot last night.
- No slow start for Ilya Sorokin, who shared the shutout with Jakub Skarek. [Newsday]
- Back on the Island, those not in the lineup did a Blue vs. White scrimmage. Reps for the Noah Dobson-Zdeno Chara pairing, and a possible line of J-G Pageau between Zach Parise and Oliver Wahlstrom.
- Here are video highlights. Cizikas’ goal was pretty nifty. [Isles video] And here are the stat links, including Event Summary for all your TOI and shot total needs. [NHL]
- But Trotz is looking at both Wahlstrom and Kyle Palmieri as candidates to play with Mathew Barzal and Anders Lee. I could imagine both of them getting time there this season depending on the opponent, but Palmieri gets first crack. [Isles | Newsday]
- How is Trotz approaching these first couple of preseason games? “If you made a good impression or a bad impression in earlier games it’ll have an impact on those next couple of games ... That will be the game that you either get maybe another one, or you don’t get any more and we start preparing with our group.” [Isles]
- And what about the defensive depth beyond the top six? “Aho gives you more of an offensive presence on the back end. Not the biggest guy, but he has skill,” Trotz said. “(Grant) Hutton, another guy who keeps continuing to grow, hopefully the confidence is coming. Robin Salo has come in and looks like a strong skater and puck mover; we’re getting to know his defensive game. I like the steady progress the young guys have made, even a guy like (Mitch) Vande Sompel is in that group...” [Athletic]
- The Isles love having Zdeno Chara (back) on their side, finally. “He’s all-business, he plays for keeps… He’s in great shape for his age and he’s a total pro and it’s very impressive.” [Isles]
Brief Interviews & Sound Bites from an Unfinished Garden Closet
"I think my game is pretty simple and what I bring to the team. I try to do my job the best that I can. Team success is obviously the greater picture and whatever I can do to help the team is why I am here”— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) September 27, 2021
Johnston & Cizikas ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/udGlgz8NPY
- Dougie Hamilton is confident he can revive the Devils’ power play. [NHL]
- Scenes from the Kraken’s first preseason game, also the Canucks’ first game on U.S. soil and in front of fans in a looong time. I’m surprised at how expansion-y the Kraken uniforms look. [Sportsnet]
- All of the Canadian teams are particularly excited to be back in front of fans. [Sportsnet]
- Don’t know how often GM contracts are disclosed, but Doug Armstrong gets a five-year extension in St. Louis. [NHL]
- Amrstrong carved out a little more cap space by sending Zach Sanford ($2 million cap hit) to the Senators for a tweener (Logan Brown) and a conditional draft pick. [TSN]
- What do NHLers think of the crackdown on crosschecking? [ESPN In$ider]
- John Tavares is ready to turn the page...on last season, which ended with a scary injury. [TSN]
- Kevin Hayes will play this season — and every future season, frankly — with a heavy heart. But he’ll try to do it in honor of his late brother. [ESPN]