The Islanders defeated the Rangers 3-2 in overtime at Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn last night. Josh Bailey got the winner at 4:38 from Dennis Seidenberg and Jason Chimera.
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t see much of this one. After all, it is preseason. I had other important family matters to attend to like visiting my Mom for the final night of Rosh Hashanah. I neglected to mention it yesterday. To anyone else who celebrates, L’Shana Tova to our Jewish followers out there. Happy and a Healthy New Year! May it be truly blessed and sweet. 🙂
I only managed to catch a chunk of the second period. No. I didn’t see any of the goals that came after I went back downstairs for espresso, strawberries and chocolate for dessert. Somehow, I missed Chris Kreider scoring and Cal Clutterbuck doing what he usually does- beating a Ranger goalie. He did it twice. Some things never change. As they say, old habits die hard. Bruce Willis’ Die Hard classic character John McClane would be proud of that.
Since I was unable to catch the replay, I missed out on a good exhibition game. Is there such a thing? As far as the league not disciplining Radko Gudas, I told ya. For all the beat writers up in arms, it could’ve been much worse. Whenever a player turns before a hit, it always looks worse. In this case, rookie Jimmy Vesey who was okay returning from a bloody nose even scoring against the hated Flyers. Gudas did admit that he was wrong in finishing the hit. But he also committed to it. Maybe he didn’t have to go with full force. Nothing was gonna come of it. So, will Gudas ever learn? No clue.
What I did manage to see was our defense getting pinned in by a formidable Islanders’ lineup minus captain John Tavares and big free agent pick up Andrew Ladd. Basically, Antti Raanta had to fend for himself making some fantastic saves en route to 39. The Isles out-shot the Rangers 42-25. But still needed to go to the non-NHL 3-on-3 to win.
I noticed on one shift John Gilmour get beat pretty badly. He definitely has some good offensive instincts knowing when to jump in and has a good shot. But he’ll need to work on his defense and can at Hartford. I love that signing. If only Butch Goring paid attention to the off-season. The Rangers lost their best offensive D since that No.2 guy donned the Blueshirt with his jersey hanging from the rafters. Keith Yandle’s offense from the blue line will be hard to replace. Speaking of which, why did Gilmour only get 13 shifts (10:13)? It’s preseason!
I’ve pretty much concluded that Adam Clendening will make the Opening Night roster. He continues to get over 20 minutes and plenty of power play time where the offensive-minded right D is effective. Defense might be why he’s bounced around. Perhaps with the help of Jeff Beukeboom, they can turn the 23-year old into a steal. I’m not saying he’ll become Anton Stralman. Rangers Town wishes. But there’s hope.
I did notice Dylan McIlrath was on the score sheet drawing a primary helper on Nicklas Jensen’s tying goal in the third. Big Mac was also plus-one in 17:26 with most of it exclusively at even strength with the other 1:40 shorthanded. Alain Vigneault knows what he can do. Though I wish he wasn’t a third pair after thought who still might sit on some nights. It is what it is. I like McIlrath’s size, strength and willingness. He also clears the front and is strong. He better get into at least 50-60 games or they’re wasting him.
You know how I feel about Dan Girardi. I love the guy. But unless something drastic changes when Oct. 13 hits, I believe his days are numbered. You know with how loyal AV is, he’s going to get every chance. You can read my column on Danny G here.
I see Tanner Glass had a fight with neanderthal Eric Boulton. Who won? What is Boulton even still doing playing? No disrespect. But it’s time. Watch Glass somehow make the Rangers as the 14th forward. He is a good team guy and gives an honest effort. If only more of our skill guys had shown up last Spring.
I also notice Nathan Gerbe played over 20 minutes. Huh? He is fighting for a job. But that much? At least Skjei got over 25-plus. Marc Staal with 26:28 in 34 shifts with an assist. From the game sheet, it looks like he played well. But that’s a lot for an exhibition. At the very least, there’s one more game against the Flyers Thursday at MSG. I can only imagine what that could be like if Gudas dresses. We know Henrik Lundqvist gets the full 60. And I bet familiar friend Wayne Simmonds will play. I would kill for him on this roster. Shoot me.
I don’t get why Robin Kovacs and Brandon Pirri played so little. Vigneault is a strange cat. Just nine and a half minutes for Marek Hrivik after a solid game? Yikes. I also see Kevin “Slim” Hayes went minus-two. Uh oh.
On the Isles’ side, they played a lot of regulars. Clutterbuck did his usual damage with two markers including a floater that somehow got , past Raanta late in the second. And I’ll bet his power play goal was him untouched in front. Bailey had a goal and assist. He never really became what they thought. But he’s a solid two-way third line checking pivot who can be trusted as a penalty killer. Not every first round pick becomes a star.
Why did Stephen Gionta only get two shifts? I guess he got hurt. That’s probably the end of his tryout. Boulton got an extra two for roughing while battling Glass. I hope Tanner beat him. I’ve never liked Boulton. Former Ranger draft pick.
The Isles’ back end included Calvin de Haan, Nick Leddy, Seidenberg and Ryan Pulock. I came away impressed with Pulock when he was brought up last season. The righty has a big accurate shot and looks like a player. Adding Seidenberg was a good move by Garth Snow. The German vet still proved he could play faring well during Team Europe’s run to the Final at the World Cup. He’s serviceable and can be counted on five-on-five and on the penalty kill.
Considering that the Islanders boast shutdown righty Travis Hamonic and Johnny Boychuk with Leddy and de Haan rounding out the top four, that blue line should be a team strength. They also have the underrated Thomas Hickey, who gave them valuable minutes in their big first round series win against the Panthers. Adam Pelech could go back down to Bridgeport unless Jack Capuano plans to carry eight defensemen.
Neither Isles’ top goalie played. Jaroslav Halak had a great World Cup. Thomas Greiss remains the backup. Jean-Francois Berube supplies good depth. He made 23 saves for the win. Christopher Gibson is the fourth string who will be with the Sound Tigers.
It looks like they’re trying Ryan Strome at center. With P.A. Parenteau returning, he could wind up on the top line with Tavares and Ladd. If 2015 first round pick Mathew Barzal makes the roster, then maybe Strome shifts to right wing again on the second line. The Isles have plenty of center options with Brock Nelson, Cizikas and Mikhail Grabovski if he ever returns from his concussion symptoms. His $5 million cap hit takes up a lot if he’s not placed on LTIR.
The only question is will they miss Frans Nielsen (Detroit) and Kyle Okposo (Buffalo). Both were reliable top six forwards who were right behind Tavares in team scoring. Each could play any situation with Nielsen an exceptional penalty killer. Red Wing fans should love him. Okposo will definitely enjoy life in Buffalo if he plays with Jack Eichel with Ryan O’Reilly the second option.
If Barzal is ready and supplies offense, then the Islanders should be okay. But they need a better year from Strome. Nelson and Lee are keys. How well will Parenteau do in Okposo’s place? Ladd should become a fan favorite. He is a heart and soul player who will add leadership and intangibles.
I believe both the Islanders and Rangers should be competing for third in the Metro Division with competition coming from the Devils. There’s even a chance all three locals can make the playoffs. More to come in our Season Preview. Figure by the weekend.