It was the Devils' second preseason game this month. It was the Islanders' seventh preseason game this month. The Devils had a week long break after their first game. The Islanders played last night in Kansas City. Tonight debuted John Tavares to the Nassau Coliseum, but it was the Devils who were the stars of the night. NHL.com has their recap up, complete with their boxscore and event summary.
Overall, the Devils continued to play similarly to how they did last game and last season. They outshot the Islanders 31-22, the Devils punished Martin Biron and the Islanders defense with shots all over the place and by crashing the net. The last point can't be understated enough as all three goals scored on Biron were either off rebounds or an effort to crash the net. The defense was fairly solid, thanks to Paul Martin and Johnny Oduya playing very well in their first preseason games. The goals against are a reflection on Danis more than anything else.
In a line-up mixed with regulars and prospects/minor leaguers looking for a job. Some did well and raised their stock. Others didn't do so well and may have ensured a trip back to Lowell by week's end. Discussion on what went right and what went wrong after the jump.Surprisingly, Jacques Lemaire did not keep his earlier word about giving Yann Danis only two periods. Danis went the distance and made a few good saves. That said, he looked shaky when the Islanders were attacking - in a rare moment - right in front of his crease. The two goals Danis gave up were soft and were game-equalizers. Richard Park scored on a simple wraparound in the second period, right in between Danis' legs. Later on, during the Devils' sole penalty kill of the night early in the third period, Danis' 5-hole became an issue again. Mark Streit fired a shot from the point, John Tavares collected and dished it off to the side to Matt Moulson, and Moulson jammed at it until it trickled through. I'm certain Danis will still be the backup, but he's got keep his stick on the ice or close up that 5-hole in those situations.
Speaking of Tavares, I wasn't impressed. Sure, he got 20:31 of ice time and an assist; but that second Islanders goal was mostly the work of Moulson. Tavares didn't much else that was notable in the game. Him, I was impressed with. He was quick, he was energetic, he was physical, he was firing away with seven shots on net, and he gave the Devils' power play and handful at times later in the game. If I had to pick a player of the game for the Islanders, it'd be Moulson.
Yet, the Devils power play wasn't a negative. Oh, no, they were definitely a net positive with two power play goals. Brian Rolston had a great game tonight among the regular forwards and he was important on those two power play goals. On the first one, Rolston unloaded a heavy slapshot from the point. Biron saved it, but it was trickling through and he had no chance on Vladimir Zharkov knocking it in. The slapshot itself was great because it was low, it was hard, and it went through a well set-up screen by Matt Halischuk. Zharkov did well on a heads up play around the net to make the play count on the scoreboard.
For the second goal, Rolston starts off the whole sequence by taking the puck along the left wing boards. Just before heading into the corner, he dumps it off to Nicklas Bergfors. I'm not sure if he was trying to shoot it, but he sent the puck perfectly into space on the far post. Jamie Langenbrunner was crashing the net and he just bangs it home. Great move by Rolston, great pass by Bergfors, and a great finish by Langenbrunner.
The Devils didn't really "relent" in their attack except for a few minutes after the Moulson power play goal. Yet, the Devils continued and they finally scored their first even strength goal of the preseason midway through the third. Cory Murphy was having an "OK" if not quiet night, until he was wide open on the point. Colin White saw him and naturally passed it to him. Murphy, taking a page from Rolston, fired a strong, low slapshot on Biron. He stopped it, but Oliver Magnan-Grenier, the Lowell defenseman playing at forward tonight, banged home the rebound. It turned out to be the game winning goal and it was indicative of the Devils' attack.
The Devils didn't stop attacking after that goal. Dainius Zubrus powered his way to the net with a nifty move, he had a good night. Rod Pelley intercepted a bad clearance by the Islanders defense and drove it on net. The Devils continued crashing the net well late into the game. Nicklas Bergfors got rewarded for a good game by icing the game, shortly after the Islanders pulled their goalie - Cory Murphy did well to win the puck back and moved it up to Bergfors. And even after that, they still crashed the net looking for a possible fifth goal. The Devils didn't sit on their 3-2 lead
In terms of prospects who had good games, Bergfors definitely helped his cause with a lively offensive game. On his power play assist, he was the only prospect on a unit that featured Rolston, Martin, Zajac, and Langenbrunner. He got 3 shots and 18:15 of ice time in addition to his goal and assist; looking for any opportunity to go forward. Zharkov also impressed with his hustle, contributing a goal in addition to 2 shots on net; he looked good on a line with Bergfors and Tim Sestito. Rod Pelley also had a good game playing with Andrew Peters and Olivier Magnan-Grenier; putting up the most shots on net among the Devils tonight despite only 12:27 of ice time. On defense, Cory Murphy had an OK game but finally put up some points with 2 assists. Since Lemaire reportedly said that he that Murphy needs to get points, this certainly helps him.
If you don't believe me, Gulitti's post-game post focuses on Bergfors and features quotes from him and Lemaire.
The most impressive was Olivier Magnan-Grenier, in my opinion. He played defense for Lowell last season, he got slotted as a winger today, and he definitely made the most of his ice time tonight. In the first period, he was quite physical with the hitting, and got into an early fight. And he unfortunately took a lazy tripping penalty that led to the goal against. Yet, in the 7:21 he played, he didn't take a shift off, he hustled, and he scored the game-winner. I don't know if this means he'll get a longer look, but you couldn't ask for much more in such a short amount of time from a guy not playing his natural position. Well done, Oliver Magnan-Grenier
In terms of prospects who didn't impress, I don't think Jay Leach or Rob Davison didn't really impress. Leach was just OK, not much to say about him, though. Davison didn't do a such a good job moving the puck about and looked sluggish at times. Tim Sestito, I felt, was a bit quiet, but that could be due to his wingers grabbing more attention (Zharkov and Matt Halishchuk). Andrew Peters managed to get a game misconduct for...talking, he didn't fight. He hustled and worked, but I'm amazed he got 10 minutes for yapping by the ref. I think Peters and Sestito may get another look due to their roles; but Davison and Leach needed to have a stand-out game to stay in the mix. I don't think either really did.
Overall, the Devils played a good game and a number of prospects should be pleased with how they performed. How will the "other squad" will perform tomorrow in Philadelphia will certainly be worth watching as well. Check out Lighthouse Hockey for their recap later. It's now onto Philly. Leave your thoughts about the game, how the prospects did, and how the team played overall in the comments.