Tonight's game wasn't broadcast on video, but only by streaming audio over the Internet. So if this recap seems like it's leaning on the boxscore a little more than usual, then I hope you understand. Nevertheless, the New Jersey Devils defeated the New York Islanders 4-3. The power play got a goal, thanks to a big slapshot by Brian Rolston. The penalty kill was perfect, no goals were conceded when the Isles had the man advantage. The top two lines
looked sounded good. Of course, given the final score, it wasn't all rainbows and lollipops. For your convenience, here's the box score and the event summary from tonight's game.
I will say that Matt Loughlin did a good job in the booth. He was without a color commentator as Sherry Ross was under the weather (I can relate), so considering the situation I felt he kept it together. He really liked Brian Rolston in tonight's game, and I didn't hear much of a reason to disagree? In addition to the power play goal, he had 4 shots on net, moved the puck well as seen by his linemate, Jamie Langenbrunner, getting 3 shots on net too. He even got some PK time in addition to his shortened-PP time.
Loughlin also felt Adam Mair was pretty much a lock to make the lineup. I'm not sure tonight was a good example, though. It's hard to judge an energy player by voice. And winning 3 for 7 on faceoffs, putting up 2 shots on goal, and taking an elbowing minor isn't exactly a standout line of stats. That said, Loughlin's reasoning was that he's appeared in so many games on a try out, that it's hard to see him come out of preseason without a deal. I can see where he's coming from on that front.
I have some additional thoughts, a few positives and negatives based on what I literally heard of tonight's game. Check out Lighthouse Hockey for more information from an Islanders' fan point of view.
Let's start with the positives. Patrik Elias had a strong game with 5 shots on net, the most on the Devils tonight. His best came off a takeaway that led to a give-and-go goal with Jason Arnott. Hopefully someone has footage of that somewhere. Arnott also had a very good night. Arnott tipped in Andy Greene's shot in the first period; set up Elias for his goal; and went 8 for 12 on faceoffs. The media felt he was the first star of the game. Their right wing for tonight was Mattias Tedenby, who had 3 shots on net and unfortunately missed a wide open net in the third period by firing a shot into the side of the goal. He was certainly more active than he was in previous nights, so that's a positive to some degree.
The ZIP line continues to be strong. Zach Parise got the fewest minutes among the threesome (16:38), but put up 4 shots on goal and bagged one himself in the first period. Believe it or not, this is only his third preseason game and he has 8 points already. They'll be meaningless in a week, but it's still pretty impressive. Travis Zajac had 2 assists and was above average (7 for 13) on faceoffs; whereas Ilya Kovalchuk had the secondary assist on Elias' goal along with 2 shots on net. I've noticed that Zajac's and Kovalchuk's ice time is higher than Parise's which leads me to believe that MacLean tends to have those two become the last to change or get double shifted for a bit. An interesting development.
In general, the fact that the ZIP line didn't dominate the offense has to be a positive, it's some proof that the Devils won't be a one-line team. On top of that, the Devils actually went 1 for 2 on the power play tonight. Given their man advantage woes in preseason, that Rolston ripped a slapshot for a PPG is definitely something to feel good about. The penalty killers, led by Colin White (3:52), Henrik Tallinder (3:02), and Jamie Langenbrunner (3:02), have reason to be confident with a 100% success rate and allowing only one shot on goal.
That said, there were some negatives. My biggest concern came in the third period. The Devils opened up the period with 7 straight shots on net. The Devils were clearly in control. But then the Isles clawed their way back into it, first with shots, and then a goal by Matt Moulson to make it 4-3. It's not so much that I wanted the Devils to put 5 goals on Dwayne Roloson, who played well in spite of the goals against. It's that the Devils clearly had control of the period, and then had little response when the Islanders started fighting back. New Jersey responded with more intensity on offense after Moulson's goal, but why did they seemingly need to be scored on before getting back to what they were doing at the beginning of the period? Hopefully, this doesn't become a habit.
I wouldn't describe the play by the Devils' prospects as a positive either. Tedenby had that horrible miss but otherwise had an OK night. Not so much from Jacob Josefson. That he got 1:40 of PK time shows a some confidence in the youngster, but I'm not seeing much in terms of offense. He had a shot robbed by Roloson in the second period. I'm not sure why the scorer didn't give him a SOG for that, but that was it in terms of shots by the pivot. Josefson was miserable at the faceoff dot, going 2 for 8. The full faceoff report for Josefson isn't pretty. Nick Palmieri wasn't really notable on the fourth line; and I'm not sure what to say about Alexander Urbom, Matthew Corrente, and Matt Taormina. Neither of three did much that was notable, either in a positive or negative (except maybe Moulson beating Urbom inside when he scored his first goal, but without video I can't really be confident on his positioning being wrong or whatever). Those three are defensemen and perhaps that's a positive in of itself?
Moving on to the other team, I should point out that a number of Islanders had good games. Jesse Joensuu scored early with a backhanded shot, and had his name called out enough times for his physical play. Rhett Rakhshani was another Isle who got called out a lot, he was seemingly moving the puck up well and got 4 shots on net. Krys Kolanos is on a try-out and certainly made the most of his efforts with 4 shots on goal, a constant drive to go to the net, and the coaches rewarded him with 20:20 of ice time. Moulson, of course, had two goals for the Islanders; his second one being particularly impressive as he roofed it over Martin Brodeur while he was falling. Last, and certainly not least, former Devil Dean McAmmond had a fine night with an assist, 5 shots on net, and went 10 for 16 on faceoffs.
The Devils won, though in a week it won't matter. The Devils will play their final preseason game tomorrow; and the last to only have online streaming audio as the coverage. If you were at the game, please let us know what you thought of the Devils' performance tonight. Even if you weren't at the game, please share your thoughts about tonight's game in the comments. Thanks for reading.