September 15, 2010

Rookie Game 1: Boston 5, Isles 2

The Islanders Rookies dropped the first of the two meetings against the Bruins Rookies on Wednesday, losing 5-2.

The Isles got their goals from Nino Niederreiter and Robin Figren.

The team looked very shaky for much of the game. Some of you who were tracking the analysis on Twitter tonight may have already seen some of my comments. Specifically, I called out Calvin de Haan for his performance tonight. One has to remember, though, that this was essentially his first game in a number of months after suffering a season ending should injury which required surgery in January. When you take a step back and think about that, it was sure nice to see him back on the ice. He is a very good defenseman, which one can see from his selection to represent Canada at the World Juniors. However, there were at least two instances tonight where he tried going for the poke check only to have a Bruins forward easily skate around him. Once he gets his feel for the game back, this will hopefully be a much rarer occurrence.

Mikko Koskinen was a standout for the Isles for much of the night. He looked strong early on, and despite issues controlling rebounds, was able to keep things close thanks to his quickness. He playes a stand-up style and does not seem to flop around much, which is probably best for a 6'7" netminder. Koskinen is still returning from a lengthy injury of his own that he suffered last season, when he had to have surgery on his hip, and miss most of the AHL season. Upon his return, he played a handful of games down in the ECHL before returning to Bridgeport for the playoffs. What I saw from Koskinen tonight left me confident considering how little hockey he's played in the past year. I think a lot of the things that a goalie usually lacks after a layoff like that, such as the quickness, were there. The rebound control is something that a player with his skill can work on and rectify quickly, so I'm not too worried there.

Kirill Kabanov has a ton of skill, and it showed on the powerplay. While there wasn't much to show on offense for the Isles tonight, Kabanov made some nifty moves and was very slick. He has an amazing ability to keep the puck on his stick for stretches, and is very fast with his decision making. Some of his defensive plays weren't anything to write home about, and I know some people were pointing that out. In all honesty, he's billed as a kid who oozes offense - that's his game. There are a ton of players in this organization who are great two-way players. There aren't many, however, who posses the offensive ability that Kabanov does. We can splurge a little. After his little mishap on the first day of camp, he worked extra hard on day two and even stayed after for some "punishment sprints." The hard work showed tonight, and I hope that's the only message the Isles have to send him. If he gets his head in order (keep in mind how young he still is), then we will be in for a treat.

Travis Hamonic was OK, but nothing special. This is a guy billed as an excellent shut-down defenseman, but tonight he seemed a bit hesitant. He did get into one fight, which quickly turned into a wrestling match with both players stumbling to the ice. We hear so much of Hamonic laying out big hits and I personally didn't see him play the body as much as I would have liked.

When taking a look at everyone, I tried to keep in mind a couple of factors. The injuries that some of the players we're battling was one of them. aside from that, the rookies practiced for two days then jumped on the bus to get to Boston. Also, there were a couple of players on the Boston squad who spent time in the pro's last season, more than many of the Isles prospects. I think all of that played a factor as well.

At the very least, it was good to watch hockey again. I was hoping for a better effort, but these guys are all so young and still trying to get back into the swing of things. The guys that people are paying close attention to all did some good things, with some mixing in some not so good things. But that's what this is for. The hope is that this is a tune up for them for the big camp starting Friday.

The Isles and Bruins go at it again Thursday night. Just like Wednesday, expect there to be a feed on the Bruins and Isles web site. Expect a different lineup as well.


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