Like Benjamin Button, the Islanders are getting younger.
By the sound of Scott Gordon’s voice, the time is now. But tomorrow isn’t your typical start of a 5-game homestand before the All-Star Break. Tomorrow, the New York Rangers come to the old barn on Hempstead Turnpike.
If the score is 2-2 entering the third, will the emphasis on youth continue for the final 20, 25 minutes? All eyes will be on the coach for that decision. Personally, I’m hoping he sticks to his (young) guns.
When the Islanders broke into power play practice today at Iceworks, observers couldn’t help but grin at the diverse units:
Streit – Bailey – Okposo – Nielsen – Hunter
Campoli – Gervais – Park – Comrie – Guerin
One insider told me (at risk of beheading) that the pointmen may be interchangeable, but the forwards should stick. Good stuff, all around – the kind of fun, smart tinkering the head coach should be doing at this stage. Will there be bonus prizes for the unit that does best? Like maybe Guerin and Park get steaks at Rothmann’s? Or underagers Josh and KO get the run of Dave & Buster’s for an hour?
Gordon on his second half philosophy: “The biggest thing is to make sure our younger players are developing and getting better every day.”
The coach paid the proper respect to the veterans – who, you can be certain, are not thrilled, but that’s life in the big leagues. Gordon added of his kids: “Now that we’re in the situation we’re in, they’re going to get more of a chance to run with the ball.”
It begins this week with the Rangers, Boston and New Jersey. Welcome to the true beginning of your NHL careers: Kyle Okposo, Josh Bailey, Blake Comeau, Frans Nielsen and Nate Thompson.
In his post-practice media scrum today, Gordon declared Nielsen and Thompson as ready to go on Tuesday. Thank you, Scott.
For the 35 or so minutes that tomorrow’s Islanders-Rangers game is played 5-on-5, here are your potential combinations:
Comeau – Comrie – Okposo
Park – Bailey – Guerin
Tambellini – Nielsen – Hunter
(Sim) Bergenheim – Thompson – Jackman
Streit – Gervais
Witt – Martinek
Campoli – Pock
Joey MacDonald was the only professional goaltender at practice today. Yann Danis – make sure the truck has anti-freeze.
Maybe it’s because he’s been in the headlines in Canada seemingly for two decades. Maybe it’s because he debuted with the Edmonton Oilers at age 20 – when Doug Weight and Bill Guerin were in their 20s, Janne Niinimaa still had game and Tommy Salo played 74 of 82. Maybe it’s because you can find thousands of pics of him on Google Images. But can you believe Mike Comrie is just 28 years old?
Kate Doesn’t Know Kyle: Following up on the Lighthouse discussion in the next thread, if anyone thinks the Town of Hempstead dragging its feet on the Lighthouse Project has anything to do with the team winning two games since Dec. 1 and falling to 30th place, you’re not paying attention.
Kate Murray doesn’t even know the name of the commissioner of the NHL. Do you think she knows who Kyle Okposo is? This project has been discussed for most of the decade, back to the days when the Islanders made the Stanley Cup Playoffs 4 times in the early-mid 2000s.
Would it be beneficial if the Islanders had been to the Cup Final last year and had the Sharks’ record this season? Of course it couldn’t hurt. But please, don’t let this season’s flop cause you to think that’s why the pols are not motivated to push the project along.
And on the flip side, don’t think for a second that the possible drafting of John Tavares will be the impetus for Kate Murray to act. This is not Pittsburgh winning Sidney Crosby in the lottery and then their arena deal getting approved. Murray does not have the Central Scouting Bureau rankings Favorited.
The development will hopefully be approved at some point, but it’s not the hockey – good or bad – that will make the difference.
No way – Tavares is No. 1?!: The NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau has released its midseason rankings for the 2009 draft: Here are the top-5 North American prospects:
1. John Tavares
2. Matt Duchene
3. Evander Kane
4. Jordan Schroeder
5. Brayden Schenn
Victor Hedman is the top-ranked European, followed by Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (expected to go in the top eight) and Jacob Josefson, who is pegged in the 10-15 range.
So in other words, nothing has changed at the top. It’s still Tavares/Hedman at 1-2 and Duchene at 3. For the Islanders, the Tavheduch Watch continues.