With training camp starting in a few days, the Islanders finally have solid competition up and down their roster. New additions on offense, an influx of youth on defense and two new goaltenders means there will be battles everywhere in camp from start to finish.
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers got off to a rough start to their season winning only one of their first seven games, however they seem to be back on the right track having won their last two games against the Worcester Sharks and Norfolk Admirals.
Going into camp this season a majory story line for the New York Islanders was who was going to step in on defense for the recently departed Mark Streit. Streit wasn't only the team's captain, but power play quarterback and large contributor on offense. The void that he left made for competition in camp among Islanders prospects as Garth Snow elected to not sign or trade for any defensemen. The clear cut front runner for the position was Matt Donovan who was figuring to be challenged by Calvin de Haan and Aaron Ness. Donovan put up huge offensive numbers in the AHL and as expected he eventually won the spot in camp. As expected he has been able to contribute offensively but has also found himself a healthy scratch multiple times this season. The reaction from fans has been mixed but I don't think it is as bad as some people are making it seem.
The opening weekend for the Sound Tigers went substantially better than this past weekend from the stand point of how the games unfolded. The opening weekend saw the Sound Tigers drop their opener 5-2 at the hands of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and win the seconds game 4-3 in a shootout against the Norfolk Admirals. Anders Lee and Kirill Kabanov were the goal scorers against the Penguins while Riley Wetmore, Andrey Pedan and Joey Diamond were the goal scorers during regulation. Ryan Strome added two assists in that game. John Persson netted the the shootout winner for Bridgeport which gave the Sound Tigers their first win of the season.
The New York Islanders made the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season and a week ago, as a prelude to the beginning of their first round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team called up several players. The players called up to the big club were Matt Donovan, Calvin De Haan, Brock Nelson, Aaron Ness, Anders Nilsson, John Persson, Ryan Strome and Johan Sundstrom.
In the last twelve games the Sound Tigers have scored more than three goals only three times, each time they came away winners losing the other nine, but there is hope here as well. The franchise record 0 for 41 power play slide ended on Tuesday, Nino Neiderreiter is out of his mini slump and the UPS (Ullstrom, Persson, Sundstrom) or ‘Swedish line’ is back.
The goal tending tandem of Ken Reiter and Rick DiPietro could be as good as the team has had all year. The defense is playing better than they have all season and there is every reason to hope that the offense will regain their swag. Missing from it all will be the teams’ heart.