With injuries to key players such as Lubomir Visnovsky, Thomas Vanek and Evgeni Nabokov, the New York Islanders are struggling in more ways than one. Their power play is ineffective, the defense is porous and they cant string together a streak of wins no matter what they do. Different players stepping up to lead and the youth in Bridgeport being ready to contribute could be the difference for the Islanders playoff aspirations this season.
Ryan Strome has been developing with the New York Islanders organization for the past two years, playing with their AHL farm-team affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers (Photo Credit: mandelux12/Flickr).
In 10 games with the Sound Tigers in 2013, Strome scored seven points in 10 games (two goals and five assists). He has continued the high scoring pace this season as well, notching 14 points in nine games played (three goals and 11 assists) as the team's top scorer.
He also was cited as the best player in the Islander rookie camp before the puck dropped for this season as well.
Prior to the Islanders game against the Carolina Hurricanes last night, defenseman Aaron Ness was recalled for some help on the blueline. It could have been for help, or for a bit of a shake up as well which I think is needed for this team at the moment.
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.
With the preseason now behind us, Isles fans everywhere can collectively breathe a sigh of relief as the moment we have all been waiting for is upon us. The Isles are on the verge of playing the first meaningful games since the heart breaking game 6 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins last May. We have all been eager to pick up right where we left off after exceeding all expectations last season. With all of this in mind, we can only hope for the success to continue so the Islanders can take their place among the elite teams of the NHL. Although the outcome of this coming season is yet to be determined, I think I speak for Islander fans everywhere when I say this is the most confident we have been in the last 20 years.
Going into this season the New York Islanders are in a very unique position compared to what they have been in the past. They are a team that is confident having come off of an unexpected and impressive playoff appearance last year. They have organizational depth that has built up nicely from sticking to their rebuilding plan and drafting well. To supplement that, they have made smart signings and waiver additions that both have and are looking to make an impact in the NHL. With the majority of the roster already set, it will be these players that are fighting to stay in the bottom lines that could ultimately have the biggest impact on how the Islanders do this season.