The New York Islanders beat the New York Rangers 2-1 last night in an exhibition match. The two teams have been off for four months, and some players like Adam Pelech have missed even more time. Obviously, with such a long layoff, there was some expected sloppiness in both team’s play. Despite this, the Islanders played Islanders’ hockey and controlled mostly the entire game. There were three players in particular who looked like they missed zero time at all, and surprised every Islander fan.
Three New York Islanders’ players who stood out:
Derick Brassard was a solid winger on the 2nd line at the beginning of the year and fell off near the end of it. Brassard looked like a changed man out there. His energy was at an all-time high; he was making good passes at the right time, and created chances for other players. Brassard can bring veteran leadership to the playoffs, not like the Islanders need that though; they’re the oldest team in the playoffs. I’m excited to see what Brassard can do on Saturday.
Noah Dobson had the best performance of his life last night, too bad the game was somewhat meaningless. Dobson was brilliant on his own end last night. I compared his play this season to a defenseman that cared more about playing offense than defense. Dobson proved me wrong last night, he disrupted the Rangers’ energy completely and was solid on the boards. Barry Trotz will have a hard decision of whether to play Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk or Noah Dobson and Adam Greene on Saturday.
Seymon Varlamov stood on his head last night. I’ve never seen Varlamov play so well in his entire life. He didn’t let up so many rebounds, he was fast from pipe to pipe, and he had that fantastic three-shot kick save. I’m usually very nervous when the other team gets a clean shot on Varly, but that just wasn’t the case last night. Varly stopped everything in his way. Varlamov will obviously get the nod on Saturday.
The New York Islanders looked amazing against the Rangers last night. This was just an exhibition game, so don’t look too far into the result, even though the Islanders won. The Islanders have a big test on Saturday, the Panthers may not be an elite team, but you cannot rule out any team. The real test will be the players dealing with the pressure that the play-ins bring.