Islanders Puck Talk – Observations from the home-and-home against the Flyers
Look, there really isn’t much to gauge from these games other than making sure everyone gets their skates under them and the Islanders are healthy heading into the regular season. Unlike football however, everyone plays, even if you have Ross Johnston on the first line with Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle.
The Islanders won both games against Philly, a 3-1 win in Philadelphia and a 3-2 overtime victory at home inside the Nassau Coliseum. The only real negative (which will get sorted out) was the three too-many-men penalties they took in the two games. Let’s take a look at some of the things that stuck out in this home-and-home series;
Tanner Fritz is earning a spot on this roster
Tanner Fritz was originally slated to be the third line center for the Islanders before they signed free-agent Derick Brassard early last week to a one year contract. Brassard has been a consummate professional and the perfect third line center for this team.
Fortunately for Fritz, he’s shown that he can do just about everything and will most likely lock down a roster spot with some more hard work. Fritz was all over the ice Tuesday night, and was particularly excellent defensively.
Fritz’s game is at its best when he’s flying all over the ice, which he showed many times last season, including a few shifts that were jaw dropping in terms of effort and speed. He isn’t going to be Mathew Barzal but he will fit right in as a bottom six forward, especially if Andrew Ladd misses time and Michael Dal Colle struggles early.
The kids are alright
There are a lot of young up-and-coming prospects that got plenty of work in both games, and in particular the young studs played extremely well at home against the Flyers.
Otto Koivula played well on the road, as did Josh Ho-Sang, but the two that really stuck out were Oliver Wahlstrom and Noah Dobson. The two 2018 first round picks were all over the ice on Tuesday night, especially in big situations down the stretch.
Dobson looked poised, which is what makes his game so transferable from Juniors to the NHL. For such a young player, he is extremely confident and can move the puck well for an inexperienced defenseman. As for Wahlstrom, he didn’t get on the scoresheet but he did look good on a line with Michael Dal Colle and Derick Brassard.
Jobst making a case
Speaking of scoresheets, one of the bigger surprises from Tuesday night’s victory was the forward who scored the GWG. Mason Jobst, a free-agent signee from Ohio State, made a huge impact in the game.
Jobst, wearing the infamous #66, scored the winner after Anders Lee’s shot sat in front of the net. Jobst picked up the rebound and put it past former Islander J.F. Berube for the game-winner. It was a nice goal, and even better considering Jobst stole the puck in the defensive zone and came scorching back to put the game away.
Varly continues to stand strong
One of the most controversial moves of the summer was the Islanders’ reluctance to re-sign Vezina finalist Robin Lehner. The team let Lehner walk and instead signed Semyon Varlamov to a four year, $5M AAV deal.
Varlamov looked strong in his debut against the Flyers. His edgework was solid, he was fluid in his crease and made a few nice stops on the Flyers’ A squad.
With the help of Mitch Korn and Piero Greco, Varly should split time with Thomas Greiss and leave the Islanders where they left off last season; With excellent defense and goaltending.