The volume of preseason tilts took a major turn up on Monday as 15 teams faced off in 8 games around the league. But what, you say... 8 games should mean 16 teams! In a weird move reminiscent of MLB's spring training, the Los Angeles Kings had a rare split squad situation on Monday as part of the team played a home game against the Phoenix Coyotes and the other half faced off against the St. Louis Blues in Kansas City, Missouri. An oddity, for sure. Nevertheless, Former Islanders were active in 6 of those 8 games. Here is a look at their work effort from Monday night:
Winger Brad Isbister, playing with his new squad, the Ottawa Senators, is hoping to secure some NHL work for this upcoming season. Isbister helped his cause by assisting on the lone Sens' goal as Ottawa fell 2-1 to the host New York Rangers on the tail end of their preseason home-and-home series.
There could be a little battle brewing in New Jersey for the world's cushiest backup goalie gig. FI Kevin Weekes and born again Devils' backup Scott Clemmensen both saw time in goal as the Philadelphia Flyers handed visiting New Jersey a 4-1 loss. But despite splitting playing time, Weekes took the loss as he surrendered 2 goals on 14 shots. Clemmensen fared slightly better stopping 7 of the 8 he faced. We are waiting with baited breath to see who gets the most coveted bench warmer position in all of hockey.
Jason Blake is healthy. That is more than can be said for Toronto's hopes this season. With all that aside, the Maple Leafs looked good as they steamrolled the visiting Buffalo Sabres 7-4. Blake has 2 assists including a powerplay helper on the game winning goal to help lead the Blue and White charge. If there is the potential bright spot this season in Ontario it could be the return to form of Blake who spent much of last year playing through a cancer battle. His perserverance landed him the Bill Masterson Trophy, an honor reserved for only the bravest of players.
It was Pittsburgh versus Tampa Bay redux on Monday as the two teams capped off their preseason home-and-home series with a little rendevous in Florida. The Penguins, not in the mood to be beat twice but cautious of overworking the big names sat most of their stars and still managed a 3-2 win over the Lightning. Receiving the primary assist on Pittsburgh's second goal with less than 2 minutes remaining in the first period was winger Ruslan Fedotenko. Tank, whose playing time was hampered by injury last season, is looking to find a spark with his new squad. Fedotenko played over 18 minutes, managed 2 shots on goal and got into a little scrum!
Jason Krog, looking to make a return to the NHL for the first time since the 2006-07 season, assisted on the game tying goal then notched the winning goal in the SO as the Vancouver Canucks edged the host Edmonton Oilers 4-3. Krog, last year's AHL scoring leader, could be one of the answers for what is on paper a very anorexic Canucks' offense. In inane news, Former Islander Draft Pick (FIDP) Ryan O'Marra suited up for the Oilers. O'Marra, picked in the 1st Round, 15th overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by the Isles, was packaged with Robert Nilsson in that now infamous Ryan Smyth trade. O'Marra skated for only 4:41. This is possibly the last time we will mention O'Marra bask in this rare reference.
In the final game of the night, the Los Angeles Kings second squad beat the visiting Phoenix Coyotes 6-4. Center Derek Armstrong notched 2 goals for the Kings and received second star honor behind prospect Oscar Moller. Moller impressed by scoring the game winner and adding 2 assists including the primary on Armstrong's first tally. Armstrong is looking to have a bounceback year after struggling through much of the 2007-08 campaign.
Check back soon for more preseason recaps and FI news.