The NHL preseason chugged along on Wednesday as 18 teams faced off in 9 games. Former Islanders made contributions in 5 of those matchups and continue to flex their talent. For some players, like Ryan Smyth, the preseason has been a sign of possible good things to come in 2008-09. Here is a look at the FI efforts:
It is a good time to be Chris Osgood. The goaltender is flanked but what is unanimously being hailed as the best team in hockey in the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings continued to show off their talent,even without Marian Hossa, by beating up on the little guy as they thumped and dumped the host Atlanta Thrashers 4-1. Osgood faced a relatively high 26 shots but only surrendered 1 goal. He has given up 2 goals this preseason over roughly 2 and a half games of play... Do the math and that's about a 0.80 goals against average.
First he climbs mountains in Africa then he returns to the cool crispness of the hockey rink. On Wednesday Zdeno Chara started up his offensive engine again by notching the only Boston goal, a powerplay tally, as the Bruins fell to the host Montreal Canadiens 3-1. Chara is looking to carry his career season momentum in to the 2008-09 campaign.
St. Louis defenseman Eric Brewer is alive and seemingly well. The d-man, who struggled through a lackluster 2007-08 season, is looking to have a bounceback year. Brewer got involved with the offense by assisting on the 2nd of 4 insurance goals as the Blues trounced the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3. At only 29 years of age, Brewer is only a year younger than the 2 oldest defenseman on the team (Mike Weaver and Jay McKee). It will be expected of Brewer to be a leader on and off the ice to a ragamuffin squad with an average player age of only 28.2.
Ryan Smyth is on fire. We have lost count of his preseason point total since it is completely inane but Smyth has been a whirling dirvish of offense for the Avalanche in what he is hoping will be a full and healthy season. (Odds that Smyth will be injured at some point during the actual season are currently running at 1.5:1) Smyth opened the scoring with only 1:22 remaining in the first period on a powerplay goal with assists from the yin and yang of the Colorado youth spectrum: Paul Stastny and Joe Sakic. In the end, the Avs whisked by the visiting Dallas Stars 3-1.
Taylor Pyatt, yes he still plays in the NHL!, assisted on the opening goal only 21 seconds in to play as the Vancouver Canucks whomped the visting Calgary Flames 6-1. Vancouver, who is expected to be among the worst teams in the Western Conference this season, is a surprising 5-0-0 in the preseason. But since it is all exhibition there is no point reading too deeply in to this. Backstopping the Canucks to the win was new captain Roberto Luongo. Luongo stopped 35 of 36 shots for the victory. Luongo becomes the 2nd FI to captain the Canucks albeit Trevor Linden was captain before being traded to the Islanders and becoming captain there. For the record, the Islanders never considered making Luongo the team captain during his time on the Island.
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