In just two preseason games, Islanders captain Doug Weight looks nothing like the player he was last season.
Gone is the player whose painful, lingering shoulder issue dominated his every shift on the ice. Gone is the player who anticipated every pass, every hit and how he’d compensate for his limited ability to handle the puck.
After undergoing surgery last March to repair a torn labrum and torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder, Weight is back and feeling the best he has since signing with the Islanders.
"I felt refreshed, I felt energized," Weight said after picking up two assists in his first preseason game against New Jersey Friday.
Weight built on his pre-season debut last night during the Islanders’ 2-1 win over the Devils at Nassau Coliseum.
The 39-year-old veteran helped the Islanders to a 1-0 lead in the first with a beautiful feed to Josh Bailey. Weight swiveled around the left side of the net, changed direction to shake his defender and roped the puck through the crease to find Bailey at 5:46.
"He has the ability do that every shift," Bailey said. "He's a guy you like to see your number next to on the lineup and that play was a perfect example why."
With the pain and distraction Weight dealt with last season, such a play would have been difficult to execute.
"Just being able to get the puck, use my body and take the hits without worrying about getting killed, it's a whole different thing and that's exciting," Weight said.
Impressed with his captain’s recent play, head coach Scott Gordon said he’s happy Weight looks like himself again.
"We didn't see any of that last year, and maybe not even the first season he was here," Gordon said. "He's played as good as he has since he's been here in these two preseason games."
Weight has been in the league long enough to know that his recent off-season production doesn’t promise to translate once the regular season begins.
But he’s feeling good, finally, and that’s encouraging.
"He feels young again," said Rick DiPietro, who had an impressive 25-save effort last night. "When you are in constant pain you start to feel your age and this becomes a job. It can be mentally tough. He worked his butt of this summer and now it's paying dividends."
Notes and Quotes: Nino Niederreiter left the Islanders’ split-squad game in Quebec with a bruised left calf after being slashed in the back of the leg by Montreal’s Mike Cammalleri. Cammalleri was subsequently ejected from the game. Both Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo underwent successful surgery Friday at the Cleveland Clinic. The Islanders cut six players yesterday: Dustin Kohn,Anton Klementyev,Tony Romano, Robin Figren, Kevin Poulin and Joel Martin. Rob Schremp (back) and Matt Martin (foot) did not play last night.