The Islanders tried to correct some of their preseason misfortune from last season with a few logical steps. There was no Blue-Orange scrimmage this year, since that's when Mark Streit went down awkwardly and ended up missing the entire 2010-11 after shoulder surgery.
Aside from a few minor injuries, the Isles have made it to their first preseason game healthy.
Starting Friday night in Boston, things will begin to heat up.
"It's not been as physical a training camp as you might have seen before," coach Jack Capuano said, "but now it's showtime. Bodies will be flying and guys will be trying to win spots on this team."
The lineup for the game with the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins features only six players who began last season with the Islanders -- they will go with a more seasoned lineup on Saturday in their only home preseason game, against the Devils. But Capuano, who has been encouraging all 50 players in camp to try and earn a spot, doesn't see Friday night's lineup as a mostly Bridgeport-bound crew.
"There's some guys in there that have played better than other guys, to be honest," he said.
Getting a first look in an Islanders uniform will be defenseman Steve Staios, who agreed to a tryout on Saturday and just arrived on Long Island on Monday. Rick DiPietro will get some time in goal, along with rookie Anders Nilsson.
Defenseman Calvin de Haan will also be in the lineup, likely paired with Matt Donovan. De Haan was a touted prospect when the Islanders moved up to take him 12th overall in 2009; now, at age 20, he's going to be a pro this season, either with the Isles or, more likely, in Bridgeport.
But that hasn't changed his approach.
"I have to prove myself even more," de Haan said. "I got to play in the rookie games [last week] and that was good competition. You can't overlook those because if you don't stand out there, you slide down the depth chart even more when the whole camp is competing. But we're playing against men now, not just young guys, so it's a whole other level."
De Haan would need to crack a defense corps that, as it projects now, has three players 33 or older -- NHL veteran Milan Jurcina and up-and-comers Andrew MacDonald and Travis Hamonic -- as well as the 38-year-old Staios. It would seem that de Haan needs some AHL experience to make sure he's ready when called up.
"I've just been trying to work on learning some good habits," de Haan said. "The coaches have been on me a lot, but I appreciate it -- they want to make me a better player. I'm not approaching this as anything other than a chance to show I can play at the NHL level."
Notes & quotes: MacDonald (hip surgery) and C Marty Reasoner (knee) had their first full practices on Thursday, though forward Brian Rolston (groin) and forward Kirill Kabanov (wrist) were out. Capuano said he's not too concerned yet about Reasoner and Rolston, two new veterans, missing time the first week. "They are missing some conditioning time here," he said, "but they're both pros, they know their bodies and they know how to prepare for a long season. I'm not overly worried." Prospects Rhett Rakhshani and Mitchell Theoret, both sidelined with concussions suffered in last week's rookie games, skated for the first time as well.