After making a Sunday trip to Bridgeport, Conn., during one of his team's recent off days to watch the Islanders' AHL affiliate Sound Tigers play, Scott Gordon didn't get to see much of defenseman Andrew MacDonald in action.
But what Gordon did see - before MacDonald received a game misconduct for boarding at 14:27 in the second period of a 3-2 loss to the Lowell Devils Nov. 7 - he liked.
"His vision and his skill," Gordon said of what stood out. "He makes good, hard, tape-to-tape passes. It's so important to be able to get the puck out of the zone and he was able to do that with passes that some defensemen can't make, or shouldn't try to make."
That confidence in the Islanders' 23 year-old prospect - who established himself in this season's training camp as the eighth defenseman - could not come at a more critical juncture, as the Islanders have been hit with a few costly losses to their blue line. First, shutdown defenseman Radek Martinek suffered a season-ending knee injury Nov. 6, then veteran Brendan Witt missed the game in Boston because of personal reasons.
It is unclear when Witt will rejoin the Islanders, but MacDonald, who played his first game of the season in Witt's place Monday, will accompany the team on its three-game jaunt beginning Friday.
"It's definitely a good opportunity to show what I can do at this level," said MacDonald, who has one goal and six assists in 19 games for Bridgeport this season.
MacDonald was a plus-1 in 11:44 of ice time for the Islanders in the 4-1 win over the Bruins. Besides being used on the penalty kill (mainly out of necessity as two defenseman were in the penalty box at the time), he was also used on the power play, a role in which he has thrived in Bridgeport.
"Moving the puck is one of my attributes," MacDonald said. "I wasn't sure if I'd get in there, but to actually get some touches on the power play was good."
And while there were some natural nerves for his first NHL game this season, MacDonald said the three games he played with the Islanders last year gave him confidence.
"That helped a lot," MacDonald said of the experience. "It gave me a taste of what it's like and the chance to get the jitterbugs out."