Islanders beat reporter Arthur Staple took questions from Twitter followers as the Isles prepare for the season opener on Thursday against the Rangers.
Here are 10 questions and answers from this week:
@Doc__Ad: PA was signed as JT’s wing. How can he be cut when he didn’t really get a chance to play with JT?
Staple: This is true and it’s not terribly fair to Parenteau, but it seems the front office didn’t love what they were seeing before Tavares arrived. Couple that with the kids -- 19-year-olds Anthony Beauvillier and Mathew Barzal and 20-year-old Josh Ho-Sang -- working their tails off and I get the sense that the Islanders wanted to shed a contract, knowing Parenteau and his modest ($1.25 million) salary would be claimed, and also send a message to the rest of the veterans: Don’t get comfortable.
So yes, it ain’t fair. That’s part of the job.
@JoshElkin: If Beauvillier & Barzal make the team (for more than 9 gms), is it fair to assume they wont be buried on 4th line?
Staple: Well, “buried” is a loaded word. I would guess Beauvillier would get fairly normal even-strength minutes to start with, plus some infrequent penalty-killing time. And Barzal, who appears likely to be a healthy scratch Thursday based on practice the past few days, would be in for regular even-strength and power play time if and when he plays.
It’s important to remember that the Islanders have a set fourth line and that they roll all four lines at even strength quite evenly throughout the year. So it’s rare that a forward or a line gets skipped or sat in the third period of any game.
@jtarg23: The Isles fell off a cliff as a great possession team last year, have they made any changes in regards to that?
Staple: I did ask Jack Capuano about that the other day and he liked what he was seeing in the transition game out of the defensive zone, though he was less pleased with the neutral-zone play. He felt many of his forwards were not making the easy play (dump-ins, most likely, which do not foster good possession numbers) and turning pucks over.
In any event, outside of the preseason finale their possession and shot-generation numbers were quite good in the other seven games, though those were hardly the full lineup and were against half-lineups as well. They want to be a team that cycles with the puck in the offensive zone, and I have seen a bit more movement from the defensemen in the offensive zone to create some space and havoc. But, it’s hard to know how it’ll all go until we’re a few games in. They are aware.
@cultureoflosing: Why are the Islanders still reluctant to use Johnny Boychuk on the power play? Afraid he’ll break more legs?
Staple: He is on the second power-play unit and the five-on-three unit as of now, with Ryan Pulock in Bridgeport. And, given that Anders Lee took yet another shot off the leg in practice today (it was a Josh Bailey shot), maybe don’t joke about it just yet!
But I do believe one of the main reasons Boychuk isn’t a power play regular is that his skating is not as skilled as, say, Nick Leddy, who is the lone defensemen on the top unit. Doug Weight’s power play is not a stationary one; they want all five players moving around, creating space and shooting lanes.
Boychuk is more a stand-and-fire type guy and I do believe Leddy’s speed helps cover for mistakes at the power-play point. Maybe not a satisfactory answer for most, but that’s what I’ve got.
@Lindseyspag: It’s clear a lot of people are luke warm on the team this yr. What are your feelings? Obviously lot of risk w youth.
Staple: I think they’re a playoff team, though hardly one that will safely clinch a spot weeks ahead of the postseason. Honestly, I think there will only be one or two of those teams in the East. So there’s no shame in getting into the dance in the final days of the season.
Predictions are everywhere and we’re all entitled to make them. The one thing that unifies most of them? They’re almost always wrong to varying degrees. The Islanders lost three familiar names to the many folks who cover hockey but don’t cover this team closely, so that seems like a step back right away.
@islanderjunkie: how long do you think three goalies will last
Staple: My understanding is the Islanders hotly debated whether to try and send J-F Berube through waivers on Monday, but there was concern a team was very interested in claiming him -- I believe it was the Sharks. So they held onto Berube for the time being to see where things will go the first week or two.
It’s certainly possible they’ll try to get Berube through waivers once all 29 other teams are settled with their rosters and the games get underway, but he’s here for now.
@Shwax: if Tavares doesn’t finish season with stable, productive linemates, will it be harder for #isles to re-sign him?
Staple: Tavares pretty much dispelled these types of thoughts this summer after his good friends Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen left. I’m sure he’d prefer to know who he’s playing with every night, but it seems the best Jack Capuano can do is have Andrew Ladd there and figure out the right side as they go.
Considering most teams go by tandems rather than trios -- Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa have Richard Panik on their left side tonight for the Hawks -- it’s not the worst thing. And hardly a reason Tavares would walk away in two years.
He’s going to likely have Barzal as his No. 2 center by then, Ho-Sang as a potential right wing, Beauvillier in the lineup every night and Michael Dal Colle pushing for a spot. Why wouldn’t he want to stay and captain those talented kids?
@OlegKvasha: Would PAP have played, or, will any of the new kids play on the powerplay?
Staple: He would have and as of today Parenteau’s spot on the top unit was taken by Brock Nelson. As I said above, if Barzal plays, he’ll get power play time, likely on the second unit. Adding Nelson to a group of Leddy, Tavares, Ladd and Ryan Strome means Strome may play on the left-side wall where Parenteau would have been and Nelson moves to Strome’s rover spot.
@TheCavster: Who will handle critical D-Zone Faceoffs now that Frans is gone? Zeeker??
Staple: I’d say he’s the top choice, followed by Tavares. Here are the numbers on defensive-zone draws for the Islanders the past two seasons: Nielsen 886 (50.4 percent won), Cizikas 766 (48.7 percent won), Tavares 527 (49.3 percent won), Nelson 428 (47.9 percent won). So Nielsen was definitely the preferred candidate for D-zone draws, but it’s not like the other three regular centers took none.
@JM_from_NJ: Art, seriously...they can’t think Chimera really is an L1 option right? This seems like no plan post KO and FN.
Staple: As stated above, the Isles like the Ladd-Tavares combo and will improvise on the other side. I still feel Ho-Sang may get a look on the right at some point soon. Capuano said he wants “a little speed and grit with each line,” so apparently Chimera provides a little of both of those attributes. Scoring would be good too.