Three days of high-paced practices at Islanders’ training camp has already given coach Barry Trotz a good sense of how hard his players are willing to work and compete. But he needs to see his players in game action for more detailed evaluation purposes.
“What practice doesn’t show you is your game hockey IQ,” Trotz said Sunday in East Meadow. “You just can’t replicate it enough.”
The Islanders open their seven-game preseason schedule on Monday night in Philadelphia and also face the Flyers on Tuesday night at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum. Trotz said he might pare his 70-man training camp roster by an unspecified number after the first two games.
The Islanders did not announce which players would be in Monday’s lineup but Trotz did say he expects his two NHL goalies, Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss, to get a “majority” of the preseason action even with seven goalies in camp. However, Trotz added neither of the veterans will play a full game immediately.
The regular-season opener is Oct. 4 against the Capitals at the Coliseum.
“There’s nothing like a game,” captain Anders Lee said. “No matter what, it’s still going to be quicker than practice. The speed of the game, the intensity level, it’s different in different spots. Here, in practice, guys are going really hard and playing really well. But when you’re going up against a different team in a game, it’s just different. That’s why it’s always nice to have those preseason games to get those bearings.”
“A lot of times in the summer, you’re skating and playing games but it’s beer hockey,” right wing Jordan Eberle added. “No one is really swinging or touching you. You need to get back into the habits of stopping, starting, competing. You just need to get into game shape and the only way to do that is to play in games.”
Neither Cal Clutterbuck, recovering from offseason back surgery, nor first-round pick Simon Holmstrom, coming off ankle soreness, will play on Monday night – Tuesday night is probably out for both as well – but both were encouraged on Sunday.
Holmstrom, the 23rd overall pick in June, joined practice for the first time in training camp after missing last week’s rookie camp with an ankle injury.
Clutterbuck made it through three grueling practices since Friday without any issues.
He believes he’ll be able to see some game time in the preseason as he is on target to be available for the start of the season.
“Just given the way I’ve been able to feel, three consecutive days, it’s a higher load that I’ve had since the end of last year,” Clutterbuck said. “I’ve felt better every day. So that’s an encouraging sign. I think another four, five days of practicing and getting moving and getting to the pace and I should be prepared to get into a couple before the end of preseason.”