The Islanders held their fifth scrimmage in the 10 days of practices so far at Training Camp 2.0 on Friday.
Not surprisingly, the players are anxious to face a real opponent.
“It’ll be nice to play someone else,” said captain Anders Lee, whose top line with center Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle again had a strong scrimmage.
The Islanders depart for their quarantined arena/hotel bubble in Toronto on Sunday. They face the Rangers in an exhibition game on Wednesday and open a best-of-five qualifying series against the Panthers on Aug. 1 at Scotiabank Arena.
Barry Trotz said there is always the possibility of diminishing benefits in repeated intrasquad scrimmages and the chance players can develop bad habits as a result.
But the coach said he does not see that happening with the Islanders.
“The emotion against someone on your own team, if there’s a chance to leave a mark or to take them out, you’re probably not putting a guy into the end wall to get the puck,” Trotz said. “There are sometimes those bad habits, guys knowing they’re not going to get run over, they hold onto the puck a little longer than they normally would. They look off guys and bait them because they know they’re not getting hit all the time. Those could be bad habits if it’s starting to be in the DNA. I don’t feel that.”
White defeated Blue, 4-3, in a shootout after a three-period scrimmage. White took a 3-1 lead on goals at the net by Ross Johnston and Casey Cizikas and Andrew Ladd’s deflection of defenseman Scott Mayfield’s shot from the right point.
But Lee, circling behind goalie Thomas Greiss as he patiently held the puck, fed Eberle for a one-timer to make it 3-2. Lee then tied it at 3-3 by knocking in a rebound at the right post.
“Our line has felt pretty good,” Lee said. “We’ve picked up where we tried to leave off. All three of us are looking forward to taking what we’ve done in camp into something that truly matters. We just try to work off of each other like we always have.”
Tom Kuhnhackl scored the other goal for Blue, rushing the puck up the ice and then ripping a wrist shot by Greiss.
Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson both beat Semyon Varlamov in the shootout for White while Greiss stopped Eberle and Barzal.
Notes & quotes: Kuhnhackl returned to the ice after not participating in Thursday’s practice…Leo Komarov, recovering from a facial injury and yet to participate in a full team practice, was the only skater not to participate in the scrimmage…Friday was the deadline for NHL teams to submit the list of 52 people, including 31 players, they will bring to the hub city. The Islanders are not publicly announcing their 31-player roster yet.