PHILADELPHIA – Josh Ho-Sang certainly wasn’t dissing the importance of practice. He wasn’t channeling former Philadelphia hoops star Allen Iverson, far from it.
But the Islanders right wing does believe evaluating a player in a game is different than a practice evaluation. Ho-Sang was one of several young prospects along with defensemen Devon Toews, Bode Wilde and Yannick Rathgeb and forward Michael Dal Colle who got into their first game of this preseason on Monday night against the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.
“Because a game is something you need to win,” Ho-Sang said of the difference. “It’s great you can do it in a practice. Lots of people are very good in practice. I have good days in practice. But I think you need to bring it to the game because they play 82 of those.”
Ho-Sang, 22, the 28th overall pick in 2014, is battling to make the Islanders’ through a crowded training camp field of 68 players, including 40 forwards. The Islanders have six more preseason games remaining before the regular-season opener at Carolina on Oct. 4 so chances are at a premium for all prospects.
Ho-Sang, a dynamic offensive player who must show he consistently play solid defense, has been through this before and made the team out of training camp last season. But he played just 22 games with the Islanders in two stints, with two goals and 10 assists, before ending the season with Bridgeport (AHL), where he notched eight goals and 23 assists in 50 games. Late in the season, he criticized how the Islanders handled his development.
Now, he’s one of the prospects trying to impress new coach Barry Trotz.
Trotz, too, differentiates between practice evaluation and in-game evaluation, though both are critical to his decisions.
“In practice, you have the structure and, a lot of times, you’re looking at detail,” Trotz said. “Are the guys listening? Does the detail matter? Is a guy cheating on a drill? Bobbing your head and pretending you’re working doesn’t mean you’re working. Don’t mistake activity for achievement.
“Now, you watch them in a game and, with everything we’ve given them, are they using it or are they just playing?” Trotz added. “You can’t be a good team unless everybody is on the same page, everybody knows their job and trusts what the guy next to him is doing.”
Ho-Sang was not on the ice on Saturday for the second day of training camp, an absence both Trotz and Ho-Sang would only call a “personal day.”
Ho-Sang, who played on veteran Valterri Filppula’s right wing on Monday night along with ex-Penguin Tom Kuhnhackl, no longer tries to play the guessing game of whether he’ll make the team.
“Honestly, now I don’t,” Ho-Sang said. “I used to and then it used to hurt my feelings. I’m not really thinking about two weeks in a row. Generally, I take it day by day and I feel happier about it. In my day to day stuff I feel more content with life and I enjoy it. I honestly couldn’t tell you what’s going to happen. This is the best league in the world with the best players in the world and the talent we have in this camp is unbelievable.”