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Now the hard work begins for Islanders

With major roster cuts and just two preseason games remaining, coach Barry Trotz will complete systems installations and figure out special teams. 

New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz calls

New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz calls out to his players during the first period of a preseason NHL hockey game against the New York Rangers, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Bridgeport, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill) Photo Credit: AP/Jessica Hill

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- The Islanders concluded a grueling stretch of six preseason games in seven days with a 5-2 win over the Rangers on Saturday night at Webster Bank Arena.

Now the real hard work begins.

The Islanders have two preseason games remaining before opening the regular season at Carolina on Oct. 4. In just under two weeks, new coach Barry Trotz will figure out his opening 23-man roster while doing the major installation of his systems and special teams play.

“Get the new guys more used to each other,” said goalie Thomas Greiss, who played a full game for the first time in three preseason starts and made 27 saves. “We have a few new faces to get to know on and off the ice.”

“I think it’s just learning some of the mistakes and some things that are easily fixable,” said center Casey Cizikas, whose reunited line with reacquired Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck played for the fourth time. “[I] Think having this week, as tough as it’s been, it’s been a good step for us because we have a lot of video of ourselves. The next couple of weeks are going to be big for ironing out those things.”

Trotz said he was anticipating trimming his roster to “reasonable numbers” in order to push the pace in practice. There’s no timetable for further cuts after the roster was pared to 43 players from 68 on Saturday. But Trotz said the next trim will take the roster to about 34 players and then again down to 28 before making the final cuts.

Trotz dressed close to a regular-season lineup, with the top three lines consisting of regulars and potentially five defensemen who could be on the roster.

Greiss, too, looked sharper than he had in his first two starts as he battles former Sabre Robin Lehner to be the Islanders’ No. 1 goalie. The Islanders allowed an NHL-worst 293 goals last season and Greiss struggled to a 13-8-2 record with a 3.82 goals-against average and a .892 save percentage.

“For sure, it was upsetting,” Greiss said. “It’s extra motivation, I guess. It definitely haunts you a little but, on the other side, you’ve got to be able to put it away, regroup and have a fresh start.”

Notes & quotes: Anthony Beauvillier scored twice, Josh Bailey had a goal and two assists, Anders Lee and Ryan Pulock had goals and Mathew Barzal, Jordan Eberle and defenseman Parker Wotherspoon all had two assists…Forwards Chris Bourque, Ryan Bourque, Scott Eansor, Matthew Gaudreau, Ryan Hitchcock, Connor Jones, Otto Koivula, Ivan Kosorenkov, Jeff Kubiak and Yanick Turcotte, defensemen Mike Cornell, Ryan MacKinnon, Tyler Mueller, David Quenneville, Yannick Rathgeb and Mitch Vande Sompel and goalies Evan Buitenhuis and Mitch Gillam were re-assigned to Bridgeport (AHL). Forwards Arnaud Durandeau and Blade Jenkins and defenseman Bode Wilde were returned to their Canadian junior hockey teams. Forward Pius Suter was returned to his Swiss Elite League squad and forward Kyle MacLean and goalie Emmanuel Vella were removed from their amateur tryouts. In addition, defenseman Kyle Burroughs will be re-assigned to Bridgeport on Sunday if he clears waivers…Left wing Andrew Ladd (tightness) missed his sixth straight practice.

New York Sports