-- The only loss that matters from this one is Nino Niederreiter. He left after a hard hit behind the Devils net in the first, and then a 9-second shift in the second to determine he couldn't go with a groin injury. "I just felt like I had no strength in it, so I felt like I should go off," he said.
Jack Capuano wasn't going overboard when he said the 19-year-old winger had been blending in well thus far. "He's made a huge impact the last week and a half," Capuano said. "We'll see what happens."
Niederreiter has a week to get over the injury, get his conditioning back up and be ready for opening night. That seems like a decent amount of time, but groin injuries linger -- just check with Brian Rolston who hasn't even had a full practice since tweaking his groin 10 days ago, or Milan Jurcina, who hasn't been back on the ice since his groin injury in Calgary on Tuesday.
-- Blake Comeau and Josh Bailey got plenty of ice time in Newark -- a team-high 24:33 for Comeau -- and the tandem did a nice job on the penalty kill, which was busy for the Isles, giving out seven power plays. Bailey in particular moved well, won 12 of 17 faceoffs and nearly beat Johan Hedberg on a shorthanded attempt in the second with a neat move.
Capuano wanted to see more pucks on Hedberg, especially from those two, who combined for only two shots on goal.
"We passed up way too many chances to get shots on net," Capuano said. "I thought Josh played pretty well and Blake elevated his game from the first one in Boston. But he still had opportunities to shoot the puck."
Comeau, for his part, felt this was his best game of three he's had this preseason, despite the chances he passed up.
"You need a game or two to get the tempo back, and tonight I thought I made some good strides towards where I want to be," Comeau said. "I felt like I worked hard tonight."
That he did, and there's some budding chemistry between Comeau and Bailey, who are road roommates and close friends. They need to be able to work both ends of the ice to get playing time -- they'll be on a third line, most likely with Rolston, while the top two lines get the bulk of the power play time and the fourth line does some checking work. So Bailey and Comeau have to convert the chances they get or they'll get caught in a squeeze as the bench shortens towards the end of games.
My take: Comeau needs to do more driving to the net rather than staying on the perimeter. I think that's Capuano's take too, and his opinion matters far more than mine.
-- Rick DiPietro (20 saves) was sharp again, and it's hard to see him doing anything but starting a week from Saturday. Unlike in his recent rehab years, there isn't a hope that he'll return to form; it seems like it's more expected now, with the way he's worked and the way he's played.
"I think he's played extremely well," Capuano said. "I'm extremely encouraged by his game tonight."
-- Ryan Strome had an unlikely major and game misconduct for boarding with 3:14 left. It was an awkward play and, given Strome's stature, fairly surprising to everyone that he was given the gate.
"I don't think I'm that kind of player," he said. "Those things happen pretty fast, and I know they're cracking down on those plays, but I definitely wasn't trying to hurt anyone."
A suspension would be fairly moot, since Strome is almost certainly headed back to Niagara of the OHL next week.
-- Unremarkable game for much of the lineup tonight. Mark Streit played a solid 22:04; Steve Staios got two questionable minors called on him and was otherwise good. Micheal Haley had a rough night, taking an instigator and 17 PIMs in the first, then two bad minors in the second. PA Parenteau had a decent night, creating some offense.
A few of tonight's players will play tomorrow in Bridgeport, so we'll see what the lineup looks like tomorrow.