Monday, February 4, 2008

On the Roster

I'm as anxious as anyone to see how the most recent Bridgeport callups fare against the Los Angeles Just Ducks of Anaheim. Will Tambellini and Nielsen be paired on the same line with an incumbent? Or will they be assigned to different lines, thus giving the team a transfusion on three of its four lines (assuming that neither one was going to play with Brennan)?

The braintrust had some difficult decisions to make as far as where any callups would be slotted into the lineup (assuming that the decision to actually make callups was not difficult itself). It's rather unfortunate that the decision was rendered easier by injury (Sillinger) and illness (Park and Hunter). I'd certainly rather see a new-look squad that included both Sillinger and Park. While Sillinger's numbers have fallen off from last year, and Park's have fallen off in the last few weeks, they remain key components of a successful Islander team. As for Hunter, I have to admit that I am curious to see how the team looks with a little more speed and skill. The downside is that I like having a hitting machine out there, and Hunter's performance on the penalty kill cannot be overlooked. I don't imagine that he'll be spending additional time in the press box once he's recovered from the flu.

Then there are the ancillary stories. First, how will Okposo fare with new Sound Tiger linemates? It's not as though he can't adjust to playing with new faces. He went from Minnesota to Team USA to Bridgeport in a matter of weeks. But there will be a dropoff in talent no matter who fills in for Tambellini and Nielsen next to Okposo. Furthermore, Kyle will likely be looked to as more of a leader on his new line, whereas he was clearly the protege next to two guys with successful careers in professional hockey and tastes of the NHL. Of course, the convenience of having two forward spots open on the Island may last only a few days. Once Hunter and Park are healthy, I wouldn't be surprised to see Nielsen and/or Tambellini right back next to Okposo.

Second, no matter how well Brennan fills Jackman's shoes, his big-club tryout has a finite lifespan. The Islanders have made it clear that the door to the bench is wide open for Chris Simon, whose return stands just over two weeks away. By then, the team will either have a lot of competition for jobs (if they turn things around) or a lot of vacancies to fill (if they're out of it).

Update: Now that I've had a chance to read the literature from the Islanders, I see that Nolan intends to play Tambellini and Nielsen together. I like this decision and it indicates to me that the pair will get a decent shake at quality ice time. Nolan also suggested that Park would be ready to go tomorrow night, but didn't mention Hunter. So, we should see Tambellini, Nielsen, and Brennan in for Sillinger, Hunter, and Jackman/7th defenseman, at least for one game. After that, it will be interesting to see whether one of the struggling regular forwards takes a seat.

1 comment:

Jim McGlynn said...

Hey Ken. I think the Silli/ Hunter absence give the Isles a chance to quell fans, who largely seem very enthusiastic about trying Tambellini again as the team continues to struggle. He may be deemed a little too much of a "skill" player for Nolan, but what the hell are comrie and satan and tank doing anyway? he deserves another shot. hope all is well.