Man, the kids look GREAT this preseason. You can tell DeBoer agrees by how often guys like Gelinas and Merrill were on the ice (every 30 seconds, it seemed). Gelinas is really turning heads, even my Islanders fan who was in attendance couldn't believe his skill and clutch, he's really turning into something. Boucher did good things too, was maybe better on Monday, but hell, he's nervous and YOUNG. I love his shot and release and the other things in his game that may be lacking are things that can be taught. He's got the right tools and instinct, he's got a bright future; I think we all know he'll go back to junior/AHL but he's still very exciting.
Zidlicky looked awful for most of the game. Brunner and Zajac both looked okay and up to par. I'm sure Brunner is still jetlagged, not to mention the weight of an unsure future and unfamiliarity with the system means we wouldn't see his real level of play until after at least a week or two. Zubrus was another bright spot; say what you want about his contract but he's gotten incrementally better the past few years and I saw some of that last night. Severson was okay and held his own.
Overall, the veterans looked terrible. Salvador was neutral, might have been the more solid of the veterans last night, but that's not saying much, Andy Greene was okay. Brodeur, forget it, I don't really know what to say. I know it's preseason hockey, but damn Marty, you need to give us (and your coach) SOME sort of assurance that you can still compete at a high level. He looked worse than he did in Atlantic City last offseason for the Sandy relief charity game (where goals resulted in more money donated, so he let in some softies). It's just nerve-racking going into the season after watching a performance like that. I can't imagine the coaches being okay if he were to show that much of a lack of effort during a practice scrimmage, much less a preseason game where people actually paid to come see it. Anyway, if I'm Pete DeBoer, I start Marty at the Barclays Center too. At this stage, I think we all realize Schneider is the best goalie on the team so I think getting Marty in shape is more important than anything else. Nothing to gain by starting Schneider in any of these games, except maybe Philly.
Moving on, Olesz looks encouraging. I think he'll fit right in, he plays a hybrid of Clarkson and Zubrus style and has good size. He'll be a very effective third line player, which is where I imagine him ending up considering our depth. Carter and Josefson were okay, they didn't stand out, but they'll come around. Barch, I don't really know what to say. We don't really need Barch or Janssen. Our team is big, our players are big and physical, and can fight if they need to, and they do. Watching Barch go at it 3 times last night was more depressing than anything else. It sucks that that is what he feels the need to do in a preseason game to make the team, but I just wish he had some more skill. Last year, when our depth was lacking, he looked decent on the 4th line and wasn't bad at all, definitely more skilled on the puck than Janssen. While he hasn't changed much for the positive or negative, our depth has passed him by and I just don't see room for him or Janssen. In just 3 short years, we've gotten bigger than just about all of our rivals, in my opinion. We're bigger and more physical than New York, by FAR. We can hold our own against the Islanders, and I'm not worried about the Flyers. We don't really need an enforcer anymore, the way we did maybe 3-4 years ago.
Loktionov looked great again, I'm really excited to watch him grow and he's turning out to be another Lou Lamoriello STEAL, with a ton of "special sauce" on top of it. He played last year (and looks this year) at the level we expect Zajac to play and does everything right in my opinion. I have almost never found myself saying, "What the hell Loktionov?", he's so solid. Similarly, Ryder looked good. He wasn't oustanding, but he's only a week in. I look forward to seeing his play as he grows more comfortable with his teammates and the system.