Let's see, where were we? Last time I had the opportunity to take in a Tigers game, the season had just started, the Islanders had playoff ambitions, all seemed reasonably well in the Country...
Okay, what's the goal now? Clearly what is or isn't in the system, whether up in the big league now or not, is now the most important thing for any Islanders fan.
And so, today's day game vs. Portland, a 3rd in 3 days, would show some very interesting things indeed. In general, the Tigers seem to have coalesced nicely into 3 solid lines, 6 solid defensemen, and 2 excellent keepers who will now get adequate time - no wonder they are starting to win, and they will likely continue to.
First off, the prospects with real NHL futures
Kevin Poulin - first time one of the Tigers keepers played back to back games since....when? All season? Was very happy to see this, as he seems a true prospect, on this evidence, he most clearly is. He's also very much where he should be for now. Poulin is quick, makes wild saves, handles the puck with aplomb (unlike someone who needs not be named), has a nice shuffle move right after a play to block the opposite of the net during a play. He's still learning, but he can be a star and probably will be. Happy to see him do a full season in the AHL and then next year, he should have every chance to start and star for the big club. One more reason the DP contract looks more and more like a heavy weight around our collective necks. The only he gave up was not his fault - came after a 5-10 minute break for the Teddy Bear Toss after the Tigers 1st goal which sucked all the momentum from their rapid start.
David Ullstrom - has size, vision, plays D - this may be the best forward prospect on the Tigers. Not sure he can be more than a 3rd liner, but that could be okay. A nice surprise - could use a few games up with the big club soon, to show him what that's all about.
Wes O'Neill - yes, Wes was the best defenseman today to add to his growing credentials in general. He's played a few games for Colorado in the bigs, and you can see why. He has size, is fearless, plays D, is clutch and gritty. He was clearly the best of the 6 today who all played reasonably well holding Portland to 1 goal (mind you, they were sleepwalking a bit) - would not mind seeing him get some time on the Islanders this season to see if he doesn't have potential to do more. Very nice job picking this guy up.
Could still have what it takes
Mikko Koskinen - as a followup to first game observations, perhaps has tailed off a bit after a nice start, but has plenty of time to get his act together, perhaps especially next year, if Poulin goes up at Mikko can get more playing time.
Rhett Rakhshani - makes a nice line with Colliton & Bailey - might be a touch small to have what it takes longer term - not quite has tough as Ullstrom - probably should also get a few more games up top - borderline, but if he digs in and gives it full effort, who knows
Josh Bailey - okay, it was a 3rd game in 3 days, and he probably is partly wondering what he is doing at this level, which is a steep drop off NHL game quality - but he really didn't dig in, which is concerning - Colliton/Bailey/Rakshani would be an interesting line to call up all at once at some point this season to see if they could translate at all as a whole - but very concerned, that while the talent is sort of there, its only sort of there - we'll see
Jeremy Colliton - 45 game veteran of the Islanders and you can see why - nice two way player, can score a bit, another very good pickup and wouldn't shock to see him up at some point
Robin Figren - trying hard, putting points on the board, but concerning that he may be a bit too small - but playing well, and part of this team's ongoing success - his job is to make the Islanders give them no reason not to call him up - that means a big effort every game and continue to score - we'll see
Mark Wotton - a consummate professional, would be a nice gesture to get him up to the big club for a game or 2 before the end of the season - given his game sense, he probably would do just fine
Solid at this level, not sure if there's more there
Mark Katic - didn't have the best game, starting to wonder about him
Dylan Reese - was okay - but with all the kids coming up, starting to wonder about him as well
Anton Klementyev - okay at this level, but is there more there? We'll see, though starting to wonder about him as well
all 3 of these guys above are solid, add Friesen who was also solid and you have a very nice D for this level
Brandon Svendsen - had a very good game, has size, plays D - one to watch - another nice surprise from below and part of the solidity across the board helping lead to this team starting to win most of their games
Tony Romano - has enough size & speed that he isn't a no brainer never will make it - though he's on the 3rd line, he probably has potential to do better
Michael Haley/Rob Hisey - these guys strike me as one and the same - solid AHL'ers, probably their peak, good to have them on board
Tomas Marcinko - doesn't have the speed or hockey sense to rise above, solid enough for 3rd or 4th line AHL - no more
Dustin Friesen - made a very solid pair with Wotton, not one to write off
Oliver Labelle - good enough for the 4th line - potential to do better
Jean Bourbeau - 4th line AHL is his max
Overall, a nice game with good energy by the team who has jelled into a cohesive whole.
Scratches were Jablonski, Blight, Motherwell - probably as weak as any above anyway.
Ref was whistle happy - called anything that seemed like a penalty and a few beyond that - not useful.
An entertaining afternoon, with more than a few prospects that bear watching.
See you next time.