Saturday, September 23, 2017

Last Night's Preseason Performers (Sep 23)

The Pittsburgh Penguins needed to give Antti Niemi a good test and that was the case, visiting the Columbus Blue Jackets with a group of youngsters in front of him.  Niemi had to make 31 saves, playing the full game, and earning the 4-3 win.  Niemi is trying to work his way towards the backup job this season and he made a good case last night.

I have been seeing Zach Aston-Reese's name a few times in this training camp and preseason, but it wasn't until tonight, where he could hit the blog posts, as the only Penguins player to get 2 points last night, picking up a goal and an assist.  There are a couple of bubble spots left, where Aston-Reese still has a shot at one.

On the other side, 2016 3rd overall draft pick Pierre-Luc Dubois tallied a couple of goals in the loss, as he fights his way towards a roster spot this season.  This kid has pool potential and it was on display last night.

Twitter was a buzzing with the name Ville Husso, a St. Louis Blues 4th round pick in 2014, as he was able to shut down the offense of the Washington Capitals on Friday night, walking away with a 4-0 win.  The Finn had to make 27 saves for the shutout, but it's unclear as to whether or not he'll be ready to usurp the backup role from Carter Hutton just yet.

2017 1st round draft pick Robert Thomas made an impact in this one as well, scoring a couple of goals, including the eventual winner and was also drawing some rave reviews for his overall play, not just his nose for the net.  Young forwards Wade Megan and Jordan Kyrou each chipped in with a couple of assists each, showing that the Blues prospect pool is getting deeper.

The Tampa Bay Lightning welcomed the Nashville Predators to town on Friday night and it was a good opportunity to let the new number one get his legs under him, as Andrei Vasilevskiy got the nod for the whole 60 minutes in this one.  Vasilevskiy had to make 29 saves in a 3-1 win, moving another step forward towards a pretty big season in 2018.

Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos hit the scoresheet twice each on the night for the Lightning, Kucherov scoring a goal and adding an assist, while Stamkos had a couple of assists in his return to game action. The Lightning are expected to bounce their way back to the playoffs this year, but it will be a tough push in the Eastern Conference, and in doing so, they'll be a good team to pick from in the pool.

It was an NHL preseason game in an AHL barn, as the cross town rivals, Rangers and Islanders, went to Bridgeport, CT for a game in the Tigers' barn.  Jaroslav Halak got the nod for the full 60 minutes for the Islanders and the opponents kept him busy, forcing him to make 30 saves in the 2-1 win.

Sophomore forward Anthony Beauvillier was the big offensive bright spot for the team, as he tallied a goal and an assist in the neutral site win.  Beauvillier was a big surprise last season, coming in late, so will it be a good time to invest in him late?  It might be.

It was a penalty-filled affair between the Coyotes and the Flames in Calgary on Friday night, leading to lots of power plays for both teams.  Mike Smith got the nod for the Flames against his former team, getting the entire game and only having to make 15 saves for the 4-2 win.

Sam Bennett, who was noted as my most intriguing player for the Flames this season, got off to a good start in this game, notching a trio of assists in the win.  Johnny Gaudreau had a pair of goals, while newcomer Travis Hamonic also chipped in with a couple of assists, as the Flames did well against a very young Coyotes team.

Mario Kempe and Adam Clendening were decent in the loss, each picking up 2 points, chipping in on the only Arizona goals.

Some of the Edmonton Oilers veterans seemed to have their hands full with the young Vancouver Canucks team on Friday night, as they were taken to a 5-3 result, in their favour, by the end of the night.  Backup candidate Laurent Brossoit got the call for the Oilers for the whole game, stopping 24 of 27 in the end for the win.  Brossoit had the leg up going into camp and he should still have it, when we're ready to roll in less than a couple weeks.

Iiro Pakarainen and rookie Kailer Yamamoto each potted a pair of goals in the win, while Leon Draisaitl chipped in with one and one and finally, Drake Caggiula was good for a couple of assists as well.  Yamamoto is making it hard for the Oilers to cut him out of camp, as he has been hitting the scoresheet with familiarity.

On the losing side, Michael Carcone and Jalen Chatfield each had a goal and an assist.

The Anaheim Ducks took advantage of the lack of depth in the Los Angeles Kings franchise, dominating their state rivals, 4-2, on Friday night.  Dominating might have been a strong word, but it appeared to be somewhat of a one-sided affair in the boxscore.

Jakob Silfverberg had a good night, scoring a goal and adding a pair of assists in the win.  He'll be relied upon heavily this season, as the Ducks try to push through a much more difficult Pacific Division this season.  Bubble defenseman Jaycob Megna had a goal and an assist as well for the Ducks, who might start with the big club, thanks to injuries.

Out of the Kings prospects, forward Michael Amadio had a pair of primary assists on the only two goals for the club, but it seems very unlikely that he'll be breaking through to the big roster this year.

And then there was one more neutral site game, far more neutral than the other two AHL buildings played in on the night, as the Kings and Canucks finished up the China Games series in Beijing in a game that started around 1:30am MT this morning.

It was a battle of the backups in this one, as Darcy Kuemper and Anders Nilsson were in net for each team and this one needed some extra time to finish off.  So much extra time, it went to the shootout and without any real offensive stars in this one, the shootout winner went to Jonny Brodzinski and the Kings, taking both games in China.  Kuemper made 22 saves in regulation and overtime, plus all three in the shootout for the 2 points.

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