Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Last Night's Preseason Performers (Sep 28)

Unsigned 2016 draft pick Jonathan Ang was the Florida Panthers' top player in a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators, early on Tuesday.  Ang, a 4th round pick, is touted as a speedy centre that lacks size, but an early showing of a goal and an assist in this preseason game, gives a little hope that he might be able to find his way to the big show eventually.

It was a good game for Buffalo free agent signing Derek Grant, who finished a 3-2 win against the Senators with a goal and 2 assists for a 3-point night.  Buffalo draft pick Nicholas Baptiste was also good for a goal and an assist in the victory, while they gave former Senators goalie Robin Lehner the whole game, making 37 saves in the overtime victory.

The Sabres are building towards something much bigger this season and getting Lehner on board early should surely help.  The two notable forwards in the game are both trying to break through and there is limited space in the bottom six to do so.

In the second game between the Predators and the Panthers, Roberto Luongo made his first appearance in the preseason and his first game action since some off-season hip surgery.  Luongo appears to be on pace and schedule to be ready to go for opening night for the Panthers, good news for a team that looks to be pushing for the playoffs and beyond.

Luongo split time with Mike McKenna, but not before giving up Nashville's only two goals in the 2-1 loss, but the good news is... he's back in the net and on time for the start of the regular season.

The New York Rangers got their preseason schedule off to a pretty good start, defeating their crosstown rivals from Brooklyn, 5-2, on Tuesday night.  Newcomer Mika Zibanejad got off to a good start, picking up a 3-point night, while Chris Kreider, Brandon Pirri and defenseman Adam Clendening all had 2 points in the victory.

The Rangers are going to be looking for a fast start to their offense in the coming year and the early signs are quite favourable, especially if Zibanejad is going to fit in so nicely.  His projections could start to rise with more results like this.

Another injury return of note, as the Philadelphia Flyers were able to dress forward Matt Read, after he had off-season thumb surgery.  All systems are go with him.

Read didn't feature into the scoring, but the Flyers did pot four against the other side of the Islanders' split squad, defeating them 4-0.  Wayne Simmonds had a pair of goals, while prospect defenseman Travis Sanheim had a pair of assists in the win.  Steve Mason was given the whole game and he made 23 saves for the shutout victory, showing that he is well on his way to being on his game to start the season.

The Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins were giving their depth a good run at the Joe on Tuesday night, where the host Red Wings came away with a 4-2 victory.  Detroit's Mitch Callahan scored a pair of goals and Riley Sheahan had a goal and an assist in the win, while on the other side, Garrett Wilson scored both Penguins goals in the loss.

It looks like everyone got a good share of the ice in this one, both camps are waiting for some players to come back from the World Cup, so they'll continue to spread the wealth in camps.

One more key injury return was in Montreal tonight, as the visiting Capitals had the return of defenseman Karl Alzner to game action, coming off sports hernia surgery. He appears to be good to go for the coming year.

It was the Habs, however, who were getting all the press in this one, as they defeated the Caps, 5-2, and everyone notable was in a Montreal jersey.  Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu had a 4-point night, including a goal, while his partner on the night, Greg Pateryn, had 3 assists in the win.  Torrey Mitchell, Paul Byron and Alexander Radulov were all good for 2 points a piece as well.

The Colorado Avalanche went into the Xcel Energy Center and came out with a 4-1 preseason win over the Minnesota Wild and it was thanks in part to a professional tryout, forward Rene Bourque, who was the only notable player with a goal and an assist.

The Avalanche are leaning towards a youthful lineup to start the season, but some early injury concerns might help a guy like Bourque find a job, especially if he can put a couple more pucks in the net in this preseason.

The Calgary Flames went into Winnipeg and exorcised a few demons after a couple of split squad losses to Edmonton the night before, defeating the Jets, 4-0, in their barn.  Defenseman Brett Kulak likely knows that breaking through the depth of the team's blueline will be exceptionally difficult, but a 2-goal and 3-point night should go a long ways to helping the team feel more comfortable in possibly moving some of that depth ahead of him, likely to lessen their cap burden.

The San Jose Sharks entertained the Vancouver Canucks at the tank on Tuesday night and the home side was able to sneak out a 3-2 overtime victory, thanks to 2014 draft pick, Kevin Labanc, who scored the winner and added an assist, while defenseman David Schlemko was adjusting well to his new surroundings, picking up a pair of assists.  Both sides are also waiting for their World Cup participants to get back into camp, before they really ramp up their efforts.

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