So last night, I got to see the New York Rangers farm team, Connecticut Whale, play the New York Islanders' Bridgeport Sound Tigers. I figured it'd be nice to give a glimpse into the AHL team, which we don't get to do very often on here
The most important thing is that the starting goalie for the Sound Tigers was Rick DiPietro. Just let that sink in.
Anyway, on to my thoughts on the 3-2 win by the Whale
1. Cam Talbot was the 1st star of the game, and he absolutely deserved it. The kid was phenomenal. Both goals he allowed were players just left wide open, and he robbed some players on the Sound Tigers. He stopped 38 of 40 shots. He did get bailed out late in the 3rd, when a tying goal was called off due to a Sound Tiger player getting whistled for interference (very iffy call). Still, I don't want to take away from his performance. He had a great night
2. The best prospect on the ice was the Islanders pick Ryan Strome. He is just all over the place, and hit the post on a potential tying goal late in the 3rd. I'm not looking forward to this kid being in the NHL at all.
3. Back to the Whale though. The first goal was by Ben Ferreiro, and just kind of flung it on net and it somehow scored as people crashed the crease. Wasn't anything special. Goal #2 was scored on a wicked shot by Ryan Bourque, went top corner on a pass from behind the net. Jean had some nice work along the boards to chip it to him. The GWG by Brandon Segal was during a forecheck, with a really neat deflection/pass by Kreider to Segal across the slot, who beat DiPetro.
4. The Whale defense was iffy. They allowed 40 shots on net, and on both goals left players wide open. They were pretty bad lapses, and had a few others where Talbot made a mindblowing save to make up for it.
5. Prospect Watch: This wasn't the prettiest game to watch from an NYR perspective. It was also the 2nd game of a back-to-back, so that may have had an impact.
Chris Kreider: Looked alright. His assist on the GWG was neat, and he had some burst once in a while. He didn't touch the puck as much, but moved around okay without it. I thought he was a little lacking on backcheck today. My notes on him are shorter because we've all seen him play.
Dylan McIlrath: is a large, large human being. Beyond that? Eh. He isn't really involved in the offense, and his defense was okay. He didn't lower the boom on anyone or get into a fight, so I can't say anything there. He was on the PK when the Sound Tigers scored, and I thought he had skated pretty far from the crease. He didn't make many mistakes that made me notice him, but he didn't make any plays that drew attention either. Maybe that's good.
- Christian Thomas: I barely noticed him on the ice today. He's quick, but he is definitely a small player. He got shoved off the puck a couple times, didnt get a shot off last night. He was on the rush with Ferreiro on the goal in a decent position. The biggest takeaway I got from him is that he is Zuccarello-undersized. He'll need another season in the AHL to get stronger before I think he can make it out of camp.
- Others: Kyle Jean played a okay game, was active on the boards. Sam Klassen (undrafted) looked good in his own zone. Micheal Haley missed on a breakaway, he just deked himself out of a good shot.
On the whole, this wasn't the cleanest game I've ever seen. Any time you allow 40 shots and take 20 (10, 7 and 3 by period), something didn't go right. The passing was a bit inconsistent, but when the lines got into the Sound Tigers zone they had a few solid possessions. The chances the Whale got were good enough, Talbot stood on his head, and they came away with the win.