- I made my first joke of the pre-season:
I love when a guy like Gibbons scores. There's no real shot at him making the team so it almost doesn't count.— Joe Fortunato (@BlueshirtBanter) September 21, 2015
Which then turned into this:
Gibbons with a goal and an assist. Shoving my "won't make the team" back into my face. (He still probably won't)— Joe Fortunato (@BlueshirtBanter) September 21, 2015
Which then turned into Brian Gibbons adding another assist to finish the night with three points. So I can't make jokes already and the season hasn't stared yet.
Still, that's a heck of an effort from someone who really doesn't have much of a shot to make the team. About that last sentence (and my jokes): Gibbons is a 27-year-old winger who has had a cup of coffee in the NHL (to the tune of 66 games) and a wealth of AHL experience (194 games). You sort of expect guys like him and Jayson Megna (two goals) to dominate early in the pre-season when they're going up again wide-eyed kids and younger guys fighting for a roster spot. Granted, if Gibbons records 18 points in six pre-season games it would be tough to cut him but that's not going to happen.
- I thought two of the three players who really needed to make an impact Monday night did. Let's go through all three of them on their own:
Brady Skjei - I thought had a fantastic game. Aside from a mix-up where he and (I believe) Kevin Klein lost a Devil in front for a goal against I thought Skjei moved the puck with purpose, took care of what he had to do in his own end and looked fine controlling the play in the offensive zone.
It was revealed yesterday night that Skjei was not one of the players who would be getting a second look tonight against Philadelphia which is interesting. Either he played well enough that Alain Vigneault is going to keep him beyond tomorrow's cuts or he wants to send him to Hartford right away. If it's the latter, I have no idea why that's the ideology there but let's burn that bridge if we get there.
Oscar Lindberg - Scored a goal, played a great game defensively and showed off some really nice chemistry with Jesper Fast. There were a few shifts where Lindberg was absolutely dominant at moving the puck around to space, and I thought he was really solid in his own zone. When cycling down low he showed off some strength and in the second period made a brilliant set up to Fast in the slot who was subsequently robbed. In the first after a bad turnover he hustled back to negate the chance. Good all around.
After the game Lindberg talked about how he wants to play well defensible and any offense he adds is a bonus. Vigneault, on the other hand, claimed Lindberg needs to add offense if he wants to stick ...
Why does Lindberg need to contribute offensively to make the team when Glass dress -- you know what, it's not worth it.— Joe Fortunato (@BlueshirtBanter) September 22, 2015
Dylan McIlrath - I thought McIlrath was OK last night. He didn't make any major mistakes -- outside of a stupid hit to the head -- but he didn't really do much to stand out, either. Sometimes that's not the worst thing in the world for a defensive defenseman, but I noticed Skjei much more than I did McIlrath for what that's worth.
- Tanner Glass was, well, Glass. I'm not going to go deeper into this on day one than the following: That's a horrible penalty to take in a one-goal game, pre-season or not.
- I did not like Kevin Klein at all. I don't care about the three assists, one of them was on Viktor Stalberg's gift goal and the other was a super secondary assist (no one touched the puck between his pass and two shots). He is the veteran, he can't have the mix-up with Skjei early in the game and he didn't look particularly solid in his own end. It was the first game, though.
- Stalberg was OK, I though. A little in and out. I only noticed Ryan Bourque a few times but when I did it was for all the right reasons.
- I'm of the mind Raphael Diaz should be fighting for a spot in the top six, and I would like to see him above Klein but we'll see where the year takes us.
- Chris Kreider. Chris Kreider! That shot that he rang off the bar? Whoa. That snipe he scored on? Even better. The fall after the celebration? Priceless.
- Keith Yandle moves the puck so well on the power play his teammates don't even realize they're open.
- Derek Stepan looked good, too.