Isles Notebook: A good, if not great, start for Strome
By Christian Arnold
Ryan Strome's debut wasn't a win for the Islanders, but he acquitted himself well even in the loss. (Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Ryan Strome did not part the red sea or walk on water in his NHL debut Saturday night, but the 20-year-old Islander prospect had a respectable 14:42 of playing time in the 1-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
“I was more comfortable than I thought,” Strome said after the game. “These guys make the game easy. They talk a lot. Obviously I’m coming in here blindfolded a little bit. Not too sure what to expect, but my linemates helped me out a lot. The game is a bit easier down here, in the sense that everyone is in the rights spot. It’s not as chippy. It’s obviously faster, but for my skill set it fits nicely.”
During the loss, Strome had two shots on goal and won 45 percent of his faceoffs while centering a line flanked by Brock Nelson and Cal Clutterbuck. Coach Jack Capuano even had Strome on the Islanders top power play unit, alongside John Tavares and Thomas Vanek.
“Obviously you gotta be ready,” Strome said about playing on the power play. “The puck’s going to come to a lot, and I think in the AHL I was used to getting the puck and having time. I was always the centerman of what’s going on, so it’s a bit different.”
Capuano seemed pleased after the game with the performance Strome had in his first game in an Islander uniform.
“I thought he handled himself quite well,” Capuano said. “I think that he’ll learn offensively you don’t have that time and space. And the ability you have in the American League to hold onto it a little bit too long, but I was very pleased in his first game. Obviously excited and nervous, but he played well for us.”
Week in Review
Dec. 9: Islanders 2 @ Ducks 5
For a moment it looked like the Islanders were going to end their losing streak, but three unanswered goals in the second period helped the Ducks top the Isles. After goals by John Tavares and Thomas Vanek had New York ahead 2-1. Anaheim answered back to tie the game at 12: 41 and with less than a minute left to play, Cam Fowler scored shorthanded to put the Ducks ahead 3-2. Corey Perry scored with two seconds left in the period to make it 4-2. He scored one more goal in the third to make it 5-2.
It took 11 games, but the Islanders snapped their 10 game losing streak against San Jose. After falling behind 2-0 at the end of two periods the Islanders battled back in the third. Vanek scored 51 seconds into the period to cut the Sharks lead to one. Kyle Okposo tied the game with 1:37 left in regulation and goals by Vanek and Okposo in the shootout secured the win for New York.
Two days after the Islanders ended their 10 game losing streak, they dropped another game. Eric Boulton scored in the first to put the Islanders ahead, but Phoenix scored four unanswered goals to put them up 4-1. Two quick goals by Tavares and Okposo pulled the Isles back within one. The Coyotes found the back of the two more times before the final buzzer sounded and kept the Islanders off the board the rest of the game.
Ryan Strome made his NHL debut and Evgeni Nabokov returned from injury, but it still was not enough for the Islanders to win. Nabokov stopped 24 of the 25 shots he faced. The one shot he could not stop was the most costly for the Islanders. Max Pacioretty scored 1:51 into the overtime period to hand the Islander their second loss in a row and their 12th loss in their last 13 games.
John Tavares – 2 goals, 3 assists in four games
Thomas Vanek – 2 goals, 2 assists in four games
Kyle Okposo – 2 goals, 1 assist in four games
The Week Ahead
The Islanders have three games the upcoming week. The 18-11-3 Tampa Bay Lighting pay a visit to Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday. The Isles then have three days until they travel to the Big Apple to take on the New York Rangers (15-17-1) on Friday at 7 p.m. The Isles have a quick turnaround and host the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday at the Coliseum.