1 How's ex-Penguin Brian Strait been playing? His boxcar numbers are predicatably plain (0g, 0a, 0p, 0 PIMs, -1, 4 SOG) but he's averaged 17:50, 4th amongst NYI defensemen.Strait's been as you'd expect. For the most part, they've paired him with Mark Streit and he's steady, certainly not the worst partner Streit has had with the Islanders. But minutes-wise he's still way behind Travis Hamonic, Andrew MacDonald and his near-homonym Strait. Decent depth pickup for the Isles though, much preferred to Joe Finley from their preseason waiver-wire binge.
#2 Through five games the Isles are 2-2-1, with 18 goals for and 18 goals against. Seems pretty even, how would you describe how the team has played early in this season?
Like a .500 team, really. They haven't tossed up any absolute stinkers, they haven't blown anyone out, they've held onto some leads and blown some others. Definitely early and still getting a feel for how they're doing and if their approach has changed at all since last season. Their stars are still their stars and they may have improved their blueline overall, but that's coming off one that featured nightly inconsistencies from Mike Mottau, Steve Staios, Mark Eaton and Milan Jurcina. Evgeni Nabokov has been pretty big so far.
#3 Outside of the first line, the Islanders have gotten some scoring so far this year. Name a player Pens fans should lookout for (outside of the norm of Tavares, Moulson, Okposo, Grabner) that may be able to chip in with a couple points.
Honestly, it might be Keith Aucoin or David Ullstrom. Despite his limited NHL experience, most probably know of Aucoin but so far this looks like a nice role for him as a secondary scorer on a line with the hard-working Ullstrom. They're the kind of players that don't catch opposing fans' eyes often, but when they do it's because they just made a nifty play that provided the difference.