The New York Islanders shook off a lot of rust in their 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Monday night, their first game action since Apr. 29. Despite that rust, there were some positives in the game, like the play of 21-year-old prospect Simon Holmstrom.
As we saw throughout training camp, head coach Lane Lambert has given Simon Holmstrom the chance to play with the New York Islanders’ most gifted offensive player in Mathew Barzal, along with the hard-working veteran Zach Parise.
“It was good,” Holmstrom shared postgame about playing with those two NHLers. “I feel [like] we only got better and better as the game went on. It’s always fun to play with NHL guys and just watch and learn.”
“It’s our first game, and we’ve only skated like two or three times together, so we got a lot better, and we’re just going to improve every single day.”
In the first preseason contest, Simon Holmstrom made his presence known in his 19:02 minutes of ice time. He had 21 shifts in the contest, with an average shift time of 54 seconds. While that may seem long, especially for a youngster, that number is skewed a bit as the Islanders’ top line early in the first and second periods were hemmed in their zone for a significant amount of time.
“It was a tough start,” Holmstrom said. “It was the first game of the year, but it got better as the game was on.”
Holmstrom was credited with one shot on goal (but had two) on three attempts, with two giveaways and a takeaway. But the statistics fail to tell the whole story.
Here’s our analysis on Simon Holmstrom’s play from the Islanders’ first preseason game:
Quick Quick Quick
From the get-go, Simon Holmstrom had quick on his mind.
He was quick with his decision-making, as he had no problem dumping the puck into the New York Rangers zone and chasing after the puck. The NHL is a fast game, and for many young players, that speed adjustment takes time.
Early in the first period, Holmstrom took little time before getting a shot on New York Rangers netminder Igor Shesterkin, forcing the 2021-22 Vezina winner to make a tough right pad save. That chance came off a Scott Mayfield point shot as Holmstrom quickly got himself in the correct position for the rebound.
For some reason, the Madison Square Garden statisticians did not credit Holmstrom with that shot, but it happened.
Later in the contest, in the third period, Holmstrom rifled a one-timer from the slot that was swallowed up by New York Rangers backup netminder Dylan Garand.
Special Team Central
The New York Islanders power play on Monday night could be summarized by the word ‘dreadful.’
Since the opening of training camp, the Islanders have not spent any time working on their special teams, power play, or penalty kill, and it showed.
Despite the special team result, Simon Holmstrom played on the top power-play unit for a total of 3:55 minutes. Although he had no shots on goal, he did not look out of place, helping to move the puck around.
Again, Holmstrom thinks quickly, which is a need, especially on the power play, to keep the opposing players on their heels.
Unfortunately, he was on the ice for the New York Rangers shorthanded goal in the first period, a breakdown that led to a K’Andre Miller tap-in, but that goal was not on the young prospect.
The Islanders found themselves shorthanded twice tonight, and although Holmstrom was not a staple on the penalty kill unit, he did see 39 seconds of action with the Islanders down a man.
Quote From Head Coach Lane Lambert on Simon Holmstrom:
“I liked him, I thought he made some plays. He looked comfortable and poised. I thought he looked good tonight. I thought he was one of our better players.”
Simon Holmstrom will not take the ice when the New York Islanders face the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night at the Prudential Center. No one who played in the contest on Monday night will be in the lineup. Holmstrom will be part of the group that scrimmages at the practice facility on Tuesday.
Joshua Linsenberg contributed to this article.