“If he can go, he’s going to play.”
That was head coach Jack Capuano on Josh Bailey’s status on Tuesday morning after the Islanders took morning skate.
Bailey, who missed Games 1 and 2 with an upper-body injury, practiced with the team on Monday, participated in morning skate on Tuesday and came off with the likely regulars. He said he’s feeling good and itching to get back out on the ice.
“It’s a big time of year and you’re chomping at the bit to get that opportunity to compete and contribute,” Bailey said. “[I’m] hopefully looking forward to getting it here tonight.”
Bailey stayed on Long Island instead of travelling with the Islanders to Tampa, an experience he said was tough, even though he knew it was best for his recovery.
“It’s not fun,” Bailey said. “I don’t think I’ve missed anything all year. I’ve always been there on the road. It’s tough; you want to be there with your teammates, supporting them even if you’re not playing.”
“Obviously you want to be there, but a little extra time at home to rest and recuperate is what’s going to get back quicker.”
Bailey’s status will be determined closer to game time, but Capuano ruled out defenseman Ryan Pulock, who is also on the mend.
“Ryan isn’t feeling up to par yet, but he’s close,” Capuano said.
Thomas Greiss will start in goal for the Islanders. Ben Bishop is likely in net again for the Lightning.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper will reveal his lineup at 5:30 p.m.
Injured defensemen Anton Stralman and Matt Carle both took the optional morning skate for Tampa, while injured forward J.T. Brown did as well.
Bailey’s return was the most noteworthy, as he stayed home on the team’s road trip to Tampa, while Pulock and Halak both made the trip, but did not play. Capuano said he had to talk to his training staff to see if Bailey and Pulock would be available for Game 3 on Tuesday, but added that he’d be inclined to put them in if they are healthy.
“[Bailey] is an experienced guy,” Capuano said. “He’s got 500 games or more. This time of year you need experience.”
LISTEN: JOHN TAVARES MEDIA SCRUM
Capuano did not have a set timetable for Halak, who was stopping pucks in practice, but hasn’t seen game action since suffering a groin injury on March 8. His initial timetable of 6-8 weeks is nearing its end, as Tuesday marks the eight-week mark.
“He’s progressing, I don’t know how far or where he is or when he could play, but I know that having him on the ice going through a full practice, but again it’s about conditioning and timing with goaltenders and their movement, but he’s progressing and it’s great to see. I don’t have a timetable yet though.”
Halak said he feels that’s he’s improving as well, but in the wake of a long recovery is looking to get his timing and conditioning back.
“I haven’t played in eight weeks, so it kind of feels like the beginning of the season for me,” Halak said. “I am just trying to figure out my timing and speed.”
“The guys are doing a good job and obviously now I’m just trying to get back,” Halak said. “[I’m] just taking it day by day right now, it’s all I can do and hopefully I’ll be back soon.”
Check NewYorkIslanders.com and @NYIslanders Tuesday at 10:45 a.m. for lineup updates.
ISLES GET A BREATHER:
After playing a jam-packed schedule against the Florida Panthers that included the burden of back-to-back double-overtime wins in Games 5 and 6 and virtually no time off before playing in Tampa, the Islanders have had some time to catch their breath with two days off between Games 1, 2 and 3.
“We’re used to playing quite a bit, but we monitor their rest, but at the same time, we push them when we have to,” Capuano said. “We understand it’s been a grind it’s a lot of travel this year and we’ve monitored [their rest] pretty well.”
For the Islanders – who have been staying in hotels before home games – and have started both series on the road, the mental break of Sunday’s day off was just as important.
“It’s nice to have a day,” Clutterbuck said. “Just good to get off, be home and spend some time with the family and relax for a day.”
But that meant getting back at it hard Monday.
“We had a good practice today. It was businesslike; we did some things that we needed to do,” Capuano said. “Overall I thought we accomplished what we needed to.”
The New York Islanders recalled six players from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Sunday, bringing up Michael Dal Colle, Scott Mayfield, Bracken Kearns, Justin Florek, Christopher Gibson and Marc-Andre Cliché.
It’s unlikely they will see playoff action, but Head Coach Jack Capuano said it’s important for young players like Dal Colle, the Islanders’ 2014 first-round pick, to get a sense of the playoff pace.
“You get an idea of where your game is and what you need to do,” Capuano said. “It’s a great learning curve when they come up. A few guys that we’ve had in the past, whether it’s one game or five games or 10 games, they know exactly what their deficiencies are and what they have to do to work on in the offseason.”
Capuano said Josh Bailey would skate with the Sound Tigers’ call-ups on Sunday.
Jack Capuano didn’t say who was in for the New York Islanders for Game 1 (7 p.m., NBCSN, CBC) against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but he did say who was out.
“It’s too early [to tell],” Capuano said of his Game 1 lineup. “We need to see the health of a few guys and see where we stand.”
Josh Bailey (upper body) did not travel with the team to Tampa Bay and will not suit up on Wednesday night. Bailey suffered the injury in the first period of Sunday’s Game 6 and did not return.
Ryan Pulock, who suffered an upper-body injury on April 20, did make the trip.
On the Lightning side, Steven Stamkos was sporting a red non-contact jersey at morning skate, while Anton Stralman did not take the ice. Neither will play against the Islanders in Game 1.
The New York Islanders made three transactions over the past 24 hours. On Monday night, Ryan Pulock (upper body) was put on IR retroactive to April 20, while James Wright was recalled from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. On Tuesday morning, the Islanders returned Christopher Gibson to Bridgeport.
Pulock had three points (1G, 2A) in four playoff games prior to his injury. He was expected to miss 1-2 weeks and is currently at the one week mark in his recovery.
Wright – who was Bridgeport’s third leading scorer with 41 points (14G, 27A) this season – was recalled in the wake of Josh Bailey’s injury suffered in Game 6. A timetable for Bailey has not been established. Gibson, who’s first NHL win helped the Islanders clinch a playoff berth, will join the Sound Tigers in the middle of a playoff series, as they get set for Game 3 against the Toronto Marlies on Thursday.
No surprise here, but Thomas Greiss gets the start in goal for the New York Islanders in Game 6. Greiss is coming off a career-high 47-save, double-overtime win on Friday night in Game 5 and will look to help the Islanders advance to the second round for the first time since 1993.
Capuano did not divulge his forward lines or defensive pairs, so it’s unknown whether Ryan Strome will draw back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch on Friday.
“I’m not going to elaborate too much on our lineup,” Capuano said. “Greiss will be in net. The guys that played the last game I thought competed hard and that’s what we’re looking for especially against teams that are desperate.”
The Islanders know what a big opportunity they have in front of them on Sunday night, a chance to advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 1993. Everyone knows how tough it is to advance, whether it’s the homegrown Islanders learning through the pain of last season, or veterans like Johnny Boychuk who have won a Stanley Cup.
Not a lot has to be said in the room and while the Islanders technically have two kicks at the can to finish this series off, they want to take care of business in Game 6.
“No it doesn’t [come along everyday], but you have to take advantage of it when it does come,” Boychuk said. “They are a great team and it’s been a good series so far. We have a chance to move on today and we have to make sure to take advantage of it. It’ll be a lot easier winning at home than winning on the road.”
"We're excited. For us it's just staying in the moment & staying composed. We have a great opportunity tonight." pic.twitter.com/okqCPP5JAx— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) April 24, 2016
According to NHL.com, Nick Bjugstad did not travel to Brooklyn and will not play in Sunday’s Game 6. Bjugstad had four points (2G, 2A) in the first five games of the series. Logan Shaw will play center on the third line while Derek MacKenzie will be the fourth pivot.
Ryan Pulock’s playoffs are currently being put on hold.
The rookie defenseman will be sidelined for 1-2 weeks with an upper-body injury, suffered in the third period of Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to the Panthers. His return to the lineup likely depends on whether or not the Islanders advance to the second round.
"He’ll probably be out for the rest of the series, don’t know how long. First indication was 1-2 weeks with upper body," Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “It’s just tough to lose another guy. He was really playing well for us as a young guy and really coming into his own.”
Pulock had three points (1G, 2A) in four playoff games and earned a promotion to the Islanders’ top power-play unit in Game 4, where he assisted on a John Tavares goal.
Marek Zidlicky draws in for Pulock in Game 5. The 39-year-old defenseman has 44 career NHL playoff games under his belt.
Capuano will reveal his forwards closer to game time, but Thomas Greiss will start in goal.
While the Islanders lose one of their regular defensemen, the Panthers may be welcoming back one of their regular forwards. Vincent Trochek (foot) took morning skate for the Panthers and head coach Gerard Gallant did not rule out his return on Friday night. Trocheck is the Panthers' second-leading goal scorer (25 goals) and is fifth on the team in points (53). Trocheck has not played since March 29.
Usually, Jack Capuano alternates goalies in a back-to-back situation, but that’s not the case on Friday, as Thomas Greiss will start in goal for a second straight night.
Greiss made 42 saves in his postseason debut, a 5-4 win over the Florida Panthers in Game 1, and Capuano had no qualms about starting him again in Game 2. The coach cited the goalie’s conditioning and work ethic as reasons he was comfortable with going back to the 30-year-old German.
“He’s one of the top-conditioned goalies that I’ve been around, the way he works and takes care of himself,” Capuano said. “After talking to Mike Dunham, our goalie coach, and seeing where he’s at and the way that he’s playing - he saw the puck real well last night - we thought that it’d be a good decision to put him back in there tonight.”
Capuano actually likes playing back-to-back games, and says he’d prefer to play every day rather than have long layoffs. He said his team is well-conditioned, so consecutive games shouldn’t faze them and in the regular season it hasn’t, as the Islanders are 9-3-3 in the second half of back-to-backs.
“I’ve always liked it. We’re a better team when we don’t sit around and wait,” Capuano said. “We want to get right back in there. I think our guys are comfortable with that. I think we prepare them for that. I always make sure we’re one of the best conditioned teams in the league. I think there’s believability and confidence that we can play back to back nights, no matter how many minutes guys want to play. Hopefully that will carry into the playoffs for us.”
The Islanders will announce any changes to the lineup closer to game time, but Capuano said not to expect many changes after Thursday’s win.
The Islanders will have their hammer back in the toolbox tonight.
Travis Hamonic, the Islanders’ ice-time leader (23:49 per game) and shutdown defenseman, will be in the lineup for Game 1 against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night. It’s a big boost for the Islanders, who thought they had potentially lost Hamonic long-term when he suffered a lower-body injury on March 31 that kept him out for the rest of the regular season.
“It’s huge for us,” John Tavares said. “He obviously plays a major role in all situations and it’s hard to replace a guy like that.”
Hamonic suffered a season-ending knee injury last season and his brand of physicality, roughness and size (6-2, 205 pounds) was greatly missed in what became a war of attrition against the Washington Capitals. The Islanders are glad to have him back as they get set to face a Panthers team with a sizable forward corps.
“Any time you add a player like that it’s a huge boost to your lineup,” Kyle Okposo said on Tuesday. “He’s a great player and we’re a better team when he’s on the ice.”
The Islanders are also welcoming goaltender Jean-Francois Berube back from injury to back up Thomas Greiss on Thursday night. Berube took over the primary backup duties after Jaroslav Halak’s injury on March 8, but was injured against the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 2. Berube’s return sends Christopher Gibson up to the press box.
As for the Islanders’ Game 1 lineup, Alan Quine, Shane Prince and Ryan Pulock are all in and are all making their NHL playoff debuts. Quine, who made his regular-season debut on April 9 against the Buffalo Sabres, did enough to impress the Islanders’ coaching staff in his first two NHL games to not only warrant the call-up, but also the start.
“He’s quick, he accelerates well, he shoots the puck well and he’s going to get an opportunity in Game 1,” coach Jack Capuano said of Quine. “Alan has played really well down the middle. Losing Mikhail Grabovski, not having him back is tough. At the same time, moving Ryan Strome to the wing gives Quine an opportunity up the middle and give us some good minutes.”
Quine practiced between Strome and Prince on Tuesday and Wednesday and it appears Capuano is sticking with the speedy trio on Thursday night.
Pulock will also make his postseason debut, though Capuano did not reveal his defensive pairings.
ISLANDERS PROJECTED LINES:
The New York Islanders returned Scott Mayfield to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Monday morning. The defenseman was recalled on Tuesday April 5 and played three games for the Islanders, scoring his first NHL goal on Saturday night against the Buffalo Sabres.
The Islanders also returned Bracken Kearns, Alan Quine and Ross Johnston to the Sound Tigers, as all three were emergency recalls. Kearns and Quine played on Saturday and Sunday, with Quine scoring his first-career goal in his NHL debut on Saturday. Johnston, who made his NHL debut on Sunday, only played one of the two weekend games.
The Sound Tigers have three games this week, playing Portland on Friday, Albany on Saturday and will finish their regular season on Sunday, April 17 against Providence.