With a playoff spot already assured and a rash of injuries in the Islanders’ lineup, Jack Capuano said the main goal for his team is to get rested and healthy for Game 1 of the playoffs.
“Guys want to get back in, they don’t want to keep sitting out until the playoffs start, but we have to do what’s best for our team,” Capuano said. “That’s what really comes first, is our hockey club.”
The replacements at forward are Alan Quine and Bracken Kearns, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers’ top two scorers. Kearns leads the Sound Tigers with 22 goals, 30 assists and 52 points, while Quine is second in assists (29) and points (48).
“Quine I’ve seen a lot of,” Capuano said. “He’s got real good speed and puts up a lot of points down there. He deserves an opportunity. Bracken is one of those guys, if you talk to them and us knowing him, he’s played in the NHL before because of his grit and determination and his desire to play hard. He checks really well and they deserve the opportunity.”
On defense, Adam Pelech will be in the lineup on Saturday, his first game since Jan. 14. The Islanders’ defenseman missed nearly three months with a blood clot and recently completed a conditioning stint with the Sound Tigers.
Kyle Okposo is also listed as questionable for Saturday’s game, as he and his wife are expecting the birth of their second child.
Christopher Gibson will start in goal for the Islanders. Gibson is coming off his first NHL win, a 29-save game against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.
HAMONIC, HALAK, BERUBE SKATE:
Travis Hamonic, Jaroslav Halak and JF Berube all skated on Saturday morning. Hamonic and Berube both skated with the team during their morning session at Islanders Iceworks, while Halak took shots afterwards.
There is still no timetable for Hamonic and Halak, both of whom suffered regular-season ending injuries, or Berube, who has missed the Islanders last three games with a lower-body injury.
Lee was the latest Islander to suffer a major injury, as the team announced he has a broken left fibula, the result of blocking a Johnny Boychuk slap shot in Thursday’s win over the New York Rangers. The friendly fire occured in the first period of Thursday's game, with Lee attempting to screen Rangers' goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
The Islanders’ forward had 36 points (15G, 21A) in 80 games this season and was the team’s most effective net-front presence. Lee’s hulking frame 6’3, 228 lbs. was routinely parked in front of the net, which was also his role on the Islanders first power-play unit, and his last seven goals were deflections.
Lee is considered to be out indefinitely.
Thomas Greiss is getting his first taste of the Islanders-Rangers rivalry on Thursday night.
Greiss (22-11-4) will start in goal for the Islanders against their crosstown rivals, in a game that could go a long way in determining both teams playoff seeding.
- The Islanders (97 points) can vault themselves into third place in the Metropolitan Division with a regulation win on Thursday, as they would tie the Rangers in points (99) with a game in hand.
- A win combined with a Penguins’ loss keeps alive the Islanders hopes of having home ice in the first round
- A single point on Thursday – or the Islanders final two games after – would assure them of finishing no lower than the first wild-card position, while still giving them a chance to catch the Rangers.
- An Islanders regulation loss prevents the Islanders from catching the Rangers.
A win on Thursday would also give the Islanders their first-ever season sweep of the Rangers.
Jack Capuano didn’t offer a concrete lineup for Thursday’s game, saying he wants to evaluate the health of his players before gametime.
Capuano said there was a “good chance” Calvin de Haan could return to the lineup after missing Tuesday’s game in Washington, but said he still needed to consult with Cal Clutterbuck, who also missed Tuesday’s game.
“We have a few guys feeling it at this time of year, so we just want to make sure,” Capuano said.
Even with a playoff berth assured, Capuano said he still expects his team to play hard, but also said getting healthy was a top priority, which could mean resting some players during the last three games of the season.
“We have a lot of guys that are competitive and want to play the game, but at the same time we have to do what’s best for the team,” Capuano said. “We’ve worked really hard to get to this point and that’s something we’ll sit down with management and our coaches and have to look real closely at.”
The coach did praise his team for their resiliency, despite a rash of injuries to key players down the stretch. In March alone, the Islanders lost starting goalie Jaroslav Halak and defenseman Travis Hamonic for the regular season as well as losing Mikhail Grabovski indefinitely. Mix in intermittent injuries to Calvin de Haan, Cal Clutterbuck, JF Berube and Marek Zidlicky and the Islanders have had their fair share of adversity.
“I’m proud of the guys,” Capuano said. “We went through a tough stretch there with the injuries that we have and they found a way to get in the playoffs.”
Henrik Lundqvist will start in goal for the Rangers.
Dan Girardi is day-to-day with an upper-body injury and will not play.
Ryan McDonagh is out for the remainder of the regular season with a hand injury.
Kevin Hayes draws into the Rangers lineup taking out Oscar Lindberg.
Defenseman Scott Mayfield was recalled from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Tuesday morning.
Mayfield’s recall comes after Calvin de Haan left Monday night’s game with a lower-body injury. De Haan did not make the trip to Washington with the team, leaving Capuano with six defensemen ahead of Tuesday’s game with the Capitals.
Mayfield has played three games with the Islanders this season, most recently against the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 2. The 23-year-old has 12 points (5G, 7A) in 52 games for the Sound Tigers this season.
Berube is considered day-to-day with his ailment and Head Coach Jack Capuano hopes to have him back on the ice later this week.
This is Gibson’s second recall of the season, as he was also recalled on Dec. 27 and made his NHL debut on Jan. 2 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, stopping 16-of-17 shots in relief of Thomas Greiss. Gibson is 19-11-3 this season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
GREISS IN GOAL, CIZIKAS, PULOCK IN VS. BOLTS:
With the news of Berube’s injury, Thomas Greiss gets the start in goal for the Islanders on Monday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Greiss has won his last two starts, a pair of home wins over the Carolina Hurricanes and Columbus Blue Jackets. His most recent loss was in a 7-4 loss to the Lightning on March 25 (he allowed six goals on 35 shots), so he gets a chance at a do-over on Monday night.
“Any time you have a bad game against any team, you want to come back strong and have a good performance,” Greiss said. “It was just one of those games. On both sides the puck was just bouncing in.”
The only other change to the Islanders’ lineup is the insertion of Ryan Pulock for Brian Strait. Head Coach Jack Capuano said Casey Cizikas feels good after a maintenance day on Sunday. He did not offer any of his line combinations or defensive pairings.
Capuano did say that with the Islanders’ busy schedule – they play five games in seven nights including back-to-back games Monday and Tuesday – that there could be lineup changes on Tuesday in Washington.
Adam Pelech was loaned to Bridgeport for a conditioning assignment after Monday's morning skate at Islanders Iceworks.
Travis Hamonic will miss the remainder of the regular season with a lower-body injury, head coach Jack Capuano announced on Friday morning.
Hamonic suffered the injury in the first period of Thursday night’s win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, colliding with Scott Hartnell in the Islanders’ end.
“It’s going to keep him out for an extended period of time,” Capuano said. “We know he’s not going to play the remainder of the regular season, but hopefully we’ll have a better idea at some point moving forward.”
Capuano said Hamonic will be re-evaluated at the end of the regular season. If he can’t go in the playoffs, it’ll be a big blow to the Islanders’ back end, as the team is 24-6-6 when Hamonic leads the team in ice time.
“Hopefully he’ll be back by playoffs,” Johnny Boychuk said. “He’s a good player and we need him. He plays a lot of minutes, he’s good defensively and skates the puck well. Hopefully he gets his rest and he heals quickly.”
Unfortunately for Hamonic, this isn’t a new situation. Last year, the defenseman sprained his left MCL in the second-to-last game of the regular season and missed the Islanders’ first-round series against the Washington Capitals.
“It’s always tough, you know how much he wants to be a part of the stretch here and trying to get into the playoffs,” John Tavares said. “We obviously hope he’ll be back soon. Everyone just has to step up and fill the void. It’s hard to replace a guy like him, but certainly we have guys that are very capable of playing more minutes and expanding their role.”
Hamonic is the second Islander to suffer a regular-season ending injury this month. Goaltender Jaroslav Halak was injured in the Islanders’ 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 9 and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks. He is currently three weeks into his recovery. Mikhail Grabovski has also been sidelined since March 15 and the timetable on his return is unclear.
Capuano said he’s proud of the resiliency of his group, which has won four of its last five games, despite playing somewhat shorthanded.
“We’re battling and playing with the injuries that we have,” said Capuano. “Unfortunately it’s a tough time of year to lose keys guys. Halak, Hamonic, Grabovski, the list goes on. We just have to battle through it, guys are going to get some more minutes and put into situations they aren’t used to. Fortunately [Ryan] Pulock and [Marek] Zidlicky are there for us now.”
Zidlicky hasn’t played since March 6, his only game since Feb. 25, but will take Hamonic’s roster spot on Saturday afternoon against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“Right now, Zidlicky will probably go in,” Capuano said. “He’s in real good condition, he’s been skating. Obviously it’s tough coming back in against a team like Pittsburgh, but he’s an experienced guy and that’s the decision we made as a staff to play our experienced here in these games because they’ve been in these situations before. Zidlicky has been in plenty of these games.”
As the New York Islanders wrap up a home-and-home set with the Carolina Hurricanes, Jack Capuano is only making one change to his lineup, as Thomas Greiss will start in goal.
Greiss (19-11-4) is looking to snap a four-game losing streak, most recently giving up six goals in a 7-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night.
“For us to be successful we’re going to need goaltending,” Capuano said. “He might have struggled a little bit, but that doesn’t concern me. We haven’t had much practice and he’s one of those guys who likes to get on the ice and practice more than any goalie I’ve seen before. He’s going right back tonight and hopefully he has a strong game for us.”
As Capuano said on Monday, he expects both Greiss and JF Berube to see action down the stretch.
“We have faith in our guys,” Capuano said. “We have to play well in front of them, but when we have a big save, we’re going to need it.”
Adam Pelech participated in the Islanders full team practice on Monday, skating with the team for the first time since Jan. 17.
Pelech took morning skate with the Islanders on Jan. 17, but was ruled out of the game with an upper-body injury. Two days later he was placed on injured reserve. Head Coach Jack Capuano said he’s almost at 100% medically, but that there’s still going to be some time – and potentially a conditioning stint – before he returns to action.
“He’s still quite a ways away,” Capuano said. “We’re just trying to get him out here and determine if he needs a conditioning stint. I’m sure Garth will make that decision as we move forward. The fact that he’s out here means that he’s progressing, but he’s still some time away.”
There's no need for the Islanders to rush Pelech back to the lineup, as they are currently carrying seven defensemen.
“He’s almost where he needs to be medically,” Capuano said. “Now it’s making sure that both medically he’s fine and maybe get him some games or let him practice. Again, that’ll be Garth’s decision.”
Pelech recorded his first two NHL points – both assists – against the New York Rangers on Jan. 14.
Thomas Greiss will start in goal for the Islanders on Friday night in Tampa Bay.
Greiss is 19-10-4 this season with a 2.29 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage, which is the third highest SV% in the NHL. The 30-year-old is looking to snap a three-game losing streak and Northern Florida might be the place to do so. Greiss won his previous trip to Tampa Bay, stopping 29-of-31 shots in the win, including a penalty shot with one of the game’s best scorers, Steven Stamkos.
Friday’s game kicks off a back-to-back set for the Islanders, meaning that JF Berube will likely start on Saturday night in Carolina.
Greiss is the only change to the Islanders’ lineup, as Capuano is icing the same skaters.
Ben Bishop will start in goal for the Lightning. The Islanders are going for their fourth straight win over the Lightning.
With the Islanders looking to snap a four-game losing streak, Jack Capuano is turning to JF Berube in goal.
Berube is 1-1-1 this season, most recently coming off a 33-save, 2-1 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 15. In his last two starts, the 26-year-old rookie has stopped 73-of-77 shots
“We need to try and get a win here,” Capuano said. “[Berube] played well obviously in Pittsburgh. Thomas [Greiss] has been good for us, but he’s played a lot of hockey. Both guys were going to play, we knew that going forward, we have a lot of hockey coming up here. It’s a good time to get him back in there.”
After missing two straight games, Ryan Pulock draws back in for the Islanders and will skate in a pairing with Thomas Hickey. Pulock scored his first-career NHL goal – against the Nashville Predators – in his most recent outing.
At forward, Capuano is keeping his lines together from Monday’s game in Philadelphia, a vote of confidence in his lineup.
“We need other guys to pick it up, but as a coach, you have to keep encouraging these young guys and give them the confidence,” Capuano said. “They are struggling, there’s no question, but when you face adversity, it challenges you and hopefully they can snap out of it.”