Islanders defenseman Tomi Pettinen has returned from his conditioning stint with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and will play when the Islanders host the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Dman Bruno Gervais has been returned to the Islanders' AHL affiliate.
"The reports on Tomi were good, as we expected," said Islanders coach Steve Stirling after today's practice at Islanders Iceworks. "We're going to continue to go with seven defensemen for a while. I'd like to get Tomi some minutes -- partially because he deserves to play but also because I want to cut down on the icetime when I can of Z (Alexei Zhitnik) and Sopes (Brent Sopel). They've played very well for us, but they'll be even more effective in the long run if I can bring them under 26 minutes a game."
The Islanders estimate that Oleg Kvasha (ankle) will be out at least another ten days, so Wyatt Smith and Kevin Colley will likely remain with the big club for the foreseeable future. "I like what they're bringing -- a lot," said Stirling. "Smith has been very steady and Colley...such a tough, relentless player who won't back down from anybody."
Stirling said after practice today that his focus is on better starts. "A big problem in Columbus, also on Saturday. We were fortunate to get points," he said. "It has to change, especially at home."
The Islanders play four of their next five at the Coliseum, where they are only 6-5-1 this season.