Game Preview: Islanders vs. Capitals

Kyle Okposo will play in his first game this season when the New York Islanders take on the Washington Capitals at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday night

Thursday, 01.20.2011 / 12:00 AM ET / News
By Dyan LeBourdais
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Game Preview: Islanders vs. Capitals
Thursday night at Nassau Coliseum, the New York Islanders will face the Washington Capitals for the second time this season. In their first meeting, the Capitals stole a 2-1 win after prospect Nino Niederreiter scored his first NHL goal during the first period to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead.

Even though this will be the second meeting, it will seem like the first. Due to injuries, the Islanders have a very different roster than they did at the start of the season and eight players that were major contributors in the first game, will not be in the lineup.

“It was a different team when they held them to those two goals," Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano said. "But at the same time, they have some high powered offense and they also have a different lineup than they were then too. So we just have to be on top of our game a little bit better. I thought (our game against) New Jersey, we were just casual in certain areas of our game and that has to pick up a little bit.”

The Isles have one of the highest man games lost totals in the league, fans attending the game will witness the long-awaited return of Kyle Okposo, who will play in his first game this season after undergoing shoulder surgery during the preseason.

“Obviously he’s been practicing and he works hard, but for a guy that’s been out there for that long, just to see a smile on his face and him being around the guys is the important thing right now,” Capuano said.

Easing Okposo back into the game will be important.

“We have to control his minutes,” Capuano said. “But we would not play him unless we thought he was ready to go. He’s been skating very hard with the coaches that have been working him out. We’ll have to see how the game goes, but I’m sure he’ll see some power play time.”

The Capitals roster remains intact and their major players remain offensive threats. Alexander Ovechkin, who scored the Capitals game-tying goal on Oct. 13, leads the team in points (46). And Nicklas Backstrom, who was credited with the game-winning goal after the puck deflected off his toe, is a close second (42 points).

The Capitals top lines may have more points than the Islanders top scoring lines, but the Isles have been more potent in recent weeks. Since the New Year, the Islanders and Capitals have posted very similar records, as both teams have only recorded three wins.

The Capitals have had to depend on players, other than Ovechkin, to produce points. Ovechkin has only scored two goals and two assists in the month of January, while Islanders sophomore John Tavares has scored seven goals and has had two assists. Those points (33 total) put Tavares on pace to score more points than he did in his rookie season, defying the notion of a sophomore slump.

PA Parenteau #15 of the New York Islanders skates during an NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks at the Nassau Coliseum on January 11, 2011 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
A lot of Tavares’ success has been to the playmaking abilities of his linemate and Islanders winger PA Parenteau, who has recorded two goals and three assists this month.

“He’s skating,” Capuano said. “We know that he has the skill, the hockey sense and the vision, but the one thing I like about his game right now is that he’s competing hard and he’s skating. When you skate, you can control the play and you’re going to create offense. We moved PA around (in the game against New Jersey) and no matter who we put him with, even the goal that was called back with (Michael) Grabner. Obviously he’s doing something right with his game right now and to me, it’s skating.”

Goaltender Rick DiPietro did not participate in practice on Wednesday morning, as he was feeling ill. If he is feeling healthy, it is most likely that he will play Thursday. In his most recent start on January 15, the goaltender made 40 saves for the win, a feat he’s accomplished for just the ninth time in his career. In his last four starts, the veteran goaltender has recorded wins, posting a 1.99 goals against average and a .945 save percentage.


“When Ricky is going and in the week of practice that he had, he looked really good, but it all depends on how he feels,” Capuano said after addressing that DiPietro missed practice due to illness.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 77 34 43 -2 77
R. Strome 76 16 32 20 48
K. Okposo 55 16 31 -11 47
F. Nielsen 76 14 28 8 42
B. Nelson 77 19 22 7 41
A. Lee 71 23 16 10 39
J. Bailey 65 15 23 3 38
J. Boychuk 67 8 25 9 33
N. Leddy 73 10 21 14 31
T. Hamonic 67 5 26 16 31
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 36 16 2 .913 2.42
M. Neuvirth 1 3 1 .881 2.94

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