Morning Skate Updates 2/5/13
10:15: Islanders skate today is optional. We'll see who's out. As usual, I'll try to scatter quotes from players and head coaches throughout the next couple hours.
10:18: Mark Streit getting ready
10:31: This is what 6'8" Joe Finley looks like, on skates, walking through a high door frame:
10:39: Thirteen skaters and two goalies on the ice for Islanders. We'll have quotes soon.
10:50: Brad Boyes, who will see time on a line with John Tavares and Matt Moulson tonight, on how playing with them on the power play has helped the chemistry: "I think it helps a lot. You get a sense of how they are and how they play when you watch them, but being on the ice is a lot different. Being with them on the power play is going to be big. The difference will be d-zone coverage and coming up through the neutral zone."
10:57: Andrew MacDonald, on what he expects after the Islanders beat Pittsburgh 4-1 a week ago: "I think a lot of it's the same. We came up a little flat, and we weren't happy about that effort. We know that wasn't their best game in Pittsburgh, but we still had a lot of improvement as well. We were able to capitalize on our special teams and kill penalties and score on our power plays, which was huge for us. But we know that's not going to happen every night. We're really going to have to bear down and be solid 5-on-5 and in the d-zone, and continue to take advantage of our opportunities.
11:02: MacDonald, on facing Pittsburgh's top line: "Obviously they have a pretty potent line-up over there. It's definitely a challenge every time you play against them. It's our job as a group in here to be able to contain them and limit their chances. I think everyone has to be on the same page and be prepared for a good game."
11:09: Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano, on the team's recent success against Pittsburgh: "I think any time you play against a team like that, with the offense that they have, you just try to contain some of their top guys. You’re not going to contain them for 60 minutes, but you try to limit their opportunities and limit them to the outside. We have to play sound, structural hockey to have success."
11:16: Capuano, on if the rivalry between the Islanders and Penguins is up to the same level as Islanders-Rangers or Penguins-Flyers: "Any time you play within the division, it’s a four-point swing. They're big games. With the condensed schedule the way it is, every point counts. You just have to prepare for one shift at a time, one period at a time."
11:20: Nabokov will be in goal for the Islanders. Colin McDonald, whose two-game suspension is over, will be back on the third line with David Ullstrom and Keith Aucoin. Casey Cizikas will slide down to the fourth line with Marty Reasoner and Matt Martin. Eric Boulton is out tonight. D-pairs are the same.
11:25: Capuano, on the high number of optional morning skates the team has had so far this season: "One thing that we talked early on with our strength and conditioning coaches about was our recovery. They play hard every night. Every player’s minutes are distributed totally different. We just have to make sure that we’re consistent with how we run practices. We had a good, hard skate yesterday, and an optional one today. We’ll continue to go in that direction and see how it goes."
11:28: Islanders media availability wrapping up. Penguins about to hit the ice. More from the visitors side over the next hour and a half or so.
1:25: Apologies - we had technical issues preventing us from updating, so here's what's backlogged from Pittsburgh's half of morning skate...
Marc-Andre Fleury is starting in goal for Pittsburgh. He stopped 13-of-17 Islanders shots last Tuesday before getting pulled in favor of Tomas Vokoun during the second intermission.
Penguins Head Coach Bylsma, on what he sees in the Islanders: “I’ve felt this was for the last couple years. They have good young players. They have a talented group of players that have speed. If you’re underestimating the speed of Grabner, then you’re making a mistake. If you’re underestimating the skill of Tavares and the power of their top line and what Matt Moulson can do, then you’re overlooking good players. They play with a lot of speed. They come at you and try to make plays, and they’re very dangerous on the power play.”
Kris Letang, on how big the rivalry is between the Islanders and Penguins: “It’s a division rival, so I think these are always exciting games. They’re a really good team. They’ve come a long way, and now they have a really skilled group, and you have to respect that about them. This is going to be a great matchup tonight.”
Chris Kunitz, on if he hopes the Penguins’ first line has turned things around: “I hope so. We struggled when the team struggled. We weren’t doing the little things. I think we’re playing with a little more speed, playing better defensively, and when things go in for you, you get a little bit of confidence.”