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Into The Fold

Lubomir Visnovsky joined his Islanders teammates Friday at Iceworks; could play as soon as Saturday

Friday, 02.08.2013 / 3:36 PM / News
By Travis Betts
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Into The Fold
Lubomir Visnovsky joined his Islanders teammates Friday at Iceworks; could play as soon as Saturday

There was a new face at Islanders practice at Iceworks on Friday.

Lubomir Visnovsky, the defenseman the Islanders acquired in a draft-day trade with Anaheim last summer, joined his new team for the first time. When the NHL Lockout ended in January, Visnovsky chose to remain in his native Slovakia to tend to a family affair.

After meeting his new teammates Friday at Iceworks, Visnovsky expressed gratitude to Islanders management for accomodating his unique circumstances.

“I think those who know me and those who understand me and those who have a family will understand why I did what I did,” Visnovsky said. “For me, it’s family first, and there was a problem with my son. I stayed a little bit longer at home to help my family and him. I want to thank this organization for understanding everything and thank [my teammates] as well. Everybody in here seems to understand. I’m happy to be back here in the NHL.”

Visnovsky indicated that brighter days are ahead for his son, making the choice to return to North America an easy one.

“I had lots of meetings with doctors, and they said my son would be ok. At that point, I said, ‘Ok, it’s time to go back to the NHL.’”

The 36-year-old blueliner arrived in New York Wednesday, passed his team physical Thursday and is expected to jump into the lineup Saturday at home against Buffalo. Visnovsky has posted 40-plus points in five of the last seven seasons, logging heavy power play minutes in Los Angeles, Edmonton and Anaheim.

The big challenge for me is to help this team and show everybody that this is a playoff team. I’m playing for the playoffs. We have a big game tomorrow and I have a lot to prove. - Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky

Visnovsky scored 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 32 games for Bratislava Slovan of the KHL. Head Coach Jack Capuano believes the team could benefit from the offensive spark Visnovsky brings.

“We expect what we’ve seen in the past from him,” Capuano said. “He gives us another puck-moving defenseman that can join the rush. We don’t generate a lot from our blue line right now. It’s evident with the amount of goals we’ve scored. If you look around the league, successful teams have defensemen who score big goals at key times.”

Visnovsky says that after playing 32 games and skating on his own for the last few weeks, he’s in game-shape and ready to contribute right away.

“It’s up to the coach, but I’m ready to play,” Visnovsky said. “If he gives me the chance, I’ll be very happy. The big challenge for me is to help this team and show everybody that this is a playoff team. I’m playing for the playoffs. We have a big game tomorrow and I have a lot to prove.”

The Topolcany, SVK native was paired with Mark Streit during power play drills at Friday’s practice. The two veterans showed early chemistry on the blue line.

“He’s a power-play guy,” Streit said. “We moved around for a little bit and you could tell he’s shifty. He’s got great vision and a really great shot so he’s going to help us out big time. He’s played the power play his whole life and you could tell.”

Visnovsky’s arrival comes at a key time for the Islanders. Matt Carkner was placed on Injured Reserve with a groin injury he sustained Wednesday. The club has lost three straight games, and is looking to reverse its fortunes with four of the next five games on home ice. Forward Josh Bailey, who has been skating with the team for the last week, could also dress for Saturday’s game.

John Tavares says that having both players jump into the fold could spark the team.

“Both those guys I think are coming in at the right time because we need a little boost here,” Tavares said. “We’re getting a couple of guys that we’re really going to rely on in all areas of our game. The veteran experience with Lubo and his ability to add more offense to our back end, as well as his ability to move the puck and shoot is going to be huge. Josh obviously has been with us for a while now and we know what comes out of him. He’s a really intelligent player who makes a lot happen out there for us and does a lot of things well defensively too. Hopefully it can lead to some good results starting tomorrow.”

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
3 NYI 62 40 20 2 200 173 82
4 TBL 62 37 19 6 203 167 80
5 DET 60 34 15 11 176 156 79
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 62 33 19 10 184 156 76
8 BOS 60 29 22 9 158 158 67
9 FLA 61 26 22 13 145 172 65
10 PHI 62 26 25 11 164 181 63
11 OTT 59 26 23 10 167 161 62
12 NJD 61 25 27 9 137 161 59
13 CBJ 60 26 30 4 157 189 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 59 22 30 7 134 159 51
16 BUF 62 19 38 5 120 207 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 62 29 34 4 63
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 62 13 26 21 39
B. Nelson 62 17 19 6 36
F. Nielsen 62 11 25 11 36
A. Lee 56 20 12 12 32
J. Bailey 50 12 19 10 31
J. Boychuk 52 7 22 15 29
N. Leddy 62 8 17 14 25
T. Hamonic 52 4 19 16 23
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 32 13 0 .910 2.49
C. Johnson 8 7 1 .890 2.95

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