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Morning Skate Updates 3/18/14

News, notes and quotes from the Islanders morning skate at Nassau Coliseum.

Tuesday, 03.18.2014 / 12:07 PM ET / News
By Cory Wright
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Morning Skate Updates 3\/18\/14

Two former Islanders, Matt Moulson and Nino Niederreiter, return to Nassau Coliseum tonight, when the Islanders host the Minnesota Wild.

Moulson, a three-time 30-goal scorer for the Islanders, and Niederreiter, the fifth-overall pick in 2010, were both dealt by the team over the past year. Moulson was traded to the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 27 as part of a package for Thomas Vanek, while Niederreiter was traded in the offseason for Cal Clutterbuck.

The Islanders beat the Wild 5-4 in a thrilling comeback win on December 29, setting up what should be an exciting tilt tonight at the Coliseum.

Ahead of tonight’s game, both teams held an optional morning skate. Here are some news, notes and quotes from today’s skate.

Lineup Notes:

Czuczman: Kevin Czuczman will make his NHL debut tonight. The Islanders signed Czuczman out of Lake Superior State on March 11, but wanted the NCAA free agent to practice with the team for a few days before he made his debut. Czuczman will likely be paired with Travis Hamonic.

Czuczman: It’s been a lifelong dream of mine… [Seeing the crowd out there] will be that wow moment. It’ll be a pretty awesome experience and I can’t wait.

Nilsson Starts: Anders Nilsson will make his second straight start for the Islanders. Nilsson is coming off a 33-save win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night.

Clutterbuck vs. Wild II: Cal Clutterbuck is set to face his former team for the second time tonight. Clutterbuck spent six seasons with the Wild before being dealt to the Islanders over the summer. The Welland, ON, native scored a goal in his return to Minnesota earlier this season.

Clutterbuck: It’s weird [facing your former team]. You have a lot of good friends and teammates that you’ve battled with for a long time, but now you are forced to go up against them. It kind of goes against your instincts to do so, but I’ve been here long enough now that obviously these guys are my team, my teammates and my family. After the warm-ups and the first five minutes it’ll be business as usual.

Top Line: The Islanders new-look top line - Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo and Anders Lee - have combined for 17 points (6G, 11A) in three games.

Getting Wild: The Islanders have won four straight games against the Minnesota Wild.

Okposo: Kyle Okposo was named the NHL's Second Star of the Week on Monday. Okposo had seven points (1G, 6A) in three games last week and is on a four-game point streak (2G, 6A).

Nielsen: Frans Nielsen has goals in three straight games.

Moulson Returns: Matt Moulson addressed the media at Minnesota’s morning skate, reflecting on his career on Long Island, as well as discussing his season with the Sabres and Wild.

Moulson: I met a lot of great people, great teammates and great fans. I have a lot of good memories I think and I made some friends I’ll keep forever.

I have other friends in the league but tonight will be more special. When I get out there it will be a little weird, but once you are in the game... you forget about it. 

Playoff Race: The Wild are currently seventh in the Western Conference playoff picture. They are three points ahead of eighth-placed Phoenix.

New Goalies: Josh Harding and Nicklas Backstrom, the Wild’s goaltending tandem in October, are both sidelined with injuries. Darcy Kuemper and Ilya Bryzgalov are currently Minnesota’s puck-stopping pair. Bryzgalov is the likely starter tonight, as Kuemper played Monday night in Boston.

Team Leaders: Jason Pominville leads the Wild in goals (26) and points (48). Zach Parise is second in both categories with 23 goals and 21 assists.

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AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 50 37 9 4 163 112 78
2 FLA 51 31 15 5 141 112 67
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 51 27 18 6 149 136 60
6 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
8 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
9 PIT 50 25 18 7 129 128 57
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 50 23 18 9 119 130 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
13 OTT 52 23 23 6 142 164 52
14 TOR 50 19 22 9 116 134 47
15 BUF 52 21 26 5 119 137 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 47 18 19 -6 37
K. Okposo 48 12 25 -9 37
B. Nelson 50 20 11 0 31
F. Nielsen 50 15 16 -2 31
M. Grabovski 50 9 15 1 24
J. Bailey 49 8 15 4 23
A. Lee 50 7 14 0 21
N. Leddy 50 3 17 -12 20
R. Strome 39 5 13 -8 18
N. Kulemin 50 5 9 6 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 12 11 4 .917 2.28
T. Greiss 13 6 2 .927 2.32
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