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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.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 NYI 51 27 18 6 143 127 60
7 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
8 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
9 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
10 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
11 MTL 54 26 24 4 143 143 56
12 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
K. Okposo 49 15 26 -7 41
J. Tavares 48 19 21 -4 40
F. Nielsen 51 15 18 0 33
B. Nelson 51 20 11 1 31
M. Grabovski 51 9 15 2 24
J. Bailey 50 9 15 5 24
N. Leddy 51 3 20 -8 23
A. Lee 51 7 15 1 22
R. Strome 40 5 14 -6 19
C. Clutterbuck 50 11 4 6 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 12 11 4 .917 2.28
T. Greiss 14 6 2 .929 2.26
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