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Posted On Saturday, 04.18.2015 / 6:25 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - Capitals-Islanders series blog

Young defenseman Reinhart an option for Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- New York Islanders defenseman Griffin Reinhart spent the majority of the season with Bridgeport of the American Hockey League, but he may soon get his first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Reinhart, who was recalled prior to the start of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Washington Capitals, practiced with the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday and remains an option for coach Jack Capuano, who is trying to fill the void left by injured defenseman Travis Hamonic.

The fourth player selected at the 2012 NHL Draft, Reinhart helped the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Western Hockey League win the Memorial Cup last spring when he had 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 21 playoff games. In his first professional season, Reinhart (6-foot-4, 217 pounds) had seven goals and 15 assists in 59 AHL games. He had one assist in eight games for the Islanders at the start of this season.

Reinhart, asked if he feels ready to step in and contribute, said, "I think so. I think I've done a good job of it this year. Playoffs is always the time of year where I think I play my best hockey. I've done well in the playoffs my previous three years in junior. It's clearly a big step up in the NHL, but it'd be something I'm up for the task though."

Posted On Saturday, 04.18.2015 / 5:39 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - Capitals-Islanders series blog

Goalie Holtby expects to start Game 3 for Capitals

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby practiced Saturday at Nassau Coliseum, said he felt fine on the ice, and didn't see a reason he wouldn't start Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the New York Islanders on Sunday (12 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN).

"I don't think there will be any questions," said Holtby, who did not play Game 2 on Friday because he was ill.

Posted On Tuesday, 03.24.2015 / 1:47 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Wild at Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Minnesota Wild forward Thomas Vanek had a choice to make last season: Sign a long-term contract to stay with the New York Islanders, who paid a steep price to acquire him in a trade the previous fall, or keep open the chance to return to the state where he played college hockey for the University of Minnesota.

Some would have thought the Islanders' upcoming move to Brooklyn would have been a selling point during the negotiation process. Instead, it was leaving Nassau County that helped Vanek make up his mind. When he opted not to sign with the Islanders, they traded him to the Montreal Canadiens in March 2014. Vanek then signed a three-year deal with Minnesota on July 1.

"It was close in February [2014] and I thought about it long and hard," Vanek said at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday. "There was two factors; I made a choice that I really wanted to go to free agency. But after being here for a while I loved it here.

"The one thing I didn't like was the move to Brooklyn. I think if the rink would have been built here, it should be here on the island. There was probably a good chance I still would be here."

Posted On Saturday, 02.14.2015 / 12:07 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Blue Jackets at Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano has tried multiple players at left wing on his top line, looking for a perfect complement alongside center John Tavares.

He may have finally found the solution.

With right wing Kyle Okposo out because of an upper-body injury, Capuano shifted Josh Bailey to that side and placed rookie Anders Lee on the left. Lee has five goals since the All-Star break and with 18 goals this season has emerged as a candidate for the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie.

"Obviously things have been going really well," Lee said Saturday at Nassau Coliseum, where the Islanders will play host to the Columbus Blue Jackets (7 p.m. ET, MSG+, FS-O). "It's a tribute to the guys I've been playing with and the success we've had throughout the whole year. As long as we're winning and keep things rolling, it's been fun to combo those things up."

Posted On Tuesday, 01.27.2015 / 12:38 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Rangers at Islanders

The New York Islanders entered the All-Star break atop the Metropolitan Division, but they begin the second half of their season against the New York Rangers at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday without right wing Kyle Okposo.

The Islanders (31-14-1) will be without Okposo, who has 44 points in 46 games, for the next 6-8 weeks because of an upper-body injury, the team announced after practice Monday. Okposo was placed on injured reserve Tuesday retroactive to Jan. 19.

"It's a huge loss … [he's] one of our leaders and certainly brings so much to the table, not only his goal-scoring and his offensive ability, but he just works so hard on his game and sets an example in so many ways," center John Tavares said of Okposo. "He's just a bull on the puck and on the wall and he's done a lot of gritty things too. He's blocked a lot of shots for us this year and playing a lot of minutes.

"It gives some guys some more opportunity … [they've] got to look forward to that and try to grasp that."

Posted On Saturday, 01.03.2015 / 2:19 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Sabres at Rangers

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle missed practice Friday for personal reasons but is expected to play against the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

Boyle was one of a handful of Rangers who participated in an optional morning skate and told reporters afterward that he was ready to go.

"Something personal came up and I had to take care of it," Boyle said. "It was a tough couple of days but we'll get through it.

"I've been feeling better I think in the last handful of games than I have in a while. But I'm playing the way that I need to play in order for this team to win and that's keeping it simple, so it's a little bit different than what I'm used to. But you can't argue with nine wins in 10 games."

The Rangers (20-11-4) saw their eight-game winning streak end last Monday at the Dallas Stars in a 3-2 loss, but they bounced back with a 5-2 win at the Florida Panthers on Wednesday. Boyle entered that game with assists in three straight games but did not register a point against the Panthers.

Posted On Thursday, 01.01.2015 / 6:09 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Memorable day for Capitals owner Leonsis

WASHINGTON -- After months of preparation, Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis saw a dream come to fruition Thursday: the Capitals hosted, and more importantly, won the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

Leonsis was all smiles in the Capitals' dressing room at Nationals Park after Troy Brouwer's goal with 12.9 seconds remaining in the third period gave Washington a 3-2 win against the Chicago Blackhawks in front of a raucous crowd of 42,832.

"I knew that our fans would fill the stands, be a sea of red," Leonsis said. "I knew that the NHL really has their execution of this event down. And we were good hosts. We spent a lot of time, I personally spent a lot of time, walking around the building. I saw all the care over every detail."

Posted On Tuesday, 12.30.2014 / 5:47 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic blog

Skating outside brings back memories for Bondra

WASHINGTON -- Peter Bondra spent 14 seasons playing for the Washington Capitals and has watched them become part of the fabric of the community in this historic city.

So it was no surprise to see Bondra, 46, smiling ear to ear Tuesday, when he was able to skate on the fresh sheet of ice with a small gathering of former teammates and media members at Nationals Park, two days before the Capitals host the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic (1 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

"I think it's a big event, especially for Washington," Bondra said. "D.C. has become a hockey town and they've got a great team. I mean, they've got Alex Ovechkin, so it's going to bring attention. Nationals Park, we're just a couple of blocks from the White House. This is going to be a really great festivity.

"You go to Verizon [Center] for a regular-season game, and it gets a lot of attention. People are excited about the upcoming Winter Classic. You see a lot of dark red colors in the building and Winter Classic colors. This means a lot. I'm very excited. As a hockey fan, you get to come here and watch Washington and Chicago? Wow. Two good teams. This is really becoming a holiday of hockey."

Posted On Monday, 12.29.2014 / 12:48 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Capitals at Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- After a brief stint on injured reserve, Jaroslav Halak is back.

The New York Islanders No. 1 goaltender, who missed the past two games because of a lower-body injury, was activated off IR on Sunday and will start Monday against the Washington Capitals at Nassau Coliseum.

Halak is 18-6-0 with a 2.24 goals-against average and .919 save percentage in 24 games this season. He has won his past four starts and has allowed two goals or fewer in each of them. In his past 19 starts, Halak has 17 wins.

New York (23-11-1) lost its past two games without Halak, including a 4-3 shootout defeat at the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday when the Islanders blew a 3-0 lead in the third period.

"It was a good time for us to just give him a couple more days after the small break that we had," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "He's healthy and ready to go."

Posted On Monday, 12.15.2014 / 4:47 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Devils at Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Barring a meeting in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the New Jersey Devils will play their final game at Nassau Coliseum on Monday against the New York Islanders.

That means Long Island native Keith Kinkaid has one last chance to play at the arena where he watched games growing up. His wish is about to be granted.

Kinkaid, who was raised about 30 minutes east of the Coliseum in Farmingville, N.Y., will start in goal for the Devils, who are playing their sixth game in 10 days. The Islanders are moving to Barclays Center in Brooklyn next season.

"My whole life I was going to Islander games," said Kinkaid, whose father is a former season-ticket holder. "It's fun to actually be able to play [at Nassau Coliseum].

"It's always been my dream to play on that ice and play on any NHL ice. It's a dream come true to play on the ice I grew up watching all the time. It's going to be a fun atmosphere. This place can get loud. I'm very excited."

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