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Posted On Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 7:07 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Isles, Nielsen agree on 4-year extension

The New York Islanders confirmed Tuesday night that they have re-signed center Frans Nielsen, who was set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

The team said the deal will be announced Wednesday, but TSN's Bon McKenzie reported that it's a four-year deal worth $11 million, a cap hit of $2.75 million. That's a big jump for Nielsen, who is on the last season of a four-year, $2.2 million deal he signed in 2008.

Nielsen, 27, was the Islanders' third-round choice (No. 87) in the 2002 NHL Draft. He became the first Danish-born NHL player to score a goal when he connected during a 15-game callup in 2007, and became a full-time Islander in 2008-09.

Nielsen entered Thursday's action with nine goals and 25 points in 51 games after posting career highs of 13 goals, 31 assists and 44 points last season, when he led the NHL with seven shorthanded goals. He is also one of the NHL's most proficient scorers in the shootout -- his 57.6 percentage (19-for-33) is the best of any player who has taken 20 or more attempts.

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Posted On Monday, 02.06.2012 / 7:00 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - NHL.com Countdown to the Trade Deadline blog

Report: Rutherford, Ruutu to meet this week

Will Tuomo Ruutu remain a member of the Carolina Hurricanes?

The Raleigh News and Observer reported Monday that 'Canes general manager Jim Rutherford will be holding "an important meeting" with Ruutu this week.

"I want to talk to him about where he's at, this season and in the future," Rutherford told the paper. "We'll talk about that and see where it goes. We're closing in on the (NHL) trade deadline, so we need to make a decision.

"I've had casual conversations with his agent the past month or so. The next step is to meet with (Ruutu) and make a decision on what direction would be the best for everyone."

Ruutu, who turns 29 next week, is believed to be seeking a long-term contract. Set to become an unrestricted free agent in July, Ruutu leads Carolina with 16 goals.


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Posted On Saturday, 02.04.2012 / 12:41 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Sabres, Isles

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders have an opportunity to get back to the .500 mark as they host the Buffalo Sabres tonight at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The Isles (21-22-7) pulled within a game of .500 Friday night when Mark Eaton ended a 120-game goalless drought in overtime to lift New York to a 2-1 victory at Ottawa. The Islanders -- who haven't been a .500 club since Nov. 5 -- enter tonight's action nine points behind Toronto for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"We're a confident bunch right now," said Isles winger PA Parenteau, who had two more assists Friday night to give him 36 on the season. "We play with a lot of passion and we know what's at stake in the next two weeks. Nothing's impossible for us. … A lot of guys are playing well. It's only nine points and there's a lot of games left."

Buffalo (21-24-6) is also 2-0-1 in its last three games and has allowed only two goals over that span. The Sabres couldn't solve Henrik Lundqvist in a 1-0 shootout loss to the New York Rangers at the First Niagara Center on Wednesday night. The Sabres have been somewhat fortunate to earn points in three of their last four games considering they've only scored five goals.

"I know it'll come … we still have to score," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "I don't want to talk about chances any more. You've got to create them to get them. The more you create, the better chance you're going to have. The less you give up, the easier it is for your goaltender. I think we've played harder in some situations, which has made a difference."

Here are the expected lines tonight for each club:

SABRES
Ville Leino - Derek Roy - Jason Pominville
Nathan Gerbe - Tyler Ennis - Drew Stafford
Paul Gaustad - Brad Boyes - Patrick Kaleta
Matt Ellis - Luke Adam - Cody McCormick

Christian Ehrhoff - Tyler Myers
Robyn Regehr - Jordan Leopold
Andrej Sekera - Mike Weber

Ryan Miller gets the start in goal. The Sabres' netminder has stopped 83 of 85 shots over the last three games while boasting a 0.63 goals-against average. Jhonas Enroth will be the backup.

Buffalo will be without sniper Thomas Vanek, who suffered an upper-body injury during Tuesday's 3-1 win at Montreal. Ennis and Stafford are both expected to play after battling the flu. Jochen Hecht and T.J. Brennan are out with concussions. Zach Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani are expected to be healthy scratches.

ISLANDERS
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - PA Parenteau
Rhett Rakhshani - Josh Bailey - Matt Martin
Tim Wallace - Jay Pandolfo - Nino Niederreiter

Mark Streit - Steve Staios
Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic
Mark Eaton - Milan Jurcina

The Islanders did not skate this morning after arriving home late from Ottawa. With the quick turnaround, it's likely Al Montoya will start in goal. Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves in Friday's victory.

Rick DiPietro (lower body), Mike Mottau (concussion) and Marty Reasoner (hand) are out for New York. Dylan Reese and Brian Rolston are the likely healthy scratches.

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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Posted On Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 12:27 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Islanders hope to put dent in Flyers' dominance

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders look to reverse their fortunes against the Philadelphia Flyers tonight as the teams meet at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Since the end of the 2006-07 season, the Isles are 1-17-5 against their Atlantic Division foes. They went 0-5-1 against the Flyers last season and lost their only meeting thus far this time around, a 4-3 overtime decision Nov. 23 thanks to game-tying and game-winning goals by Danny Briere.

"Sometimes there are just teams you match up against, I guess, and then you build confidence," Briere said when asked why the Flyers have had so much success against the Islanders. "There's other teams where we seem to be struggling against, for some reason. But the Islanders are one of those teams where we come in and we always have a lot of confidence -- even when we fall behind. I hope it keeps going because being in our division, we have to play them quite a bit."

"Sometimes you just match up a little bit better against other teams," Islanders captain Mark Streit said. "You can ask Detroit why they've lost four or five in a row (against us). Sometimes it's tough to explain, but it's a division rivalry and they have a good team. We need points, so you can't really pay attention to the stats." 

Here are the expected lines tonight for each club:
 
FLYERS
Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Maxime Talbot - Danny Briere - Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds
Harry Zolnierczyk - Sean Couturier - Matt Read
 
Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Marc-Andre Bourdon - Matt Carle
Andreas Lilja - Andrej Meszaros
 
Sergei Bobrovsky gets the start in goal. In six starts (seven games) against the Islanders, he is 6-0-0 with a 1.84 goals-against average. Ilya Bryzgalov will be the backup.
 
ISLANDERS
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo
Brian Rolston - Frans Nielsen - PA Parenteau
Michael Grabner - Josh Bailey - Matt Martin
Tim Wallace - Jay Pandolfo - Nino Niederreiter
 
Mark Streit - Steve Staios
Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic
Mark Eaton - Milan Jurcina
 
Evgeni Nabokov gets his 10th straight start for the Islanders tonight as he goes for his 300th career victory. Kevin Poulin will serve as the backup.
 
Rick DiPietro (lower body), Al Montoya (concussion), Mike Mottau (concussion) and Marty Reasoner (hand) are out for New York. Dylan Reese will be a healthy scratch.
 
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.14.2011 / 8:03 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Flyers to update Pronger's condition Thursday

The Philadelphia Flyers will update the condition of defenseman Chris Pronger on Thursday, according to general manager Paul Holmgren.

Pronger, 37, hasn't played since Nov. 19 at Winnipeg. He temporarily lost vision after taking a high stick to his right eye on Oct. 24 and was immediately put on medication to help relieve the pressure build-up behind his eye. He missed the next six games.

Now the hulking defenseman is closing in on a month without making a single appearance. What was once deemed as a virus could be something much worse. Pronger was slated to meet with concussion experts in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. He has a goal and 11 assists in 13 games this season.

The Flyers are also without Claude Giroux, who is out indefinitely with a concussion. Giroux leads the NHL with 39 points (16 goals, 23 assists).
 
"Giroux's status remains the same. We will have an update on Pronger tomorrow, once we have spoken to the doctors," Holmgren said Wednesday night.

The Flyers visit Montreal on Thursday night.

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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Posted On Saturday, 12.10.2011 / 1:03 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Staal injured, won't play against Isles

The injury-plagued Pittsburgh Penguins will look to avoid their third straight loss as they take on the New York Islanders tonight at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Pittsburgh (16-9-4) will once again be without captain Sidney Crosby, who is experiencing slight headaches. The hope is that he'll be able to play when the Pens host Detroit on Tuesday night. Crosby will be evaluated when the Pens return home.
 
The Penguins will also be missing defensemen Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek, as well as center Jordan Staal, who briefly skated this morning before heading to the dressing room due to a lower-body injury.

New York (9-11-6) has gone six straight games without a regulation loss. The Isles, who are 4-0-2 over that stretch, rallied from a 2-0 deficit Thursday night before losing in overtime to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Here are the projected lineups for the clubs:

ISLANDERS

Matt Moulson - John Tavares - PA Parenteau
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
David Ullstrom - Josh Bailey - Brian Rolston
Matt Martin - Marty Reasoner - Tim Wallace

Mark Streit - Travis Hamonic
Steve Staios - Milan Jurcina
Mike Mottau - Dylan Reese

Al Montoya gets his third straight start in goal. Kevin Poulin will back him up.

Scratches for the Isles are Nino Niederreiter (concussion), Evgeni Nabokov (groin) and Rick DiPietro (groin). Andrew MacDonald (leg), Mark Eaton (MCL) and Jay Pandolfo (foot) are on injured reserve. Micheal Haley will be a healthy scratch.

PENGUINS

Steve Sullivan - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Chris Kunitz - Jason Wiliams - Tyler Kennedy
Matt Cooke - Joe Vitale- Pascal Dupuis
Arron Asham - Craig Adams- Steve MacIntyre

Paul Martin - Brooks Orpik
Deryk Engelland - Matt Niskanen
Simon Despres - Alexandre Picard

With Staal out of the lineup, Williams will be promoted from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Engelland returns to the lineup after missing two games with a lower-body injury.

Other scratches for the Penguins include Letang (concussion), Michalek (concussion), Brian Strait (elbow), Ben Lovejoy (wrist), Richard Park (lower body) and Robert Bortuzzo (concussion-like symptoms).

Marc-Andre Fleury is 16-4-1-3 with a 2.25 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in 26 career appearances against the Islanders.

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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Posted On Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 12:38 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Islanders, Blackhawks

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders are gunning for their third straight victory as they host the Chicago Blackhawks this evening at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Here are the projected lineups for the clubs:

ISLANDERS
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - PA Parenteau
Michael Grabner - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo
David Ullstrom - Josh Bailey - Brian Rolston
Matt Martin - Marty Reasoner - Tim Wallace

Mark Streit - Travis Hamonic
Steve Staios - Milan Jurcina
Mike Mottau - Dylan Reese

Al Montoya gets the starting nod in goal. Kevin Poulin will back him up.

Scratches for the Isles are Nino Niederreiter (concussion), Evgeni Nabokov (groin) and Rick DiPietro (groin). Andrew MacDonald (leg), Mark Eaton (MCL) and Jay Pandolfo (foot) are on injured reserve.

Grabner will return to the lineup after missing Tuesday's 5-1 win against Tampa Bay due to a groin injury. Micheal Haley will likely be a healthy scratch.

"I'm feeling pretty good," Grabner said after participating in an optional skate this morning. "I got a good skate in. It's coming along. I'm starting to feel better."

BLACKHAWKS

Daniel Carcillo - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp - Marcus Kruger - Marian Hossa
Ben Smith - Dave Bolland - Michael Frolik
Viktor Stalberg - Jamal Mayers - Andrew Brunette

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Nick Leddy - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Sami Lepisto - Steve Montador

Ray Emery will start between the pipes. He is 5-0-1 with a 1.64 goals-against average in six career appearances against the Islanders. Corey Crawford will be the backup.

Defensemen Sean O'Donnell and John Scott are likely to be the healthy scratches, along with left wing Bryan Bickell.
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Posted On Saturday, 11.19.2011 / 12:22 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineup for Bruins, Islanders

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Here is what the lineups should look like when the scorching-hot Bruins and Islanders take the ice tonight at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum:

BRUINS
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Dennis Seidenberg - Joe Corvo
Andrew Ference - Adam McQuaid

Tim Thomas was the first goalie off the ice this morning, which means he'll likely get the start. Tuukka Rask would be the backup.

Boychuk is a game-time decision after missing Thursday's 2-1 shootout win against Columbus with flu-like symptoms. He skated this morning and appears ready to go. … Jordan Caron and Steven Kampfer are the likely healthy scratches for the Bruins, who have won seven in a row.

ISLANDERS
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Michael Grabner
Brian Rolston - Frans Nielsen - PA Parenteau
Blake Comeau - Marty Reasoner - Nino Niederreiter
Matt Martin - Josh Bailey - Jay Pandolfo

Mark Streit - Steve Staios
Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic
Mark Eaton - Milan Jurcina

Rick DiPietro gets the start for the Islanders in goal. He will be backed up by Anders Nilsson, who was recalled by AHL Bridgeport due to injuries to both Evgeni Nabokov (groin) and Al Montoya (hamstring). The Isles placed Nabokov -- who could miss up to a month -- on injured reserve this morning.

Nilsson, a third-round draft choice (No. 62) in 2009, is 5-2-0 with a 2.86 goals-against average in 7 AHL appearances this season, his first in North America.

Kyle Okposo, who has just 3 assists in 14 games, will be a healthy scratch for a third straight game. Mark Eaton is back in the lineup and will replace Mike Mottau, who is also a healthy scratch.

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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Posted On Saturday, 11.19.2011 / 11:35 AM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

DiPietro excited for opportunity

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders began the 2011-12 season with three healthy goaltenders. Now, they're down to one.

And it's the one nobody would have guessed.

Rick DiPietro, who has spent a large chunk of the past four years in the infirmary, will be the Isles' starting goaltender Saturday night when the Isles host the Boston Bruins at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The 30-year-old relieved Evgeni Nabokov early in Thursday night's 4-3 win against the Montreal Canadiens after the latter suffered a groin injury that could sideline him up to a month.

Then, on Friday, the Isles announced that Al Montoya -- who has been sharp in the six appearances he's made this season -- is day-to-day with a strained hamstring. New York was forced to promote Anders Nilsson from AHL Bridgeport on Saturday morning to back up DiPietro, who now has been presented with a golden opportunity to regain his spot as the Isles' No. 1 goaltender.

"It's a good opportunity to get in there and get an extended chance to play some games," said DiPietro, who is 2-1-2 with a 2.86 goals-against average and .900 save percentage in five appearances this season. "At the end of the day, it's all about winning and that's our main focus."

DiPietro, the No. 1 pick at the 2000 NHL Draft, made 26 appearances last season -- the most in three years due to various knee, hip and head injuries. Now healthy and eager to seize the moment, DiPietro -- who has 10 years left on his contract -- admits he will put added pressure on himself to reclaim his position as the Isles' franchise goaltender.

"I always end up putting a little added pressure on myself than I probably should," he said. "But really, the focus is winning. That's what I want to do and that's what this hockey club wants to do. We're in the middle of November here and it's time for us to turn this around and get things going in the right direction."

Montoya was rewarded for a strong training camp by starting the Isles' first three games of the season. With Nabokov also in the mix, DiPietro didn't receive his first start until Oct. 29. Suddenly, injuries to both Nabokov and Montoya have DiPietro back in the spotlight. Islanders coach Jack Capuano is hopeful DiPietro will make the most of this chance.

"It's a good opportunity for him," Capuano said. "If you know Rick at all like we know him, he's a competitive kid and he wants that challenge. There's no better place than against the Stanley Cup champions tonight, so it'll be a good test for him."

"I feel good," DiPietro said. "I had a good summer. I'm looking forward to the opportunity and the challenge."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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Posted On Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 12:26 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Jets dealing with injuries to their blue line

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The Winnipeg Jets will have a different look on their blue line Thursday night against the New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Winnipeg will be without world-class defenseman Tobias Enstrom after he was injured during Monday's 4-3 shootout victory at Florida. Enstrom suffered an upper-body injury after being hit by Panthers forward Jack Skille and was sent back to Winnipeg for further evaluation.

The Jets are also likely to be without defenseman Mark Stuart, who is day-to-day after suffering an upper-body injury Monday.

Winnipeg is already without defensemen Derek Meech (lower body) and Ron Hainsey (upper body) and recalled Mark Flood and Brett Festerling from AHL St. John's on Thursday morning.

"Guys are going to have to pick up the slack," said Jets defenseman Zach Bogosian, who could conceivably play close to 30 minutes against the Isles. "For right now, I've just got to keep it simple and kind of read of who you're playing with."

Here are Winnipeg's projected lines for Thursday night:

Andrew Ladd - Bryan Little - Kyle Wellwood
Evander Kane - Nik Antropov - Alexander Burmistrov
Kenndal McArdle - Tim Stapleton - Blake Wheeler
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Chris Thorburn

Randy Jones - Dustin Byfuglien
Brett Festerling - Zach Bogosian
Johnny Oduya - Mark Flood

Ondrej Pavelec will get the start in goal for the Jets. Pavelec is 3-4-1 with a 3.62 goals-against average and .885 save percentage in nine appearances. Former Isles goalie Peter Mannino will be the backup as Chris Mason (groin) was placed on injured reserve Thursday morning.

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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Quote of the Day

I mean, hockey had to change the rules because of Marty, and that's impressive. I got two Stanley Cup rings because of the guy. Look at the banners of [Scott Niedermayer, Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko] and Marty is right up there when you think about the New Jersey Devils; he was part of the core group and he'll go down as one of the greatest goalies ever.

— New Jersey Devils center Scott Gomez on former teammate Martin Brodeur, who will announce his retirement Thursday