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At the Rink blog

Capuano showing patience with struggling line

Monday, 02.18.2013 / 12:11 PM

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer / 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

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2012-2013 At the Rink blog
Capuano showing patience with struggling line

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano is willing to leave well enough alone for now because his team has won two games in a row, but it's clear that his patience with Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey as a line is wearing thing.

Nielsen has just two points in the past seven games. Okposo is even more woeful with only four points this season, including just one in the past nine games. Bailey has just one point in four games since returning from injury.

"The one thing I'm not going to do is put pressure on the guys. I'm not going to do that," Capuano said prior to the Islanders game Monday afternoon against the Philadelphia Flyers at Nassau Coliseum. "They have to find a way and we'll give them some time. We don't have a lot of time, but I like the way the other lines are contributing right now and I don't want to break those other three lines up. So, I'm hoping that they can just find a way."

The Islanders have scored 12 goals in their past three games because their power play has been exceptional (7-for-12) and John Tavares is red hot (seven goals during a five-game goal scoring streak entering Monday). Tavares' linemates, Matt Moulson and Brad Boyes, have also combined for four goals and seven assists in the past three games.

Capuano also likes the chances the third line (Keith Aucoin, David Ullstrom and Michael Grabner) is getting lately and he likes the physical play of the fourth line (Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin and Colin McDonald), so he's leaving it up to Nielsen, Okposo and Bailey to figure it out on their own.

"To me it's more about getting shots," Capuano said. "Josh was a natural centerman and sometimes he plays like a centerman. He's looking. He's got great hands and vision, but there are opportunities to shoot the puck. The first game he played he had seven shots and that's what we have to continue to get out of him. That line has to get to those tough areas more, get around the paint, a little more grittier."

"If you go back to the end of last year the Bailey-Nielsen-Okposo line was one of our best lines. Again, I'm just hoping they can find some magic here and get it going for us."

In other Islander news, Evgeni Nabokov will make his third straight start and Capuano said defenseman Matt Carkner (groin), who will miss his sixth straight game, has begun skating and is getting close to returning. Capuano said Carkner may go with the team on the road trip that begins Tuesday in Ottawa and continues in Montreal and then Buffalo.

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was not made available to the media prior to the game.

Here are the projected lineups for both teams:

ISLANDERS

Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Brad Boyes

Josh Bailey - Frans Nielsen - Kyle Okposo

Michael Grabner - Keith Aucoin - David Ullstrom

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Colin McDonald

Andrew MacDonald - Lubomir Visnovsky

Travis Hamonic - Brian Strait

Joe Finley - Mark Streit

Evgeni Nabokov

Rick DiPietro

Scratched: Thomas Hickey, Marty Reasoner, Eric Boulton

Injured: Matt Carkner, Radek Martinek

FLYERS

Matt Read - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Danny Briere - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds

Maxime Talbot - Sean Couturier - Mike Knuble

Harry Zolnierczyk - Ruslan Fedotenko - Zac Rinaldo

Kimmo Timonen - Luke Schenn

Braydon Coburn - Nicklas Grossmann

Erik Gustafsson - Bruno Gervais

Ilya Bryzgalov

Brian Boucher

Scratched: Tom Sestito, Tye McGinn, Kurtis Foster

Injured: Scott Hartnell, Michael Leighton, Andrej Meszaros

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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