The New York Islanders held practice Saturday afternoon at Islanders Iceworks in Syosset on the final day of preparation prior to Sunday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Sunday marks the final game of a four-game homestand, in which the Isles are currently 1-2-0. It's the first meeting at the Coliseum between the two new Metro Divison rivals since the Isles’ home opener on October 5.
Forward Kyle Okposo, who suffered a lower-body injury, earlier in the week did not practice today. Head coach Jack Capuano noted that Okposo still could be in the lineup Sunday afternoon at Nassau Coliseum.
“There's a chance that he could play,” Capuano told the media Saturday. “But we're obviously never going to put a player in the lineup if he's not capable of helping the team or put him in a position to hurt himself.”
Click here to watch Capuano's full interview.
With Okposo temporarily sidelined, Colin McDonald filled the void by donning a white first-line practice jersey. The second-year Islander skated along the right side of center Frans Nielsen and left wing Anders Lee.
With McDonald bumping up from the third line, rookie Johan Sundstrom slotted next to Ryan Strome and Matt Martin in an orange sweater. As a result, defenseman Radek Martinek wore the fourth-line jersey at Saturday’s skate.
Saturday’s Forward Lines:
Anders Lee - Brock Nielsen - Colin McDonald
Josh Bailey - Brock Nelson - Cal Clutterbuck
Matt Martin - Ryan Strome - Johan Sundstrom
Mike Halmo - Casey Cizikas - Radek Martinek
With nine rookies on the roster, each young player is well aware of the opportunity they have to prove themselves ready for the NHL. Anders Lee explained to reporters how he's approaching each game as a step towards proving he deserves a full-time spot in the NHL.
"You have to go out there every night and prove yourself," Lee said following practice. "As a young player coming up, I have to do that every night and take advantage of the opportunity."