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ANOTHER DEFENSIVE CHALLENGE

by Staff Writer / New York Islanders

Last night's six defensemen have another daunting task facing Lecavalier, Richards, Prospal and St. Louis; Simon in, Tambellini sent to Bridgeport – Islanders vs. Tampa Bay; TV: FSN NY, Bloomberg 1130



The blueline sextet of Radek Martinek, Freddy Meyer, Bryan Berard, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Aaron Johnson and Drew Fata put on a defensive effort for the ages last night in the Islanders' 3-2 defeat of the Washington Capitals. They’ll have to make a repeat performance tonight, when the Islanders host the offensively-gifted Tampa Bay Lightning at 7 pm at the Nassau Coliseum.

Limiting a team to two goals is nothing out of the ordinary, but considering the circumstances, it was anything but expected. Bruno Gervais and Brendan Witt both skated this morning, but Gervais is still day-to-day with a strained oblique and Witt is still on schedule with an injury to his MCL. With all of the injuries, the Islanders have been fortunate to have a deep blueline core than has filled in at a moment's notice.

Meyer, Johnson and Fata have combined for only 288 games of NHL experience, with Berard being the veteran at 588 games. While Martinek and Meyer saw the most amount of ice time at 28:17 and 27:49, respectively, last night, every defenseman saw over 15 minutes of ice time.

Martinek and Meyer were given the challenge of stopping Alex Ovechkin, which they did, with some help from Rick DiPietro and the posts. Ovechkin hit four posts in the game, including one in the shootout, but registered only one official shot and no points. Ovechkin had ten of his shot attempts blocked or miss the net. After the game, an exhausted Martinek expressed the difficulty in shutting down the NHL's leading goal scorer.

"It wasn't easy," said Martinek. "I had to compete with him very hard. He's so strong and fast. He's a smart player and you can't really beat him. I had to keep my feet moving against him."

Head coach Ted Nolan showed complete confidence in all six defensemen, even playing Fata – skating in his first NHL game of the season – in the final minute of regulation play and in the overtime.

"We can overcome the injuries to our defense for a short time," said Nolan. "For a long duration it will be tough, but we've been able to do it with a game here and there."

The Islanders will be with the same group of defensemen for at least one more game. They will not get the night off as they face – arguably – an even tougher challenge tonight. Instead of focusing on one player, they'll have to keep a keen eye on four. Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Vinny Prospal and Brad Richards make up one of the most top heavy offenses in the league.

The Lecavalier-St. Louis-Prospal line is one of the most dangerous in the NHL. Lecavalier and St. Louis each have over 70 points on the season, with Lecavalier third in the NHL with 77. Martinek and Meyer will need some considerable help from the forwards to stop this offensive threat.

Somehow this injury-depleted defense has found ways to get it done. Can they do it again and make it six wins in a row? We shall find out tonight.


SIMON RETURNS TO THE LINEUP

Chris Simon will be in tonight's lineup when the Islanders host the Tampa Bay Lightning. Prior to missing the past 30 games, Simon was 1-2-3 in 26 games.

With Simon's return, Jeff Tambellini reported to Bridgeport, where he is the team's leading scorer with 28 goals. He has recorded one goal in 16 games with the Islanders this season.


Click here for the preview to tonight’s Islanders-Lightning game.




Family Fun Packs added for Islanders-Tampa tonight: call 1.800.882.ISLES ext. 2
 
If you missed out on the Islanders' thrilling 3-2 win over San Jose before a jam-packed Coliseum crowd on Monday afternoon, the Islanders are offering families a second chance to get a great deal on tickets during Presidents' Week.
 
And if you were with us on Monday, we know you want to come back!
 
Family Fun Packs are on sale NOW to see Rick DiPietro, Bill Guerin and the Islanders take on Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lacavalier and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.
 
Call 1.800.882.ISLES ext. 2 or visit the Nassau Veterans Memorial Colisuem box office to get your Family Fun Pack, which includes four tickets to Thursday night's game and four Islanders hats.
 
The Islanders have won five in a row and are playing some of their most exciting hockey of the season. If the two last two home games are any indication, you won't want to miss the game on Thursday night. Order your Family Fun Packs NOW while they last!

Isles vs. Tampa Bay Lightning 
Thursday, February 21, 2008 @ 7PM

Family Fan Pack includes:
  • 4 Tickets
  • 4 Islanders Hats
Only $128 ($300 Value)!

Ticket packs are going fast and are available while supplies last.

Call 1.800.882.ISLES, Ext. 2 or visit the Nassau Coliseum Box Office today!



LOUDVILLE IS OPEN TOMORROW!

High School and College students get to the Nassau Coliseum with the best deal in professional sports. For only $10, catch the Islanders go for their sixth straight win, when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning.


LOUDVILLE tickets go on sale 60 minutes before game time. There are a limited number of seats available per game, so arrive early to secure a seat. Remember to bring your Student ID! There is a limit of one $10 LOUDVILLE ticket per ID. Once you get to the LOUDVILLE section, do your part to help lead the crowd in giving the Islanders the best home-ice advantage in the NHL!



Purchase your Islanders 5 Star Pack NOW!!!
  •      All inclusive food and beverage – including alcohol – in the Bohemian Lounge
  •      Games vs. the Rangers, Flyers and Devils
  •      Opportunity to get up close and personal with the Stanley Cup
  •      Opportunity to skate on Coliseum ice after the 3/29 game
  •      Plan starts on Saturday, March 1 vs. the Flyers (Fan Appreciation Night)
To buy your 5-Star Plan, call 1.800.882.ISLES or click here




 
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