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At the Skate: Monday, February 7

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
After having Sunday off to rest and watch Super Bowl XLV, the team took the ice for practice at 10:30 a.m. on Monday morning. But it was back to business as Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano led the team in a variety of different skating intensive drills as well as a few rounds of suicides.

Despite the tough practice, the mood in the locker room was chipper. Especially Jack Hillen, who is a huge fan of the Green Bay Packers and was happy about the game the night before. The Islanders defenseman spent Super Bowl XLV watching anxiously to see if his favorite sports team would be able to bring the Vince Lombardi trophy back to Green Bay. And with one final drive, the Pittsburgh Steelers were defeated 31-25.

Here’s Hillen’s reaction:

Schremp on the Wing
In the past few weeks, the coaching staff has decided Josh Bailey would best serve the Islanders at his natural position, center. Since there are already four centers on the team, the coaching staff found Rob Schremp an opportunity that would keep him on the ice; he’s adapting well to the left wing.

“It’s going a lot better than I thought it would,” Schremp said. “Last year they tried me out at wing at the beginning of the year and I wasn’t very good. I mean, I think now that I’ve played a little bit in the league. I mean not that much, but 80-some (88) games and I’ve learned the areas of the ice. Playing wing now is an easier adjustment because I understand the game up here and where guys are coming or where they’re going to force you. I feel really comfortable playing there now. I didn’t think that I would, but I have kind of surprised myself a little bit. I like it.”

Since Schremp has stepped up to play a position he’s seldom ever played, he’s played just two games. And in that second game, he scored two goals, which came at a crucial point for the Islanders. The first goal tied the score at three and the second was a game-winning power play goal, which helped the Isles take a 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.

“It’s been a while since I’ve scored a goal,” Schremp said. “It’s been a bit of a struggle to get points lately, but I’ve been working pretty hard. It was just kind of like a matter of time I feel. They say when you hit a bit of a drought, you just go back to working hard and I think I’ve been doing that the last seven or eight games. And last game I got rewarded.”

Playing center has different responsibilities than the wing, but Schremp has liked the change.

“It’s less complicated,” Schremp said. “You have to be disciplined enough to stay in your spot because as a centerman you have that natural instant to want to go down and help down low, get the puck and start the breakout. But as a wing, you kind of have to wait for the puck to come to you and you have to trust that your centerman is going to do his job.”

Islanders lineups

26 Matt Moulson – 91 John Tavares – 15 PA Parenteau
40 Michael Grabner – 51 Frans Nielsen – 21 Kyle Okposo
44 Rob Schremp – 12 Josh Bailey – 37 Jeremy Colliton
17 Matt Martin – 28 Zenon Konopka – 14 Trevor Gillies

47 Andrew MacDonald – 36 Travis Hamonic
38 Jack Hillen – 24 Radek Martinek
6 Ty Wishart – 27 Milan Jurcina
8 Bruno Gervais

60 Kevin Poulin
1 Mikko Koskinen

57 Blake Comeau (concussion, no timetable for return)
52 Nathan Lawson (knee, day-to-day)
39 Rick DiPietro (Facial fractures and knee swelling, 4-6 weeks)
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