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At the Skate: Thursday, January 20

by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
DiPietro Starts

The Islanders game-day routine changed a little on Thursday morning. Usually, their morning skate is optional, but every non-injured player on the roster participated – including goaltender Rick DiPietro, who usually does not skate on the mornings that he’s scheduled to play in the game.

DiPietro’s normal pregame routine was altered because interim head coach Jack Capuano wanted to make sure the goaltender was healthy and able to play after sitting out of yesterday’s practice due to flu-like symptoms.

That left the media questioning if DiPietro would start, but Capuano confirmed he would be the starting goaltender tonight against the Capitals. And the goaltender put the media at ease when he said he’s feeling much better.

Okposo Returns
On the ice, Kyle Okposo couldn’t get rid of his grin. In less than 8 hours, the winger will play in his first game this season. When asked about it in the locker room, Okposo was thrilled to be coming back into the lineup.

“I’m sure I’ll be pretty amped up and have to almost control my emotions a little bit and remind myself that I have done it before and you just have to go play,” Okposo said.

In the scrum, Okposo talked about playing with Frans Nielsen and rookie forward Michael Grabner.

“I’ve played with Fransie before,” Okposo said. “He’s such a smart player, which makes him easy to play with. And that’s going to make my life a lot easier.”
 
Okposo continued, “He (Grabner) is so quick. I’m excited about playing with him. I’ve obviously watched him play for 45 games and he’s got breakaway speed. I’ve never seen anybody quite that fast. I’m really excited to be on the ice with him.”

Nielsen also spoke about playing with Okposo.

“It’s going to be fun,” Nielsen said. “We missed him (Okposo) for sure. He’s a great player. It’s going to be very fun to play with Kyle again. I can’t wait. We’re both very excited for the game tonight.”

Video



Lineups
The Islanders didn’t practice any line drills at the morning skate, but it’s safe to guess, Capuano will be playing the same lines as yesterday’s practice.

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

Defensemen
47 Andrew MacDonald – 36 Travis Hamonic
24 Radek Martinek – 38 Jack Hillen
8 Bruno Gervais – 42 Dylan Reese

Goaltenders
39 Rick DiPietro
52 Nathan Lawson
*Kevin Poulin will not dress tonight.

View from the Stands
Team Finland and Team Japan, participating in the Fourth Annual Lighthouse International Youth Hockey Tournament (held at Nassau Coliseum) over the next four days, came to watch the Islanders morning skate and have a brief autograph session with the players as they made their way to the locker room.

Video

Islanders center Rob Schremp did some tricks on the ice to give the 11 and 12-year-olds from Team Finland and Team Japan something to ‘ooooh’ and ‘ahhhh’ over. We caught one on camera.



Photos

Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau signing autographs for Team Japan and Team Finland of the Lighthouse International Youth Hockey Tournament on Thursday, January 20, 2011
Andrew MacDonald signing autographs for Team Japan and Team Finland of the Lighthouse International Youth Hockey Tournament on Thursday, January 20, 2011
Michael Grabner signing autographs for Team Japan and Team Finland of the Lighthouse International Youth Hockey Tournament on Thursday, January 20, 2011
Nathan Lawson signing autographs for Team Japan and Team Finland of the Lighthouse International Youth Hockey Tournament on Thursday, January 20, 2011
John Tavares celebrates his goal during the Islanders morning skate at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday, January 20, 2011.
Kyle Okposo smiles during the morning skate at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday, January 20, 2011. He will be playing in his first game this season.
Nathan Lawson tends goal against Blake Comeau and Rob Schremp during the morning skate at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday, January 20, 2011.
Nathan Lawson tends goal against John Tavares, Matt Moulson and PA Parenteau during the morning skate at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday, January 20, 2011.
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