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by Staff Writer / New York Islanders

Ted Nolan mixes and matches lines to stir things up

Bill Guerin
"I'm not a big guy on changing lines a whole lot," said Nolan after this morning's practice. But only six games into the season there has already been some mixing and matching on the offensive and defensive sides, as the Islanders continue a light stretch with only three games in 14 days.

Andy Hilbert initially was put on a line with Josef Vasicek and Miroslav Satan, but the past two games have seen Sean Bergenheim flank Vasicek and Satan. The line of Bergenheim, Satan and Vasicek was the strongest in the Islanders' 3-1 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday.

"We put Bergenheim with those guys and it seemed to instill something in that line," said Nolan."

But since then, Nolan has made one more move – switching Bill Guerin and Trent Hunter to form two new lines, Mike Comrie centering Ruslan Fedotenko and Hunter, and Mike Sillinger in between Guerin and Hilbert.

"It's another subtle change," said Nolan. "Guerin and Sillinger are similar-type players. We're hoping by putting guys together, who are similar, it will work."

Sillinger has been on the team's shut-down line, playing against the opposition's top players, since he joined the Islanders last season. That will not change, even with the added scoring punch of Guerin on his line.

"Hilbert is more defensive and Sillinger is very defensive oriented," said Nolan, "but Guerin is that way too. They're power forwards. If you get those three guys going with Sillinger jamming the net, Guerin shooting the puck and Hilbert doing his thing, they could be a good shut-down line for us."

For the second game in a row, Ted indicated that he would go with six defensemen against Washington on Thursday, rather than the seven he played in Bryan Berard's first two games back with the Islanders.

"Berard looked better in the last game than the one he scored the goal in, so he looks like he's coming," said Nolan. "Bergeron has to fight, be patient and wait for the opportunity to get back in the lineup. Campoli and Gervais keep looking better and better. Martinek is just starting to get his game going. Witt and Sutton are both starting to come. The one change is going to be the power play guy and that's between Berard and Bergeron."

Head coach Ted Nolan said Shawn Bates has been cleared to play, but wanted to push him in practice for at least another week before he gets back in the lineup.

The Islanders faceoff against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals tomorrow, for the second time this season. Catch the game live on FSN NY 2 or Bloomberg 1130 at 7 pm.

Firefighter Appreciation Night is this Saturday, when the Islanders host the New Jersey Devils. The exciting game will include:

  • Collectible Firefighter-themed NYI hat, courtesy of Winthrop University Hospital, for first 10,000 fans
  • Tix up to 40% off for Firefighters with tickets starting at just $16
  • Fire trucks, equipment, exhibits from the East Meadow Fire Station and other Long Island Stations
  • Chili cook-off and the Brentwood Fire Department Marching Band

Check out the Islanders TV Game Day Tab for complete interviews from today's practice.

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