New York Islanders center Frans Nielsen needed only one word to describe how forward Michael Grabner looked today in practice at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
The Islanders activated Grabner from injured reserve on Wedneday after he spent training camp and the first 25 games of the season recovering from hernia repair surgery. Grabner could return to the lineup when the Islanders take on the Ottawa Senators in the second game of a home-and-home series on Thursday night. Head Coach Jack Capuano said the team has tried not to rush Grabner into the lineup.
“[Grabner is] ready to go, there’s no doubt in his mind that he’s ready to go and I know that he’s ready, too,” he said. “We've played so many games with no practices, we want him to get more reps and things were going pretty well for us too, so you don’t want to change too much.”
A roster spot opened for Grabner after the team retroactively placed defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Lubomir Visnovsky on injured reserve. Additionally, forward Cal Clutterbuck [lower body] and Travis Hamonic [upper body] are considered day-to-day. Nielsen said if Grabner cracks the lineup on Thursday, it only adds another tool to the Islanders’ arsenal.
“[Grabner’s] speed, there’s no one like that out there and he’s going to be another big threat we have out front to score goals,” he said. “When you talk to guys in the league, they’re definitely aware of him on their power plays, because he’s going to look for those breakaways.”
The Islanders also recalled defenseman Griffin Reinhart on emergency basis from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL. Reinhart played in the first three games of the season for the Islanders before being loaned to the Sound Tigers. Capuano said having a stockpile of talented defensemen and consistent systems in the organization helped lessen the impact of the injuries to Boychuk and Visnovsky.
“A lot of the defensemen were playing well [in Bridgeport],” he said. “[Sound Tigers Head Coach Brent Thompson] said [Reinhart] had been playing well, and we talked about a few of the other guys. [Reinhart] was with us at the beginning of the year, and he’ll get another opportunity with us to see what he can do.”
Reinhart said playing in the AHL allowed for time to adjust to the speed at the professional level and is ready to show what he’s learned in his second stint in the NHL this season.
“I think it’s just mainly adjusting to the pace,” he said. “When you practice with the speed of the guys like that and practice with the strength and playing those games, you just automatically adjust to it, and I think that’s been the biggest step up.”
Thursday night marks the final home-and-home series for the Islanders this season. In four home-and-homes so far, the Islanders are 6-2 overall and 3-1 in the second game of the series. Capuano said he liked the way his team played Tuesday night against the Senators, but wants to make a few minor adjustments and see more production from the power play, which has scored only three times in the team’s last 20 chances.
“Our transition game has to be better and we have to make sure that we track a little bit better, too,” he said. “[The Senators] have some defensemen on the backend that really like to transition.”
The Senators will honor longtime captain Daniel Alfredsson before the game against the Islanders on Thursday night. Alfredsson will skate with the team in warmup and it is speculated that he will officially announce his retirement from the NHL before puckdrop. The game is scheduled for 7:30.
|New York Islanders |
18-7-0 (36 points – T-1st in Metropolitan Division, 2nd in Eastern Conference)
|Ottawa Senators |
10-9-5 (25 points - 7th in Atlantic Division, 10th in Eastern Conference)
|7:30 p.m. |
Canadian Tire Center
Play-by-play: Howie Rose; Color: Butch Goring
Radio: WRHU 88.7 FM, LI News Radio 103.9 FM
Play-by-play: Chris King; Color: Greg Picker
|Islanders News: |
- Grabner Activated; Boychuk, Visnovsky to IR (Dec. 3)
- Griffin Reinhart Recalled (Dec. 3)
- National Grid Hometown Hero (Dec. 3)
- D is for Depth (Dec. 3)
- Islanders 3, Senators 2 OT (Dec. 2)
- The Skinny; Post-Game Video
|Islanders player to watch |
Thomas Hickey - Forward
Thomas Hickey scored the game-winning goal 3:06 into overtime Tuesday night to keep the New York Islanders a perfect 8-0 in overtime and shootout games this season. He also had a hand in Ryan Strome’s third-period goal and logged a team-high 23:08 of ice time for the Islanders on Tuesday. Hickey has three points (one goal, two assists) in his last three games and nine points (two goals, seven assists) this season.
|Senators player to watch |
Clarke MacArthur - Forward
Clarke MacArthur forced overtime with a late goal against the Islanders on Tuesday, his team-leading ninth goal of the season. The goal was his first in seven games. The Senators have played well at home this season, earning at least one point in eight of 10 games and return from a five-game road trip on Thursday. MacArthur has 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in 24 games this season.
|New York Islanders previous game lines |
86 Nikolay Kulemin – 91 John Tavares – 21 Kyle Okposo
84 Mikhail Grabovski – 51 Frans Nielsen – 12 Josh Bailey
27 Anders Lee – 29 Brock Nelson – 18 Ryan Strome
17 Matt Martin – 53 Casey Cizikas – 15 Cal Clutterbuck
2 Nick Leddy – 46 Matt Donovan
44 Calvin de Haan – 3 Travis Hamonic
11 Thomas Hickey – 37 Brian Strait
41 Jaroslav Halak
30 Chad Johnson
|Ottawa Senators previous game lines |
16 Clarke MacArthur - 7 Kyle Turris - 90 Alex Chiasson
14 Colin Greening - 93 Mika Zibanejad - 9 Milan Michalek
22 Erik Condra - 17 David Legwand - 25 Chris Neil
68 Mike Hoffman - 27 Curtis Lazar - 61 Mark Stone
4 Chris Phillips - 65 Erik Karlsson
46 Patrick Wiercioch - 62 Eric Gryba
2 Jared Cowen - 5 Cody Ceci
41 Craig Anderson
40 Robin Lehner