The Islanders had a new skater in Friday's line drills, but this time it wasn’t a rookie.
Michael Grabner rejoined the team for his first full practice since suffering a concussion March 10 in Vancouver. Grabner had previously taken the ice for Tuesday’s morning skate in a non-contact jersey.
“I’m glad to be back,” Grabner said. “I’ve been doing a lot of nothing over the past few weeks and it was pretty boring. It’s fun to be back around the team and the guys.”
Grabner could be in the lineup Saturday night when the Islanders host the Washington Capitals at 5 p.m. Head coach Jack Capuano said the decision to put Grabner in the lineup is still pending a talk with the teams’ medical staff.
“He had a full practice today, so we’ll check with our trainers and doctors and see if he’ll be available to go,” Capuano said.
Capuano added that he may alter the lineup combinations when Grabner returns, as he attempts to elicit more even-strength scoring from his club. The Austrian winger practiced Friday on a line with Brock Nelson and Johan Sundstrom.
Grabner missed eight games with his injury and said that it’ll take a game or two to find his legs.
“You can skate as much as you want [on your own], but it takes one or two games to get back into it,” Grabner said. “I hope I am in the best possible condition I can be in.”
Bailey Streaking on Top Line:
Josh Bailey has found his offensive game while playing on the Islanders first line. Bailey has five points (two goals, three assists) during a three-game point streak. The Bowmanville, ON native has recorded points in four of his last five games.
“I think he’s been pretty effective on the power play,” head coach Jack Capuano said. "Five-on-five, he’s getting better. It’s a matter of consistency with him and getting him to work hard. If he does that he’ll have success.”
Cizikas, Clutterbuck take Maintenance Days:
Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas were both absent at the Islanders practice on Friday. Capuano told reporters that they were both taking maintenance days.