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by Staff Writer / New York Islanders
Also: Tunik signed, Stirling concerned about faceoffs

Five notes as the Islanders get ready for their home opener against Carolina on Saturday night:

Ash Ready: Forward Arron Asham took another full practice at the Coliseum today and pronounced himself ready to play in Saturday's home opener. "I'm dying to get out there," he said. "It's been a frustrating last few weeks." Islanders head coach Steve Stirling said Asham is likely to take the wing spot of Eric Godard for Saturday. "Asham gives us a lot of versatility because of his skills, his skating, his toughness. I'm really happy with Godsy's work so far. He's done nothing to lose his spot. I'm just trying to figure out where I can get him some icetime."

Faceoffs a Concern: Stirling acknowledged that the Islanders need to improve their performance on faceoffs, especially in one critical area. "We must get better at draws on the power play. Doing a bad job in faceoffs can take a two-minute power play and turn it into a 1:30 power play. We just have not been good at it, a big reason why the power play has struggled." Stirling said Mike York was his best faceoff man right now and hinted that he might bring a player off the bench just to win important draws, as he did in 03-04 with Michael Peca.

Tunik Signed: 2003 second round pick Evgeny Tunik has been signed to a contract and will likely make his AHL debut with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in Norfolk, Virginia, where the team will play a pair of games this weekend. Tunik, who will turn 21 next month, played for Russia at the 2004 World Junior Championships.

Cane's Goalie Shuffle: Carolina has recalled goaltender Kevin Nastiuk from AHL Lowell on emergency conditions after Martin Gerber suffered a hip injury in Wednesday's season opener at Tampa Bay. To make room for Nastiuk, the Hurricanes placed forward Ray Whitney on the injured reserve list retroactive to Oct. 3. Whitney has a groin strain. The Hurricanes play Pittsburgh on Friday night.

Two Broadcast Reminders: The FSNY pre-game show will have a feature on goaltender Rick DiPietro. For fan attending the home opener, don't forget to stop by the Blue Line Bar & Grill for the Bloomberg 1130 Post-Game Show. Announcers John Wiedeman and Chris King will be joined by an Islanders player or coach.

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