The Isles are back on the grind.
After a well-deserved and much-needed rest with the All-Star break and league-mandated bye week, the Isles returned to practice at Northwell Health Ice Center on Thursday afternoon to prepare for their matinee game against Vancouver on Saturday at Barclays Center.
"[The break] came at a good time," Brock Nelson said. "We had played seven games in 11 days. I think that was the most a lot of the guys in here had played. There were a lot of emotional games. It was a good time to recharge and get ready for the stretch and we realize how much hockey we have left."
Video: Back and Energized
Over the next 64 days the Isles will play 33 games, which equals a game nearly ever other day. The Isles currently sit in third place in the Metropolitian Dviision with 63 points and a record of 29-15-5, but the playoff race is only tightening as the stretch drive officially begins. The Columbus Blue Jackets are one point behind the Islanders and the Carolina Hurricanes are two points back. Meanwhile, the Washington Capitals have a bit of a cushion with a league-leading 73 points while the Pittsburgh Penguins are in second place with 67 points.
"You just take it one day at a time," Nelson said. "You probably want to look at the standings every day just with how tight they are to see how everyone's doing. You can't look past anything. Every game is going to be crucial down the stretch here right from Saturday."
CLUTTERBUCK SKATES ON HIS OWN
Cal Clutterbuck has resumed skating on his own, per Head Coach Barry Trotz. The Isles winger has been sidelined since Dec. 18 after undgergoing surgery on his wrist.
"He skated the other day on his own," Trotz confirmed. "He was just by himself, he wasn't shooting pucks or anything. He'll be out for a while. I wouldn't expect him back [soon], he's weeks away."
AHO RECALLED FROM BRIDGEPORT:
The Isles recalled Sebastian Aho from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers ahead of Thursday's practice. This is Aho's third time being recalled since Jan. 3. The defenceman was returned on loan to Bridgeport just before the All-Star Break ensued on Jan. 23 so he could particpate in the AHL All-Star festivities in Ontario, California.
The Swedish defenceman finished the three-on-three tournament with one goal and one assist to help the Atlantic Division win the honors of the AHL All-Star Classic.