|Kyle Okposo and the Islanders practice at Islanders Iceworks. |
The Islanders Olympic break effectively ended Wednesday afternoon, as players retook the ice at Islanders Iceworks for the first of seven skates before league-action resumes on Feb. 27.
Head coach Jack Capuano had his team – minus Olympians Michael Grabner, Thomas Vanek and John Tavares – on the ice for a hard skate, in what was largely a conditioning practice. With three Islanders in Sochi, two othersheld off the ice and one loaned to Bridgeport for the break, Wednesday’s line combinations were unusual – Matt Carkner and Radek Martinek dressed as forwards – but ultimately a secondary concern to coach Capuano.
“There weren’t a lot of bodies, but I’ll give the guys credit, for the drills that we did, I thought the pace was excellent,” Capuano said. “The bottom line is you can’t perform your best if you’re not in the best condition… As we move on, we’ll work on some structure, but we’ll maintain our conditioning as well.”
The Islanders utilized the nine-day break to rest, recover and recharge for the final 22 games of the regular season. While not skating together as a unit, many continued their off-ice workouts and found time to skate with family and friends back home.
“It feels good to get back out there and get your timing,” Travis Hamonic said. “We've got our work cut out for us in the second half of the season and the last 22 games. To be quite frank, it starts today and we have to make sure we're ready when the puck drops.”
The Islanders return to game action Thursday, Feb. 27 at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Reaction to Tavares Injury:
|The Islanders sit and watch the Olympics before practice on Wednesday. |
After practice the Islanders were briefed on the reported injury to captain John Tavares during Team Canada’s quarterfinal win over Latvia.
Tavares was injured in the second period, did not return to the game and was ruled out of Canada’s final two Olympic contests.
Tavares’ linemate Kyle Okposo and Team Canada camp invitee Travis Hamonic shared their thoughts on the captain’s injury.
Okposo: It's hard for him. You know how hard he worked for that honor. I think he's had a pretty good tournament to this point. Probably not getting the production that he wants, but I think he's making things happen. Anytime you see a teammate get hurt you definitely feel for him.
I'm sure he'll get reevaluated once he gets back here. We'll take it from there.
Hamonic: I just heard the news. As a friend that's tough to hear. As a teammate that's tough to hear. Quite frankly as a fellow Canadian it's really hard to hear. He's an important player for that team. You want your best players playing in each scenario. It's unfortunate that John got hurt and things worked out that way. There's a lot of depth on that team and they're going to push forward. On a personal standpoint and a friend point of view, it's tough to see a guy go through that.
Nielsen, Martin Skate:
Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin skated after Islanders practice. Both players sat out the conditioning session with minor injuries.
Colin McDonald and Kyle Okposo battle during the Islanders practice.
Travis Hamonic and Eric Boulton battle during the Islanders practice.
Casey Cizikas and Lubomir Visnovsky look on during the Islanders practice.
Matt Carkner hustles in a skating drill during the Islanders practice.
Thomas Hickey passes the puck to Travis Hamonic during the Islanders practice.
Andrew MacDonald and Brock Nelson battle during the Islanders practice.