The New York Islanders took another step towards to a healthy roster Thursday.
Jaroslav Halak practiced with the team and was deemed “good to go” by Head Coach Jack Capuano, while Nick Leddy skated again and will be evaluated by team doctors Thursday afternoon. If cleared, Leddy will play Saturday in New Jersey.
“There’s no question we miss some of those guys,” Capuano said. “They are an integral part of our team. You win with goaltending and defense in this league.”
Leddy was injured March 9 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, ending a streak of 320 consecutive games played. He participated in the morning skate Tuesday and took full practice Wednesday and Thursday.
“I feel pretty good,” Leddy said. “We have another day before the game, so we’ll keep working and keep getting better. It was just a freak thing like I said. It happened. I just want to work through it and hopefully be back Saturday.”
Having Halak and Leddy back at practice together is a positive development for the Islanders, who hope to turn the good news into a rallying point to bust out of their four-game losing streak. Halak is 34-15-1 this season, while the Islanders are 34-15-4 when all three of Leddy, Johnny Boychuk and Travis Hamonic are in the lineup (and 8-10-0 when one of them is missing).
“They are two key parts for us,” Brock Nelson said. “Leddy is a big part of our play in all areas and Jaro has been a wall behind us all year. His numbers speak for themselves. We need those guys and it’s good to see them back on the ice. We’ll come out of this and hopefully this makes us a better group and a stronger group.”
Lubomir Visnovsky and Mikhail Grabovski both skated before the team’s practice, but will not return this week. Capuano said there was a chance Visnovsky could play Tuesday or Thursday and said a return next week was “hopeful” for both players.
Kevin Poulin was returned on loan to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers Thursday afternoon.