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Morning Skate Updates: 12/19/14

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders


Boychuk and Hamonic Return: Defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Travis Hamonic were activated off the team’s injured reserve and will return to the Islanders lineup tonight against the Red Wings. Boychuk (upper body) has missed nine games, while Hamonic (upper body) has missed six.

How important are Boychuk and Hamonic? The Islanders are 13-3 when either defenseman leads the team in TOI and are 3-3 with both defensemen out of the lineup. They are also the only right-handed defensemen on the Isles' roster. More on both defensemen below.

Boychuk: It was painful watching the team play when you're are just watching, you want to be healthy and play with them. I’m lucky enough to be coming back before Christmas.

Halak Starts: Jaroslav Halak starts in goal for the Islanders tonight. Halak has won two straight and is 16-6 on the season with a 2.35 goals against average and a .917 save percentage.

The Islanders have won their last four trips to the Motor City and are 7-1-1 in their last nine games overall vs. the Wings.

Projected Lines:    
12 Josh Bailey 91 John Tavares 21 Kyle Okposo
84 Mikhail grabovski 51 Frans Nielsen 86 Nikolay Kulemin
27 Anders Lee 29 Brock Nelson 18 ryan strome
17 Matt Martin 53 Casey Cizikas 15 Cal Clutterbuck

Where and When:
The Islanders are at Joe Louis Arena tonight and the game can be seen on MSG+. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. Click here for channel listings.

Howard Starts: Jimmy Howard gets the start in goal for the Red Wings tonight. Howard has been a hard-luck loser of late, losing his last three starts – all in shootouts – despite only allowing three goals over that span. Howard is coming off of a 29-save shutout, but the Red Wings lost 1-0 in a shootout. The Red Wings goalie is 13-5-7 with a 2.05 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage this season.

Red Wings PK: The Red Wings boast the league’s second-ranked penalty kill (88.1%).

They Said It:
Thomas Hickey on the importance of having right-handed defensemen back in the lineup:
When you have guys who are left-handed playing the right side, or vice versa, you don’t see the ice as well. It’s tougher to get your head up and get around the puck and look. Face-offs are a big part of it, less one timer opportunities, less chances to clear the puck off the penalty kill. Just little things that are hard to tell, just the angles of the game, it’s a lot different.

John Tavares on Hamonic and Boychuk:
They are good in all areas [including the] penalty kill and they can bring heavy shots in the offense zone as well. But certainly their physicality and size. They are very mobile guys that play a physical game. Those aren’t easy defensemen to play against or to find. They are a big part of our team, so it’s nice to have him back.

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