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Morning Skate Updates 3/5/13

by Travis Betts / New York Islanders
The Islanders will have morning skate at Nassau Coliseum at 10:30 a.m. in preparation for their game tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. Check this space for the latest updates throughout the skate.

10:15: Alright - we've got our third straight visitor from Canada at the Coliseum today, with three points in the previous two games. Today's guest is the Montreal Canadiens, which always makes for a fun day. Tough to describe the different atmosphere that permeates the building when the Habs are in town.

10:19: From a few minutes ago. Islanders room ready for morning skate

10:27: It's optional this morning, so check our Twitter feed to see who's skating. We'll get some quotes from Jack Capuano as well as some of the guys throughout the next hour or so.

10:37: Just spoke with Capuano. Nabokov will start in goal. Same forwards will go as the other night (Boulton and Aucoin scratched). Lubomir Visnovsky will miss tonight's game for personal reasons, with Radek Martinek entering the lineup. Here's the d-pairings:

10:41: Nothing said as far as how long Visnovsky will be out. Only thing we know for sure is tonight.

10:43: Capuano, on putting Frans Nielsen back on the top power play unit: "Our power play was real good early on. We had one of the top power plays in the league. We were thinking about putting him back on the top unit either way. We have no reservations of putting Fransy back there at all."

10:45: Capuano, on Nielsen's shootout prowess (2-for-2 on the season, No. 1 all-time in shooting percentage in the SO): "He's a special player in the shootout. He's got a couple of things he does that are pretty creative. A lot of goaltender studies obviously. We're fortunate to have him in those situations."

10:47: Capuano, on being able to play tight-checking, grinding games and come away with the win: "I think that's the way we have to play. We talk about our framework, our foundation, our structure and how the New York Islanders have to play. I think we're going to have to win tight games. We talk about it all the time. Sunday was a great hockey game. It was physical. No surprise it was tied at the end of regulation."

10:49: Capuano, on keys to tonight's matchup with Montreal: "To handle their speed. We have to be better on faceoffs obviously, especially in our defensive zone. They've got some guys that are good at getting puck possession. You look at the back end, they've got guys who like to go. It's always a challenge for forwards to make sure you get back and you track, and you're aware of their fourth man coming. They're a quick, good puck-possession team."

11:02: Here's Mark Streit giving an interview in French to the Montreal media. Keep in mind that's his third language, and he does it with class:

11:12: Kyle Okposo, on being able to win tough, low-scoring games: "We have to be able to. That's how it's going to be down the stretch. We played a pretty solid 65 minutes against Ottawa. We had all the guys going. We just have to keep doing more of the same."

11:16: Okposo, on getting off to a better start than they did the last time against Montreal: "We have to get off to a better start. That first 20 minutes in Montreal was brutal. We have to come out ready to play. We know they've got a good hockey team and a lot of confidence right now. They're quick, especially up front. We've got to get the puck behind their defensemen and work them in the offensive zone."

11:19: Thomas Hickey, who scored his first career goal in February in overtime against this same Canadiens team: "That was probably the most excited I've been in a really really long time. I blacked out a bit. (Laughing) I didn't know what happened...It was neat walking in there. I got the goosebumps before the game looking up in the rafters at the retired numbers and Stanley Cup banners. It's a special place."

11:22: Hickey, on tonight's matchup: "It's really important for us. We're just a few points out of a playoff spot. So many teams are close, and we need to get those two points. We know if we don't, someone else will. We're in that situation where we've got to get as many points as we can. Tonight will be a good benchmark against a team that's playing really well."

11:27: The Canadiens' skate is optional this morning. They practiced yesterday at the Coliseum after dispatching Boston on Sunday. We'll definitely catch up with Head Coach Michel Therrien and hopefully some players.

12:15: Just finished up with Montreal availability. Walked into three separate media scrums only to realize they were in French, and had to do the awkward back-out-slowly maneuver to wait my turn.

12:24: David Desharnais, on playing for Capuano in Bridgeport for seven games back in 2006-07: "It was fun. It was a good experience for me. It was a good organization to be a part of."

12:25: Desharnais, on how he has progressed from the start of his professional career to be the second-leading scorer on the Canadiens this season: "It's about working hard. It's been a process. I had one year on the East Coast (Hockey League) and two and a half years in the American League. I got a shot in the NHL. I think a lot of guys are good enough in the AHL, but they just need the right timing and the right fit in order to make it in the NHL."

12:37: Rookie Alex Galchenyuk, who has 12 points in 22 games, on adjusting to different line combinations and trying to learn the NHL game: "I feel like I'm handling the adjustment well. (Laughing) I think I've played with every forward so far. That's what the coach wants - he's been trying me on new lines quite a bit, and putting me in different positions. And I'm good with that."

12:44: Michel Therrien, on the challenges the Islanders present for his team tonight: "They've got some great young talent. They've gotten some early picks in the first round in recent years, and guys like Tavares can change the game really quickly. They played an outstanding game in Montreal. We have to focus on our game and how we play, while being aware of when he is on the ice. He's getting more mature and experienced."

12:47: Therrien, on the keys to the Habs' current 8-0-3 stretch: "It's our all-around game I believe. Our game without the puck is something we've paid a lot of attention to. The team has learned a lot about winning. We had a tough loss about three weeks ago against Toronto and that was kind of a wake-up call for us. Since then, the players have shown a lot of leadership on and off the ice."

12:51: Therrien, on Montreal's quick starts to recent games: "Every game it's something we want to mention to our team. We want to dictate the game. We want to be the aggressor. We want to set the tone. I think it's pushed the players to perform really well from the start."

Check for live updates throughout tonight's game. The puck drops at 7:00 p.m.

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