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Morning Skate Updates 4/6/13

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 Tampa Bay Lightning. Check this space for the latest updates throughout the skate.

Click here to listen to Jack Capuano's full media availability session.

10:28: Evgeni Nabokov picks his stick and heads out for skate.

10:30: Frans Nielsen walks toward the ice.

10:43: Brent Thompson gathering the squad to go over a drill.

10:46: Radek Martinek winds up a shot from the blue line.

10:57: Jack Capuano tells us that Evgeni Nabokov is in net. We'll have the same pairs on defense as Thursday, and the forwards are still up in the air. He didn't rule out the possibility that Jesse Joensuu may make his season debut. Full podcast from Cappy's media availability coming soon.

11:00: Here's Capuano talking with MSG's Peter Ruttgaizer for their pre-game segment.

11:18: Fun storyline for tonight's game. Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper was the bench boss with the Green Bay Gamblers from 2008-2010, winning the championship in the 2009-10 season. The Gamblers' leading scorer that season? Anders Lee. Cooper was hired on March 25, while Lee was signed to a contract seven days later.

Here's what the Islanders rookie had to say about Cooper: "He can work you and challenge you, and at the same time have your back. He's a really good coach."

11:20: Lee, on if he was surprised Cooper made it to the NHL head coaching ranks: "Absolutely not. We all knew he was going to be in the NHL someday. When we were in Green Bay, we expected him to get there pretty soon. But I didn't expect to get to play against him this soon (laughing). It's pretty funny how it worked out."

11:23: Lee, on the aftermath of his first NHL game and first NHL goal: "I'm still running around and trying to get all the small things done that need to get done. But I'm definitely enjoying it. It's been quite the experience so far. Definitely a dream come true."

11:24: Lee, on how many phone calls and text messages he received following Monday's game at New Jersey: "I had so many family and friends that reached out to me. It was great. There were a lot - triple digits for sure. It was up there."

11:30: Last of the Islanders coming off the ice. Totally forgot today's skate was optional, since attendance was so high. Lots of guys out there. This group seems to be chomping at the bit every day to play.

11:31: Also chatted with Andrew MacDonald, first about the matchup the Isles have tonight against a high-powered Lightning offense: "Obviously, they're still a really good team. They made that coaching change. They seem to be playing better now. It's definitely going to be a challenge. They have a lot of firepower. Obviously, it's something we're going to have to keep an eye on all night."

11:33: MacDonald, on playing an opponent who they're not neck-and-neck or chasing in the standings for a change: "I think it's more so about us and how we're going to play, as opposed to our opponent. It doesn't matter who you play in this league. There's so much parity. Anyone can beat anyone. It's not so much about where teams are in the standings at this point. There's 10 games left for us, and every one is as big as the others. Our focus is just on us winning."

11:50: Just went and snapped some photos from Tampa's skate. First is Vincent Lecavalier, taking a shot on goal during a 2-on-1 exercise.

11:53: This is 6'7" Ben Bishop, who we saw recently (March 19) as a member of the Ottawa Senators. The Lightning acquired him at the trade deadline, and he stopped 45 shots in his first game with his new team, a 5-0 shutout over Carolina.

12:24: Just got out of Tampa Bay's room after talking with Vincent Lecavalier, Eric Brewer and Jon Cooper.

Lecavalier, on the new coach and trying to claw back into the playoff picture: "Well we all know what's at stake here tonight. It's a huge game for us, as it will be for the remainder of the year. These next two games are very important. History doesn't matter. It matters what we do tonight."

12:30: Brewer, on the team's 3-0-1 mark since the coaching change: "I don't think you can pinpoint any one tihng. I think we're probably handling the puck more. Our neutral zone play has changed a little bit. Maybe we just needed a reset to re-focus a little bit. It's tough to really say. Guy (Boucher) did so many good things too. We just weren't getting it done. It'd be unfair to point at one thing.

12:40: Cooper, on getting Nate Thompson back in the lineup, following a two-game suspension: "It was exciting for us to get three out of a possible four points with him out of the lineup. He can play all positions on all lines. I know we're on the road, but if we can get him out against some top players, he can be hard on them."

12:44: Cooper, on if he has a plan for his goaltenders heading into a back-to-back (Tampa Bay plays at Washington Sunday): "I've got a plan for tonight. Leading into what everyone's thinking, we can't go, 'Well the Washington game is more important than the Islanders game.' That's absolutely false to us. There's two points here tonight, and we're putting the lineup in to beat the Islanders. It just so happens Washington is next on our schedule. We'll deal with them at 10:30 p.m. tonight."

12:46: Cooper (a Hofstra University alum), on returning to his old stomping grounds: "I did a little tour down Hempstead Turnpike. I saw those areas that we would visit maybe on a Friday or Saturday night. They've changed names though - there's only one that's still the same. But there were tons of memories. It was weird looking at Hofstra Stadium, because it's been revamped since I played there. I have nothing but great memories of Hofstra. I loved it here and had a lot of fun."

12:50: Cooper, on Anders Lee: "The Islanders are getting a winner in Anders Lee. He was that guy - we won the Clark Cup that year (2009-10 with the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers). Just to epitomize Anders Lee, we were down in a best-five-finals series 0-2 on the road, and we're down a goal with a minute left. He's the guy who gets the goal, and we end up winning in Triple-Overtime. I couldn't say enough about how he was as a person and an athlete. Don't let the boys get into a football throwing contest, because he can sling it. He's a tremendous athlete, and I wish him nothing but the best. He's a good friend. I've reached out to him, and I probably will more after this game, because we've both been waiting for this one."

1:00: Here's a couple of leftover photos from Tampa Bay's skate:

BJ Crombeen dishes a puck through defenders

And a scrum clears out in front of Bishop.

Check for live updates throughout the game. The contest starts at 7:00 p.m.

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