Optional skate this morning for the Islanders, but nearly everybody is out on the ice. And most were out early. This group is pretty excited to come to the rink every day.10:35:
Matt Martin firing a shot toward Evgeni Nabokov10:38:
Casey Cizikas takes a shot on goal10:44:
Brad Boyes waits his turn in line10:53:
Just spoke with Jack Capuano. Lineup changes for tonight: Matt Carkner will step in for Radek Martinek on the blue line. Forward lines are TBD. Evgeni Nabokov will start in net. Full audio from his media availability on the way.11:30: Here's the full audio from Capuano.
I also spoke to Mark Streit, Jesse Joensuu and Matt Carkner, so quotes from them are on the way as well.11:38:
Martk Streit, on minimizing distractions right now: "Well all the guys know exactly the situation we're in. We realize how tight it is. We've been playing really good hockey. We've got to keep playing well, especially tonight against Philly. They've been struggling, but they're still a really good hockey team, and they're going to play hard tonight."11:41:
Streit, on avenging the Islanders loss to the Flyers the last time they met at the Coliseum: "That was one of our worst games of the season. We allowed seven goals. That was unacceptable. But it's been a while, and we're a different team right now. Obviously, we need to take advantage of the opportunity to get points tonight."11:43:
Streit, on the excitement around the Islanders right now: "The group has always been hard-working. If you have a little time to work on shooting or one-timers, you take advantage of it. But this is a good sign. The guys can't wait to get on the ice. The motivation and excitement around here are great."11:45:
Jesse Joensuu, on his first game with the Islanders in two years, with a season in Europe in between: "I feel like on every level, as a human being and as an athlete, I've become better. Hopefully I can keep playing and staying in the lineup. It doesn't matter how much you practice, you always need games to stay game-ready and keep your conditioning it."11:47:
Joensuu, on the changes he's made as an athlete: "When I decided to go back to Europe - it's really rare that someone comes back after deciding to leave North America. I was realizing that those dreams I had of being an NHL player were gone. I just tried to get everything out of this body that I could as a hockey player. And we had a great group of guys in HV71 in Sweden - a couple of guys who had played here in North America like Jason Krog and our captain, Johan Davidsson. Following after those guys, I became a better athlete. During the season, I started realizing that I really wanted to get back to the NHL, because it's the best league...When the games started going well, I realized how much I missed playing against the best players in the world. That feeling, that motivation - you can't get it playing in any other league, no matter how much money they pay you."11:50:
Matt Carkner, on being back in the lineup tonight against a physical Philadelphia squad: "They've been picking it up since the last time we played them, winning quite a few games. They're a hard-nosed, gritty team. They've got some toughness over there, and that's how I play. That's what I've got to do tonight."11:53:
Carkner, on going up against some of the physical Flyers forwards: "It's good. It's about taking pride in winning those one-on-one battles, keeping the puck out of the net and keeping them away from your net. They like to get dirty, they like to get in the goaltender's face. That's part of the task - being aware of that, and making sure they don't get in there."
Just left Philadelphia's room. Comments from Matt Read and Head Coach Peter Laviolette to come.12:30:
Read, on tonight's matchup: "It's a must-win for both teams. We're getting down the last 10 games or so. The Islanders are in a playoff spot right now, and they've got to keep winning to keep their spot. We've got to get on a winning streak. And that starts tonight hopefully. It should be a fast-paced, defensive hockey game."12:33:
Read, on the atmosphere in Philadelphia's room after a 4-1 loss to Winnipeg Saturday: "Our mood is still positive. Guys are anxious and ready to get back into a game tonight and redeem ourselves. We know that it's one of our last straws. We can't play poor hockey anymore. We've got to be playing playoff hockey right now.12:38:
Read, on playing the Philadelphia brand of hockey: "Part of the reason we had a slow start was we weren't playing Philly hockey. We weren't playing aggressive and taking the body, and playing strong, physical hockey. I think we've found that as of late. If we play our style of hockey, I don't think many teams can stay with us and play the same game as us."12:40:
Laviolette, on tonight's game: "It's a big game. They're all big for us, and I guess for the Islanders as well. It's going to be competitive. Both teams need a win to gain some points." 12:42:
Laviolette, on starting Steve Mason in goal for Ilya Bryzgalov, who has all 17 Flyers wins this season, in a big game: "Well, they're all big. Last game was big, and if we're successful tonight, which we plan on, then the next one is big. Steve was brought here to be part of a goaltending duo. We didn't want to change too much up with us being on a winning streak, and we wanted to make sure he was ready. It is a big game. I can't think of one game down the stretch that isn't big. So if I rode that mentality throughout all the games, then I'd keep going with the same guy every game."12:45:
Laviolette, on former Islander Bruno Gervais: "Bruno has been good for us. He has been all year. I think his role has increased because of where we're at on the back end. When you start losing guys like we have, roles have to expand. There's no other way to look at it. So Bruno has been a real good defenseman for us. He's played different roles and in different situations."Check NewYorkIslanders.com tonight for live updates throughout the game between the Islanders and Flyers. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m.