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Morning Skate Updates: Billy Smith Mini Locker Night

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders


Halak Starts: Jaroslav Halak will start in goal for the Islanders tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Halak is riding a five-game winning streak and has allowed just seven goals over that span. The Islanders netminder is 8-4 on the season with a 2.54 goals against average and a .914 save percentage. Halak stopped 35-of-37 shots in a 3-1 loss to the Penguins on Oct. 18.

Lineup: The Islanders are sticking with the same 18 skaters that earned a 5-4 shootout win Friday night in Pittsburgh.

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

Where and When: The Islanders are back at Nassau Coliseum tonight and the game can be seen on MSG+. Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m. Click here for channel listings.Click here to buy tickets.

Back-to-back: Tonight is the second half of the fourth back-to-back set this season. The Isles are 2-1-0 in the second game of a back-to-back so far this season.

Marty’s 300th:
Matt Martin will play his 300th NHL game tonight.

Billy Smith Mini-Locker Night: 
Islanders legend and hockey hall-of-famer Billy Smith addressed the team and media today at Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders are giving away mini-locker collectables commemorating Smith, who will be honored prior to puck drop. 

Smith spoke fondly of 17 seasons on Long Island, where he played 675 of his 680 regular season games. He said he was honored to come back for the pre-game ceremony, but said the player in him would have thought of it as a distraction.


On playing on Long Island:
“Long Island is a great place. You can’t ask for a better place. We filled the building every night. We grew up here. I came here at 20-years-old and stayed until after 40. My whole career was here. My wife and I love coming back to Long Island.”

Billy Smith on getting lost on his first day on Long Island:

“I forget where they told me to go, but I ended up driving all the way to the end of the island, turned around and drove all the way back to the rink, but I still made practice on time. In those days, they didn’t let us know very much. We got lost, we had to do everything on our own. The way operations are run now is completely different”

On Nassau Coliseum:
“It’s a great rink. It’s still a great rink. Unfortunately we need new rinks with more plush boxes… Unfortunately this old building doesn’t have the technology which it deserves and needs to keep running the way it should.”

On Al Arbour:
“The one thing about Al Arbour was that he knew how to treat people. He didn’t treat everybody the same, he knew everybody had a different personality. Al was good that way. He taught us a system and he didn’t change his system from the beginning year until he retired. We had the same practices every day, he drilled on the same thing every day. Whenever we got in trouble or in an overtime game, his favorite statement was ‘I don’t care if the roof falls in, we don’t change our system.’ That’s what won us most of our games. We had great talent, but we had a great system.”

On his relationship with Al Arbour:
“Al was great to me in the playoffs because he wouldn’t talk to me. But then in training camp, he’d beat the crap out of me. He figured if I was going to do that in the playoffs, he was going to get even in training camp.”

Jack Capuano:
Jack Capuano had Smith talk to his players prior to the optional skate and also showed the team a highlight video so they could appreciate Smith’s play. Capuano said Smith’s address to his players really “enlightened” the team.

Capuano on Smith:
He respected his opponents, but feared nobody, no matter who it was. They went down and played Edmonton and when they won those championships. He was a focused individual and he came to the rink every day with that mentality that he was going to get better, but at the same time he came and he was going to have fun and enjoy the time he had playing this great game.


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