The Islanders will get one of their key pieces back in time for Sunday’s preseason finale(s) against the Ottawa Senators.
Kyle Okposo, who missed Friday’s tilt against the Nashville Predators and was absent during most of this week’s practices after taking an errant stick to the eye last Saturday against the New Jersey Devils, was skating with the team today at Nassau Coliseum. The 25-year-old is excited about returning to the lineup for one of Sunday’s split-squad games.
“I’m feeling good and I’m happy to be back practicing,” Okposo said. “I’m going to go out there and work on getting the timing back. I haven’t seen game action in a week, and I didn’t practice for a couple of days. I lost a little bit of that timing, but I’m sure I’ll be alright tomorrow.”
Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano has indicated that Okposo may see time on a line with Matt Moulson and John Tavares. Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Josh Bailey have taken turns on Tavares’ right side, and Capuano wants to use Sunday’s contest to make the best decision for his opening night lines.
Whatever line Okposo is on Sunday, defenseman Andrew MacDonald says the seventh-year winger’s presence will make the team better in a number of areas.
“Kyle’s been around here for a while,” MacDonald said. “He brings some good leadership and he has the ability on the ice to make plays. His strong body and his work ethic dictates a lot of the play out there.”
Bailey, who played on a line with Okposo throughout most of last season, said it was good to see his teammate out on the ice at Saturday’s practice.
“He’s such a talented player and good leader for us,” Bailey said. “He really brings a lot to the table every day for us. Whether it’s the power play, penalty kill, all situations, he’s always working hard. It’s good to have him back.”
If there is ever a good time for an injury, perhaps Saturday night at Barclays Center was it. The team had five days between games, and the regular season was 13 days away at that point. The final preseason tune-up should give everyone, Okposo included, an idea of how much work needs to be done in order to get ready for the October 4 season opener in New Jersey and then the home opener the following night.