NEW YORK ISLANDERS (24-15-6) VS. OTTAWA SENATORS (22-19-6)
7:30 P.M. CANADIAN TIRE CENTRE, MSG+, CHANNEL FINDER, WNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM, LI NEWS 103.9 FM
MORNING SKATE UPDATES:
1. HAMONIC PRACTICES, CLOSE TO RETURN:
UPDATE: HAMONIC WILL PLAY VS. SENATORS. READ MORE AT ISLES DAY-TO-DAY
Travis Hamonic returned to practice Wednesday, skating with his Islanders teammates for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 7.
Due to a break in the Islanders’ schedule, Hamonic has only missed four Islanders games, but he’s nearly ready to return to the lineup.
Hamonic said he’s felt the injury progress over the past two weeks, but is taking things day-by-day. He said at this point it’s about pain tolerance, but the sturdy farmboy said that’s okay with him.
“I wouldn’t be the first guy to have to play through pain and it wouldn’t be the last time,” Hamonic said. Today felt really good, skated on Monday, that felt good. It’s progressed nicely. We’ll take it day-by-day.”
And if he feels good, Jack Capuano said he’ll put him in the lineup.
“If he feels that he can go, there’s no reason I’m not going to put him in the lineup,” Capuano said.
2. LAST TIME OUT:
The Islanders lost 3-2 in overtime to the Ottawa Senators on Dec. 5. Matt Martin and Josh Bailey had the Islanders up 2-0, but the Senators scored twice in the final 2:11 to force overtime. In the extra frame, Erik Karlsson – the Atlantic Divison’s leading scorer – scored the game-winner, capping off a three-point night.
The overtime loss was the Islanders first loss in Ottawa in four games (3-0-1). The Islanders are 5-2-1 in their last eight trips to the Canadian capital.3. ERIK KARLSSON:
Erik Karlsson isn’t just the NHL’s highest-scoring defenseman, he’s also one of the NHL’s highest-scoring players. With 49 points (9G, 40A) the Senators’ captain is the league’s fourth-leading scorer, ahead of the likes of John Tavares, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.
Karlsson is known for his smooth skating and his ability to rush the puck up the ice. The two-time Norris Trophy winner isn’t afraid to jump up in the play, as the Islanders found out on Dec. 5, when he finished a two-on-one rush in overtime. One underrated part of Karlsson’s game is his conditioning and endurance, as he plays a league-high 28:43. Karlsson has points in 13 of his last 17 games.
The Ottawa Senators are once again in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Sens are three points back of the New Jersey Devils for the second wild card spot in the East, though they missed an opportunity in a head-to-head matchup Thursday night, falling 6-3 in Newark.
The Senators pack some offensive punch, as they rank in the top-10 in goals for and goals-per game (2.72), but are loose defensively, as they’ve given up the third most goals in the league. Perhaps no player captures the Senators identity better than Karlsson, the game’s most offensively-minded defenseman.
The Sens can score, as they have six players with at least 10 goals. Mike Hoffman leads the team with 20, while Bobby Ryan has 15. Still, keeping the puck out of their net is an issue, especially on the penalty kill, as the Senators are ranked 29th in the NHL at 76.2%.