NEW YORK ISLANDERS (31-19-7) VS. MINNESOTA WILD (27-22-10)
8 P.M. XCEL ENERGY CENTER, MSG+2, WNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM, LI NEWS 103.9 FM
MORNING SKATE UPDATES:
1. ISLES-WILD II:
The Islanders and Wild meet for the second and final time this regular season. The Islanders are 1-0, having beat the Wild 5-3 three weeks ago at Barclays Center. Jean-Francois Berube made 40 saves for his first-career NHL win, while the Islanders chased Devan Dubnyk, scoring five goals on 30 shots. John Tavares and Mikhail Grabovski led the Islanders with a goal and an assist each.
2. ROAD TRIP:
The New York Islanders head out West for their next five games, part of a season-high seven-game road trip. The travel portion of trip kicks off Tuesday night in Minnesota, heads through Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Winnipeg.
“Long road trips like this are sometimes really good for teams,” Cal Clutterbuck said. “It’s going to be nice for us to get out on the road. On the road you know what to expect and you spend a lot of time with your buddies, teammates. Sometimes that helps you come together and play well.”
3. DE HAAN, GRABOVSKI OUT:
Calvin de Haan will stay on Long Island for the start of the team’s road trip for some extra rehab. De Haan was placed on injured reserve Sunday (retroactive to Feb. 15) with a lower-body injury. Capuano said there’s a chance de Haan could join the team later on in their road trip.
“We’ll leave him home to start to get some rehab and then as we move forward hopefully he’ll be able to join us at some point during this trip.”
Mikhail Grabovski is also nursing an injury back on Long Island. Capuano wasn’t specific about the injury, but said it was a very recent development.
“It’s something that’s come on over the last 48 hours,” Capuano said. “He just stayed back to get re-evaluated here. We’ll see over the next few days if he’ll join us on the trip or not. We’re at the number right now, so [General Manager Garth Snow] will make that decision if we’re going to fly another forward out for this trip or not.”
4. PULOCK RECALLED:
With Calvin de Haan on the shelf with a lower-body injury, the Islanders recalled defenseman Ryan Pulock from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Monday. Pulock, the Islanders’ 2013 first-round pick (15th overall) has 24 points (7G, 17A) in 51 games this season. He is renowned for his big slap shot – he hit 105 mph at Islanders’ mini-camp – but the key to his call-up was improved defensive play.
“He’s improved his game in a lot of areas that we talked about coming out of training camp,” Jack Capuano said. “Everybody has to play without the puck. He has to play physical, he has to play down low hard. When you get to this level the difference for a defenseman is the ability to play in your own end.”
“To be effective I have to be a two-way player,” Pulock said. “That’s an area of my game that I’ve really improved these last couple of months in Bridgeport. I’ve been getting more time on the PK and in those big situations late in games. It’s really helped me grow as a player and even my confidence as well.”
5. GETTING WILD:
After losing 13 of 14 games (1-11-2), the Minnesota Wild have revived their season, winning four straight games after turning the reins to Interim Head Coach John Torchetti. Under Torchetti, who took over for Mike Yeo on Feb. 13, the Wild have found their offense, scoring five or more goals in each of their four wins – a franchise record.
"We're making plays offensively," Zach Parise told MinnesotaWild.com. "We're playing with a lot more patience with the puck, a lot more poise, a lot more confidence with the puck. We're playing a fast game now, and to me, that's been the biggest difference."
The Wild are fighting for a playoff spot in a tight Western Conference. Minnesota is two points back of Colorado for the second Wild Card berth, but have three games in hand.
6. RYAN SUTER:
Chances are we’ll all be seeing a lot of Ryan Suter on Tuesday night. The Wild defenseman averages 28:48 TOI, the second-most in the NHL, 20 seconds shy of Erik Karlsson. Suter is a horse, logging tough minutes, but can also score, as he has 38 points (7G, 31A) in 59 games this season. Suter is Minnesota’s second-leading scorer and is the ninth highest-scoring defenseman in the entire league. The 31-year-old has already tied his point total from last season, in 18 fewer games and is eight points shy of tying a career-high (46) set in 2011-12. Suter also needs two goals to set a new career-high, a feat he should be able to accomplish before the season’s end.