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TANK A GO AGAINST MONTREAL

by Staff Writer / New York Islanders

Fedotenko set for tonight, Martinek and Witt healing, while Johnson heads to Bridgeport; Isles claim third-best home record in East – Islanders vs. Montreal, Tonight: 7 pm, Radio: Bloomberg 1130, TV: VERSUS


The Islanders finished their five-game Canadian road trip with a respectable 2-1-2 record. But along the way, the teams suffered some injuries. Miroslav Satan sat in the press box watching a game for the first time in year before returning to face Ottawa on Sunday. Brendan Witt went down against Calgary, with Freddy Meyer filling in admirably, stopping the Senators' top line with an early hit on Jason Spezza. Ruslan Fedotenko also left the Ottawa game in the third period.

But through it all, the Islanders scraped away six points out of ten. Ted Nolan talked about the banged up players and their statuses following the today's morning skate before the Islanders-Montreal tilt tonight at the Nassau Coliseum.

"Fedotenko feels good today and will be playing tonight.Miro says he's been good as well, so our forward lines will be back intact," said Ted. "Brendan Witt is a tough individual. For a guy who was limping around two days ago, all of sudden yesterday he was bouncing around. Hopefully, he'll be back sooner than later. Martinek is probably at least another week away. To lose two of your top d-men it's tough for any team to go through. Guys stepped in and did a great job with them out."

Two of the guys Ted was referring to were Meyer and Bruno Gervais, who were matched up against Ottawa's top line consisting of Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson. The two players, who average only 25 years of age, allowed no goals at even strength and also knocked out Spezza for the rest of the game on Meyer's open ice hit during the first period.

"When your big guys go down, no is going to fill their spots exactly, but guys can compensate as best as they can," said Ted. "Freddy Meyer did that for us. His hit on Jason Spezza almost reminded me of Brendan Witt. You have to give Freddy a lot of credit. He was on waivers a couple of times and then didn't play for the first ten games when he came back. But he had a great attitude and demeanor. He didn't complain and just worked at it. That was the reason he got back in the lineup. Now he's been playing great for us."

Another defenseman who saw significant time on the injured reserve – Aaron Johnson – is ready to go and will do a conditioning stint with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, starting this week.


HOME SWEET HOME
While the Islanders may have enjoyed some success on their recent road trip, they don't play any better than when they're at home.

After 22 games at the Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders are 13-7-2 on home ice. That's good enough for the third best home record in the Eastern Conference. So what makes the Islanders so good at the Coliseum?

"People can say what they want about the fans in other buildings, but our fans on Long Island are ranked right up there with the best in the league," explained Nolan. "They're very passionate and vocal. They give us that edge. When you have your fans behind you and you're comfortable with the confines of your building, it adds to the overall advantage. It's sweet to be home."

Besides having the crowd on their side and the last change to match up lines, home ice advantage also gives the home centers the opportunity to put their stick down last on faceoffs.

"I get a chance to see what the opposing center is doing and counter-attack," said faceoff man Josef Vasicek. "I try to read him a little more than on the road because on the road I just have to trust my ability. I won't know ahead of time what he's doing. It's a big advantage getting to put my stick down second."


Click here for a game preview of tonight's Islanders matchup against the Montreal Canadiens.


Check out the Islanders TV Game Day tab for complete coverage of tonight's game.








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