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by Staff Writer / New York Islanders
Eight defensemen remain, forward line combinations set

Ted Nolan spoke to the media following today’s practice, answering questions pertaining to the roster moves that were made.

On having eight defensemen on the roster:
“It’s a good luxury to have with eight or more strong defensemen who could play for us. It’s not necessarily about picking the most skilled people, but the right people. It’s going to be exciting, because every decision we make is going to be a tough one. This bodes well for us, because if it was easy, than we wouldn’t have people competing for jobs.”

On filling the power play spot next to Marc-Andre Bergeron:
“We have a number of guys who can fit in on the power play. Campoli has some offensive ability and Sutton could jump into that position. Martinek is another guy. We have a bunch of guys who could fill that spot.”

On the importance of defense:
“There is no question we’ve been focusing on the defense right from the get-go. From the first day of training camp, we emphasized our coverage of the defensive zone. Defense is the way to compensate for any weaknesses we might have. That’s why we have a tough decision on defense. We had a couple of young guys come in and play pretty well. Aaron Johnson played pretty well, making it even more complicated. Hopefully, we come up with the best solution as to who plays opening night.”

On Jeff Tambellini being sent to Bridgeport:
“In order for Jeff to be up here, he has to be among the top nine forwards. Jeff’s not a fourth-line guy. The way Sim and Fedotenko played in camp, and the way Andy Hilbert performed for us consistently last year, it was just one of those things. That’s not to say he won’t be back up here in a very short time. He’ll get his chance, and if he performs on a consistent basis, he’ll stay here.”

On Andy Hilbert playing alongside Miroslav Satan and Josef Vasicek:
“Andy will be a very reliable defensive person on the line with Vasicek and Satan. If you look at all the big lines on any team, there’s always one guy who is more defensively-minded, as the high guy and the first one back. He’s one of those guys who does a lot of the work, but doesn’t get the credit for it.”

The forward line combinations and defense pairings at today’s practice:

14 Chris Campoli - 8   Bruno Gervais
2   Aaron Johnson – 44 Freddy Meyer
25 Andy Sutton – 47 Marc-Andre Bergeron
32 Brendan Witt – 24 Radek Martinek

17 Shawn Bates – 12 Chris Simon
20 Sean Bergenheim - 10 Richard Park – 27 Darryl Bootland
26 Ruslan Fedotenko – 89 Mike Comrie – 13 Bill Guerin
11 Andy Hilbert - 63 Josef Vasicek – 81 Miroslav Satan
16 Jon Sim – 18 Mike Sillinger – 7 Trent Hunter

Check out Islanders TV and search "NOLAN" to hear the post-practice interview.
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