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At the Rink: Islanders at Red Wings

by Paul Harris

DETROIT -- The New York Islanders get two heavy players back from injury and the Detroit Red Wings want to play heavier.

New York (21-10-0) and Detroit (17-7-8) play Friday night at Joe Louis Arena.

Islanders defensemen Johnny Boychuk (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) and Travis Hamonic (6-foot-2, 217 pounds) return after missing substantial time. Boychuk hasn't played since Nov. 26 because of an undisclosed injury, and Hamonic last played Dec. 2.

“They will give us real leadership on the back end as well as size,” New York coach Jack Capuano said.

The Red Wings have scored four goals in four games, and coach Mike Babcock said he wants them to play heavier in the offensive zone.

“I think when you play light in the offensive zone and you don’t shoot the puck, you spend too much time in your own zone,” Babcock said. “When you get out and attack and go after their D and play heavy in the offensive zone, you win pucks and win retrievals and you shoot it, throw it in and jam it at the net; you make it hard.”

Boychuk couldn't wait to get back in the lineup after missing nine games.

“It was painful watching the team play when you're just sitting and watching. You want to get out there,” he said.

New York defenseman Thomas Hickey talked about all of the things Boychuk and Hamonic will bring to the lineup.

“It's real important to us. At different points this season, each of them has been our best guy,” Hickey said. “To get two big physical guys back and their personalities.”

They are the Islanders only right-handed shooting defensemen.

“When you have guys that are left-handed shots playing then right side or vice versa, you don't see the ice as well,” Hickey said. “And faceoffs and one-timers, just little things that are important.”

Detroit right wing Johan Franzen returns after missing a game with the flu, which he has been dealing with for three weeks.

"I've just been battling flus, stomach flus, and regular flus for the last few weeks," Franzen said. "I just haven't been able to get healthy. Beginning of this week I just felt really, really awful, like no energy, nothing. I figured I needed a couple days just to get healthy."

Franzen has gone 12 games without a goal (six assists) after picking up six goals in 13 points in his first 13 games.

The Islanders have dominated the Red Wings in recent years. New York is 7-1-1 in the past nine games and has won four in a row at Joe Louis Arena.

“I haven’t spent a whole lot of time breaking it down. I know we never win in there (Detroit won 5-0 at New York last season); they beat us by a touchdown,” Babcock said. “I thought we won in here sometimes. I’m not thinking about that. I didn’t look at the records so I don’t have an opinion on that. I know it’s the game on the schedule. They’re a good team, they need to win and we need to win.”

Here are the projected lineups:


Josh Bailey - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo

Mikhail Grabovski - Frans Nielsen - Nikolay Kulemin

Anders Lee - Brock Nelson - Ryan Strome

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk

Calvin de Haan - Travis Hamonic

Thomas Hickey - Lubomir Visnovsky

Jaroslav Halak

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Eric Boulton, Brian Strait, Matt Donovan

Injured: Michael Grabner (lower body)


Gustav Nyquist - Henrik Zetterberg - Justin Abdelkader

Tomas Tatar - Pavel Datsyuk - Darren Helm

Johan Franzen - Riley Sheahan - Tomas Jurco

Drew Miller - Luke Glendening - Joakim Andersson

Niklas Kronwall - Jonathan Ericsson

Kyle Quincey - Danny DeKeyser

Brendan Smith - Xavier Ouellet

Jimmy Howard

Petr Mrazek

Scratched: Daniel Cleary. Jakub Kindl, Brian Lashoff

Injured: Stephen Weiss (shoulder)

Status report: With Boychuk and Hamonic returning, Strait and Griffin Reinhart are coming out of the lineup for New York. Reinhart was sent down to the American Hockey League on Wednesday following the Islanders' game Tuesday. … When Franzen missed Detroit's past game, Cleary was the forward in his place. Cleary is expected to be a scratch tonight.

Who's hot: Bailey has two goals in his past three games.

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