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Islanders forward Grabovski says he's ready to return

by Brian Compton

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- New York Islanders forward Mikhail Grabovski hasn't played in more than two months, but he deemed himself ready when the Eastern Conference First Round against the Washington Capitals resumes Thursday.

Grabovski, who sustained a concussion in a game against the Nashville Predators on Feb. 19, has been skating for several weeks and could return for Game 5 at Verizon Center (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN, TVA Sports 2, MSG+, CSN-DC).

"I feel good right now," Grabovski said after participating in an optional skate at Nassau Coliseum on Wednesday. "I've had a good three months of skating. I don't know exactly what the decision is. Personally, I'm ready to go, but they need to talk to doctors and the coach, all together about me."

Islanders coach Jack Capuano said there could be some changes to his lineup and to the line combinations. Grabovski, who had nine goals and 10 assists in 51 regular-season games, would be a logical replacement if cleared to play.

Grabovski had two assists in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2013.

"There's a real good chance," Capuano said of Grabovski, who signed a four-year contract with the Islanders last summer. "We've got some decisions to make. Does he play in the middle or does he play wing? Those are decisions that we have to sit down this afternoon and go over. You'll probably see some changes in our lineup, but where they play and who plays with who … we've got to have four lines that are balanced."

If Grabovski does play, perhaps the biggest concern other than his health could be his timing. Given that he hasn't played since February and the Islanders are trying to take a 3-2 series lead back to the Coliseum for Game 6 on Saturday, would Capuano be worried about Grabovski being able to keep up with the speed and intensity?

"If we were concerned about that, I wouldn't put him in," Capuano said. "I wouldn't put him in that position. I think right now he's going through some extra battling. He probably could have gone a week ago or a few days ago, but he's been skating hard and he's itching to get in there."

Grabovski said, "Today I feel good, so tomorrow we'll see."


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