GEICO SportsNite: Checking in with the Isles

GEICO SportsNite hears from John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and coach Jack Capuano about receiving booster shots, and how the team is preparing for their upcoming stretch of games.

Isles ready for another set of back-to-back games

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

The Islanders skated on the ice at IceWorks in Syosset on Thursday before heading off to Detroit where they’ll take on the Red Wings Friday night.

NHL: New York Islanders at Detroit Red WingsFriday will begin the Islanders’ seventh set of back-to-back games this season, with the team quickly turning around to host the Tampa Bay Lighting on Saturday night. The Isles will then have nine back-to-back sets left before the 2014-15 season is completed.

However, the Islanders aren’t stressing over them despite preparing to play two tough opponents in Detroit and Tampa Bay.

“I think we’re all just used to it,” John Tavares said after practice. “I think we’ve been a part of it for a long time now. It’s part of the way the league is.”

Tavares and the rest of his teammates also know they have a bit of history on their side when it comes to playing the Red Wings. Yes, Detroit is a tough offensive team to play against, but they have had trouble beating the Islanders recently.

The Islanders have gone 6-1-0 against Detroit since the 2008-09 season. New York has also played pretty well this season in the first game of back-to-backs, going 4-1-0. To read more of this story, click here

Boychuk and Hamonic could return this weekend

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

The last time Jack Capuano spoke about the status of Johnny Boychuk and Travis Hamonic at Islanders IceWorks in Syosset, it was less than cheery. This time around the Islander’s head coach had more optimistic news to report.

“They’re coming along real well,” Capuano said about the Isles injured defensemen. “So there’s a pretty good chance they could play this weekend.”

Boychuk has missed the last nine games with an upper body injury, while Hamonic has been sidelined for the last six due to an upper body injury as well. The Isles have gone 5-4-0 through the nine games with Boychuk or both Hamonic and Boychuk out of the lineup.

Boychuk’s offensive contributions have been a big help for New York. He has 14 points (two goals, 12 assists) in 21 games and his defensive play has shored up what was once a weakness for the Isles. Hamonic has also contributed offensively with six points (three goals, three assists), but has consistently been one of the team’s top defensemen through the last several seasons. To read more of this story, click here

Islanders Point Blank Podcast: A Comeback Combo’s Brian Compton and Christian Arnold of Islanders Point Blank break down last week’s comeback victories over Chicago and New Jersey. Plus, Brian welcomes Dominik Jansky of Lighthouse Hockey to the show (7:00) for his take on this year’s team and the closing of the Coliseum.

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Grabner to IR

The Islanders have placed Michael Grabner on injured reserve, retroactive to December 13.

Grabner has a lower body injury, the team said.

Reinhart returned to Bridgeport

The Islanders returned Griffin Reinhart to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL on Wednesday.

Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:

Reinhart being sent down has to be an indication that Travis Hamonic or Johnny Boychuk are ready to come back.

Isles postpone hospital visits due to mumps outbreak

The Islanders delayed their annual holiday hospital visits because of the ongoing mumps outbreak in the NHL (AP, Dec. 16).

Team members had six visits scheduled for Wednesday but the Isles said Tuesday they will be rescheduled.

“We’re extremely disappointed that the event has been postponed, but understand the circumstances,” forward Kyle Okposo said. “This has always been one of our favorite events to take part in because seeing a child smile when we give them a gift or take a picture with them is what the holiday season is all about.”

The Islanders aren’t the only teams rescheduling their holiday visits, as Calgary, Carolina and Minnesota have also decided to take the precaution (ESPN, Dec. 16).