New York Islanders vs. Columbus Blue Jackets: Opposite directions

You let go, no you let go, no YOU let go.

The Isles will try to teach the Blue Jackets about the "Rangers hangover."

The vexing and lottery-friendly injury scourge has hit another level for the New York Islanders: Kyle Okposo missed Saturday's practice after a "lower body" injury suffered at Friday's practice, while Lubomir Visnovsky missed both practices, with an "upper body" injury reportedly suffered in Wednesday's calamitous loss to the Minnesota Wild.

Blue Jackets (36-28-6, 4th/Metro) @ Islanders (26-35-9, 8th/Metro)
Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Memorial Coliseum
1 p.m. EDT | MSG+ | WRHU
Original blueshirts: Jackets Cannon

With Sunday's game against the Blue Jackets a mid-day 1 p.m. start, and AHL Bridgeport playing Saturday night, this makes potential injury replacements an odyssey befitting this stage of the season. To wit, while Colin McDonald skated in Okposo's slot on the first line, Radek Martinek was skating at wing on the fourth line in practice:

Anders Lee - Brock Nielsen - Colin McDonald
Josh Bailey - Brock Nelson - Cal Clutterbuck
Matt Martin - Ryan Strome - Johan Sundstrom
Mike Halmo - Casey Cizikas - Radek Martinek

Arthur Staple of Newsday suggested potential recalls could be winger John Persson and defenseman Scott Mayfield, though at least the Islanders can dress a full collection of blueliners without a recall.

For a refresher, if Okposo is out then he and Visnovsky would join Brian Strait (broken hand), Michael Grabner (concussion), and John Tavares (knee tears) on the medic's list. Add that to the earlier trades of Andrew MacDonald and Thomas Vanek, and you have the oft-cited nine rookies on the active roster.

Meanwhile, down in AHL Bridgeport the Sound Tigers have their own rotating cast of PTOs and ATOs filtering in, with Saturday's lineup featuring a mix of Mangenes and Roots and such.

Columbus: Now Refreshingly Relevant

The Blue Jackets are coming off a bruising, close loss to the New York Rangers, who are suddenly a potential serious rival now that the two teams are Metropolitan Division neighbors who share several of each other's former players. Rick Nash's homecoming was an unwelcome one, and Friday's loss dropped Columbus two points behind the Smurfs for the third Metro playoff spot.

The Blue Jackets are deep these days, to the point R.J. Umberger -- their power play goal leader -- is coming off two consecutive healthy scratches. Hoping to avoid a letdown after Thursday's emotional game, they're also apparently, ahem, stretching their "loins."

The exciting player to watch is former Nino Niederreiter junior teammate Ryan Johansen, who was drafted one slot ahead of his Winterhawk linemate in 2010 and has officially broken out this season, leading the Blue Jackets with 52 points on 27 goals in 70 games.

Former Islander James Wisniewski is also having a fine season, logging 39 points in 63 games; and of course, if you feel an oddly familiar gravitational pull, that's Blake Comeau's orbit approaching, having carved out a trusted third-line role in Columbus.

The Jackets are also 2-0 against the Islanders so far this season (one regulation, one shootout). They'll meet again on April 6.

The End of None More Black

Staple also confirmed Sunday is the end of the mostly (but not unanimously) disliked black third jerseys, as the outdoor game jerseys -- notably missing the abridged Long Island land mass -- will get the next rotation in the merchandising machine.

FIG Picks

For our site's First Islanders Goal picks race, leave your picks for this game here.

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