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Jack Capuano on Stadium Series Atmosphere, Islanders Lineup Decisions, Goaltending, Injuries

The coach says it will be tough to tell players they'll miss this one, and he wants to hear Thomas Vanek's pre-gamer to the Austrians.

As part of the New York Islanders' practice day on the outdoor rink, there was obviously a little more media coverage than usual. Coach Jack Capuano played it close to the vest with lineup decisions and things like that -- they just wanted all the players to enjoy this moment, where none of them are scratched and several of them brought family on to the ice.

But expect decisions to leak out by mid-day.

The Islanders posted a brief interview with Capuano on the ice for practice here (and embedded above). But his overall media scrum had more pertinent responses on the lineup, injuries, the approach to the outdoor game, the difficulty in telling some players they have to sit this game, and more.

Some select excerpts:

Q. What happened with Travis today, and do you have any kind of timetable for him?

JACK CAPUANO: We don't have any timetable for him. He just is starting to progress a little bit and still not feeling well so, again, it's a little bit of a process for him, and we'll just take it as it goes.

Q. Just with the amount of time that Visnovsky missed with concussions this year, what is the level of concern internally in terms of Travis and the amount of time he could miss?

JACK CAPUANO: Well, again, for me just talking to our doctors and trainers, whatever injury a player may have, you can't really control what you can't control. The situation with him is that we have to make sure that he's a hundred percent before we decide to move forward with him. It's like anybody else.

Q. Do you think Donovan's going to get in the lineup?

JACK CAPUANO: It's a possibility. With our lineup, we obviously wanted to come down here today, enjoy it, and we'll meet as a staff after and talk a little bit about that as well.

Q. Andrew said yesterday he thought you guys might have a better advantage tomorrow considering they've played two games outdoors, but you guys might be exuberant, excited. It's a new experience for you guys. How do you feel about that?

JACK CAPUANO: I think "advantages" are built-in excuses. For me, we have to approach this the way we approach any other game. Watching a lot of outdoor games, talking to coaches that have coached it before, depending on the conditions, how the penalty kill is going to react, what power plays, special teams can be a factor. There are certain things.

But I don't think --- you know, it's still 200 to 85 [ed. note: Feet, as in the dimensions of the rink. Which thank Bossy for that because otherwise non-Olympian Kyle Okposo would just be lost out there.). We still have to play the game. So I'm not too concerned about any distractions with our hockey club. Just making sure we go about our preparation tomorrow like we do in any other game.

Q. How much do you have to guard against kind of getting lost in the moment with how important a game this is for you guys?

JACK CAPUANO: Well, we've discussed that and we've addressed that. We wanted to come down here today, have a spirited practice, execute, have a good pace, let the guys enjoy time with their family. That's what it's all about.

But I think our guys know the importance, obviously, of the stretch we have before the Olympic break and how big of a game it is tomorrow against the Rangers, a divisional opponent.

Q. With the way things are going with this team right now, is it more difficult that you have to place a game like this where you have some kind of wild variables like the weather, the ice conditions and stuff like that?

JACK CAPUANO: To be honest, I think for us the way it's been going over the last couple games, it's giving us a little bit of life. Not that we haven't had it. We played some good teams, some big, strong teams. But the amount of hockey that we've played, we've played a lot of hockey, we haven't had a lot of days off. I think this game and this atmosphere could
spark us a little bit.

Q. Are you definitely going to go with Evgeni Nabokov, and, if so, what are you expecting of him?

JACK CAPUANO: We haven't decided yet about our goaltending or our lineup. We just want to make sure that we went through today, and again we'll go through our meetings, post-practice see how guys are feeling. So he'll practice a couple days and see how he feels and we'll make that decision.

Q. Will the weather affect that [goaltending] decision?

JACK CAPUANO: No, it's always about the player and his health. That is the most important thing. If a player feels he's ready to go 100%, we'll use that player.

Q. When last season ended you had talked about the playoffs being a platform for the organization to showcase itself. Do you look at tomorrow's game as that same kind of platform?

JACK CAPUANO: No, not necessarily. I know this is a great atmosphere and the NHL has done a great job with the outdoor games as you can see over the years. But the Rangers are a good hockey club. Their record speaks for itself. They have a lot of skill. They have a lot of guys going to Sochi in a couple of weeks. We have to focus on what we have to do and play the way that we have to play.

I thought a few games we got away from it, and I wouldn't say totally got away from it, we need a few guys to step up and play better as well. But we have to play the hockey, if you're referring to the playoffs and down the stretch against Pittsburgh, to our identity for us to have success.

Q. Did you have a chance during practice to take it all in and appreciate the atmosphere, and how fortunate do you feel to be able to coach a game like this?

JACK CAPUANO: That's what someone asked me earlier. I feel extremely fortunate. I talked to Claude Julien yesterday. He's coached in two of them, in Edmonton and in Fenway. We all knew and circled it on the calendar at the start of the year. But you have to focus on the task at hand. But it's here before you know it. You get into this building, you're in the Bronx, you're in Yankee Stadium, a great venue, and it's pretty amazing what the NHL has done with these events.

Q. A lot of the guys kind of put off talking about the game because it wasn't close enough. When you guys stepped out on the ice today, did it finally sink in that you're at Yankee Stadium?

JACK CAPUANO: Yeah, for sure I think it did. You pull in on the bus, you walk into the tunnel and get into the clubhouse, which is absolutely amazing, then you step out there and see the atmosphere. So every kid has grown up playing outdoors.

The toughest thing for me about this game is the lineup because we have a close-knit group, obviously, on our hockey club, and not everybody's going to be able to participate. So as a coaching staff, that, to me, is the toughest part.

Q. Coach, Thomas Vanek today was named captain of the Austrian Olympic team. His performance on the ice speaks for itself. What about him as a leader on and off the ice?

JACK CAPUANO: I want to hear his pre-game speech his first game when he gets over there. That's what I told him.

You know what, he's a character guy. He's got a great personality. He's a leader. He's just one of those guys that he's made his way into this league and played extremely well. It's an honor for him to be chosen captain and lead that team.

Q. Do you think if temperatures are as cold as they're going to be tomorrow night, can that impact players performance or is that not an issue with high-energy and high-adrenaline environment?

JACK CAPUANO: That's a good a question. Some of the coaches I've talked to have talked about that and talked about shift times and lung capacity. It's going to have to be short and hard, short shifts and utilize our bench and utilize our full lines all 60.

The toughest part is it's tough on the goalies because they can't stay warm like everybody else.

Q. You mentioned the goalies, is that why you haven't decided yet to start Nabby because of the problems he's had this year? Is that a possibility why he may not go tomorrow?

JACK CAPUANO: It's a possibility, but we wanted to make sure that obviously, Coach Mike Dunham's here and our doctors, and we've been monitoring him over the last few games. I believe that he's right where he needs to be to get in there. So, like I said, if we have that conversation later today with everybody and he feels he can help our hockey team and he's a hundred percent, there is a good chance.

Q. You said you circled the day on the calendar a while back. But what was different today when you walked in? What surprised you and what was the most pleasant surprise?

JACK CAPUANO: Just the building itself, I think, just the clubhouse and the atmosphere, the construction of everything. I mean, it's quite a scene. I've been to some ballparks and a lot of different rinks, and there is a lot of history, obviously, with the Yankees. I've been to a few of the Yankee games. So to come in here as a Yankee fan and just take it all in.

Like I said, I think when we get out there tomorrow night it will be all business. But today was a day for our guys to enjoy a good, spirited practice, lot of time with their families. It's not every day you get to do that.

Transcript provided by NHL PR