Following today's morning skates, both Jack Capuano and Gerard Gallant announced various line-up changes for Game 1 of the Islanders-Panthers playoff series. The Islanders are going younger and faster and getting a couple of healthy bodies back, while Florida also gets a veteran defenseman back and sticks with the lineup that they used through the end of the regular season.
Jaroslav Halak (lower body) and Anders Lee (fractured friggin' fibula) remain out.
Hamonic and Berube back
The best news for the Islanders is the return of Travis Hamonic, who missed six games with a knee injury suffered on March 31 against Columbus. No one wanted a repeat of last season's playoff series against the Capitals, which Hamonic missed all of with a similar injury. It's safe to say he's ready to jump back in to his usual Top Four role.
Hamonic: "It would take a lot to want to keep me out." #Isles— Brian Compton (@BComptonNHL) April 14, 2016
That means Hamonic will likely reunite with
Calvin de Haan Nick Leddy, leaving pairings like this:
Nick Leddy -- Travis Hamonic
Calvin de Haan -- Johnny Boychuk
Thomas Hickey -- Ryan Pulock
Also coming back, although he's not expected to be seen on the ice tonight (barring something terrible happening) is back-up goalie Jean-Francois Berube. The former third stringer was elevated to back-up status when Halak went down. Berube hurt more than his pride apparently in a 5-0 loss to Pittsburgh two weeks ago and sat out the Islanders final five games.
Not surprisingly, Thomas Greiss gets the start against Florida tonight.
New Look Third Line
In a bit of a surprise announcement, late-season call-up Alan Quine will also be in the line-up and playing on a newly constructed line with Ryan Strome and Shane Prince.
Prince-Quine-Strome third line. Berube backing up Greiss tonight.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) April 14, 2016
The Prince-Quine-Strome line is straight from 2011 draft. Strome (5th, NYI), Prince (61st, OTT) and Quine (85th, DET) all selected that yr.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) April 14, 2016
Quine scored his first NHL goal - a wacky shorthanded score, followed by a great reaction - last week against Buffalo. He's been a key contributor for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers this season, scoring 19 goals and 29 assists for 48 points, second on the team.
Deadline acquisition Prince has three goals and two assists in 20 games with the Islanders. Strome, as has been noted everywhere, has had a difficult sophomore season, producing about half the amount of points he had as a rookie. He's played almost everywhere with everyone, so who knows if this trio unlocks whatever's been holding him back.
Overall, the Isles four lines project like this:
Kyle Okposo – John Tavares – Frans Nielsen
Nikolay Kulemin – Brock Nelson – Josh Bailey
Shane Prince – Alan Quine – Ryan Strome
Matt Martin – Casey Cizikas – Cal Clutterbuck
Pulock Makes The Cut
Also in the lineup tonight will be defenseman Ryan Pulock, meaning all your Brian Strait-in-the-playoffs fears can be curbed for at least one day. Pulock will most likely be paired with Thomas Hickey. Marek Zidlicky and Adam Pelech will be scratched.
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The big return for the Panthers will be rough-and-tumble defenseman Eric Gudbranson, who looks to be ready for Game 1 after missing about two months with a concussion and a foot injury.
Florida will still be without Vincent Trochek and Steve Kampfer, who are both nursing foot injuries but could be back as the series goes on. Trochek scored 25 goals this season, tied for third-most on the team.
Gallant is going veteran with the fourth line and scratching a couple of others.
.@flapanthers fourth line: MacKenzie, Thornton and Wilson. McKegg and Howden out for G1 v #Isles ... D Steven Kampfer could go G3— George Richards (@GeorgeRichards) April 14, 2016
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Should we see actual lines and pairing info, we'll update later.