UNIONDALE, N.Y — The Islanders and Penguins are set for Game 6 tonight at the Nassau Coliseum.
The biggest story lines coming into the night are will Frans Nielsen play, and if not will Brock Nelson take his spot? How will Evgeni Nabokov respond from Game 5? How will the Islanders respond in general from a poor performance in Game 5? And how will they solve Tomas Vokoun?
As of now it is unclear if Frans Nielsen will play tonight. He told reporters after the morning skate that he could still feel it, but was feeling better. It will be the coaches call if he plays or not.
“Yeah (it’s the coaches decision),” he said after the skate. “I guess they have to talk to the doctors too about it and if they’re comfortable and don’t think it’s something that’s coming back.”
While it’s unsure if he will play. There is no question that he wants to.
“You always want to be out there,” Nielsen said. “Of course it’s going to be a fun one tonight. I’d love to be a part of it, so hopefully they let me go.”
Bridgeport call up Brock Nelson is speculated to be the fill in for Nielsen if he can’t play. He skated with the team during the optional skate.
He had a strong year with the Sound Tigers in the AHL, putting up 52 points (25 goals. 27 assists) and has caught the eye of head coach Jack Capuano for many of his skill stets.
“He’s much stronger,” Capuano said. “He was on of (Bridgeport’s) top players and when I look at Brock I think of the vision that he has. I think of the hockey sense that he has… We wouldn’t put a guy in that we felt wasn’t necessarily ready.”
Nelson was just trying to take everything in this morning during the skate.
“It’s a lot of mixed emotions. It’s a big time of the year,” Nelson said. “This is when you want to be playing hockey. A lot of excitement and I’m just trying to take it all in. I’m Just not worry about the big picture and just take it in little details one at a time.”
The Islanders had a major issue in getting pucks past Tomas Vokoun on Thursday and will try to solve that tonight at the Coliseum. New York put 31 shots on Vokoun in Game 5, but did not get too many quality chances on the penguins goaltender.
“I don’t think we tested him enough,” Kyle Okposo said of their performance. “On one shot, we didn’t have a whole lot of second and third opportunities. It was just kind of one and done. We want to get more pucks and bodies to the net.”
The Islanders will need to test Vokoun tonight and really force chances. This is a team that has responded in the face in adversity and has faith in one another.
“We found ways to win all year,” Okposo later said. “Of course we’re going to have faith. If you don’t you might as well not even come out, but we believe we can win in here. We’re excited to play this game and hopefully another game tomorrow.”