Sillinger Out, Walter Up

One of the negative aspects of having an older, veteran roster is how the daily grind can begin to break down players who would normally shake off an injury. This isn’t a knock on anyone really, just a part of the game. I know it’s a long season and as a hockey player I know these guys play through bumps and bruises better than anyone. Sometimes though, it’s best to sit for a game or two in order to get back to 100% and that is exactly what Mike Sillinger will be doing tonight in Carolina.

In his place, forward Ben Walter will dress – and skated on a line between Comeau and Jackman during practice yesterday.

In other injury news, DiPietro will also not travel with the team being listed as day-to-day with that knee sprain. I think it’s more of a positive decision giving him rest and not rushing him back to play – as I said earlier in the week the team has definately learned by the mistakes it made last year.

Per the Islanders website:

Islanders head coach Ted Nolan called the decision to keep the two players back a “precaution” and added DiPietro and Sillinger were probable for Thursday night when the Islanders host the Florida Panthers at 7:05 pm at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

To replace Sillinger, the Islanders have recalled center Ben Walter from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League. At today’s practice at Islanders Iceworks, the 23-year old Walter centered Tim Jackman and Blake Comeau. In 27 games with the Sound Tigers this season, Walter has 9 goals and 16 assists for 25 points. He played four games for the Islanders earlier this season.

“It’s important that we give Mike Sillinger a game off to heal some injuries,” Nolan told newyorkislanders.com. “Fans don’t know this, no one does, but Mike has been banged up for a while and has shown a lot of guts playing through it. By giving him the one game off on Monday, it will give him four days to get a little more healthy until our home game on Thursday.”

As for DiPietro, Nolan was consistent with what he said over the weekend. “We want Ricky at 100%,” Nolan said. “He’ll stay back and should be ready for Thursday against the Panthers. Why risk it for one game when he can get an extra few days of rest”?

The coach said the adversity of injuries to top players brings opportunities for others. “Whenever you lose top guys it’s tough,” said Nolan, referring to DiPietro, Sillinger and veteran defenseman Radek Martinek. “We’re talking about our star goalie, our best two-way center and one of our best defensemen, but that’s hockey and you make the best of it. Look at Bruno Gervais the last few games stepping up with big minutes. Marc-Andre Bergeron was very good last night. Comeau’s been steady. This is a great opportunity for a kid like Ben Walter, who looked very good his first time here.”

I had a busy day yesterday, so I will post some opinions on the game versus NJ this afternoon.

Michael Schuerlein

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