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Aside from the Toronto Maple Leafs coming to Long Island again tonight, the Islanders also have some returning players. Get this, the players are returning from one of the darnedest things – INJURY.

According to Arthur Staple and Mike Fornabaio the Islanders will be graced with the presence of Mike Sillinger whom is returning from a sore groin, and also Bruno Gervais who had an unspecified leg injury. Both players returning to the Islanders lineup replace forward Ben Walter and defenseman Joe Callahan who were both returned to Bridgeport.

Rick DiPietroA big asterisk on all of the injuries and returns – the status of goaltender Rick DiPietro. Arthur Staple had this interesting quote in Greg Logan’s blog today following the morning skate

As for the goaltender… Scott Gordon didn’t seem like he was trying to be coy. “We have to check with the trainer, the doctor (Elliot Pellman) first,” Gordon said. “We don’t have a lot of practice time, so this is what we’re working with.”

DiPietro was the first goaltender off the ice from the skate, and he took a majority of the shots in one net while Yann Danis mainly worked the other. These are things that make you go hmmm, but it would seem to be downright foolish to toss DiPietro into a game after two months off with two straight days off preceding it.

So, if DiPietro does not make a surprise return tonight against Toronto, should he be cleared to play he may appear in the crease tomorrow night against the Buffalo Sabres. This is definately the story to watch for sure.

DiPietro Starting!

Got to the game early tonight and I see DiPietro is dressed in the warmup skate currently taking shots. One could guess he is your starting netminder. Happy Holidays from your New York Islanders!

Regarding Tuesday night’s game against Atlanta and my live blog – two things happened. First, the wireless internet that the team provides us with went down and did not come back up until the third period. Second, my laptop drive died and I was unable to even use my computer. I ordered a new drive and it should be here soon, the tricky part is waiting for the recovery discs from the manufacturer as the laptop drive had a backup on a different partition – not helpful when the drive dies. Coincidentally, my father got me a mini-laptop for Christmas but I don’t think I will live blog tonight because I have not sat in my seats in quite a few weeks now.

As the games pass here there is nothing really to play for except for some dignity and pride, the Islanders are clearly in a free fall to the bottom of the standings and the top of the draft order come June. Obviously, nobody wants to see them lose for more then ten straight games – particularly the players themselves. It’s a tough situation, but playing against teams like Toronto and Atlanta who are both in dire straights themselves don’t make things any easier. The Islanders are struggling just the same, yet teams who are struggling apear as if they are filled with all star players and walk all over the team. It is times like this that make me beleive that the talent level of the Islanders is way below league average. I don’t know one coach who can take a group of players like this and make them a thoroughbred. However, in the same breath the team has enough talent to steal a few games when they stick to the system like they did earlier in the season. Call it growing pains during a rebuild, but when this team is healthy (and I don’t put much weight into that statement because with their luck they never will be) – they can be more competitive. This all begins with a return of a 100% healthy Rick DiPietro, something a lot of people have been waiting for.

I still love hockey and I still love and support the team, hopefully they don’t completely disappoint tonight. When they don’t, it is certainly easier to muster up something interesting to read.

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