Bruno Gervais (groin) is out for tonight's game against Columbus, which means emergency recall Bridgeport defenseman Anton Klementyev will make his NHL debut tonight.

The 20-year-old Russian has one goal and two assists in 28 games for Bridgeport this season.

According to my calculations, the Islanders defensive corps of Streit, Meyer, Hillen, Reese, Flood and Klementyev has a combined total of 726 NHL games of experience.

For perspective, Brendan Witt alone has 890 games under his belt.

Which begs the question...was Witt ever a consideration to bring back up once the Islanders' back end began to suffer what seems like loss after loss?

Yes.

Witt was considered, but with Andrew MacDonald nearing return (he could play Tuesday against the Rangers) and the team currently eight points out of eighth with eight games remaining, the Islanders ultimately decided that giving some young guys a chance would be the best scenario.

"Obviously we have some defensemen who are hurt and out of the lineup, but this is a great opportunity for some of our young players to get experience in this push down the stretch," general manager Garth Snow said.

And as much as the Islanders have been depleted on D, they have held the fort reasonably well.

As Scott Gordon put it, "We're 4-2-1 in our last seven games and with probably our shortest lineup."

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Look at it this way: The Islanders have hung in and been competitive all season long. With the character of this team, don't expect them to lie down the rest of the way, even if they become mathematically eliminated. However, if they do end up finishing in the depths of the conference, they can bank on a good draft pick. Definitely not the worst case scenario for this team and the organization's future.

*It appears Jeff Tambellini will remain in the lineup tonight and Trevor Gillies will be scratched.

**Andrew MacDonald skated with the team for the first time today after skating on his own a few times last week. MacDonald said he felt "no pain, just a little rusty" and is anxious to get back into the lineup before season's end.

"Absolutely. I don't want to end the season not playing these past four weeks. It's frustrating watching games when you're not out there. I want to contribute."