NEWARK - -- On the one hand, Cal Clutterbuck is pleased that he's been able to get back on the ice a bit quicker than the Islanders thought after he suffered a deep laceration to his right thigh on Sept. 17.
But Clutterbuck had hoped to be able to do more than some conditioning drills during the Isles' season-opening morning skate Friday. One of the newer Islanders still has a ways to go before he's ready to play.
"It's been tough, because everybody else is getting ready for the season," Clutterbuck said. "This is my first year here, my first camp here, and you kind of get behind on the day-to-day stuff when you're injured."
The Islanders thought the skate cut, suffered in the first preseason game in Calgary, would keep Clutterbuck out up to six weeks. He's been back on the ice for three days now, perhaps helped by being able to quickly regain strength in his right leg soon after the stitches were removed.
"It's nice to be out there, be able to compete on the ice a little," he said. "I hope it keeps going this fast."
Evgeni Nabokov played 41 of the Islanders' 48 games last season, but Jack Capuano made sure to keep Nabokov away from too many back-to-back- game situations.
The Isles open this season with just such a scenario, following up Friday night's opener with their Nassau Coliseum opener Saturday nightagainst the Blue Jackets. Capuano said he hadn't decided whether to go back to Nabokov or give Kevin Poulin the start.
"After all those games Nabby played last season, I think there was a little bit of a fatigue factor that set in," Capuano said. "I'll consult with [goaltender coach Mike Dunham] and see what we want to do after tonight."