Last chance to impress Islanders' coaches
With each round of cuts during training camp, the Islanders' roster gradually has taken shape.
Heading into the final pre-season game - Tuesday night against the Devils in New Jersey - those players who remain on the bubble have one more opportunity to impress the coaches.
"It's the last preseason game, so it's kind of your last shot," Trevor Smith said. "There's not much time left, so you just have to show them what you can do."
Smith, who played 76 games for Bridgeport last season, is among a group of players who are trying to crack the lineup. Greg Moore, Matt Moulson, Jeremy Reich, Joel Rechlicz and Calvin de Haan also are seeking a spot.
"Hopefully, those players have identified that it's them and will give us something to grab on to," Islanders coach Scott Gordon said.
With the Islanders' hard luck with injuries already resurfacing this season - Kyle Okposo, Trent Hunter, Doug Weight, Bruno Gervais, Frans Nielsen and Rick DiPietro all are on the mend - there might be some flexibility for the team to take a hard look at the bubble boys.
"It's really the last chance to make an impression," Reich said. "You've got to make sure not to leave anything on the table and make it a tough decision for them to send you down."
Said Moulson, whose four goals lead the Islanders in the preseason: "I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing, play with confidence and not worry about it too much."
Having fiddled with lineups throughout the past two weeks, Gordon said he doesn't anticipate any gut-wrenching decisions when the final cuts are made before opening night Saturday.
"Unless someone blows us away, we know what we're going to do," Gordon said.
How's that for pressure with one game remaining?
"Everybody's nervous," Reich said. "If you're not nervous, then you are in the wrong sport."
Notes & quotes: Kyle Okposo practiced with the team for the first time since suffering a concussion Sept. 17. Okposo said he feels "great" and still is optimistic about being able to play in the season opener Saturday . . . De Haan missed practice with a sore groin. The injury is not serious, but he will not play against New Jersey . . . Weight, who suffered a groin strain nearly two weeks ago, did not practice and is unlikely to play Saturday. Said Gordon, "I think it will be hard for that to happen."