When the team's interim coach and head trainer join the walking wounded, this Islanders injury plague has gone too far.
Jack Capuano appeared at Monday's limited practice session with a walking boot on his right foot; he said an old "crack" still hasn't healed. Garrett Timms was on crutches with a torn Achilles tendon.
As for the players:
Six others also did not skate: defensemen Milan Jurcina (hip), Ty Wishart (shoulder), Bruno Gervais (foot), Jack Hillen and Radek Martinek, and forward Zenon Konopka (knee). Capuano described Hillen and Martinek's maladies as "bumps and bruises" and said he is "hoping they'll be available" for Wednesday's game in Boston.
But Nielsen's uncertain status increases the likelihood that the team will add yet another man-game lost to injury -- the season's total already is well beyond 500 -- for the game in Boston.
The team's physical challenges included a somewhat sleepy Michael Grabner, whose girlfriend gave birth to their first child (son Aidan) Thursday night, though that didn't prevent Grabner from joining the 15 other skaters who concluded a brief on-ice session with murderous sprint drills.
"Blue line, goal line, red line, goal line, blue line, goal line, blue line, goal line, goal line. Three times," forward Matt Moulson described the exhausting test. "Not the fun part of hockey."
Capuano made it clear that the gasses were "no punishment whatsoever;" rather, a scheduled segment to let the players know "what's expected when they come back" next season. Off-ice fitness tests also will be administered.
The sprinting left players literally lying on the ice, not the kind of thing that fans are likely to pay to see. "I wouldn't," Moulson said.
Notes & quotes: Capuano's comments on Nielsen receiving the Bob Nystrom Award, given to the Islander who exemplifies qualities of leadership, hustle and dedication: "When you talk about desire and determination and desperation, [Nielsen] is one of those guys. He takes a lot of pride in his game. He's another guy who practices as hard as he plays. That's all you can ask for, obviously."
Capuano on a player who particularly impressed with his progress this season: "Travis [Hamonic]. He hasn't really surprised me, because he was the one guy in Bridgeport who would not only work with the coaches and video, but he'd take that computer by himself and really study the game. His focus and the attention to detail have really been something. But I'd say there really are a lot of guys on this team that have done well."