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Isles still have something to play for

Eric Boulton and Arron Asham trade punches during

Eric Boulton and Arron Asham trade punches during their first-period fight during a game at Madison Square Garden. (Feb. 14, 2013) Credit: Jim McIsaac

BUFFALO -- Islanders fans on Twitter let out a collective groan when I posted Jack Capuano’s lineup for Friday night: Eric Boulton remains in the lineup in place of Jesse Joensuu and Lubomir Visnovsky comes out for Thomas Hickey.

Capuano said Visnovsky, who has played 35 of the Isles’ 47 games so far (he missed the first 10 games of the season before he reported, then two more to return to Slovakia for a funeral), is resting. That would seem to be an odd choice, given Visnovsky’s plus-12 rating and effective play, but Capuano knows his players and what they need.

So it would seem Visnovsky needs a break before the playoffs begin. Eight Islanders will end up playing all 48 games, and Evgeni Nabokov makes his 41st start Friday.

There is still quite a bit to play for, clearly. A win over the Sabres puts the pressure on the Rangers on Saturday afternoon to pick up two points against the Devils to bump the Isles down the playoff seedings. The Senators host the Flyers on Saturday night and, should they stumble, would need two points against the Bruins on Sunday to keep the Isles in eighth.

But the Isles have to win Friday night first and that means they have to start better than they did either in Raleigh on Tuesday or in Philly on Thursday.

“We know how we need to play, and we have to get back to that,” Josh Bailey said. “If we’re satisfied with just making the playoffs, we’ll be done a week after everyone else that missed. None of us wants that.”

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