WASHINGTON - Michael Grabner's lost season didn't seem to be salvaged by three solid games over the final week of the regular season. He appeared to still be on the lineup bubble the past two days of practice, alternating in line rushes with playoff veteran Tyler Kennedy.
But it was Grabner who got the call for Game 1 Wednesday night. Jack Capuano said last weekend that he and his coaching staff used the final two games, the 3-1 win over the Penguins and a 5-4 shootout loss to the Blue Jackets, to do some serious evaluation. Grabner, who scored the clincher against the Pens and had five shots on goal against Columbus, won them over.
"It's like a new season, you gotta try to refocus," Grabner said Wednesday morning before the Isles announced their lineup for Game 1. "Whoever is in has to be ready and if it's me, I'll be ready to go."
Certainly one of the main reasons Capuano chose Grabner was No. 40's penalty-killing ability. Grabner didn't have a shorthanded goal this past season for the first time in his five years with the Islanders -- his 11 shorties are tied for ninth in franchise history -- so this was a season Grabner won't want to remember.
Hernia surgery on the eve of the regular season cost Grabner nearly his entire training camp and the first two months; he came back too soon and went back on injured reserve after only five games. He finished with eight goals in 38 games, both career lows.
The rest of the Islanders scratches were expected. Travis Hamonic (undisclosed) apparently did not travel with the team down here, though the Islanders would not confirm whether Hamonic was with them or not.
Griffin Reinhart took warmups Wednesday, but most likely to get a feel for the playoff atmosphere. He sat out along with Kennedy, Mikhail Grabovski, Matt Donovan, Eric Boulton and Colin McDonald.