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Thomas Hickey returns to Islanders' lineup

Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey (14) watches the Winnipeg

Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey (14) watches the Winnipeg Jets celebrate a goal during the second period. (Nov. 27, 2013) Credit: AP

After blocking a shot, Thomas Hickey wasn't able to make it through the third period of Saturday night's loss in Philadelphia, but after a couple days of rest, he was able to play Wednesday.

"If you feel good, you're going to play -- and I feel good," he said Wednesday morning. "It wasn't a matter of whether I needed anything like an extra day or two. I'm good to go."

Hickey has become a valuable member of the Isles defense, stepping in to play big minutes in Pittsburgh on Friday night when Andrew MacDonald missed the first two periods of that game after blocking a shot.

Even as the defense has struggled during the Isles' recent slide, Hickey -- who lost his defense partner, Lubomir Visnovsky, five weeks ago to a concussion and has been juggling partners since -- is trying to take the big-picture view.

"It's fair to point out the D hasn't been at its best," he said. "When you're in your own zone, it's not just on the two D. It's all six guys out there and we all have to be better."

The biker boys

Visnovsky, who rode a stationary bike for the first time on Friday since he suffered his concussion back on Oct. 20, and Brian Strait, the other regular defenseman who has been out with an upper body injury for nearly as long, are both able to ride bikes each day but have not progressed beyond that.

Visnovsky said he was feeling a little better and may head to see a neurologist next week to get approval for the next step in his recovery, which would be light skating.

Strait, whose injury remains a mystery after seeing a specialist, has no timetable to resume skating.

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