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Good Evening

Opening night scratches, pre-game thoughts and more

 --Jack Hillen, Bruno Gervais and Michael Grabner are your scratches for tonight. Although it initially appeared Jurcina would join Gervais as one of the two scratches on D, Jurcina outperformed Hillen in camp to secure a spot on the opening night roster.

Worth noting, however, that Hillen was scratched for the first four games of last season before playing his way to become one of the team's top defensemen.

Scott Gordon declined to discuss the decision to scratch Hillen and said he'd like to speak with the player first.

--It's pretty clear Rick DiPietro has been anointed the Islanders No. 1 goaltender. Gordon said he spoke with Roloson yesterday about a gameplan moving forward and said the 40-year-old netminder took it well.

"It's not so much how you handle the conversation but how you handle it on the ice and on the bench during games," Gordon said.

--DiPietro said he couldn't put into words the excitement of his first opening night start in three years. He said he'll be looking forward to getting past the tunnel and national anthem. After that, "All business."

With his debilitating injury issues , DiPietro has had a remarkably tough couple of years. The 29-year-old said the will to win and make good on his promise to bring a Stanley Cup to Long Island keeps him driven.

"I made a commitment to this organization and they made a huge commitment to me," said DiPietro, who did not participate in this morning's skate. "That's what motivates me."

--Nino Niederreiter is eager and excited for his first NHL game tonight. As noted before, he'll be the youngest player in Islanders history at 18 years and 31 days.

"It's a great feeling to be here, I'm really excited," Niederreiter said. "Since I was a little boy I was dreaming about playing an NHL game and I'm really excited for it."

Niederreiter's parents Ruth and Rene flew in from Switzerland last night for their son's first game. "They support me for every second and it's great to have."

--Knowing the difficulty of handling the pressure and expectations of  being a highly-drafted rookie, John Tavares said he's been impressed with Niederreiter in camp so far.

"I think he's handling it great. He's definitely enjoying it. He's a tremendous kid and he's going to have a great career," Tavares said. "I think he's going to have a great game tonight. He's confident and he plays his game and I like the way he initiates contact and creates room for himself, so I think that's really going to benefit him.

--As a Boston guy and Pats fan, it's tough for DiPietro to admit, but he said he finds Jets head coach a master motivator after watching this season of HBO's "Hard Knocks."

"He can send shivers down your spine."

Ryan will drop the puck tonight at Nassau Coliseum


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