Pierre-Marc Bouchard returns to the lineup Tuesday night for the Islanders and both of Jack Capuano’s rookies will be healthy scratches against the Sabres.
Capuano said he’d yet to make a determination as to which forward will come out of the lineup to allow Bouchard to return, but it was likely to be Brock Nelson, who was a healthy scratch in Chicago on Friday.
“You don’t want him to sit for too long,” Capuano said of Donovan, who had a goal and an assist in four games. “Matt will be back in there. We like the creativity he gives us offensively. But sitting him a game or two won’t hurt him.”
Nelson has played capably in his four games, but the bigger issue is getting Bouchard going. He was a one-year, free-agent signee, an attempt by GM Garth Snow to fill a scoring winger spot in the top six that PA Parenteau and Brad Boyes filled in years past.
But Bouchard admitted the transition to a new team has been tough after a decade with the Wild, and Capuano sat him in Nashville to see if that would light a spark. On Tuesday, Bouchard will start on the left side with Frans Nielsen and Josh Bailey, who have been two of the Isles’ best forwards to start the season.
Evgeni Nabokov gets his fifth start of the year and he’ll be opposed by Ryan Miller, who comes in with a Sabres team in disarray. They are 0-6-1, and Miller and top scorer Thomas Vanek are pending UFAs who are the subject of trade rumors already. Buffalo’s young core has been spotty -- Mikhail Grigorenko, the 12th overall pick in 2012, will be a healthy scratch on Tuesday.
The Isles will start with some scrambled lines -- Michael Grabner on the left side with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, the new Nielsen line and Matt Moulson, who has one goal in five games, on the left with Peter Regin and Cal Clutterbuck.
Tavares went with the Bobby Clarke look on Tuesday morning, with a gaping hole where his front teeth used to be. He had them knocked out in September while training in Colorado, had posts put in and finally got his permanent replacement teeth on Monday, only to have a puck knock those out on Friday in Chicago.
He said he may wait a bit before having a second set of replacements put in. Understandable.