Hours before he was to make his regular-season debut, center Rob Schremp said he couldn't be happier to return to the Islanders lineup and center a line with Josh Bailey and Blake Comeau.
"I'm glad I won the lottery," he said. "I know my role, just try to give those guys the puck in good areas.... Hopefully I can take the pressure off them a little bit."
It's been a tough month for Schremp, who suffered a back injury during a preseason game against New Jersey October 1.
"It's tough any time you can't contribute or help your teammates," Schremp said. "We had the Dads trip -- that sucked to miss -- and watching the boys on the road, it's tough to be a teammate at home, so it's good to be back with the group and on the ice."
Schremp was sent to Bridgeport last Thursday for a one-game conditioning stint with the Sound Tigers; he collected an assist in their 3-2 overtime victory over Manchester last Friday.
"It was good. It was just game-timing and stuff. I was working with [skills coach] Bernie [Cassell] last week one-on-one, but to push yourself in a game is a lot better," Schremp said before quipping: "And I got to dial in my saucer passes a little bit and throw the puck around and be a little cocky down there."
I asked Schremp if this time off provided some good brainstorming for new and improved goal celebrations to unveil this season. His response?
"I always try to wing it. I definitely won't be doing any canoes tonight but I'll be excited if I put one in the back of the net."
-Rick DiPietro will start tonight against Carolina, looking to bounce back after Saturday's 6-1 loss to Philly
-With both Schremp and Michael Grabner (groin) returning to the lineup, Trevor Gillies will be the scratch. You can bet he'll be in the lineup against the Flyers this Saturday, however.
-Speaking of Philly, Scott Gordon said he received no explanation on the phantom misconduct call on Frans Nielsen after the Danish center was cross-checked in the head by Danny Briere. Gordon said that one on-ice official even told him they'd be on the PP.
--When asked about Briere's remarks that he was protecting himself against the mild-mannered Nielsen (34 penalty minutes in 177 career games), Gordon cracked, "Yeah, Frans is a killer."
--Jon Sim, who cleared waivers yesterday, scored a hat trick and the shootout game-winner in Bridgeport's 6-5 win over Springfield this afternoon.