Lubomir Visnovsky returns to the Islanders lineup on Monday night after missing 46 games with a concussion. That’s good news for the team’s defense corps.
“It’s basically like picking up a veteran at the trade deadline,” Thomas Hickey said. “He played such big minutes for us, first-unit power play, last couple minutes of a game. For us young guys, we’d never had those experiences, so it took a while for us to stabilize after he went out. You can’t replicate what he brings.”
Judging by the defense pairs at Monday morning’s skate, Visnovsky will ease back in, pairing with Matt Carkner on a presumptive third pair, while Hickey pairs with Calvin de Haan.
Matt Donovan was sent back to Bridgeport. He was headed there regardless before the Olympic break so he could continue to play during the Feb. 9-18 break, but a bit earlier than expected with Visnovsky returning.
Also back from injured reserve is Evgeni Nabokov, who missed three weeks with a quad strain. He’ll back up Kevin Poulin, with Anders Nilsson going back to Bridgeport.
Nabokov isn’t concerned with the possibility of his first game back from injury being outside in single-digit weather on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.
“I’m Russian, you know,” he said. “But really, it’s the coach’s call. I’m ready to play.”
Travis Hamonic (concussion) skated with his teammates for the first time today since his Jan. 12 injury. He skated with his Stadium Series gloves on Monday, seeming hopeful he might be able to return for the outdoor game, but that will have to wait until after Tuesday’s practice at Yankee Stadium.