New York Islanders Head West, but Not Without Injuries

Michael Schuerlein@IslesbloggerCorrespondent IMarch 16, 2010

UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 13:  Dainius Zubrus #8 of the New Jersey Devils checks Kyle Okposo #21 of the New York Islanders into the boards sending his helmet loose in the third period of an NHL game at the Nassau Coliseum on March 13, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. Islanders won 4-2.(Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

The New York Islanders begin their Western road trip tonight in Vancouver, but they do not arrive with every player 100 percent healthy.  Having escaped the injury bug for much of the year, several players are either banged up, will be sitting out entirely during the trip, or even missing the remainder of the season.

It was announced earlier this afternoon by Katie Strang of New York's Newsday via Twitter that forward Kyle Okposo will sit out tonight's contest with an undisclosed upper body injury.

No timeline on how much time he will miss, but the loss comes at a really bad time for the Islanders, who are coming off a weekend in which they earned five out of six points at home and continue to battle in the tight playoff race in the Eastern Conference.

Okposo joins forwards Trent Hunter (upper body), Jeff Tambellini (groin), and goaltender Rick DiPietro (knee) on the day-to-day list, as well as Tim Jackman (orbital bone) and Jack Hillen (jaw), who are both playing through injury currently.

The Islanders also recently lost a few players for the remainder of the season—defenseman Andrew MacDonald (broken foot), center Rob Schremp (torn meniscus), and forward Doug Weight (shoulder). 

The Islanders PR staff informed us Sunday night after the 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs that forwards Jeff Tambellini and Trent Hunter would both be joining the team on the road trip, so with any luck one of those two players would likely take Okposo's spot.

It's important to note, that Rick DiPietro did not join the team on the road trip. Forward Matt Martin (whom I spoke to at length) was returned to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, so he would also be unavailable for the current road trip.

After the game this evening in Vancouver, the Islanders head to California to take on the Ducks and Kings in back-to-backs Friday and Saturday, and then come back to New York to play the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers (70 pts) are one point behind the Boston Bruins (71 pts), who own the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins play the Hurricanes tonight, and the Rangers play Montreal.

So should the Islanders play well tonight in Vancouver, they are still very much alive in the playoff race—injured or not.


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