January 19, 2011

Surprise! Okposo Returns

Kyle Okposo has been around the team for virtually all season. Recently he started skating with the team on the ice and announced that he was still a little bit away.

So much for that.

Photo by Chris Hessel
After a few days of skating with a "no contact" jersey on, Okposo practiced wearing a regular jersey for the first time on Wednesday. If that wasn't surprising enough - I wrote on our Twitter how shocked I was that he was doing so this quickly already - the Islanders announced after practice that Okposo will return to the line-up Thursday against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.


It is indeed a pleasant one that many are happy about. I am a little uneasy about him not going down to Bridgeport for a few games to get some seasoning and his "game" legs back, but in all honesty is it really going to matter when you look at what this season has most likely become? No, not really. Besides, Okposo and the coaching staff said he wasn't going to play until he was 100% and I don't think Okposo would risk his well being just to get back on the ice sooner than he should be in a season like this one.
At the very least, it gives people something to be excited about. Keep in mind though that slack needs to be cut here. There should be no expectations for him in an abbreviated season. Realistically he's still going to be in spring training mode. Keep that in mind when you think about trying to evaluate him on certain plays or in certain situations. This is a young player coming off a very major shoulder injury.

No word yet on who will start against the Caps, but it seems the status of Rick DiPietro could be up in the air again. In my last post, I told everyone to step back from the ledge because of DiPietro getting his "maintenance day." Meanwhile, Wednesday he didn't practice because of sickness. Uh oh.

Either way, Nathan Lawson went down and came back up and the Isles are carrying three goalies again just as Jack Capuano said he plans to do for a while. We'll see how this plays out tomorrow afternoon.

As nice as it is to see Okposo returning, it would be equally as nice to see Frans Nielsen return from his seven game absence. It originally seemed like he was a good bet to return with the demotion of Jesse Joensuu, but Capuano said Nielsen's status was "uncertain" at this time.

Finally, things are oddly quiet surrounding Milan Jurcina. He was hurt in Monday's game against the Devils and only played three minutes. He left with an upper body injury and that is all we know. It would be a shame to lose him again after he already missed 18 games this year with that hamstring injury. We've seen how well he has played here so this would be a huge blow.



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