The New York Islanders have announced that veteran center Mike Sillinger will be sidelined for three weeks with a hip injury. With Sillinger out of the lineup, the Isles recalled forwards Jeff Tambellini, Frans Nielson and Kip Brennan from Bridgeport of the AHL. Tambellini and Nielson are excepted to play on Tuesday when the Isles host the defending Stanly Cup champion Anaheim Ducks at the Nassau Coliseum.
Sillinger has been playing through the bad hip for a few weeks now and also played the last two games despite coming down with a bad case of the flu virus that has been decimating the Islanders’ dressing room in the past week.
In 52 games this season, the 36-year-old native of Regina, Saskatchewan, has 14 goals and 26 points, well off of last year’s pace of 26 goals and 59 points.
Islanders’ coach Ted Nolan praised Sillinger’s effort. “You have to give Sillinger credit,” Nolan announced. “He’s had this nagging injury for a while and he fought through it. But it’s gotten to the point where he needs to get rest and heal. It’s a big blow for us, losing our top faceoff man and one of our best penalty killers. We’ll be without one of our leaders, so other guys are going to have to step up.”
The Islanders recalled three players from their Bridgeport farm team in the AHL to replace Sillinger and forward Tim Jackman who was sent down to Bridgeport. They are forwards Jeff Tambellini, Frans Nielson and Kip Brennan.
Tambellini, the son of former Islander Steve Tambellini, is leading the AHL with 29 goals this season. He has been held without a point in eight games with the Islanders earlier this season. Nielson, who has been Tambellini’s center in Bridgeport, played 15 games with the Islanders last season and became the first Danish born player to score an NHL goal.
“Jeff has been with this organization for three years now, so he knows what he has to do when he’s up here,” Nolan told the Islanders’ official Web site. “He’s now more comfortable with everyone and it should help that he’ll be on a line with Frans. Jeff has proven he can perform in the AHL, so hopefully he can gain that same confidence up here. He needs to take that last step and grab a hold of it.”
The Islanders are hoping that Nielson and Tambellini can add more offensive punch to their lineup. The Isles are presently last in the NHL with 126 goals scored and 28th in the league in goals per game with an average of 2.35.
The Isles are also winless in their past six home games (0-5-1) and have now fallen into 10th place in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
NOTES: Richard Park also missed Monday’s practice due to a case of the flu, but Ted Nolan indicated he expects Park to play on Tuesday…The Ducks have still not announced whether or not the recently re-signed sniper Teemu Selanne will play his first game with the team this season against the Islanders. The Ducks are also struggling of late, having lost six straight (0-5-1). Anaheim was shutout in their last two games and has scored only five goals during the six-game slide.