Isles finally welcome Visnovsky, hope he'll be difference-maker
by Christian Arnold/Correspondent
SYOSSET, N.Y. – Lubomir Visnovsky may not have known who was who in the Islanders locker room, but they sure knew who he was.
“Everybody comes to me ‘hi I’m Mark, I’m Matt,’” Visnovsky said after his first practice as a New York Islander. “It will be homework tonight for me to go to the Internet, look at faces and focus on the names because that’s very important for the game.”
It only took an arbitration hearing and some prodding to get him back from the KHL, but the veteran defenseman finally arrived and is ready to be an Islander. And any ill will that may have been there from Islander players is now water under the bridge.
"I talked to Garth Snow, talked to coaches, talked to teammates,” Visnovsky said, “and it was a big surprise to me how good (everyone was) to me, everybody (was) excited to like me and everybody (is) thinking I (will) try to help this team.”
“It’s good to have him here,” Matt Moulson told reporters after Friday’s pre-blizzard practice. It was a statement that would be repeated by other players, as well as their coach.
“It’s good to have him,” Jack Capuano said. “We didn’t have him at the start of the season, but he’s been skating. He fit right in and we got him in the power play right away.”
Visnovsky did practice on the power play unit on Friday and is expected to be a part of it when he makes his Islander debut – likely on Saturday against Buffalo.
The Slovakian defender has been known as a power-play quarterback and Capuano is excited to have another puck-moving defenseman on the ice.
“He’s another puck moving defenseman that can join the rush,” he said. “We don’t generate a lot from our blue line right now. It’s evident with the amount of goals that we’ve scored. You look around the league, defensemen score big goals at key times.
“Andrew (MacDonald) and Travis (Hamonic) are playing against other guys’ top lines, so to be able to have another puck-mover to make sure we get that front D up in the play will be a big help for us.”
The added help will be welcomed by the Islanders, who have dropped the last three games and have seen their once strong power-play unit flounder since being ranked No. 1 in the league. Captain Mark Streit, who played momentarily with Visnovsky during practice, knows the power play is not where it needs to be, but that Visnovsky’s arrival could help to change that.
“Yeah we’re struggling a little bit (on the power play),” Streit said. “We had a really good start and now we’re having a little problem. But we still had our chances and now with him on the blue line I think he has the experience, he has a great shot, he has a really great vision and good poise with the puck. So he’s going to help us big time.”