The Islanders skated on the Yankee Stadium ice for the first time in a spirited practice Tuesday afternoon, trying to acclimate to the new ice surface and adverse conditions. They'll be facing a Rangers squad that just recently routed the Devils 7-3 on Saturday. The Rangers also have previous experience with outdoor games, having played against the Flyers in the 2012 Winter Classic in Philadelphia.
Entering Wednesday's action, the Islanders have dropped three straight games. Not even the return of veteran defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky and goaltender Evgeni Nabokov was enough to spark a squad that was handily dispatched 6-3 by the Boston Bruins.
A bitter rivalry clash against the Rangers -- albeit on a very different stage -- may be exactly what the team needs to get back on track.
"With the way things are going right now, this game may give us some life," coach Jack Capuano said.
The Islanders will be without defenseman Travis Hamonic, who has not played since suffering a concussion Jan. 12 against the Dallas Stars. Hamonic was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, and Matt Donovan was recalled from the team's AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, Conn.
"Obviously, it's disappointing for him," said MacDonald. "He's a big part of our team and a big part of our D-corps. It's unfortunate. I know he really wanted to play."
Capuano said he had yet to finalize his lineup, including his starting goaltender. Nabokov just recently returned from injury, and though Capuano said there was a good chance he'll play, the weather may be a concern.
Other veteran players, including New Jersey's Jaromir Jagr, have expressed concern over the cold weather. Jagr, who sustained a lower-body injury in the Winter Classic two years ago, said the cold made it tough to keep his muscles warm, making them more susceptible to strain.
Henrik Lundqvist, who made 19 of 22 saves against the Devils on Sunday, is expected to start Wednesday's game.