Anders Nilsson

Rookie Anders Nilsson thrown to wolves, starts against Penguins tonight


It’s not going to be Rick DiPietro that gets the pleasure of dealing with a madhouse in Pittsburgh for Sidney Crosby’s welcome back game. The Islanders default goalie is getting the night off after a miserable performance against Boston on Saturday and in his place will be rookie Anders Nilsson making his first career NHL start.

Nilsson was called up after both Al Montoya and Evgeni Nabokov were put on IR with separate injuries and all of Nilsson’s NHL experience came in Saturday night’s drubbing at the hands of the Bruins. Now he’ll have the pleasure of trying to play the spoiler role for Crosby and the Penguins.

Isles coach Jack Capuano making the curious decision to play Nilsson in front of what will be a playoff-like atmosphere for the Crosby welcome wagon could be serving as a way to get the rest of the team fired up and focused for the game.  Making sure everyone is defensively responsible and active is part of what Capuano has to do but if the Isles turn in another craptastic effort against the Pens tonight, things could be changing on Long Island sooner than not.

Best of luck to Nilsson though, it’s a hell of a way to make a memorable first start, here’s to hoping he isn’t thoroughly devoured.

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.