Niederreiter declines to attend Isles prospect camp

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Nino Niederreiter won’t be going to the New York Islanders’ annual prospects camp, according to Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

The camp, highlighted by the Orange and Blue scrimmage on July 11, is set to feature a number of the club’s highly-touted draftees, including Griffin Reinhart (fourth overall, 2012 NHL Entry Draft), Ryan Strome (fifth overall, 2011), Brock Nelson (30th overall, 2010) and Scott Mayfield (34th overall, 2011).

Niederreiter — the fifth overall pick in 2010 — won’t be there.

According to Staple, the 20-year-old Swiss power forward wasn’t required to attend this years’ camp. Once a prospect has participated three times, they’re given the choice to accept or decline.

So, that’s the preface before reading too much into the situation.

But people will still probably read into it, because the relationship between Niederreiter and the Isles hasn’t exactly been harmonious.

Despite appearing in 55 games during the 2011-12 season and impressing the team during ’13 training camp, he was sent to AHL Bridgeport to start this season.

Shortly after his demotion, reports surfaced that Niederreiter was demanding a trade out of Long Island, to which GM Garth Snow responded by saying “Nino has never told me that he’s unhappy,” adding the club had no intention of dealing him.

In late January, Niederreiter spoke to PHT about not getting a shot to stick with the Isles:

“It was really frustrating. I had a really tough season last year. I wasn’t playing much, I played low minutes and obviously it wasn’t the game I wanted to play. I still learned a lot, I was really happy to have that chance to play a full season in the NHL already.

“This summer I was working hard and I was trying to prepare myself for the next chance and it was frustrating I didn’t get the chance but that’s out of my control.”

Niederreiter ended up spending the entire year in the American League, and didn’t dress once for the Isles.

That said, he did play well for Bridgeport this season, scoring 28G-22A-50PTS in 74 games while being selected for his first-ever AHL All-Star Game.

Arizona lawmaker suggests Coyotes pledge more money for new arena

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Arizona Senate President Steve Yarbrough does not expect a piece of legislation to pass that would give the Coyotes millions of dollars in public financing to build a new arena.

That being said, Yarbrough thinks the Coyotes may be able to gain some “traction” if they offer to put in more of their own money.

Under the current plan, the team has pledged $170 million of the arena’s total cost, which is estimated at almost $400 million. The difference would be made up by new sales taxes, plus $55 million from the still-to-be-determined host city.

“If you are getting no traction the way the bill is designed, you could see if the hockey team paid a greater portion,” Yarbrough told the Arizona Republic yesterday. “I have been around this business long enough to know that if it’s not working in this format, you change the format to make it more attractive.”

For their part, the Coyotes have not said whether they’d be willing to pay a greater portion of the project, only that they’ll continue to “work hard to find a viable arena solution in the greater Phoenix area, a market that both the club and the NHL believe is a strong hockey market capable of supporting a successful NHL franchise.”

Related: Bettman says Coyotes “cannot and will not remain in Glendale”

Into the fire: Halak, recalled yesterday, starts for Isles in Pittsburgh

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A little scene setting for you.

New York heads into tonight’s massive game in Pittsburgh sitting two points back of Boston for the final wild card in the Eastern Conference. The Isles have two games in hand on the B’s — who are idle tonight — so a win could move them into a playoff spot.

As such, the Isles will start a goalie that hasn’t played in the NHL in 85 days.

Against the league’s highest-scoring offense.

The goalie in question is Jaroslav Halak, who’s spent the last three months playing for the Isles’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. Recalled yesterday, Halak will now face big league competition for the first time since Dec. 29, when he allowed four goals on 24 shots in a loss to Minnesota.

(Afterward, then-head coach Jack Capuano ripped Halak, saying he gave up “some soft goals to start” and “wasn’t sharp at all.”)

But Halak’s been really good in Bridgeport.

He’s posted a 17-7-1 record with a 2.15 GAA and .925 save percentage, and a pair of shutouts. And given how spotty Berube’s play has been as Greiss’ backup, the Isles really had no other choice than to recall Halak.

The club is in the midst of a compacted part of the schedule. Greiss was excellent in Wednesday’s win over the Rangers — stopping 34 of 36 shots in a 3-2 victory — but he was also busy.

The Isles are in Pittsburgh tonight, then host the Bruins on Saturday — another massive game — then host the Preds on Monday. It’s a compact part of the schedule, and Berube’s struggles have rendered him virtually unplayable, given how meaningful the games are (and, to borrow a timeless cliche, how vital points are at this time of the year.)

So it’s Halak tonight, and possibly more down the stretch.

For Tuukka Rask and the Bruins, a ‘bad goal’ at the worst possible time

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The growing ranks of Tuukka Rask detractors gained some serious ammunition during last night’s loss to Tampa Bay.

The deciding goal in the 6-3 defeat was a “bad one,” according to Rask and most anyone else who was watching.

It may have been a hard shot by Jonathan Drouin, unleashed at the top of the circle, but it still should’ve been stopped.

After the game, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters that Rask “needed to be better tonight.”

In fact, Rask hasn’t been very good the past few months. Since Jan. 1, his save percentage is just .888. But with nobody trustworthy behind him, he’s had to just play through his struggles.

It’s impossible to say if Rask’s numbers would be better if the Bruins had a more capable backup. He’d be more rested, though. And when he was struggling, the coach would at least have another option to consider. With an .897 save percentage on the season, Anton Khudobin simply hasn’t been reliable enough to garner that consideration.

Don’t expect Rask to get the next game off. Saturday in Brooklyn, the Bruins — losers of four straight in regulation, and suddenly on the verge of falling out of the playoff picture — face the Islanders in arguably the biggest game of both teams’ seasons.

Bolts recall Koekkoek, putting Garrison’s status into doubt

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The Tampa Bay Lightning, after earning a big win last night in Boston, may not have defenseman Jason Garrison tonight in Detroit.

The Bolts recalled d-man Slater Koekkoek from AHL Syracuse this morning — a move that would seem to put Garrison’s status into doubt against the Red Wings.

Garrison was forced to leave the Bruins game in the second period with a lower-body injury.

Koekkoek has played 29 games for the Lightning this season, recording no goals and four assists.