The injury bug has made a home within the New York Islanders’ locker room. The latest casualties, ahead of the Islanders matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers, are Tom Kuhnhackl and Matt Martin.
Islanders’ Injury Bug
Jordan Eberle remains out for an undisclosed amount of time, though he has been skating and could be close to returning as early as Friday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Leo Komarov also remains out of the lineup with an illness but is listed as day-to-day. With another four-day break, the Islanders will most likely wait and see how Komarov and Eberle are feeling before deciding on a call-up from the American Hockey League’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Andrew Ladd has been in a regular practice jersey since early this month, a major step in his recovery. Unfortunately, or fortunately for many Islanders fans who are less than fond of Ladd, he’s still about a month away from making it back into the lineup. He’s been skating with Noah Dobson the last few weeks as the fourth defensive pair in practice.
While Ross Johnston is the obvious choice to fill in Martin’s spot on the fourth line, the lines from today’s morning skate suggest otherwise. Either way, Johnston has played well in a limited roll over the past season or two, and four to six weeks may give him his best chance yet to prove he can be a consistent part of an NHL lineup.
Michael Dal Colle and Oliver Wahlstrom, both healthy scratches against the Ottawa Senators on Friday night in favor of playing seven defensemen, are the only choices Trotz has at the moment. Both of these players have had a slow start to this season and need to prove to the Islanders’ brass they can contribute in one form or another.
With the lines already in flux due to injuries, Trotz will have to see if further adjustments need to be made. However, if the top two lines can continue to score at their current rate, at least through today’s game, the bottom two lines are capable of solid defensive play.
Fans should also keep an eye out for Derick Brassard on the second line. His move away from center, giving him more of an offensive role and less defensive responsibilities, paid off in the game against the Senators. If that doesn’t continue in the game against the Flyers, expect more shuffling of the lines.
Ho-Sang Missing His Opportunity
Ho-Sang, a restricted free agent, signed a one-year extension this past August. After being waived along with Thomas Hickey, Ho-Sang requested a trade from the Islanders, a climax on years of drama with the team. Following that, it was announced that Ho-Sang’s agent told him not to report to the Sound Tigers. General manager Lou Lamoriello didn’t have much to say on the matter, unsurprisingly.
Things were quiet on the Ho-Sang front until the past week, when Darren Dreger broke the silence, albeit without much to add to the story.
After Wahlstrom was called up, and now with the injury bug plaguing the Islanders, Ho-Sang has to be disappointed with his decision not to report to the Sound Tigers. The Islanders’ feelings are most likely similar as this could have been a chance to give him a long look in the NHL to see if he had the ability to truly earn a top-six role on this team.
Outside of the Ho-Sang situation, the Islanders will have to continue playing a team game if they want to see their winning streak hit seven games. Luckily, the back end has been solid and hasn’t missed a beat since last season, including goalie Semyon Varlamov.