Two familiar faces are back in the New York Islanders lineup due to a growing concern for the health of some forwards.
“Sickness hit us on Sunday. We had some guys that had to go to the locker room. Quite frankly I don’t even know the lineup right now. We’ve got a plethora of things going on. I probably won’t know our lineup until game time tonight. Lehner is scheduled to start tonight.” #Isles pic.twitter.com/gy6T2FFtAa
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 5, 2019
The only lineup decision Barry Trotz has made is that Robin Lehner will make his 38th start of the season. While Trotz typically doesn’t divulge lineup information prior to a game, this instance comes from a genuine struggle the coach will have when penciling in combinations.
Casey Cizikas caught a bug on Sunday and missed time since then, Matt Martin has been out the last two games and Cal Clutterbuck left a disappointing 4-1 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers in the second period.
Since a 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers in February, the Islanders have gone 2-4-1. Furthermore, they’ve lost their first-place positioning for the first time in well over a month. This is the first true slump the team has seen since the early stretches back in October and November. To climb out of it they’ll need all hands on deck offensively starting with their two newest recalls.
Goal scoring was the Islanders’ calling card last season. It’s practically all they did well. This season it has felt like a chore, and through 65 games this season it isn’t just speculation anymore—the Isles need help offensively.
Now that February is in the rear-view mirror, there’s only one other place reinforcements can arrive through. Bridgeport just sent Long Island two of their finest.
Since both Dal Colle and Ho-Sang returned to the AHL they went 2-4-6 and 4-6-10 respectively.
From the moment he was first called up, the Islanders record with and without Ho-Sang in the lineup was and continues to be an eye-opening talking point.
— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) December 18, 2018
Now with both up on the big club, their emergency basis means they’re only here as spare parts. There’s still time for that to change, and it should if the Islanders are serious about icing the most competitive roster.
Arthur Staple of The Athletic asked Trotz about both kids’ success this season and if they can help the Isles escape their current rut:
“My first instinct when you ask that, I think they deserve to grind it out a little bit,” Trotz said of the current Isles forwards. “We missed Marty today, Casey was in and out. It’s a thought. Some of the young guys have done a good job. At the same time, I took Tommy out after not having Andrew play three in four and Tommy played well. He was on standby for today. We’ll discuss it and see where we are tomorrow.”
Management continues to trust their veteran skaters and the results will be the ultimate variable in determining how their presence pans out. The Islanders are fully capable of fixing themselves, but why deny offensive help especially when it comes at no cost?
The Islanders will be in action against the Ottawa Senators tonight at 7:00 p.m. ET on MSG+.