The New York Islanders will have reinforcements as they put their winning streak up against the Arizona Coyotes own.The New York Islanders are flying high, having shaken off a 1-3-0 start. The upstart Isles will have to continue this intensity for sustained success.
The Arizona Coyotes make their lone trip to Long Island Thursday night and they too have found their stride as of late. After losing three of their first four games (1-2-1) the Yotes found their stride in their last four wins, three of which were decided by at least two-goal margins.
The Islanders are experiencing some roster turnover as the team experiences early-season injury woes. Leo Komarov has been placed on IR, but Casey Cizikas will make his return as fourth center where he has been missed.
#Isles place Leo Komarov (illness) on IR retroactive to Oct. 17. Casey Cizikas has been activated.
— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) October 24, 2019
Cizikas has missed the last five games due to injury and should be available for the Isles back-to-back sets.
In his absence, head coach Barry Trotz has toyed with a couple of different lineup ideas, including the continued experiment of having Komarov at center. Furthermore, Derick Brassard has seen a shift in practice over to wing, as the center continues to try and figure out his game.
During training camp, Trotz compared the play of Cole Bardreau to a hybrid between Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck. Bardreau made his NHL debut in the Isles’ 3-2 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets after arriving at the rink less than an hour before puck drop.
With Komarov’s absence, there’s a good chance Bardreau draws in for his second NHL game against the Coyotes.
For a team that seemed snake-bitten offensively early in the season, the Islanders have scored three goals in three of their last four wins.
Mathew Barzal has found his stride to start the season with four goals and seven points in the team’s first eight games. After finding his first against St. Louis, Barzal managed four goals in the Isles’ last three wins.
The complexion of the offense has changed since their comeback win against the defending champions and Barzal is spearheading the group.
For the Yotes
Following a four-day break, the Isles will aim to derail the Coyotes’ momentum, led by Darcy Kuemper who has won four-straight games and made 16-straight starts. Kuemper is on a tear, going 4-2-0 with a .944 save percentage and a 1.68 goals-against average.
Darcy Kuemper looks to stay hot. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/dJJWmIvx7C
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) October 24, 2019
Nick Schmaltz leads the Coyotes in points and is looking more like the 21-goal, 52-point player he was in 2017-18. Though nobody outside of Phil Kessel and Clayton Keller posses the attention-grabbing flair, a balanced and high-speed attack has helped lead the Yotes through the early stretch.
Just two seasons ago, it took more than 20 games before Arizona earned its first regulation win. With their depth scoring and goaltending rolling, their 5-2-1 record is leaving the franchise in an optimistic place.
The Islanders should be concerned with the Coyotes’ powerplay, currently ranked seventh overall. Moreover, the Yotes have put up the eleventh most shots on net and are eighth overall in faceoff efficiency.
In the System
In a more underground move for the Isles, Jakub Skarek received a promotion to the AHL while Linus Soderstrom takes his place for the Worcester Railers.
TRANSACTION: Jakub Skarek (G) has been reassigned to the #SoundTigers from the @RailersHC. In addition, the #Isles have reassigned Linus Soderstrom (G) to Worcester from Bridgeport. pic.twitter.com/UfqxzRMwLv
— Bridgeport Sound Tigers (@TheSoundTigers) October 24, 2019
In Skarek’s two-game ECHL sample, he posted a 1.42 goals-against average with a .941 save percentage. Though Soderstrom hasn’t seen consistent playing time yet, this move will likely give him just that as he tries to move on this year from an injury-laden 2018-19.
Puck drop on Friday is slated for 7 p.m. ET at Nassau Coliseum on MSG+ and 1050 AM.