COLUMBUS, Ohio - Scott Mayfield was the latest Islanders prospect to get the call Saturday, and he became the 12th rookie to play for the team this season.
Injuries certainly have played a role -- Mayfield took Calvin de Haan's spot Sunday against the Blue Jackets, and de Haan had gotten his chance to become a mainstay on defense because of injuries earlier this season -- but there also was a desire for the Islanders' front office to see what they have in a few of their prospects at the end of this lottery-bound season.
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Mayfield, the team's second-round pick in 2011, got the call to come up from Bridgeport once the Islanders learned de Haan would be out with an injury to his left leg.
Mayfield acquitted himself reasonably well Sunday, playing 17:05 in a rather dismal 4-0 loss to the playoff-hungry Blue Jackets.
"He was going to get a chance here as we moved forward," Jack Capuano said. "There were some turnovers, to be expected in your first game. But I thought he handled himself well."
Mayfield is in his first full pro season after two years at the University of Denver. He's been one of the very few reliable Sound Tigers, as the Islanders' farm team has been fielding ragtag lineups every night because of the big club's roster shuffle. Mayfield had three goals, 14 assists and 125 penalty minutes in 69 games with Bridgeport.
"It's been a different first year than most guys have had," said the 6-4, 205-pound Mayfield, whose parents traveled from St. Louis to see his first game. "It's taught me to just play simple, play smart, because you have to be consistent no matter who's out there with you."
Consistency and simplicity had been creeping back into the Islanders' game the past few weeks. They brought a 6-0-2 streak here against a Columbus team needing a win to keep the Devils, Maple Leafs and Capitals away from their heels for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
But the Islanders struggled in areas that have been problems all season long: killing penalties and scoring goals. The Blue Jackets scored on three of their six power plays, marking the 12th time this season the Isles have given up at least two power-play goals. The Islanders' penalty kill ranks second-to-last in the league, converting at only 77.6 percent.
Evaluation is the priority for a team still using 10 rookies. But even within that context, Capuano was unhappy with his team's effort.
"I don't think as a coaching staff we have to reiterate this to the guys," Capuano said. "I don't care how much skill you have, you have to be difficult to play against. That has to be your identity as an Islander. I want some of these guys to have a chance to make this club next year, and they should know they need to work harder than that."
Notes & quotes: The Islanders had no update on de Haan, who attempted to return to Saturday's game after leaving with a leg injury. With only four games remaining, his rookie season would appear to be over . . . The same is true for Michael Grabner, who took a jolt to the head Saturday and might have felt more concussion symptoms. He had missed the previous nine games with a concussion. If Grabner and de Haan are done for the season with injuries, that would make seven Islanders regulars whose seasons ended prematurely. Only John Tavares (torn MCL), Eric Boulton (broken hand) and Brian Strait (broken hand) have been declared out for the season, but Kyle Okposo (lower body) and Lubomir Visnovsky (suspected concussion) have not been skating and are presumed done.