Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders celebrates his...

Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders celebrates his first period goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins with teammates Noah Dobson #8 and Alexander Romanov #28 at UBS Arena on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Islanders will open a four-game road trip against the Kraken on Sunday night, and by the time they return to New York after Friday’s game in Calgary, they will be exactly halfway through their 82-game schedule.

They entered 2023 clinging to the second and final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, a tiebreaker ahead of the Rangers, who had the same 44 points.

The Islanders have won three straight after stumbling through a 3-6-2 stretch.

Given all that, here are some reasons to be positive and some areas of concern in the new year:

Concern: Let’s start with the obvious. The Islanders were injury-plagued in December and currently have six players on injured reserve. Top-pair defenseman Adam Pelech will wind up missing at least a month and top-line right wing Oliver Wahlstrom is out indefinitely. The injuries have stretched the organizational depth and certainly could take even more of a toll as the Islanders play 15 games in 28 days leading into the All-Star break.

Positive: The Islanders not only have made do through the injuries but have started to prosper and, perhaps, learned some things about the players being asked to fill in.

Top prospect Aatu Raty, a second-round pick in 2021, has looked comfortable centering the fourth line and also has received some power-play time in Wahlstrom’s absence. It’s hard to understate how important it is to the organization for Raty to be a valuable asset, either to eventually be a key cog among the top-six forwards or an attractive trade chip.

Simon Holmstrom, a first-round pick in 2019, played well enough in his first 14 NHL games before hurting his left leg in a knee-to-knee collision. With the Islanders’ trusty fourth line of Cal Clutterbuck, 35, Matt Martin, 33, and Casey Cizikas, 31, presumably nearing the end of its run, Holmstrom could be a key addition to the Islanders’ bottom six.

Defenseman Parker Wotherspoon, 25, has played steady hockey in his first three NHL games after parts of eight seasons in the AHL. He’s skipped ahead of Robin Salo in the rotation.

Right wing Hudson Fasching sure does look as if he belongs in the NHL.

Positive: Ilya Sorokin again is looking Vezina Trophy-worthy after a personal seven-game losing streak that was not only about the Islanders’ lack of production. The Islanders will need Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov, when healthy, to steal a few games to reach the playoffs.

Concern: The power play has been dreadful, snapping an 0-for-28 drought in Thursday’s 2-1 win over the Blue Jackets at UBS Arena. Even more of a concern, this has been a concern for the past several seasons. Anders Lee said after Thursday’s victory that it was more about execution than personnel, but it’s been a lot of the same power-play personnel during that time.

Positive: Centers Brock Nelson (15 goals, 22 assists) and Mathew Barzal (eight goals, 28 assists) have been point-per-game players. Defenseman Noah Dobson (10 goals, 14 assists) again has raised his game to the next level. Figure one or two of these three will be an All-Star pick.

Concern: There hasn’t been enough offensive consistency from the rest of the lineup, though Zach Parise is having an outstanding season.

Positive: The Islanders actually own a first-round pick this year.

Concern: President and general manager Lou Lamoriello hasn’t made a first-round pick since 2019.

Fasching emerging?

Hudson Fasching failed to secure a full-time NHL role in the Sabres’ and Coyotes’ organizations before joining the Islanders’ organization this season. He was a steady producer in three collegiate seasons at Minnesota but has only three goals and four assists in 48 career NHL games.

But since being recalled from the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, Fasching has two goals and two assists in 10 games and has even been given some shifts with top-line center Mathew Barzal.

“You come up as a call-up player and a lot of times the message is ‘just go in there, keep it simple and chip the puck in,’ ” Fasching said. “I’ve always been a player who follows the coach’s instructions pretty diligently. I think I took it almost a little too far sometimes. I think I left some offense on the table throughout my call-up career.”

Fasching, 27, signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Islanders worth $750,000 in the NHL and $200,000 in the AHL. He’s never had a contract with a term longer than three seasons.

“No one’s going to believe in you until you believe in yourself,” Fasching said. “That’s something that I’ve tried to stay true to.”

About those injuries

The Islanders had lost 53 man-games to injury entering their New Year’s Day match in Seattle. Last season, the Islanders lost 193 man-games to injury, which also included COVID-19 absences. Here’s the current list of Islanders on injured reserve:

RW Cal Clutterbuck — Upper body, missed six games

RW Simon Holmstrom — Lower body, missed two games (not traveling)

RW Kyle Palmieri —  Upper body, missed six games

D Adam Pelech — Suspected head injury, missed 10 games (not traveling)

G Semyon Varlamov — Lower body, missed five games

RW Oliver Wahlstrom — Lower body, missed one game (not traveling/out indefinitely)

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