Kyle Palmieri #21 of the New York Islanders celebrates his...

Kyle Palmieri #21 of the New York Islanders celebrates his third period goal against the Calgary Flames with teammate Jean-Gabriel Pageau #44 at UBS Arena on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022 in Elmont, New York. Credit: Jim McIsaac

It’s less than two months to the NHL trade deadline on March 3 and, more and more, it’s looking like the Islanders need an infusion of scoring help to bolster their playoff chances.

Which means the speculation on what Islanders president/GM Lou Lamoriello will or will not do will increase exponentially as the deadline nears.

That’s outside of the Islanders’ room.

Inside, the players have been through this before.

“It’s on us in here,” defenseman Ryan Pulock said. “We have a group in here that’s good enough when we’re all doing our job to have success. So whether it comes to that or not, that is what it is. We’re not sitting here looking for help. It’s in this room to find it. We’re capable of it and we’ve got to go out there and do it.”

The Islanders entered Saturday’s match against the Canadiens at UBS Arena on an 0-3-1 skid and had scored just five goals in that span.

Right wing Kyle Palmieri, a key trade acquisition from the Devils in 2021 as the Islanders made their second of two straight runs to the NHL semifinals, is expected back in the lineup eventually. Palmieri has been out since Dec. 16 and that game in Arizona represented his first game back in the lineup after missing the 10 prior to that. This absence is suspected to be a head injury. The first one might have been, too.

Even when Palmieri, who has six goals and three assists in 21 games, returns, the Islanders likely still need more scoring oomph among their wings.

Anthony Beauvillier had eight goals and eight assists in his first 40 games. Josh Bailey had six goals and 11 assists in his first 39. Neither have been consistent enough to move the needle five-on-five or on the power play.

Oliver Wahlstrom (injured reserve/lower body) had seven goals and nine assists in 35 games but is now out indefinitely and it seems there’s a chance he’ll miss the rest of the season.

So, yes, yes, yes, Lamoriello is under pressure to make a move.

There are some intriguing targets, depending on how much Lamoriello wants to spend.

Chicago’s Patrick Kane and the Canucks’ Bo Horvat and, possibly, the Sharks’ Timo Meier are expected to be among the big-ticket items. The Panthers’ Anthony Duclair and the Flyers’ James van Riemsdyk might be among the more affordable options.

Lamoriello has shown remarkable trust in continually keeping the Islanders’ core players together. But the Islanders missed the playoffs last season and Lamoriello can’t afford another miss this season.

The countdown to the trade deadline will be interesting.

“We’re worried about the game tonight,” coach Lane Lambert said on Saturday. “That’s a long ways off. We focus on one game at a time. The rest of that stuff takes care of itself.”

Votes for Sorokin

NHL All-Star fan voting closes at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday as the final three spots on each of the four divisional squads will be announced on Thursday. Brock Nelson was selected to the Metropolitan Division squad by the NHL Hockey Operations Department, which also picked Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin.

It would make a fun story if Shesterkin’s former Russian national teammate and close friend, Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin, was voted onto the team. Sorokin has put up All-Star worthy statistics entering Saturday, with a 14-14-2 mark, a 2.29 goals-against average, a .926 save percentage and three shutouts.

But Sorokin is not spending a minute worrying whether he’ll be an All-Star for the first time.

“No, no, no,” Sorokin said. “I don’t think about it.”

From the pod

Defenseman Noah Dobson, who turned 23 on Jan. 7, has again elevated his game in his fourth NHL season as he’s visibly more confident with the puck on his stick, particularly in the offensive zone. He entered Saturday with 10 goals and 15 assists in 43 games, giving him a chance to better the career highs he set last season of 13 goals and 38 assists in 80 games.

But his defense is improving as well. Per, Dobson entered Saturday third on the team with an on-ice expected goals differential of 10.4. Last season, Dobson finished eighth at minus-0.8.

Dobson discussed his defensive improvement on Episode 151 of Island Ice, Newsday’s Islanders’ podcast.

recommendedIsland Ice Ep. 192

“If I looked at where my defensive game a year ago to now, it’s gotten a lot better,” Dobson said. “It’s hard as a young defenseman in the league, an offensive-minded guy. You’ve got to learn how to defend in the league, the players are so good. It takes time with defensemen. Now I think I’m close to a 200-foot game. I’ve kind of got a feel of how I need to defend to have success. Overall, I don’t just see myself as an offensive guy. I want to be a two-way guy who can be trusted in all situations.”

Halfway home

The Islanders reached the season’s midpoint last week at 22-17-2 record as they try to return to the playoffs. Here’s where they were at the 41-game mark the first four seasons under president/general manager Lou Lamoriello and how they ultimately fared:

Gross: – 23-14-4: Second in Metropolitan Division, Reached second round

2019-20 – 26-12-3: Sixth in Metropolitan Division, Reached NHL semifinals

2020-21 – 26-11-4: Fourth in East Division, Reached NHL semifinals

2021-22 – 17-18-6: Fifth in Metropolitan Division, missed playoffs


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