Arthur Staple Arthur Staple

Staple, with Newsday since 1997, has covered high school sports, hockey and football.

John Tavares’ revolving door of linemates is a constant theme around the Islanders, but Tavares usually finds ways to generate offense, even in the profound funk the Islanders are in through the first six weeks of this season.

The bigger issue right now is what do the Islanders do with Andrew Ladd?

The team’s big-ticket free agent addition from the summer is stuck on two goals and one assist and his only noticeable contributions to Friday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Penguins were the pair of minor penalties he took, giving him 12 penalty minutes on the year. Of the five man-advantages Ladd’s penalties have given Islanders opponents, two have produced power-play goals against.

Ladd played the first seven games of the season on Tavares’ left wing. Since then, Ladd has cycled through any number of linemates — according to the Hockey Analysis website, Ladd has played at least 16 minutes of even strength time with nine different Islanders forwards already this season. And Ladd was removed from the top power-play unit after his stint with Tavares ended.

It seems that Ladd’s confidence is now on hiatus. He scored goals in consecutive games last week, but in the three games since he’s recorded three total shots, none on goal. He didn’t have a shot attempt in Friday’s loss while playing just 13:27, the third time in the last nine games Ladd has been under 15 minutes of ice time.

GM Garth Snow defended his $38.5-million man on Friday morning.

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“Andrew, he brings a lot of different things to our club,” Snow said. “A very high character guy, we knew that when we signed him. A lot of people don’t know, he didn’t have many goals last year around Christmas and then he turned it on. Andrew Ladd is not defined as a hockey player by scoring goals. It’s a lot of different things he does. Whether it’s being a tough SOB to play against, his leadership, he’s a winner. He’s a big part of our club.”

Ladd had four goals in his first 22 games with the Jets last season and finished with 25 on the year. The key difference, though, is that Winnipeg continued to use Ladd like a top-six forward during his season opening slump; he never played less than 16:42 a game during that stretch.

Ladd was more snakebit than struggling during his initial run alongside Tavares. Now, he’s not generating anything. Perhaps a change back is needed.

Seidenberg, Pulock back on ice

Defensemen Dennis Seidenberg (broken jaw) and Ryan Pulock (broken right foot) have both resumed skating but neither is close to returning to action.

Pulock, injured just minutes into his first game of the season on Oct. 21, has been back on the ice for several days. Jack Capuano said Pulock would be along for the California swing this coming week, but likely only for conditioning work.

Seidenberg, who took a puck to the face eight days ago, took the ice on Friday with a clear face shield. But with his jaw wired shut, “his nutrition isn’t exactly where it needs to be,” Capuano said. Seidenberg will keep skating but until he’s back on solid food his stamina won’t be game level.

California dreaming

Each of the past two seasons the Isles have headed to the West Coast in November, hoping to ignite a moribund start to their seasons. They’ve done so in impressive fashion two years running, but now they need this three-game California trip to spark the team more than ever.

In 2014-15, the Isles stumbled into San Jose at 6-4-0, losers of two straight. They dropped a 3-1 decision to the Sharks, then headed to southern California for three days off.

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During that stretch, Snow had the team’s strength coach, Derrek Douglas, organize a beach workout at 8 a.m. following a day (and night) off. The players were incredulous but participated; they beat the Ducks in overtime and the Kings in a shootout, starting a 13-2-0 run that sent the Isles on their way.

Last season, they arrived in San Jose at 7-5-3, 1-3-2 in their last six after a good start to the season. They beat the Sharks and Ducks sandwiched around a loss to the Kings, the start of an 11-3-2 stretch that, again, put the Isles safely into playoff contention.

“It definitely got us going and we hope that’s the case again this year,” Brock Nelson said.

At 5-8-4, there’s no margin for error on this jaunt.