Left wing Andrew Ladd’s return to the Islanders’ lineup for Monday night’s 3-2 loss to the Blue Jackets at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum was part of coach Barry Trotz’s latest attempt to coax more point production from his bottom-six forwards and find effective combinations.
It’s an issue made difficult because Cal Clutterbuck (left wrist tendon surgery) missed his second game and is out indefinitely. Trotz has acknowledged that the effectiveness of Casey Cizikas’ identity line, which includes Clutterbuck and Matt Martin, diminishes with any of the three out.
Ladd logged 9:53 and was credited with a game-high five hits in his first NHL game since March 24 after suffering injuries to both knees last season.
Trotz started him on the third line, moving top-six wing Josh Bailey to the middle with Michael Dal Colle on the right. Dal Colle was back after missing three games with an upper-body injury.
Cizikas centered Martin and right wing Tom Kuhnhackl on the fourth line.
Monday’s bottom-six wings have only four goals and three assists.
“We need some production, especially our wingers on the bottom two lines,” Trotz said. “Last year, we probably had a little more, but last year we were spread out a little different with a guy like Beau [Anthony Beauvillier] on the third line and Casey’s line was intact and very productive.”
Forwards Oliver Wahlstrom, the 11th overall pick from 2018 on loan from the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, and Jacob Pivonka, a fourth-round pick in 2018 currently playing for Notre Dame, were named to the final Team USA roster for the World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic, which begins on Thursday . . . The scratches were forwards Leo Komarov and Ross Johnston and defenseman Scott Mayfield (illness). Mayfield missed a game for the first time this season . . . It was the third sellout of 13,917 at the Coliseum and second straight.
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