CALGARY, Alberta – It was back to hockey on Tuesday for the Islanders, back to wondering when Andrew Ladd and Thomas Hickey would be activated off long-term injured reserve, back to counting down the days until the NHL trade deadline.
Monday had been about curling.
“That was actually my first time doing it,” center Mathew Barzal said of the team-bonding activity at the Calgary Curling Club. “I liked it a lot. I was lucky enough not to fall. There were a couple of tumbles. It was good team bonding.”
The Metropolitan Division-leading Islanders (35-17-6) resumed practicing on Tuesday at Scotiabank Saddledome after two days off and will open their three-game Western Canada swing on Wednesday night against the Pacific Division-leading Flames.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Islanders re-assigned rookie forward Michael Dal Colle to Bridgeport (AHL) and recalled Ladd and Hickey from their two-game conditioning stints with the Sound Tigers.
Hickey, who has missed 26 games out since Dec. 18 with a suspected head injury, had two goals and two assists in his two games with Bridgeport. Ladd, who has missed 41 games with a suspected ankle or foot injury since Nov. 15, had a goal and four assists.
“I think it was a great primer,” Hickey said. “You can’t replicate a game.”
Dal Colle, 22, had two goals and two assists in 18 games since being recalled from Bridgeport on Dec. 29, but had been a healthy scratch the last two games.
“We want him to play,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said of the fifth-overall pick in 2014. “Ladd and Hicks went to Bridgeport and had a good showing and we’ll see where they fit in. Also, at this time of the year, it’s leaving a little bit of roster room, too.”
The NHL trade deadline is this coming Monday at 3 p.m. and president and general manager Lou Lamoriello’s priority is believed to be finding another scoring forward who can bolster the 24th-ranked power play.
But all the Islanders worried about on Monday was their intrasquad curling competition. Teams were drafted on the team’s charter flight to Calgary and the squad led by captain Anders Lee and Valtteri Filppula wound up finishing first.
“I haven’t grown up knowing about curling,” said goalie Robin Lehner, expected to start against the Flames. “You see it on TV and it doesn’t look that hard. Yesterday, we saw a lot of players fall. I fell. It was tough on your groins. We were out there sweating. I’ve got a lot of respect for curling.”
“When you spend as much time together as we do, you go through periods of ebbs and flows, moods,” right wing Cal Clutterbuck added. “It’s nice, in the middle of the season, to just get yourself into a light setting.”