No, respirator masks for protection against airborne diseases aren’t being distributed to those entering the Islanders’ dressing room. But three players now are out because of illness, with versatile left wing Anthony Beauvillier added to that list when he missed Thursday’s practice in East Meadow.
And that could be a real blow to the depleted Islanders’ lineup when they finally resume play and face the Lightning on Friday night at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, the start of a back-to-back set that continues with Saturday night’s game at Buffalo.
Beauvillier has become a key contributor to the penalty kill as well as the power play and has settled into a spot on Brock Nelson’s second line. Coach Barry Trotz was not sure of Beauvillier’s availability against either the Lightning or the Sabres, ranked eighth and second, respectively, in the NHL on the power play.
“They’ve trusted him a lot more and given him more responsibility,” center Casey Cizikas said of Beauvillier. “You can see the confidence in his game. He’s taken it to the next level.”
Beauvillier has two goals and four assists for the Islanders (8-3-0), who have a seven-game winning streak but have not played since a 5-3 win over the Flyers on Sunday night at the Coliseum.
He’s eighth on the team with 13:07 of shorthanded time, an average of 1:12 per game. Last season, he played a total of 22 seconds on the penalty kill.
“The penalty kill is interesting. It’s all about buying in,” said defenseman Scott Mayfield, who leads the Islanders with 30:28 of shorthanded time. “I think he did that. There’s a lot of guys I don’t think are able to buy in. The penalty kill is not the most fun job. You go out there, you sit in the defensive zone against their most skilled guys and they’re ripping shots and you have to block shots.”
Michael Dal Colle took Beauvillier’s spot on a power-play unit with defenseman Devon Toews, Josh Bailey, Mathew Barzal and Anders Lee at Thursday’s practice.
The penalty kill already was without Leo Komarov, who has missed four games because of illness and has yet to resume practicing with the team. Rookie defenseman Noah Dobson missed his second straight practice because of illness on Thursday. Both did off-ice work.
The Islanders also are missing forwards Jordan Eberle, Matt Martin and Tom Kuhnhackl, all on injured reserve with lower-body injuries.
Trotz said normal procedures are being followed to prevent the further spread of whatever illness is going around.
“Wipe them down,” Trotz said. “The trainers do a real good job of that. Individually, it’s guys washing their hands, all that stuff you’d say to your 5-year-old. We’re in tight spaces, a lot of people. That’s what it is. One guy gets it and we all take in the same air.”
Cizikas said getting proper nutrition and sleep is crucial. Mayfield said players have to make sure not to use the same water bottles or towels.
“Some guys are a little more susceptible,” he added. “I’m a fan of getting your flu shot. I do all that stuff, always have. I know some guys don’t like getting flu shots.”