Barry Trotz clearly feels no compunction to insert Josh Ho-Sang into the Islanders’ lineup just because the former first-rounder has been recalled from Bridgeport (AHL).
Ho-Sang, 22, was a healthy scratch for Monday night’s game 2-1, five-round shootout loss to the Penguins at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum. And Trotz offered no guarantees of playing time for Ho-Sang, who has two goals and 20 assists in 26 games for the Sound Tigers this season and six goals and 16 assists in 43 games for the Islanders over the past two seasons.
“Zero pressure to put him in the lineup,” Trotz said. “You can’t go in going, ‘I’ve got to get this guy into the lineup because, what? He’s got two goals in the AHL? Or he’s a prospect or where he was drafted?’ We don’t work that way. This is about winning hockey games.”
Ho-Sang is a gifted skater and stickhandler. But he’s hurt himself with the organization in the past with some of his actions and words, such as oversleeping on the first day of his first training camp in 2015 and immediately being returned to his junior hockey team and criticizing how former general manager Garth Snow and former coach Doug Weight handled his development last season.
“There’s no one in the organization that wants to see Josh Ho-Sang fail and not be a good player,” Trotz said. “He had to take a step back and grow on and off the ice. I think he’s done that. Now, the process is, can he step forward? If he’s in, play well. If he’s not, how do you react to that?
“I’d like to see him shoot the puck more,” Trotz added. “He’s got two goals in the AHL. That’s not enough.”
Defenseman Thomas Hickey was hit near the ear by Evgeni Malkin’s power-play one-timer at 12:29 of the third period but returned four minutes later…Forward Tom Kuhnhackl and defenseman Luca Sbisa were unavailable.