Cal Clutterbuck gingerly arose from his stall and stiffly began to walk out of the Islanders’ dressing room at their East Meadow practice facility on Monday.
The gritty right wing said he will likely need offseason back surgery.
“I don’t know what kind of surgery yet,” Clutterbuck said as the Islanders conducted their end-of-season exit interviews. “It could be just a routine disc thing. Or it could be as much as fusion surgery.”
Clutterbuck was unable to play in the Islanders’ 5-2 loss in Game 4 of their second-round series with the Hurricanes on Friday night at Raleigh, North Carolina after playing in the first seven postseason games. But he said he’s been dealing with the back pain since the middle of the season.
He said, in a worst-case scenario, he could potentially miss the start of training camp in September but, “it’s not going to hinder my ability to play going forward.”
“It’s been since the middle of January, the beginning of February,” Clutterbuck said. “It’s been worse the last month or so. I had three or four major incidents where I was kind of laid out for a couple of days and I had to have the trainers put in a lot of time just to be able to get me up and able and ready. I did what I could to contribute in the way I could.”
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk revealed his broke his left foot when he blocked a shot in Game 4 of the first-round sweep of the Penguins. He missed the second round but had resumed skating by that series’ end and said he likely could have returned if the Islanders had extended it to a sixth game.
“That’s pretty good for having a broken foot, to play a couple of weeks later,” Boychuk said.
Coach Barry Trotz acknowledged the 10 days between Game 4 of the first round and Game 1 of the second round affected the Islanders.
“We just lost a little bit of that focus,” Trotz said. “Execution. Just enough to be off. We lost in four. But every game was there to be had.”
But Trotz won’t blame playing home games at Barclays Center instead of NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, which hosted the first round, for the Islanders’ quick second-round ouster.
“I can’t really tell you it cost us this or it cost us that,” Trotz said. “It felt a little different but, at the same time, there’s no excuse for anything.”