MONTREAL — Doug Weight had no specific update on Casey Cizikas, saying only that the Islanders center will be out “a while.” He suffered what is suspected to be a hand injury in Saturday’s win over the Rangers.
Adding Cizikas to the pile of Isles injuries seems a bit ridiculous at this point. Josh Bailey, Andrew Ladd and Johnny Boychuk are out, Calvin de Haan is not expected to return this season after shoulder surgery and Nikolay Kulemin might return at the very end of the season after shoulder surgery.
The injury bug has bitten even in Bridgeport. Devon Toews, the Isles’ top defense prospect, is out for the remainder of the season after shoulder surgery.
“We talk about opportunity — there’s opportunities here for a few guys,” Weight said. Michael Dal Colle, Tanner Fritz and Sebastian Aho all started this season with Bridgeport and were in the lineup on Monday night against the Canadiens.
Losing Cizikas’ faceoff and penalty-killing skills especially hurts. Even though the Isles entered Monday night’s game with the 30th-ranked penalty kill, Cizikas was the No. 1 forward over the boards, particularly for his ability at the dot. His 58 shorthanded faceoff wins are 10th in the league and his even-strength faceoff percentage is 56.8, in the top 20 among centers with 300 total draws taken.
Much of his faceoff and PK duties will fall to Brock Nelson, who has struggled this season. He has only 14 points and has won 47.4 percent of his draws.
“It can be good to get that extra [PK] time,’’ Nelson said. “It gets you into the flow of the game a bit more than just sitting on the bench.”
Pulock adjusting to a full shield
Ryan Pulock has not missed any time after an errant elbow from Penguins defenseman Ian Cole broke his cheekbone on Jan. 5, but it hasn’t been easy for him to adjust to the full face shield he is wearing.
“You get used to the half-shield, where you can look up and down at your feet pretty easily,” he said. “It takes a little time to get used to finding the pucks at your feet with the bottom of the shield there.”
Pulock got knocked off a puck in the first period, which led to the Canadiens’ first goal. Then he whiffed on an outlet pass, and Brendan Gallagher had a good scoring chance down the slot barely half a minute later.