NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Islanders’ latest road trip started with some unwelcome, though not unexpected, news.
Sparkplug center Casey Cizikas, last seen being helped off the ice without being able to put weight on his left leg, will miss three to four weeks after suffering a laceration early in the first period of Tuesday night’s 5-3 win over the Flyers at Barclays Center. Center Cole Bardreau was recalled from the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport.
The Islanders, who did not practice on Wednesday after also winning 5-3 at Washington on Monday night, open at four-game Western trip against the Predators on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena. The Islanders are in third place in the Metropolitan Division, two points ahead of the Blue Jackets and two behind the Penguins.
The Predators are the lone opponent on this trip, which also includes Vegas, Arizona and Colorado, not in a playoff position.
“We’ve got to have more success against the Western teams,” said coach Barry Trotz with the Islanders 8-6-3 in inter-conference games. “We’re just going to have to play our game. Hopefully, not chase games but, instead, lock things down.”
That will be a tougher task without Cizikas, who has 10 goals and four assists in 48 games as part of the identity-setting fourth line. He is also one of the Islanders’ top penalty killers.
It’s just the latest injury to deplete the Islanders’ core.
Cizikas had to be helped from the ice at 3:23 of the first period on Tuesday night after defenseman Ivan Provorov’s skate cut into his left leg near his knee as the two collided along the boards.
The Islanders’ fourth line has been without Cal Clutterbuck, skating on his own but still out indefinitely, since his left wrist was slashed by Patrice Bergeron’s skate on Dec. 19 at Boston. Clutterbuck underwent surgery the next day for tendon repair.
Top-pair defenseman Adam Pelech has been out since suffering a season-ending Achilles’ tendon injury during off-ice, pregame warmups on Jan. 2.
All of which increases the pressure on president and general manager Lou Lamoriello to make a move before the Feb. 24 trade deadline. Help could be used both up front and on the back end.
Bardreau, 26, had a goal and an assist in a nine-game stint with the Islanders from Oct. 19-Nov. 9. It was the first NHL stint for the undrafted free agent out of Cornell, who spent the past five seasons in the Flyers’ organization.
But Trotz knows he can trust Bardreau to be a physical forechecker who can assume some of Cizikas’ role.
The Islanders lost to Predators, 8-3, at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum on Dec. 17, though they beat the trip’s other three opponents in their visits to New York.
“No game is going to be easy,” said right wing Leo Komarov, likely to play on Bardreau’s line along with Matt Martin. “It’s a fun road trip. We just have to play the way we can play. Nothing fancy. Just keep going.”