The Islanders are discovering that it’s not so easy to replace two big-minute forwards and jump right into the season.
Without Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen, the Islanders have stumbled out of the gate this season. The 4-6-0 record they brought into Thursday night’s game is their worst 10-game start in the past three seasons, a drop-off from the 6-2-2 and 6-4-0 starts the previous two years.
“I think we know what our identity is. We’re trying to get there consistently,” said Cal Clutterbuck, who also lost a regular linemate in Matt Martin to free agency this past July 1. “We’ve got some new personnel, which is something that hasn’t happened here in 3 1⁄2 years, so I think we’re used to starting really well because we’re really familiar with each other and there’s a consistency; you can pick up from where you left off.
“You have some guys who played big minutes leaving and guys that are playing big minutes coming in, and there’s an adjustment period there. We’re just trying to work through that and play the same way we always play, and it’s one of those things. I think offensively you’re going to see us pick it up.”
Coach Jack Capuano tried some new line combinations to start Thursday night, putting Shane Prince with John Tavares and Josh Bailey and Alan Quine back into the lineup between Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera.
“We’re still looking for some chemistry and some consistency with our top line,” Capuano said.
Rookies Anthony Beauvillier and Mathew Barzal were healthy scratches, though Beauvillier’s scratch had to do with a couple of tough games rather than hitting the 10-games-played mark, which would trigger the first year of his contract.
Pair of milestones
Calvin de Haan and Ryan Strome each played his 200th game. The Islanders have nine players on their roster who have played 200 games for the team, with Anders Lee (191) up next for that milestone . . . Former Islander Andrew MacDonald sat out with a lower-body injury that will sideline him at least a week.