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Injured Travis Hamonic or Johnny Boychuk could help Islanders against Blackhawks

Johnny Boychuk of the Islanders plays the puck

Johnny Boychuk of the Islanders plays the puck in the first period of a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

This is perhaps not the best time for the Islanders to host the Blackhawks, who come to the Coliseum having won 11 of their last 12 despite missing goalie Corey Crawford. He injured his left foot when he missed a step while leaving a rock concert two weeks ago, but Chicago hasn't slowed down one bit.

The Isles have hit a rough patch in this stretch of four straight against Central Division opponents, allowing 17 goals (including one empty-netter) in two losses to the Blues and one to the Wild. They too have had their share of injuries, but things may be starting to turn on that front.

Cory Conacher, the summer free-agent addition who began the season on the top line but was a healthy scratch in 14 of the past 17 games, was placed on waivers Friday. Should he clear or be claimed, he will be off the roster by noon Saturday and replaced by one of three injured regulars.

Casey Cizikas, Travis Hamonic and Johnny Boychuk, all on injured reserve with upper-body ailments, practiced with the Islanders on Friday. All three skated on Long Island while the Isles were in St. Paul and St. Louis, and the Islanders certainly could use any one of them back.

Hamonic's and Boychuk's absences have been acutely felt during this three-game slide. Without Hamonic and Boychuk on the ice, the Blues forwards manhandled the Isles' defense to the tune of 12 goals in two games, many with Blues players screening Jaroslav Halak.

Hamonic has missed the past four games and appears to be closer to a return than Boychuk, who has missed the past seven. Cizikas was injured a week ago in the 6-4 loss to the Blues.

An area of concern has been the Islanders' special teams, which conceded two power-play goals in two opportunities in St. Louis on Thursday night, leaving the Islanders' 30th-ranked penalty kill 6-for-12 in the last three.

"It's hard to put a finger on it," Calvin de Haan said. "We've had some bad bounces and some shots get through. It's definitely frustrating."

Having either Hamonic or Boychuk (or both) back would help there, too. Facing a Blackhawks team with Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and company would be a far less daunting task with a big body back on defense.

Notes & quotes: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews left Thursday night's win in Boston after a hard hit from Dennis Seidenberg sent him face-first into the boards. His availability for Saturday night remains up in the air.

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