The Islanders had been relatively lucky with health this season. Until Saturday, that is.
Calvin de Haan, who has played the third-most minutes on the team this season, will be out for an extended period of time after suffering what’s believed to be a shoulder injury just before Jordan Eberle scored the winning goal in overtime to beat the Kings, 4-3.
De Haan was placed on injured reserve Monday after an MRI exam while the team practiced in advance of Tuesday’s game against the Red Wings at Barclays Center. No determination has been made on whether de Haan will need surgery, which would put him out until at least the playoffs.
But even without surgery, the Islanders won’t have one of their steadiest defensemen for a while. De Haan, who is a free agent after this season, is second among Isles defenseman with 12 points and is averaging 18:45 of ice time per game.
“Visually, his reaction didn’t look great,” coach Doug Weight said of seeing de Haan in pain on Saturday. “A big piece of our defense. Having a really good year, a little anonymity behind it, but he’s a great skater, defends hard, he’s fearless blocking shots.”
Weight had been trying to juggle eight defensemen for a majority of the season. Johnny Boychuk missed three games recently and Thomas Hickey has missed the last four, though Hickey came off IR Monday. Now down to seven and in need of someone to pick up those heavy minutes de Haan played, the coach is trying to see this as an opportunity rather than a setback.
“We have a lot of guys that have played a lot of minutes in their careers and are on the verge of earning more minutes,” Weight said. “And we’ve been in a bit of a logjam. So I’m comfortable having them take that step. It seems to me the more you throw at them, the more confident they get and it’s been difficult to throw a lot at them because of the amount of guys. This isn’t a good thing by any stretch. Calvin’s come into his own the last two years. But we have the personnel to deal with it.”
De Haan has had two previous shoulder injuries, both of which required surgery. One cost him the 2009-10 junior season, the year after the Isles selected him 12th overall; the other ended his 2012-13 season with Bridgeport. That injury was to his left shoulder.
Saturday’s injury, when de Haan laid out to break up a two on one and appeared to have Kings forward Tyler Toffoli fall on him, looked as if it was to de Haan’s right shoulder. Only one other Isles regular has missed more than four games to injury, with Nikolay Kulemin recovering from shoulder surgery.
Notes & quotes: Weight said Thomas Greiss, who got his first win on Saturday since Nov. 24, will start in goal against the Wings on Tuesday.