RALEIGH, N.C. — The fourth line has not been the identity-setter for the Islanders that coach Barry Trotz came to rely on so heavily last season. The trio wasn’t even intact for Friday night’s 5-2 loss to the Hurricanes at PNC Arena.
Center Casey Cizikas missed his first game with an unspecified issue that kept him from practice on Monday and Thursday and left him as the only Islander not to participate in Friday’s morning skate.
Cizikas, asked about his health Tuesday, responded, “Good, good, good.” He did not take further questions on the subject.
So it’s left to speculation as to whether Cizikas’ issue is impacting the line’s ability to set the tone with its energy and physical play. He has one assist in three games. Matt Martin had the final goal in a 5-2 loss to the Oilers on Tuesday, a game in which the entire team played surprisingly soft.Cal Clutterbuck does not have a point in four games.
“I think they’ve gotten away from their identity a little bit, to be honest,” said Trotz, who seemed doubtful that Cizikas will play Saturday against the Panthers. “They know it. We talked about that as a group. We’ve got to get back to a little bit of an identity. We’re not what we think we are. Let’s get back to what we can be.”
Defenseman Nick Leddy, who also sat out Thursday’s practice with an unspecified issue but participated in Friday’s morning skate, missed the game. That forced right-shooting rookie Noah Dobson to move to his off-side paired with right-shooting Johnny Boychuk. Trotz said it was unclear whether Leddy will be available Saturday night . . . Jordan Eberle had two assists for his first points of the season . . . Anthony Beauvillier and Leo Komarov each had his point streak snapped at three games.. . . Left wing Ross Johnston was the healthy scratch.