The Islanders didn’t play Monday, but as far as injury news goes, they still should count the day as a win.
Though Casey Cizikas did not practice after suffering a lower-body hit Saturday that eventually forced him to leave the game against the Senators, coach Doug Weight said he did not believe the fourth-liner’s injury was serious and did not foresee him missing significant playing time. Anthony Beauvillier skated in Cizikas’ spot at practice, down from the third unit. Cizikas planned to visit with doctors later in the day, Weight said.
“He got hit in a spot that can [be aggravated], so it could be three, four days, a week, or he could be playing tomorrow,” Weight said, adding that Cizikas was still sore. “It’s nothing too serious.”
Cizikas was injured in the second period in a 2-1 win over the Senators, after a hard check into the boards; he returned for a single shift before leaving the game for good. He has four goals and four assists this season, along with 43 hits, and eats up more time than anyone else on the fourth line, mostly thanks to his work on the penalty kill. He’s been a pivotal contributor there, as well as a stabilizing force in a skilled unit that’s accounted for 19 points in the first 23 games.
“It’s a big loss if he’s not in, but we’ll see what happens [Tuesday],” Weight said. “He brings everything every shift. He’s hard-working, plays the game very smart, tenacious, and he’s hard to play against . . . There are some challenging spots on the ice that he has to play and we count on him and certainly [we count on him on] the penalty kill, as well. [He’s] fearless in shot blocking and really good at executing his job.”
Weight: Leddy should be Norris Trophy candidate
It’s no secret that Nick Leddy is having a breakout year for the Islanders, but Weight believes that if he keeps it up, the defenseman could be among the very best in the NHL.
“Three days ago, I read the top 12 Norris Trophy candidates for the first quarter of the season and his name wasn’t on it,” Weight said. “He should be right at the top of the list as far as I’m concerned. I don’t get to coach everybody else but he’s been awesome for us all over the ice.”
“He’s just really taking his game to a new level and it’s great to see.”
The 26-year-old is tied for second among defensemen with 20 points (six goals, 14 assists); only the Stars’ John Klingberg has more, with 21. Leddy said that that’s been by design. He already has 58 shots on goal, far exceeding his pace for any season in his NHL career. His shooting percentage (.103) is also the highest it’s been in any full season.
“A big thing this year. too was trying to have a shooter’s mentality and just trying to create more,” Leddy said. “There’s a little luck involved in hockey but the more pucks you do shoot the more chances I’ll get.”