Josh Bailey’s return was the big plus for Thursday, but there were further good signs for some of the Islanders’ injured.
Johnny Boychuk and Andrew Ladd skated before the team’s morning skate, the second straight day on the ice for both. Boychuk (lower body) missed his 10th straight game and Ladd (upper) missed his fifth straight.
Casey Cizikas, who was injured against the Rangers and said by Doug Weight to be “out a while,” also was on the ice Thursday morning. His extended stay, long after any skaters in Thursday’s lineup had left the rink, indicated that Cizikas is working on conditioning and not really close to a return. But it still was encouraging.
“Not ready, but skating well,” Weight said. “Those upper-body injuries, we’ll take them over the lower anytime. He can get out there and keep his wind up, but he’s not ready yet. As desperate as things are, you have to push it, but you have to make sure he’s gonna be healthy when he plays.”
Nikolay Kulemin, out since Nov. 7 with a shoulder injury that required surgery, also did some on-ice work for a second straight day. He is weeks away from a return but able to get some of his skating wind back while his shoulder heals.
“He’s aggressively pursuing to get back,” Weight said. “Still a long way away, but it certainly is good. I think things like that open your eyes. Kulie is a valuable player on our team and it brings us stability, so we miss him, but he’s definitely on a good track.”
Fritz in, Quine out
Tanner Fritz returned to the lineup after sitting out Tuesday’s loss to the Devils, with Alan Quine a healthy scratch. Quine had been filling Bailey’s spot on the top line during Bailey’s four-game absence.
Fritz took Cizikas’ spot between Jason Chimera and Cal Clutterbuck, as he did in Montreal on Monday. Shane Prince, who left Tuesday’s game after the second period following a big collision, was in Thursday’s lineup.
Dennis Seidenberg, who dressed as the seventh defenseman on Tuesday, was scratched with Bailey returning.