John Tavares is among the handful of Islanders regulars sitting out Wednesday night’s split-squad games in Brooklyn and Allentown, Pennsylvania, though the Isles captain did get in a full skate after the two game squads finished their morning work.
Tavares, Cal Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas and Thomas Hickey were not on either roster for the games against the Flyers, though all four skated along with defense prospect Kyle Burroughs. Stephen Gionta, who had a big collision in Monday’s game against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, did not skate for a second straight day.
Without two of the projected four opening-night centers in Tavares and Cizikas, the line combinations for the two games were jumbled from the first few days of camp.
Anthony Beauvillier centers Josh Bailey and Jordan Eberle and John Stevens is between Andrew Ladd and Jason Chimera for the home game at Barclays Center. The Nick Leddy-Johnny Boychuk defense pair is to get its first spin Wednesday night, with Thomas Greiss and Kristers Gudlevskis sharing the goaltending duties.
For the bus ride to Allentown, home of the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms (the Flyers affiliate, coached by former Isles coach Scott Gordon), the Isles have Kieffer Bellows and Josh Ho-Sang flanking Brock Nelson and Mathew Barzal between Anders Lee and Casey Bailey.
Calvin de Haan and Ryan Pulock is the notable defense pair, and Jaroslav Halak and Christopher Gibson will share time in goal.
There was plenty of discussion in the Isles room Wednesday morning and among coaches in meetings about the NHL’s preseason crackdown on previously uncalled slashes and faceoff violations. The Isles and Rangers combined for 15 power plays on Monday.
“Obviously I had a few issues with it, but that’s the new rule and we’re all going to have to adapt to it,” said Scott Mayfield, who took two slashing minors and a cross-checking penalty on Monday. “It’s going to take time on both sides. It’s going to take time for [the officials] watching us, making sure we’re keeping our sticks down, just figuring out that line. It’s an adjustment period but it’s something that needs to be done. We can’t be taking all those penalties.”