The next four Islanders games, beginning with a visit from the Panthers Wednesday night, will say a lot about the team.
After the only visit this season from the team the Isles eliminated in the first round last spring on John Tavares’ double-overtime Game 6 goal, the Islanders go on the road for three games in four days — at the Panthers, Hurricanes and Bruins, all teams hanging around the fringes of the Eastern Conference playoff race and thus all ahead of the Islanders.
The only thing in the Isles’ favor is that they’ve played fewer games than all the teams up the East ladder. After this busy four-game stretch, though, that cushion will be gone.
They will also begin this stretch without Travis Hamonic, who suffered a knee injury on Saturday in Arizona and is day to day. Adam Pelech will step in and play alongside Nick Leddy on Wednesday.
“He went down and played a game (in Bridgeport) last week, he’s had a lot of conditioning and a few good practices,” Jack Capuano said of Pelech, who was injured on Nov. 28 and hasn’t played for the Isles since. “He’s played with Leds before so we’ll put him in there. I liked his game a lot before he got hurt.”
Capuano said he isn’t inclined to make changes up front even though the Islanders managed only two total goals against the Avalanche and Coyotes last week. “Some guys who we were thinking about had good games,” Capuano said, declining to single anyone out.
Alan Quine scored the lone goal against the Coyotes and Shane Prince hit a post and a crossbar in overtime of that game and those two were the likeliest candidates to take a seat for rookie Anthony Beauvillier.
“We talk about the forwards when the goals aren’t going in, but they generated a lot in Arizona,” Capuano said. “We had 27 scoring chances that game, six in the OT. We need our D to get involved too, I think that was something that was missing in those two games.”
Tavares, McDonagh All-Stars. Tavares was named as the team’s lone All-Star representative on Tuesday, the second consecutive year the Islanders captain has been selected to the three-on-three game and fourth overall selection. It will be held in Los Angeles on Jan. 29.
“It’ll be another great experience, L.A. should be a lot of fun,” Tavares said. “I always enjoy representing the Islanders. It’s a great honor. I grew up watching it and always wanted to be a part of it. That excitement doesn’t go away.”
Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh was selected as that team’s lone All-Star representative, his second straight appearance. Each division has 11 players selected — six forwards, three defensemen and two goaltenders and all teams must have a representative.
Also selected were former Islanders Kyle Okposo for the Sabres and Frans Nielsen for the Red Wings in the Atlantic Division, the first All-Star selection for both.