MINNEAPOLIS – The Islanders are struggling all over the ice, at every position. The defense has been shaky and the offense inconsistent.
Barry Trotz has questioned whether his team has gotten too complacent and ran an up-tempo, back-to-basics practice on Saturday at the University of Minnesota’s Ridder Arena trying to inject some intensity and defensive details back into his team before the Islanders continue their three-game road trip on Sunday afternoon against the Wild at Xcel Energy Center.
If not, the coach acknowledged roster moves could be in the works. The Islanders have been outscored 24-15 in a 1-3-1 skid, including Friday night’s 5-2 loss at Chicago as their former goalie Robin Lehner made 38 saves.
“Let’s be realistic, we’re not playing that well, so you make changes,” Trotz said. “You make moves. You try to change the lines. You bring people up. Maybe there’s a trade. You don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t want to give me any ammunition to say, ‘I’m going to bring this guy up from Bridgeport and put him in your spot.’ You talk to your guys, ‘This is your livelihood. If you let it slip because you get comfortable, you’re going to regret it.’”
President and general manager Lou Lamoriello handles all personnel moves. But he’s seeing the same thing as Trotz.
“It’s an 82-game schedule and we certainly have confidence in our group,” Lamoriello told Newsday. “Right now, we just have to work through whatever the deficiencies that might be going on.”
Lamoriello returned left wing Andrew Ladd to the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport after the 34-year-old made a one-game return to the NHL, logging 9:53 in Monday’s 3-2 loss to the Blue Jackets at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum. It was his first game with the Islanders since suffering a second knee injury last season on March 24.
“It’s a hockey decision, it’s nothing else,” Lamoriello said. “He’s done everything asked of him. He went down last night and he got a couple of goals. He knows what he has to do.”
Ladd was returned to Bridgeport prior to a midnight deadline on Monday with the NHL entering its three-day holiday break. Scott Mayfield missed that game because of the flu and Lamoriello said he wanted the roster spot open through the break in case the Islanders needed somebody to take the defenseman’s spot.
The Islanders also save salary-cap space that can be used later in the season with Ladd, in the fourth season of a seven-year, $38.5 million deal, in the AHL.
But Ladd had a three-game AHL goal-scoring streak through Friday. Kieffer Bellows had scored goals in five straight games and had nine in a 12-game stretch.
“The last couple of weeks have been his best weeks all season, which is great to see,” Lamoriello said of Bellows, the 19th overall pick in 2016. “Everything is monitored day by day. It’s just a case of when decisions have to be made.”
Lamoriello would not speculate on whether the Devils trading Taylor Hall well in advance of the Feb. 24 trade deadline would hasten other deals.
“That’s a tough question,” Lamoriello said. “Any time I think I know what’s going on, I find out something different.”