VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Islanders didn’t make much of a change at Monday’s trade deadline, but that one move resulted in a pretty big change to the lineup for Tuesday night’s game here against the Canucks.
Shane Prince, the rookie acquired from the Senators on Monday, went right into the Isles lineup and right at the top — he was to skate on the top line with John Tavares and Ryan Strome.
“The good thing is that the Islanders know what kind of player I am,” Prince said after his first morning skate with the team. “This is a great opportunity for me. (Tavares) is obviously one of the best players in the league and I know Stromer a bit from playing against him in the OHL. They’re both offensive-type guys and I think I’ll complement them well.”
Tavares said he chatted with Strome on Monday evening after hearing the Isles had acquired Prince, trying to find out some info on his new teammate. He was going to find out even more skating with Prince on Tuesday night.
“He’s got good speed and you hope he can use it to open up some ice, create some chances,” Tavares said. “You just have to gain experience together to get used to one another.”
Coach Jack Capuano had a couple other surprises for Tuesday’s lineup. Calvin de Haan, who flew out to Edmonton on Saturday to join the team after missing a week, was activated off injured reserve and returned to his usual spot alongside Travis Hamonic.
And Ryan Pulock, coming off his NHL debut in the 3-1 loss to the Oilers on Sunday, stayed in the lineup despite de Haan’s return. Pulock was paired with Thomas Hickey while Brian Strait and Marek Zidlicky were scratched.
“I just tried to play simple, play my game, jump up in the play when I could, use my shot,” Pulock said. “It’s pretty rewarding to get to do that and get another opportunity tonight.”
With rosters expanding after Monday’s trade deadline, the Islanders opted to keep Pulock up and keep him in the lineup and give Prince a crack at prime minutes. The Islanders played two poor games in Alberta, squeaking out a 2-1 overtime win over the Flames and losing 3-1 to the Oilers after holding a 1-0 lead entering the third period.
So even though general manager Garth Snow didn’t have the appetite to make any major moves on Monday, Capuano said the roster shouldn’t get complacent on Tuesday.
“We’ve got some bodies here now and we have to compete hard here,” Capuano said. “I think we need to possess the puck a little more. We’re around 50, 51 percent (in Corsi for percentage), we’re about (15th) in the league there. We need to be better than that.”
But even with the changes on Tuesday, this is still primarily the same team that’s been good, but not consistent enough, through 60 games.
“I think we’re a confident group,” Tavares said. “A lot of us have been together for a long time and we want to do something special. We’ve believed in here since day one and nothing’s changed.”
Notes & quotes: Thomas Greiss got the start in goal, his first start since a 3-2 overtime loss to the Caps on Feb. 18. Greiss came into the game leading the NHL with a .930 save percentage . . . Prince chose No. 11 with the Isles after wearing No. 10 with the Senators. Sens legend Daniel Alfredsson will have No. 11 retired soon, so that was off-limits when Prince made the team in training camp.