The Islanders have tried to battle through injuries to key players this season, but the possibility of playing without John Tavares on Thursday night is a very unpleasant prospect.
Tavares did not skate Wednesday, a day after he tumbled hard into the end boards in the third period of the Islanders' 3-1 win over the Predators at the Coliseum. Tavares skated slowly to the bench, came out for a power-play shift, went down the runway to stretch out his banged-up hip and then came back for the final 5:30 of the game.
Even with treatment Wednesday, Tavares was reportedly very sore. He's certainly going to give it a try to skate this morning with his teammates, but the game with the Kings is very much in doubt for the Isles star, who is tied for third in the league with 22 points.
"We just have to see how he feels when he comes in tomorrow," coach Jack Capuano said.
Thomas Vanek, another injured top-line player, likely will miss his third straight game with an upper-body injury. Vanek skated before his teammates practiced Wednesday, but that may not be enough to let him back in the lineup before Saturday's visit from the Red Wings.
If Tavares joins Vanek on the sideline -- and by all accounts, Tavares' injury does not appear to warrant more than a couple days' rest -- Capuano likely would slide Brock Nelson over to center Kyle Okposo and add Michael Grabner, Pierre-Marc Bouchard or Josh Bailey to the line.
Tavares owns the longest ironman streak on the team, having played the past 226 consecutive games -- the second-longest ironman streak since the Isles' Stanley Cup dynasty era, behind only former linemate Matt Moulson's 284 consecutive games played.
Add the Tavares and Vanek injuries to the status quo reports on defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion, missed 11 games) and Brian Strait (upper body, missed 10) and Capuano is plugging leaks all over the place.
"Like with all the injured guys, it's an opportunity for someone else to step up," Capuano said. "We just have to battle through it."
Notes & quotes: Kevin Poulin, who has allowed one goal in three of his last four starts, likely will get the call Thursday night to make a third consecutive start . . . The Kings will be without their starting goaltender, Jonathan Quick, who was injured in overtime of the Kings' 3-2 shootout loss to the Sabres on Tuesday. Ben Scrivens relieved Quick and likely will start at the Coliseum.