All Islanders players practiced on Tuesday, including defenseman Johnny Boychuk for a third straight day after he exited Game 1 of the best-of-five qualifying series against the Panthers with a suspected head injury.
That means coach Barry Trotz has two crucial lineup decisions to make for Wednesday afternoon’s Game 1 of the Islanders’ best-of-seven, first-round series against the Capitals at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
“We have a lot of guys that want to be in the lineup,” said Trotz, who led the Capitals to the Stanley Cup in 2018.
Andy Greene, acquired from the Devils on Feb. 16, filled in seamlessly for Boychuk for the final three games of the Islanders’ four-game win over the Panthers. But the lefthanded Greene played his off-side paired with lefty Nick Leddy whereas the righthanded Boychuk would give Trotz three lefty-righty pairs.
“One of our biggest strengths is our depth,” Leddy said. “Andy stepped in and we molded pretty well.”
Trotz must also choose a second wing for Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s third line with Derick Brassard. Tom Kuhnhackl effectively played on that line the first three games against the Panthers before Trotz turned to Leo Komarov and his penalty-killing acumen in Game 4.
But Trotz could also insert burly Ross Johnston with the physical Tom Wilson lurking in the Capitals’ lineup.
“Ross is in the mix, for sure,” Trotz said.
Capitals coach Todd Reirden said defenseman John Carlson, a Norris Trophy candidate and the team’s leading scorer in the regular season, will be a game-time decision. Carlson did not play in the three-game, round-robin after exiting the Capitals’ exhibition game against the Hurricanes on July 29…Center Lars Eller, who returned to the Toronto bubble on Saturday after leaving for the birth of his second child, is still in quarantine and will not be available for Game 1.