The Islanders likely will be without defenseman Johnny Boychuk for Tuesday’s Game 2 of their best-of-five qualifying series against the Panthers and either Andy Greene or rookie Noah Dobson will step in if he can’t play.
Coach Barry Trotz said that Boychuk was unavailable for Monday’s practice at Toronto. He exited the Islanders’ 2-1 win in Saturday’s Game 1 at Scotiabank Arena for concussion protocol at 2:44 of the second period after an illegal check to the head from defenseman Mike Matheson.
Trotz said both Greene and Dobson will be on the ice for Game 2 warmups.
If Greene plays for the right-shooting Boychuk, it would give the Islanders four lefty defensemen and just two righties, Scott Mayfield and Ryan Pulock.
“It doesn’t really matter with what hand,” Trotz said. “I’m comfortable with our 10 defensemen right now.”
It will be another frustrating absence for Boychuk if he is unable to play. He missed the last three games before the NHL season was paused on March 12 after a skate blade gash to his left eye required 90 stitches.
“It’s the next man up mentality,” said Mayfield, who logged a team-high 24:31 in Game 1. “If Johnny is not able to go, we have guys who can fill in pretty quickly.”
The NHL reported on Monday no positive results among 7,013 COVID-19 tests administered during the first week 24 teams were sequestered in their Toronto or Edmonton bubbles.
Trotz said his team quickly acclimated to life in the arena/practice rink/hotel bubble and social media has documented the team’s on-going Ping Pong tournament.
“It’s like a giant mancave,” Trotz said. “It’s one of the safest places you can find on the planet right now. There are no distractions. We’ve got nothing but guys in here hanging out. This could be very special time.”