ANAHEIM, Calif. – Lane Lambert halted a power-play drill on Tuesday at Honda Center to correct the defensive alignment. The Islanders associate coach pointed out, with some exasperation, it was the same mistake made on a failed penalty kill in the previous game and one identified through video.
The Islanders are likely to alter their lineup for Wednesday night’s game against the Ducks, with fourth-line center Casey Cizikas (lower body) expected to be activated off injured reserve after a one-game absence and left wing Ross Johnston and defenseman Luca Sbisa drawing in for Matt Martin and Adam Pelech, respectively.
But coach Barry Trotz said the biggest difference after Saturday’s 5-2 loss at Nashville to open this four-game road trip will come if his players show more trust in each other on the ice.
“It’s everything, you’ve got to have trust in your teammate,” Trotz said. “Execution comes in many forms and it adds trust and speed into your game. When you get guys on their own agenda, one guy has got the plan and the four other guys are standing around watching.”
Pelech, 24, being a healthy scratch just five games into the season would be the most noteworthy of the potential lineup changes.
He formed a de facto top defense pairing with Ryan Pulock through the first three games before Trotz separated them midway through Saturday’s defeat and after Calle Jarnkrok skated around Pelech for the Predators’ first goal in the first period.
“It’s more management, decisions and management,” Trotz said of Pelech. “Every player has a game where it doesn’t go his way. He didn’t have a real good night. We had a couple of guys who didn’t have a great night. He’ll be fine. I have a lot of faith in him. I wouldn’t put him in that position if I didn’t have faith. Everything is temporary.”
The 6-foot-3, 2-18-pound Pelech, who had three goals and 16 assists in 78 games last season, has yet to notch his first point this season.
“It’s definitely not where I want it to be,” Pelech said. “I’d just say I’m not totally there yet. It’s early in the season, that happens. Sometimes, it takes a while to find your groove and start playing well.
“There was a lot of new stuff thrown at us in training camp,” Pelech added. “I think we’ve done a pretty good job of grasping it. But we still need to iron out some of the details. Some of that is being in the right spots and really knowing your responsibilities.”
Notes & quotes: Trotz would not say whether Robin Lehner or Thomas Greiss would get the start Wednesday night, but did confirm the goalies would split the season’s first back-to-back set, including Thursday night at Los Angeles…Center Stephen Gionta, signed off a professional tryout offer on Saturday, practiced with the Islanders on Tuesday after clearing waivers earlier in the day. The plan is to re-assign him to Bridgeport (AHL) once Cizikas is activated.