CHICAGO — It appears Matt Martin’s absence from the Islanders’ lineup will end just two games into the new season. That’s quicker than the identity-line stalwart expected after offseason ankle surgery.
Martin took his usual spot on Casey Cizikas’ left wing along with Cal Clutterbuck during line rushes in the Islanders’ practice at the United Center on Monday and is expected to be activated off the nonroster/injured list for Tuesday night’s game in Chicago.
"It wasn’t a long process," Martin said. "Back in March when we played back-to-back games I blocked a couple of shots in the same spot. I was dealing with that throughout the playoff run and tried to get it to settle down after the season. It didn’t and I went to see the specialist and went the surgery route. It’s maybe even a little earlier than the initial time frame of it. I feel good."
Both the Islanders (0-2-0) and Chicago (0-2-1) are looking for their first wins. The Islanders opened their 13-game road trip with a 6-3 loss at Carolina Thursday before Saturday night’s 5-1 defeat at Florida.
Coach Barry Trotz said after the loss to the Panthers that the fourth line has not been "really good at all compared to what their ceiling is, so that’s a little bit concerning."
Ross Johnston played in Martin’s spot in the season opener and Leo Komarov was inserted on Saturday. Komarov was placed on waivers on Monday and if he clears can be reassigned to the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. The move will open a roster spot for Martin.
Trotz said he is hoping Martin’s return can spark the reunited trio.
"He provides that emotional element to that line and to our team," Trotz said. "He’s a smart player. He understands the moments. And, obviously, a physical element."
"What’s always made us successful as a team is we just know our roles, we know what to do, not only as individuals but as lines," Martin said. "We haven’t gotten off to the start we’ve wanted to. We’ve played two really good hockey teams in their buildings. I also think we’ve done a good job dealing with adversity over the last three years. We’ll look to get on the right track."
Notes & quotes: Goalie Semyon Varlamov (injured reserve/soreness) participated fully in practice for the first time since training camp opened, sharing one net with Cory Schneider while Tuesday’s expected starter, Ilya Sorokin, worked alone in the opposite crease. Trotz said Varlamov will not play on Tuesday. "Then we’ll go from there," he said. "Once anybody joins practice, he’s day to day. Once he feels he’s ready, we’ll put him in the net." The Islanders are at Columbus on Thursday night. Schneider will be reassigned to Bridgeport once Varlamov is activated . . . The Islanders placed forward Dmytro Timashov on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract. The 25-year-old Ukrainian-born Swede played in one game for the Islanders last season after being acquired from the Red Wings and had appeared in one game for Bridgeport this season.