Barry Trotz has come to appreciate Michael Dal Colle’s blue-collar game and how the former first-rounder’s work along the boards and physical play can augment the lineup.
But the Islanders coach also has a glut of forwards with the post-trade deadline roster expansion.
So, it’s not a given Dal Colle will be in Sunday’s lineup in Philadelphia after returning in Friday’s 3-0 loss in Boston following a nine-game absence because of a lower-body injury.
"It felt good being back out there," Dal Colle said. "I felt I was playing pretty good hockey before I went down so it was great being back out there."
The Islanders were off on Saturday so there was no update on either Josh Bailey or Cal Clutterbuck. Both forwards missed Friday’s game with undisclosed issues and Trotz listed them as day-to-day.
Including those two and with Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac acquired from the Devils, the Islanders had 15 forwards on Friday’s game roster for 12 spots.
Dal Colle played on Brock Nelson’s left wing along with Palmieri while Leo Komarov took Clutterbuck’s spot on Casey Cizikas’ line with Matt Martin.
Burly Ross Johnston is also available, though he has not played since taking a punch to the chin from the Flyers’ Samuel Morin on April 3.
"It pushes you, adding two veteran players like we did," Dal Colle said. "For me it’s just trying to get better every day, controlling what I can control and working hard in practice. When I’m out there, I want to make the most of the opportunity."
Dal Colle, who has a goal and three assists in 21 games, logged a team-low 9:46 on Friday with one shot and four credited hits. Nelson sprung him to the Bruins’ crease at 3:30 of the first period but rookie goalie Jeremy Swayman made a blocker save to prevent the Islanders from taking an early lead.
"I thought he came in and did what he was doing before he got hurt," Trotz said. "He was hard on the puck. He had good legs. He was on top of people. He was winning his races and his battles. I thought he gave us really good energy. He did a lot of the legwork for that line."