Barry Trotz spent Friday weighing the pros and cons of altering the Islanders’ lineup for Saturday night’s crucial Game 4 of their NHL semifinal series against the Lightning at Nassau Coliseum.
The coach acknowledged that rookie sharpshooter Oliver Wahlstrom was an option to be re-inserted after suffering a lower-body injury in Game 5 of the first-round series against the Penguins.
At the same time, Trotz conceded "this group is used to not a lot of change so when I throw some of those wrenches in, they sometimes go into a little bit of a spin cycle."
It’s a delicate but vital decision for Trotz with the Lightning taking a 2-1 series lead with their 2-1 win in Thursday night’s Game 3 at the Coliseum.
Wahlstrom, the 11th overall pick in 2018, had a goal and two assists in five games against the Penguins after 12 goals and nine assists in 44 regular-season games. He has a blistering right-handed shot from the left side that could benefit the Islanders — who have scored just five goals in three games against the Lightning — both five-on-five and on the power play.
"Some guys get small in the moment, especially in the playoffs," Trotz said. "I didn’t think Wahlly did. I thought he had a really good start in the playoffs and then he faded a little bit and then he got hurt. I have a lot of faith in what Wahlly can do if we put him in and he is an option for us. We had a big discussion if he comes in the lineup. We haven’t made any decisions."
He would likely be inserted for Travis Zajac, who has a goal and assist in 10 playoff games and has been used on the man advantage the last two games.