Thomas Hickey and Andrew Ladd should expect to be skating instead of watching when the Islanders face Columbus on Monday night at the Coliseum. They’ve been waiting their turn for steady work again after coming back from some extended injury-induced downtime.
“This is their turn,” Barry Trotz said after practice Sunday. “ . . . Now they get an opportunity to get in. Don’t give that opportunity back.”
Johnny Boychuk exited in the third period of Saturday night’s 5-2 home loss to Philadelphia after taking a shoulder to the head from Jakub Voracek, who was suspended for two games and fined $88,709.68 by the NHL on Sunday. Trotz called Boychuk “very questionable.” So there’s a likely opening on defense for Hickey, who played one game after returning from a suspected head injury and then was scratched for the last six.
Ladd played left wing on the second line in practice after being scratched for three of the last seven games since returning from a lower-body injury.
The Islanders have stumbled in their playoff push, going 4-5-1 in their last 10. So Trotz did some interior redecorating of the lines that began in Saturday’s loss.
Mathew Barzal practiced between Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle on the top line. They started teaming up in the third period. Brock Nelson centered Ladd and Anthony Beauvillier. Michael Dal Colle skated with an extra line instead of that second line. Valtteri Filppula had Leo Komarov and Josh Bailey as his wings on the third line.
Cal Clutterbuck rejoined center Casey Cizikas and left wing Matt Martin on the fourth line. Clutterbuck missed the last three games with an injury but is “possible” Monday, Trotz said.
“Some guys have gotten a little bit dry,” Trotz said. “We’re just trying to get a little more pop.”
Trotz also said they had “lost a little of our battle edge.” So he had them do some “battle drills.”
The Islanders (85 points) trail Metropolitan Division-leading Washington by four points, although the Isles have a game in hand. Columbus (79) is clinging to the Eastern Conference’s second wild card via a tiebreaker.
“They’re kind of a do-or-die team right now,” goalie Thomas Greiss said. “ . . . We’ve got to match their intensity.”
Lehner day-to-day. Goalie Robin Lehner, who missed the last two games with a suspected head injury, returned to do a little on-ice work on his own. Trotz said he’s “officially” day-to-day.