The Casey Cizikas injury was a bitter moment from a very exciting New York Islanders win on Tuesday night. The Islanders won back-to-back games against two tough Metropolitan Division teams, but lost Cizikas to a laceration on his leg.
Remarkably, it is the second time New York has lost a player to that type of injury, as Cizikas’ linemate, Cal Clutterbuck, has been out since December after Patrice Bergeron’s skate cut Clutterbuck in Boston. However, Cizikas’ is only expected to miss three to four weeks.
Bardreau Ready to Step Up
Cole Bardreau makes perfect sense to be called-up because he plays a very similar type of game to Cizikas. The Islanders are not going to be relying on him to be playing on the top three lines. He is a great defensive forward and can help out on the penalty kill.
“We lost a lot of penalty killers, said Trotz. Everybody’s thinks anybody can kill penalties. There is an art to to it. There is either a good penalty killers or bad penalty killers. We are learning on a little on the fly and guys are stepping up.”
In previous call-ups, Bardreau was not playing on the fourth line. Generally, anytime the Islanders bring up one of their prospects, it is for their offense. Bardreau scored his first NHL goal earlier this season, but only has two goals in 29 games in the AHL this year. His hard work was what caught the attention of the Islanders for him to make his debut this season.
With Leo Komarov playing his best hockey of the season this week, it is imperative to keep him on the wing with Matt Martin and not move him back to center, where he played earlier in his career. Ross Johnston and Tom Kuhnhackl are the only other remaining healthy forwards on the roster, but do not play center. Kuhnhackl struggled when he got a chance to play, and Johnston will likely only play against the extremely physical opponents to give Kieffer Bellows a rest like he did Monday against the Washington Capitals.
The Islanders also showed no letdown when Bardreau was in the lineup, as they went 8-0-1 with him during their point streak. His ice-time, though, will most likely remain limited as Bardreau’s career-high was 11:44 against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 25. He’s played more than 10 minutes only twice in his young career.
With all that being said, the pressure is on general manager Lou Lamoriello. His reasoning for not making a move last year was to not disrupt the chemistry. This season has been very different with all the injuries. Trotz has had to move guys in and out of the lineupm and there is clearly a need for another center.
The Islanders have won each of their past two games, but have not done it easily. They have had trouble protecting leads all season. With every day that goes by without New York making a move, it is one less day for a player like Jean-Gabriel Pageau or Kyle Palmieri to make an impact with New York. It also makes signing a player of that ability to a long-term contract easier with all their money to spend.
The other option the Islanders can turn to is Otto Koivula. While he has had a couple of short stays with New York, he hasn’t been able to produce many points. While Koivula will likely be a future top-six forward, Bardreau fills the need more now in place of Cizikas.
Bardreau will likely dress in his first game back as the Islanders embark on a four-game road trip starting on Thursday against the Nashville Predators. The Islanders were embarrassed in their last game against them and lost 8-3. Following that, they will make stops in Vegas, Arizona and Calgary before returning home.