Lost in the excitement of the Islanders 7-4 comeback win over the Canucks on Monday night was that, in addition to the notable absences of injured Olympian John Tavares and the traded Thomas Vanek, the Islanders mounted their onslaught without Michael Grabner, who did not return to the ice for the third period.
News from today's practice is that Grabner suffered a concussion as a result of a hit by Chris Tanev in the second period. Grabner is now out indefinitely with no timetable for his return. Frankly, with no playoffs on the horizon either, that's probably not a bad idea.
Here's a gif of the play that sent Grabner to the bench. Looks like Tanev's elbow caught Grabner in the top of the head with about six minutes to go in the second period. He skated back to the bench hunched over, clutched his head and was helped to the room by a trainer. No penalty was called on the play.
Grabner's loss means a lot of options and openings for the Islanders, who currently have just 11 forwards (and seven (7!) rookies). Anders Lee, who seems to score goals every time he takes the ice since his call-up, sounds like he has the inside track on the top line alongside Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen.
"Anders Lee deserves an opportunity to move up on that line," Capuano said. "He brings the element of a big body. Nielsen brings great intelligence and great hockey sense; Kyle is a power forward who gets pucks to the net and Lee gets to the net. It's a good combination and he's most likely is the guy who will play on that line."
Who gets the call from Bridgeport is more of a mystery. The Sound Tigers' first line and their three leading scorers - Lee, Ryan Strome and Mike Halmo - are already with the Islanders. Time to see if any old Whalers are still hanging around the Nutmeg State.
But Grabner's offense is only half (or, for some, an even smaller fraction) of what he brings to the Islanders. How they operate on the penalty kill without the Human Breakaway Machine™ could be frightening. Their next game is against...oh boy...the San Jose Sharks on Friday night.
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