As feared, the concussion suffered by Lubomir Visnovsky on a hit by Carolina Hurricanes forward Riley Nash Saturday night will mean the New York Islanders will have to do without this key defenseman for the near future.
After re-evaluating him, the Islanders placed him on injured reserve, retroactive to Oct. 19. A 10-game IR stay would have him miss the Islanders' next three games: Tuesday at home to the Canucks, Friday on the road in Pittsburgh, and Saturday (Oct. 26) back home against the Flyers.
We previously fretted about what his absence would mean, focusing on how they'll replace him. Now we know whatever they do will at least have to get them through this week.
Visnovsky is not the Isles' most-used defenseman -- his 20 minutes per game trail the "shutdown" pair of Travis Hamonic (24:22) and Andrew MacDonald (25:57). But the latter two's 24-plus minutes per game already puts them at what is near if not past maximum capacity.
Visnovsky and his partner Thomas Hickey log a little over 16 minutes per game at even strength, with Visnovsky adding to his minutes total with 3:35 per game of power play time.
So one obvious opportunity here is for offensive defenseman Matt Donovan to take some of those PP minutes, particularly if the Isles are going to continue to tax MacDonald and Hamonic at even strength and with over three minutes per game of penalty kill work.
Donovan and Matt Carkner have yet to appear in the same lineup together, and the two of them have taken turns pairing with Brian Strait. Obviously something will change there.
The Isles have a little video from after this morning's skate with the survivors discussing life without Visnovsky:
Essentially, it boils down to Andrew MacDonald saying it's an opportunity for everyone to step up -- except, really, MacDonald is already stepping up as much as if not more than he should be asked -- and Hickey saying they can't worry about who they're playing with:
"We've got to play the same way. Everybody's got to step up. Lubo's a big part of our offense and defense. ... But I've played with just about everybody here this year or last year, so you just go out and play defense and not worry about who you're partnered with."
Partners? That's where the coaches will have to get as creative with the blueline as they have been with the forward lines -- and that's assuming their bosses don't get creative first and break the Radek Martinek emergency glass.