There was a brief moment - three games, to be exact - when the Islanders had their actual top six defensemen in the line-up at once. Any more of those moments will have to wait as Thomas Hickey makes his second trip to the injured reserve this season.
Arthur Staple of Newsday breaks the bad news:
Thomas Hickey will miss at least a month with a lower-body injury, a source said Monday. The Islanders defenseman sustained the injury, believed to be to his left leg, in the third period of the team's 3-2 overtime win over the Blues in St. Louis on Saturday. The Isles placed Hickey on injured reserve Monday morning.
Brian Strait, who paired with Hickey on Saturday while Marek Zidlicky sat as a healthy scratch, will take Hickey's spot on the left side of the third pair with Zidlicky against the Flames on Monday night and for the foreseeable future.
Hickey also missed the first four games of this season with a broken thumb. Although Hickey is seen by a segment of fans as being too small and frail for the rigors of NHL hockey, Hickey had played 103 straight games as an Islander until missing a game with an illness last November.
While missing Hickey and the better-than-50% 5v5 corsi numbers he has contributed over his career is one problem, replacing them with Brian Strait, the Islanders fan answer to the question "Who is history's greatest monster?" is another.
Strait, often out of position and not nearly as physical as the coaching staff would like to believe, gets the nod over the team's best defensive prospect, Ryan Pulock, only because he shoots left like Hickey does. Reluctant to play a rookie on his off-side so soon, the Islanders will most likely keep the right-handed shooting Pulock in Bridgeport (where he has two goals and two assists in six games) for the time being. Staple notes that another promising rookie defenseman, 2012 third round pick Adam Pelech, might be considered for a recall.
I wouldn't place any bets on the Islanders making a trade for temporary defensive help, no matter how much we'd like to see literally anyone but Strait in the line-up for the next month. Should the team continue to not quite hit on all cylinders (their 5-2-1 record isn't quite a reflection of the quality of their play so far this season), perhaps Garth Snow will be moved to take a stab at someone. But don't hold your breath.
In other words, keep your fingers crossed that Hickey's injury isn't as severe as it sounds.