The New York Islanders have hit their bumpiest stretch of the season, they have been bleeding goals, and they’re unable to settle on a productive mix in their bottom six.
One of the members of the last group, the conveniently waiver-exempt Joshua Ho-Sang, has been assigned to AHL Bridgeport.
The Sound Tigers play in Springfield tonight. As of this posting, there was no word on if he’d be in that lineup (presumably yes), nor any language reported from the Isles coaching staff on the decision (but follow Newsday’s Arthur Staple for words from today’s practice, and any reporting to come).
The Islanders announcement about Ho-Sang’s assignment (it is technically a “loan”) referred to the possibility of Thomas Hickey coming off IR, though he is not expected to be activated for tomorrow’s game at home against the Kings, as reported by Staple.
Shane Prince is currently with the Sound Tigers on a conditioning stint, but that stint means he was already on the 23-man NHL roster.
So we’ll see where this goes, and for how long. It will be a hotly contested decision among Isles fans, some of whom think he’s great and it’s the wrong demotion, others who think it’s overdue.
Ho-Sang has shown lots of promise but has struggled along with frequent linemates Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier. Ho-Sang’s struggles are usually more glaring because they involve turnovers — he has the puck a lot, and tries to create — or in several recent cases, the scene of a crime in a goal against, even in cases where he was just arriving to help.
When he was last sent to Bridgeport, long shifts and a few decisions appeared to be a factor, as outlined in deep detail here. It’s likely similar but different this time around.
Between five-on-five production and special teams, the Islanders are riding their top six lines a lot, and for good reason, but that creates some challenges for other forwards used to playing more. Beyond that, coach (dis)satisfaction: during the ugly loss to the Blue Jackets on Thursday, Ho-Sang had a season-low 11 shifts and 10:28 of ice time.
To my eyes Ho-Sang is trying to be active but his decision-making — and that process of understanding the competition to figure out when to go Barzal with his creativity and when to play it safe — is still a work in progress. Sending him down doesn’t fix the Islanders’ bottom six ills, but the theory is probably that it may get him some time away from those ills, and let him work on his own with a higher volume of ice time.
All to be determined, until the next injury or next roster move.
Update: The next roster move was calling up Steve Bernier from the Sound Tigers. womp womp