The New York Islanders know the nine-game road trip they began in Detroit on Tuesday night is pivotal.
After their 3-1 win, they also learned it would be a trip requiring all hands on deck.
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk and linemates Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck each left the game with injuries, though Boychuk came back and finished the game. Cizikas was called “upper body” and Clutterbuck “lower body,” but we can take an educated guess slightly more specific than that.
Boychuk Hurt, Returns
Boychuk took a shot from the point off his ankle that felled him in the third period, leaving him unable to put weight on it. But he walked that off and returned a few shifts later. The Islanders have dressed extras in warmups recently as several players have been “banged up” and gametime decisions. Expect Boychuk to join that list.
The Isles are carrying one extra defenseman, with Travis Hamonic already out for a while and not expected back for at least another week.
Clutterbuck Deja Vu
Most alarming was Clutterbuck, who was playing for the first time in nine games after coming in and out of the lineup with what interim coach Doug Weight basically conceded had been a recurring injury.
The Isles had been overly cautious — or so they thought — in keeping Clutterbuck out to let his injury heal
Like all teams the Islanders are of course vague about details of Clutterbuck’s latest injury. But the combination of it being “lower body” again, and Doug Weight’s previous talk of the need to have Clutterbuck 100 percent before he re-entered the lineup, makes one guess it is related to groin and/or abdominal structure.
Again, very little info to go on, and we’ve yet to hear whether it’s the same injury as before, but at this point would anyone be surprised if the next update was “offseason abdominal surgery”?
Cizikas Winces, Leaves
Casey Cizikas does not leave games nor bail out of plays easily. But carrying the puck down the wing in the second period he took a slash, let go of the puck, shook his hand and skated off holding it.
He did not return.
So with Clutterbuck: Wonder and worry.
And with Boychuk: Exhale, but figure he’s “gonna feel that in the morning.”
But as for Cizikas, Arthur Staple brings us a new update as of Wednesday afternoon. And it’s not good:
Casey Cizikas will miss four weeks with an upper-body injury, source says. #Isles— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) February 22, 2017