The New York Islanders revealed their plan to deal with the Casey Cizikas injury as they head on a four-game Western trip: Cole Bardreau has been recalled from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
Cizikas is expected to miss three to four weeks after suffering a skate laceration early in Tuesday night’s victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. That means Matt Martin is the only man currently standing on the Islanders’ trusted fourth line with Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck, who is also out with a skate cut injury.
It looked like Martin and Cizikas were reaching a rhythm with Leo Komarov, who picked up points in the last two games while playing in Clutterbuck’s spot.
Here’s Martin reacting to the injury last night:
17 on 53: "Listen, it's kind of that next-man-up mentality. Injuries are part of the game. (15 and 53) are guys you want to have in the lineup, but it doesn't always work that way. We've just got to find ways to continue to get wins." #Isles— Brian Compton (@BComptonNHL) February 12, 2020
Lee on Cizikas: “It’s really tough. ... He’s such a mainstay in our lineup that we’ve all got to step up and find a way to fill his shoes.” #Isles— Brian Compton (@BComptonNHL) February 12, 2020
Now they’ll need to find a new rhythm — and a regular center for the time being.
Bardreau had a promising nine-game stint with the Islanders earlier this season in the middle of their 17-game points streak, which included a penalty shot for his first NHL goal.
Cole Bardreau's penalty shot goal to give the Islanders a 10-game winning streak feels like it happened 10 years ago. It was last November 5th.— Culture of Losing (Out On Free Agents) (@cultureoflosing) February 12, 2020
It also included being dubbed “Tuna” by Johnny Boychuk — because why not, and because they needed an on-bench call that’s more easily differentiated from Mathew Barzal.
It’s funny how injuries work this way. Bardreau’s initial opportunity was made possible by injury, and his return to Bridgeport came not from poor play but because those bodies were returning to health.
Once he returned to the Sound Tigers, he dealt with new injuries of his own, which opened the way for Otto Koivula to get the next recall and an NHL debut of his own. Bardreau has almost as many points (1 goal, 1 assist) in his nine NHL games as he has in 29 games (2 goals, 1 assist) in the AHL this season. But the Islanders know what he brings, including speed and the ability to play center or wing.
Trade Deadline Impact
The other variable in this: Cizikas’ injury will last through the NHL trade deadline. It happened with enough time for them to get another look at how Bardreau might fill in, but it also increases the urgency to supplement at forward.
The Islanders were already going to be shoppers at the deadline, even if they believe Kieffer Bellows can continue the promising start to his NHL career. Now they have an additional reason to buy and, if needed, flex their ample cap space.