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Game 6 news: Zajac likely to replace Wahlstrom; Coliseum capacity increased

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As the Islanders aim to close the series, Barry Trotz said Travis Zajac would be up if Oliver Wahlstrom can’t dress.

New York Islanders v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Five
Get well coon.
Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

After his scary collision with the boards on a Mike Matheson mutually-entered interference play in Game 5 Monday, Islanders rookie Oliver Wahlstrom is a doubt for Game 6 on Wednesday.

During Barry Trotz’s media availability between games, he was asked about Wahlstrom’s status. The Isles coach said Wahlstrom was being looked at as he spoke — perhaps a good sign that there might not be long-term damage — and also took the rare step of tipping his hand to who might replace him.

As many of you already figured, the man “at the forefront” is Travis Zajac, who’s yet to find a firm role since coming over in the Kyle Palmieri trade. Here’s Trotz’s full availability:

“A guy like Travis Zajac comes to mind. He’s been in many of these moments, and he plays a couple of positions. I would say he’s at the forefront.”

That’s way more forthcoming than “a Russian will be in goal.” Unless you think Trotz is being extra playoff cheeky about a wing replacement, just pencil Zajac into your lineup now.

For me that’s a missed opportunity for Michael Dal Colle, who’s been through plenty of adversity and adjustment to his game over the years, though he’s of course not been featured in a madhouse Coliseum playoff game. But yes, Zajac provides versatility and a backup at center if something goes wrong mid-game.

Nassau Coliseum Capacity Expands Again

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders - Game Four
The Jets won’t be there, but lots of others will.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Meanwhile, the Islanders can expect even more fans welcoming them back to Nassau Coliseum for what could be the first series win on Coliseum ice since 1993. (The 2016 win over the Panthers took place in Brooklyn.)

As pandemic restrictions continue to lift, this sequence of tweets by beatwriters Arthur Staple of the Athletic and Andrew Gross of Newsday shows they’re expecting even more in the house for a 6:30 p.m. EDT start:

Hopefully the Islanders deliver the good for hungry fans, and perform more like Game 4 than Game 5.

You know the fans will be ready, and will be eager to welcome a new ally...