With the Islanders not practicing on the break between Games 2 and 3 in their first-round series with the Carolina Hurricanes, a few narratives evolved from the afternoon media availability with coach Lane Lambert.
Waiting for Romanov
The first is not a new one: What to do with the sixth defenseman slot? Rookie Samuel Bolduc has sat for long stretches to close out both of the first two games, with Game 2 being the longest and earliest icing after he took a four-minute high-sticking penalty.
Based on his usage in the first two games as well as in a handful of short-minutes games to close the regular season, that decision wasn’t so much a message about the penalty as a practical reality about who the Islanders feel comfortable with.
Without Alex Romanov, they have a top-four they’re relying on heavily — between 23 and almost 28 minutes a night — while mixing Sebastian Aho (19:29) in less frequently, but far more than Bolduc.
Lambert was asked by media for updates on Romanov and possibly not using Bolduc, and the answer was clear as mud: Romanov “could be” available. Parker Wotherspoon has “always been an option,” though he’s not appeared in a game since January. (Wither, Parker? Or should we say, “Wother, Parker?”)
Lambert says changes for Game 3 lineup will be evaluated. Says Parker Wotherspoon very much an option despite lengthy string of healthy scratches. Doesn’t rule out Alex Romanov. Evaluation there is whether Romanov has recovered enough to have strength needed for a playoff game.— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) April 20, 2023
We’ll see how they go, of course. It seems like with either non-Romanov option, they are going to be conservative and limited in use — not ideal for a young player to feel comfortable, but it’s not a setting where they want a young player to learn on the job, either.
In Wednesday night’s post game, Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour took the opportunity for an update on Teuvo Teravainen (broken hand) to complain about the play and attempt to pre-empt any questions about the historic power play disparity in the game.
Lambert, naturally, was asked about those comments (J-G Pageau “absolutely tomahawks him”), though Lambert was restrained in his response to avoid the back-and-forth quotebook game that is often used by sports media to carry stories between games and throughout the series.
#Isles Lane Lambert on Rod Brind’Amour’s comments regarding Tuevo Teravainen’s injury: “I was surprised at his comments… that play happens probably 25 or 30 times a game. The player that was injured continued to play on the powerplay. [Pageau] is an honest hard player…— Joe Pantorno (@JoePantorno) April 20, 2023
We probably won’t hear much more about this...unless there is a noticeable pendulum swing in penalty calls when the series switches to Long Island. Or unless Brind’Amour gets “pissed” about another non-call.