Both Barry Trotz and his Islanders players try to balance flexibility and focus as much as they have ever done in their careers.
Such are the requirements to try to play through a COVID-19 outburst that makes the coach uncertain from hour to hour who he may have available to dress.
The Islanders hosted the Maple Leafs and former captain John Tavares Sunday night after opening their $ 1.1 billion UBS Arena with a temporary lineup in a 5-2 loss to the Flames the night before.
“It’s a little bit of adversity for our group,” right-winger Kyle Palmieri said after Saturday’s loss, the Islanders’ fifth in a row. “Barry has somehow harped on just staying in the moment. We did not know what our lineup would look like when we entered [Saturday]. We do not really know much about [Sunday]. We play for the guys who could not be here. We just want to keep doing it, whether it’s the same lineup or different. We’re going to show up, work hard and play for each other. “
Captain Anders Lee, Josh Bailey – the longest-serving islander, Kieffer Bellows, Ross Johnston and defenders Adam Pelech and Andy Greene were all in the COVID-19 minutes for Sunday’s match.
Robin Salo and Grant Hutton made their NHL debut on Saturday, and Andy Andreoff and Richard Panik came in and filled the four lines. Salo had been called from Islanders AHL company in Bridgeport on Thursday, while the other three were recalled on Saturday.
“It’s nice to be home and I think we got the energy,” said defender Scott Mayfield, who played his 300th game on Sunday. “It’s been a couple of tough days in terms of everything. A lot of adversity, especially when we are not winning matches.”
“The mindset is what you need to do to prepare to win a hockey game. That’s where our mindset is 24/7. We do all the right protocols. We do everything we can to keep ourselves safe, the staff, fans and then our family is home.At the end of the day when you get to the rink it’s to win hockey games.That’s what we get paid to do and that’s what we have to do. “
While Panik and Andreoff both have previous NHL experience – Panik came to Sunday after playing 518 games for seven different organizations – Salo and Hutton are still promising prospects.
Hutton, 26, was an exhausted free agent from Miami (Ohio), as was Greene, who just played in his 1,000th. NHL game. Your 6-4, 207-pound right-handed player, has played 99 games with Bridgeport since 2019.
The left-handed Salo, 23, was a second-round pick in 2017 from Finland, which is in its first North American season after playing the last two seasons in Sweden. He impressed the coaching staff with a strong workout, and the 6-2, 192 pound continued to make a good impression on Saturday.
Salo recorded a team-high 21:42 of ice time, including 4:14 on power play, with a game-high four blocked shots against the Flames.
The islanders brought Salo up before their COVID-19 outbreak quickly expanded as they needed a replacement with the top pair’s defender Ryan Pulock (lower body) out for four to six weeks.
“He had a really good camp,” Trotz said. “He played in the elite league over in Sweden. He is a good, young player. He has a lot of balance. He handles the puck really well. He sees the ice really well. On the powerplay he has a lot of deception. I love the fact that he sheep [the puck] and he moves it. It opens up some lanes. “
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