According to Barry Trotz, Oliver Wahlstrom is “probably doubtful” for Saturday evening’s Round 2 opener against the Bruins in Boston, which, deciphering the Islanders coach’s language, signifies that Travis Zajac will stay within the lineup on the unit with Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Kyle Palmieri.
The overarching query is what would occur when Wahlstrom, who suffered a leg injury in the third period of the Game 5 of the opening spherical in a collision with Pittsburgh’s Mike Matheson, is wholesome sufficient to play?
Would the 20-year-old freshman winger, who recorded 12 targets in 44 regular-season video games earlier than getting one within the first spherical, mechanically return to his publish or might the 35-year-old Zajac, scratched from three of the ultimate seven regular-season contests and the primary 5 of the match, earn a everlasting spot?
“I’m a big believer in a player [not] losing his spot during an injury, for sure,” Trotz mentioned following Friday’s apply. “But that comes with a little bit little bit of a caveat, too, in that if a participant has been there for an extended, very long time and he will get injured, you actually don’t lose it, but when a participant has been there for 20 video games and has performed job, I don’t assume that holds as a lot weight.
“But when you’re talking about Wahlstrom, he’s a unique player for us. He’s a player we need in our lineup for a number of different reasons, [including] his size, his ability to score, and the power play. And Travis brings an element of experience. He’s quietly competitive and very detailed, so he brings a little different element to it.”
Zajac, after all, got here to the Island on the deadline from the Devils, with Palmieri, for a bundle that includes the Islanders’ 2021 first-rounder after Zajac waived his no-trade clause. He had an assist in 11:55 of ice time in the Game 6 clincher towards the Penguins with a clear faceoff win towards Evgeni Malkin that led on to Ryan Pulock’s tie-breaking and game-winning objective halfway via the second interval.
“It’s a little bit of a mix-and-match [between Wahlstrom and Zajac],” Trotz mentioned. “But, you know, Travis can earn his way into someone else’s spot, as well.”
Ilya Sorokin, who was likely the difference in the first round in going 4-0 with a 1.95 goals-against common and .943 save share, began simply as soon as whereas making one reduction look in the course of the eight-game season sequence towards Boston, going 0-1-1/2.23/.921.
The 25-year-old would appear the plain option to get the Game 1 project, however the veteran Semyon Varlamov, who was 0-2/3.61/.903 towards Pittsburgh, went 5-1/1.93/.943 in seven begins towards the B’s in the course of the common season.
And with Trotz, after all, there’s actually no telling.
Trotz reiterated that Anders Lee, who underwent surgical procedure to restore a torn ACL sustained by the captain on March 11, is completed for the yr.
“Same timetable,” mentioned the coach. “You will not see him in the playoffs this year.”
Coming off a primary spherical wherein he had three targets and three assists, Josh Bailey is ninth in playoff scoring since 2019 with 32 factors (9-23) in 36 video games. He is seventh in assists and twelfth in points-per-game at 0.89 amongst gamers with a minimum of 25 video games.
“I think he is a veteran player of high IQ and high skill level who elevates in the playoffs,” Trotz mentioned of the winger who has been an Islander since 2008-09 and is New York’s longest-tenured professional athlete. “I see Bails is a bit more edgy in the course of the playoffs than he’s perhaps within the common season.
“Maybe that’s just the grind of playing a lot of games in the league, but playoff-time he steps up, he understands the magnitude of every game. Those good players have that ability to raise their game and he does that in a very quiet way.”