It was day one, and two key players for the New York Islanders were glad to be back on the ice.
While we all constantly hit the refresh button on our Twitter feed for news of the New York Islanders signing goalie prospect Ilya Sorokin, the rest of the Islanders were on the ice for day one of training camp.
For the first time since the season was suspended back on March 12, the New York Islanders were back on the ice today. Both the players and the fans were glad to see them back on the ice. (Even if fans couldn’t actually be there in person.)
Pelech and Cizikas
For Adam Pelech, the defenseman has been sidelined since the beginning of January after tearing his Achilles tendon while playing soccer in a pre-game warm-up. Pelech told reporters being out so long was frustrating but is now 100 percent fit.
Having Pelech back is a huge boost for an Islanders team that relies on him heavily to reduced scoring chances from high-danger areas around the Islanders net for 20+ minutes a night. Having him gone so long exposed just how vital he is to Barry Trotz’s defensive system.
It was much the same for Casey Cizikas, who’s been out of the lineup since February 13. He indicated that he was feeling good and ready to go.
Without him, the Isles scramble to play to their identity. The fourth line center is the beating heart of this team having him sidelined was disastrous for the Isles.
Without him (and to an extent his linemates who were also in and out of the lineup) Barry Trotz tried to change the way the Islanders played, opting for a more offensive style of play:
"Trotz said he erred trying to get the Islanders to compensate by playing a more offensive style rather than trying to play tighter defensively.“There’s times when I said, ‘OK, we’re going to have to play this way a little differently because we didn’t have that [Cizikas] line,’ ”"
As we know, that didn’t work for the Islanders who stumbled their way through the end of the season with a 2-4-4 record over their last ten games including a seven-game winless streak.
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Having both key players back in the lineup, participating in training camp, being 100 percent healthy, and hungry is already a huge win for the Islanders, and the coach knows it.