Casey Cizikas has left the Edmonton bubble and will not return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the New York Islanders.
The New York Islanders fourth line is incredibly important to what they do. The trio of Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin, and Cal Clutterbuck isn’t a typical fourth-line in the NHL, they actually set the Islanders identity.
The beating heart of that line is center Casey Cizikas. Losing any of the three forward on the fourth line is a big loss. Lossing Casey Cizikas, even for a game, is a bigger loss for the Isles.
Unfortunately, Cizikas picked up an injury in Game 2 and not only was kept out of Game 3 & 4 but the Isles fourth-line center has left the bubble entirely and won’t be back for the remainder of the playoffs.
Cizikas wasn’t the only Islanders player to leaves the bubble. The Isles announced that forward Tom Kuhnhackl also left the Edmonton bubble with an injury.
Where Cizikas picked up that injury isn’t quite clear and with “unfit to play” being the only thing teams can say about an injury we aren’t about to know any time soon.
The Islanders had a hard time when their fourth line was missing this regular season. Barry Trotz talked about how he overcoached the team when his identity line was missing.
Trotz tried to have his team play a more offensive game without his fourth-line and it didn’t work. He recognized that in the offseason and said the Isles probably should have just doubled-down on what they normally do to win.
Without Cizikas in Game 3, the Isles coach converted his bottom-six by moving up Clutterbuck and Martin to line three with Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The fourth line was centered by Leo Komarov with Dal Colle and Brassard flanking him. And it worked with a big 5-3 win.
The Isles will miss Cizikas, but they seem to be able to function without him.