New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk could be back on the ice for the blue and orange as they try to stave off elimination in Game 5.
As the New York Islanders fight for their playoff lives, coach Barry Trotz indicated that he might make some changes to the line up ahead of Game 5. With the series 3-1 in favor of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Trotz is once again trying to pull the right strings to get his team a ‘W’ and fight one more day by making moves with his team.
Like every NHL coach, Trotz didn’t indicate who he was going to replace or how he was going to line up. That would be made clear when the lineup card is handed to the officials moments before the game starts.
But based on the pre-game optional team skate defenseman Johnny Boychuk might be in the lineup for a pivotal Game 5.
Back in Business (Maybe)
The Athletic’s Arthur Staple was the first keen eye to see that Johnny Boychuk hadn’t participated in the optional skate leading up to the game. Typically this session is lead by players who aren’t going to be in the lineup for the game.
Boychuk hasn’t been in the lineup since Game 1 against the Florida Panthers all the way back in the qualifying round. He left that game when Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson caught him with a high hit after only 5:17 of game time.
Who comes out for Boychuk is a valid question. Devon Toews has had a rough go of late, but it would be a surprise to see Trotz scratch the left-handed offensive defenseman. Not only because Toews is a lefty and because of his ability to create offense but because Toews leads the team in power play time in the playoffs.
Andy Greene is the least used defenseman of the Islanders six. It’s possible that Trotz pulls out the veteran D to reunite Leddy and Boychuk on the Isles third pair.
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Of course, this isn’t a confirmation that Boychuk will play. We’ve seen players suit up and hit the ice for the actual pre-game skate and not make the 20-man lineup for the game. But if he does make the team tonight, it’s likely we see the Islanders revert to a tried and true d-core with Boychuk slotted next to longtime partner Nick Leddy.