Dal Colle left Islanders practice early on Friday, though no reason was disclosed for the early exit at that time. Trotz disclosed to the media today that Dal Colle was injured in Tuesday’s 3-0 win at Buffalo while blocking a Sabres shot.
After going back and watching Dal Colle’s short final shift from Tuesday, I didn’t see a shot block or any indication of labored movement from the Islanders winger, though that of course doesn’t mean nothing happened.
Barry Trotz has not yet indicated who will dress in the second line left wing slot for tonight’s game.
Islanders, Trotz Have More Lineup Decisions to Make
Michael Dal Colle isn’t what anyone thinks of when the words “top-six forward” are uttered. But, his inclusion on the Islanders second line over the last few games was probably the most-effective spell of the 24-year-old winger’s young career.
Not exactly offensively-inclined enough to be an ideal top-six option, Dal Colle did carve a place out on that second line. He worked hard to retrieve pucks against the boards, threw hits, and forechecked well to disrupt controlled opposition zone exits and outlet passes.
Dal Colle wasn’t anybody’s idea of the perfect second line winger, but he played the role as well as anyone while Anthony Beauvillier was injured, and his trio was one of the team’s best in that interval.
Thursday the Islanders second line featured Kieffer Bellows in Dal Colle’s place.
Bellows’s inclusion in the line didn’t hurt Jordan Eberle or Brock Nelson’s play-driving abilities, as their line still out-did their competition in terms of 5v5 shot attempts, according to Natural Stat Trick. However, Thursday was also the first time since the Islanders 2-0 win at the Rangers on February 8 in which the Nelson line didn’t beat their opposition in xGF%.
They had 44.28% of the expected goal share despite also holding 64.29% of the CF% and 66.67% FF%. In other words, the Nelson line certainly played its fair share of time in the Penguins zone on Thursday. But, despite winning the possession battle convincingly, they still failed to create the same quality of shooting opportunities that their Penguins opposition did.
So, with Dal Colle unavailable, who goes back into the second line left wing spot?
As Andrew Gross tell us, it seems unlikely that Bellows gets a second opportunity in as many games. That probably leaves the door open for Leo Komarov to re-enter the Islanders lineup. Komarov wouldn’t be my first pick to fill in the open gap though, despite his couple of stronger performances before he ultimately was scratched.
Instead, I think I’d like to see someone like Austin Czarnik get another crack in the lineup. If not on the second line, perhaps on the third, with Beauvillier sliding up to play alongside Nelson and Eberle.
Czarnik played a pretty good game in his only appearance of the season back on January 31 at Philadelphia. That night, he played alongside J.G. Pageau and MDC, and their line controlled both the quantity and quality of shots for against their competition.
If not, Czarnik, I think I’d prefer Komarov to someone like Ross Johnston, who really didn’t show any chemistry with Pageau earlier this season.
Whoever Barry Trotz decides to put alongside Nelson and Eberle tonight, I’ll be interested to see how they perform. The Islanders second line has been much stronger since Barry Trotz moved Jordan Eberle to play alongside Brock Nelson, and those two have been able to find chemistry with anyone on their wing. Only time will tell if that trend continues tonight in Pittsburgh.