In the Islanders optional skate this morning before Game 5, Oliver Wahlstrom took the ice as one of 12 skaters. Wahlstrom, who left Game 5 of the Penguins series with an injury, has not seen any action since.
Now, you can read into this however you want. You can think that he’ll be in the lineup tonight, or that instead, he’s good to go now, but Barry Trotz won’t make any changes.
Unfortunately, I think it’s the latter in this case. I like Travis Zajac a lot and think he’s done a fine job filling in but I’d much rather get Oliver Wahlstrom into the lineup. In the five games he played against Pittsburgh he was very productive.
He had three points, including a power play goal. While Trotz tends to ease youngsters into their roles, it’s hard to argue against having Wahlstrom in the lineup just for his versatility on the power play alone.
The Isles don’t have anyone with the shot that Wahlstrom possesses. The issue is that the Isles third line of Palmieri – Pageau – Zajac has been clicking and Zajac’s ice time doesn’t indicate that a change is coming.
He’s averaged 16:10 of ice time in the playoff games that he’s played and is averaging 1.6 hits per game.
At this point, I’m only expecting Wahlstrom to return to the ice if there’s an injury or if the Islanders offense goes completely absent in Game 5. If they keep winning, unfortunately, Wahlstrom will remain in the press box.
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During the regular season, Wahlstrom had 21 points (12 goals, 9 assists) including four power play goals. Despite only playing in 44 games, Wahlstrom was third on the team in power play goals.