NY Islanders defenseman Alexander Romanov was said to be getting closer to returning to the lineup, according to head coach Lane Lambert on Thursday when he met with the media.
Well, the 23-year-old defenseman, who has been out of the lineup with an upper-body injury since Apr. 1, got even closer to making his Islanders postseason debut by participating with the team at the morning skate on Friday ahead of Game 3 at UBS Arena. Per Stefan Rosner of The Hockey News, the defenseman rotated heavily during practice, including line rushes, and took part in the penalty kill.
“I feel ready to go, but I still don't know if I will play or not, or Wotherspoon,” said Romanov when meeting the media after the morning skate. Lambert later confirmed that it's either Romanov or Parker Wotherson, who hasn't played since Jan. 21, that would be on the Islanders blueline and not rookie defenseman Samuel Bolduc who was benched in Game 2 after being assessed a double-minor for a high-stick on Brett Pesce during the second period.
"He hasn't played too many games up here, and every young player that comes up there is a continuing learning process, and playoffs is a completely different level, said Lambert when asked about Bolduc on Thursday. "It's been a little bit of a challenge for him, but he's done some good things too."
The Islanders have been the more physical team in the series, outhitting the Hurricanes considerably in Game 2, but the presence of Romanov and his ability to deliver the big open ice hit from defense has been missing as has been his skating ability which is key in transition when playing a team such as Carolina that does such a good job at clogging things up in the neutral zone.