Nothing better than being at home. The New York Islanders are back on home ice after a five-game road trip. While the trip ended poorly with a 6-1 loss to the St Louis Blues, the Isles ended the trip with a 3-2 record. That's pretty good.
Now they're back on home ice for the first time in the month of April. Not only are the Isles back on the Island, but Cizikas is back after a one-game suspension saw him miss the St Louis game.
Getting him back returns balance to that fourth line. But the big talking point for the lineup is that Oliver Wahlstrom is expected to sit out.
New York Islanders projected lineup: Oliver Wahlstrom to sit
After an optional practice before tonight's game, Oliver Wahlstrom and Sebastian Aho were out later than the rest of the group. This typically means both will be healthy scratches for tonight's game.
While that decision might not sit too well with a number of fans, but Wahlstrom's ice time has fallen of late. So a healthy scratch was coming. Here's his TOI for the last five games:
That's not to suggest Wahlstrom deserves to get scratched but it's clear Barry Trotz is still trying to coax something out of the young player. We have to remember Wahlstrom is still only 21 and as this tweet points out, he's doing relatively well when compared to his draft class.
With Wahlstrom out that means Kieffer Bellows should step in. Bellows hasn't played since March 31. Ideally, he steps into Wahlstrom's spot on the third line next to Mathew Barzal and Zach Parise. It's the perfect spot for him and creates no other disruptions to the lineup. Bellows has been on the fourth line in his last few deployments, a role that just doesn't fit his skillset.
We'll see what Barry does to the lineup by puck drop later today, but this is how the lineup could look like considering Wahlstrom is sitting out.
Islanders projected lineup vs Penguins
*Bold indicates a change from last game
There's no reason to change much else here. The blueline wasn't great in St Louis but it's not like putting in Sebastian Aho will change that.
In terms of the forwards, the lines have been doing well for the most part so there's no sense in blowing it up after one bad game.