On Friday against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome, Mathew Barzal took the ice for warmups just like he normally would prior to puck drop. What many of us didn't expect was for him to be a late scratch and miss the fourth and final game of a four-game road trip.
“There was a little tweak [Thursday] night,” coach Lane Lambert said after the game. “He tried it in warmup and couldn’t go.”
Aatu Räty did not take warmups, however, the 20-year-old rookie stepped in for Barzal, slotting on the fourth line with Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck, while Casey Cizikas made his way to the first line to center Anders Lee and Josh Bailey. The Islanders severely missed Barzal as the Flames routed the Islanders, defeating them 4-1.
On Monday afternoon, Barzal took the ice for morning skate following two days off for the Islanders to get some rest. The Islanders' No.1 center was seen taking drills with the first line as a full participant in practice. Lambert later clarified he'll be good to go when the Islanders take on the Dallas Stars in their first home game of 2023.
Also seen on the ice as a full participant in practice was Simon Holmstrom who suffered a lower-body injury in December following a knee-on-knee collision with Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett. The good news is despite it looking ugly, it appears Holmstrom avoided a major injury.
"I thought he looked good. He's been skating and today was a day when we could integrate him into the group and see where he went from there, and I thought he looked good," Lambert said following the Isles morning skate.
Holmstrom skated on the Islanders first line with Lee and Barzal and appears close to returning, although when he returns has not been specified. Kyle Palmieri continues to skate with the team as he also appears to be inching closer to a return, however, he skated with the extras indicating he's not as close as Holmstrom to returning to the lineup.
Following the Barzal news, the biggest takeaway is that Adam Pelech has been skating for the last three days. Pelech has been out with a suspected head injury since before the New Year and his timeline has been unclear, although assumed long-term. It's been just under a month since Pelech was injured and thankfully for the Islanders, it doesn't appear to be as long as initially thought.
The bad news? Oliver Wahlstrom is still banged up. He has yet to resume skating. No further update was provided regarding the 22-year-old forward.