NY Islanders Mathew Barzal plans to play in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs

New York Islanders v Montreal Canadiens
New York Islanders v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

After weeks of speculation and hope that Mathew Barzal could return to the NY Islanders lineup for the start of the post-season, he was on the ice participating in practice with his teammates on Friday morning and afterward told reporters that he intends to play in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night in Raleigh.

Barzal has been back skating for over a week, but that was either on his own or before the team's line drills. On Friday, he took the spot he occupied before his lower-body injury suffered in Boston on Feb 18, on the right wing of Bo Horvat on a line that includes Anders Lee. The line showed instant chemistry upon Horvat's arrival, and will now try to quickly rekindle it over the next few days before the start of the post-season.

The return of Barzal should be a significant boost to both Horvat and Lee, who have seen their production slip without the gifted playmaker. The power-play is the other obvious place Barzal's skillset has been sorely missing. The Islanders' execution with the man advantage was abysmal all season, but without Barzal they had difficulty gaining the zone to get set up too often than not. The team broke an 0-for-18 skid on the power play when Lee scored to put the game away on Wednesday night against the Montreal Canadiens.

Simon Holmstrom had the most opportunity playing with Horvat in Barzal's absence but wasn't able to generate enough consistent offense. Lane Lambert elected to bring veteran Josh Bailey back into the lineup in that spot for the regular season finale against Montreal.

If Barzal does return, it's expected that both Holmstrom and Bailey would be the healthy scratches with the other three lines remaining intact. On the season, Barzal had 14 goals and 37 assists for 51 points in 58 games before the injury.