After being pulled from the lineup for the NY Islanders' 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on New Year's Eve, Pierre Engvall and Robert Bortuzzo appear to be back in the lineup tonight against the Colorado Avalanche for the first of a three-game Western Conference trip.
Engvall has been a staple on the second line alongside Kyle Palmieri and Brock Nelson since coming over from the Toronto Maple Leafs at the trade deadline last season. Engvall was a healthy scratch for the second time this season despite their success.
"Every night, there's gonna be somebody scratched. We have a number of players here, so if you're the guy who gets scratched, you have to come in and play better next game," said Lane Lambert on his reasoning for sitting the Swede. "That's the joy of internal competition."
Bortuzzo, acquired from the St. Louis Blues in necessity after a slew of injuries to the Isles' defensive corps, filled a glaring hole along the blue line. Playing the right side on defense, Bortuzzo was looked at as a plug for Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield, the latter of which recently returned to the ice. Bortuzzo was never looked at as much more than a 6th/7th defenseman but has found chemistry with Samuel Bolduc. According to Money Puck, the Bortuzzo and Bolduc pairing has allowed the fewest goals per 60 of any Islanders defensive pairing to play at least 100 minutes together.
Up against an Avalanche team with speed and superstars all over the ice, the Isles will need all the speed and familiarity with one another they can muster up.
Matt Martin, who was inserted into the lineup after being activated off IR, will be a healthy scratch after playing in the last two games. Hudson Fasching will be back with Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas on the fourth line.