The NY Islanders Make Linuep Changes for Tonight and Noah Dobson Returns to the Ice

New York Islanders v Toronto Maple Leafs
New York Islanders v Toronto Maple Leafs / Chris Tanouye/GettyImages

The craziness that ensued last night in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference leaves the NY Islanders matchup tonight with the Pittsburgh Penguins meaningless, as the Washington Capitals clinched the second Wild Card position.

Regardless of last night's outcome, tonight doesn't affect where the Islanders finish in the standings, with their fate already sealed to take on the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1. With that said, there was a belief we could see some players making their AHL debuts like Ruslan Iskhakov or Matthew Maggio with the Islanders having cap space to make two call-ups, but no new bodies were present today at morning skate.

It appears there will be a few players getting the night off as they prepare for Game 1. Patrick Roy has said that Matthew Barzal, Pierre Engvall, Sebastian Aho, and Hudson Fasching will be out of the lineup tonight. Oliver Wahlstrom has slotted into Barzal's position on the first line and Holmstrom replaces Engvall alongside Brock Nelson and Kyle Palmieri. Samuel Bolduc also looks like he'll play in his first game since January 27. This still leaves the Islanders with only 11 forwards, leaving it until pre-game warmups before we know the final lineup.

Giving Barzal the night off is nothing more than a precaution. He returned from injury for Game 1 last season against the Hurricanes and never looked fully comfortable on the ice as the IUsles fell in six games. Pierre Engvall took a bit of a knock Monday night against the NJ Devils where he skated off the ice in some discomfort. Leaving him out will likely give him a few extra days to ensure he's at full health come Game 1. Fasching and Holmstrom have been rotating as of late, and while Fasching has done nothing on the ice to warrant him being taken out of the lineup, it's likely to give Holmstrom some ice time, whereas Roy should be going back to Fasching for Game 1.

Tonight will be the first stress-free game of the season for the Islanders, and the main focus will be to have everyone getting on the plane for Raleigh completely healthy.

Perhaps the best news of the day is that Noah Dobson skated on his own before practice. He'll not be in the lineup tonight, but there's hope he'll be ready for Game 1 leaving him a few more days to get healthy.