The NY Islanders faithful got some good news and some not-so-good news on Thursday afternoon prior to puck drop at UBS Arena against the Columbus Blue Jackets. It was the Islanders' last home game before setting out on a four-game road trip to kick off 2023, starting in Seattle and then to Canada to see Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary. The Islanders are currently dealing with six injuries and the news on Thursday stated that half of the injured players will travel with the team while the other half remains on Long Island to continue their recovery.
Taking the trip with the Islanders will be Kyle Palmieri, Cal Clutterbuck, and Semyon Varlamov. There's been no official word on if/when any of those three will play, however, the fact that they're taking the trip is a pretty good indication they'll be good to go sooner rather than later. And if that wasn't enough, the trio has been taking part in on-ice activities, and when an injured player is skating, it's another good indication a return is nearing.
In Varlamov's case, the Islanders and their fans will likely get a clearer picture of Varlamov's timeline based on whether Cory Schneider takes the trip with the team or not. As of Thursday, head coach Lane Lambert said no decision has been made on whether Schneider will travel or not. There's also the fact that Ilya Sorokin has made the Islanders' last five consecutive starts. If there was a game for Schneider to receive a start, it was probably against the 30th-ranked Blue Jackets, however, Lambert went back to his No.1 goaltender for the fifth time in as many games. The Islanders will have the next two days off of game action before taking on the Seattle Kraken on New Year's Day. With back-to-back games coming next week, it feels likely Varlamov could make his return.
Not going on the trip and staying behind on Long Island are Simon Holmstrom, Adam Pelech, and Oliver Wahlstrom. The nature of Pelech's injury is unknown although he has a suspected head injury. On Friday morning, the Islanders placed Holmstrom on the injured reserve retroactive to 12/23/2022 as well as Wahlstrom retroactive to 12/27/2022, both with what's been labeled as "lower body" injuries. So it appears the Islanders will be without this trio for at least the next 10 days.
The Islanders have now won three straight games, so they're making due, but there's no doubt they'll be that much stronger once fully healthy. In the meantime, Aatu Räty remains on the Islanders' fourth line, and Hudson Fasching remains an incredibly effective utility man that has been impactful despite the role he's asked to be in. Parker Wotherspoon, too, has been a steady and reliable presence on the Islanders' blue line, and as a result, the Islanders are back in playoff position as of last night.