It was a road trip no one expected, and Isles fans and players are glad it’s over.
Missed chances and an inability to finish were common themes throughout the team’s recent four game road trip. They lost all four of those games and sit outside of the playoff picture ahead of Friday night’s game against Detroit.
“Right now we’re going through some adversity,” coach Barry Trotz said. “Some guys are drying up, we’ve got some people out and we need some people to step up.”
In four games, the Islanders only scored two goals, one each against Columbus and Arizona, after being shut out in back to back games against Nashville and Vegas. In response, coach Trotz announced new lines after practice on Friday morning.
The first line remained as is, but Leo Komarov was promoted to the second line. Andrew Ladd is returning to the lineup for this second game of the season. He’ll play alongside Josh Bailey and Michael Dal Colle. Otto Koivula and Tom Kuhnhackl will be playing on the fourth line with Matt Martin. Derrick Brassard was injured in the loss to Colorado.
Missing from practice as well was Kieffer Bellows. The 2016 first round pick was returned to Bridgeport. He scored three points in seven games with the Islanders. They all game in his first two games.
The changes reflect the continued focus on finding solutions internally to get the Islanders out of their slump.
“The only people that are going to help us are the people in the room, our group and we are going to have to find a way,” Trotz said.
That almost wasn’t the case, though. Darren Dreger tweeted Friday afternoon that the team traded goaltender Ilya Sorokin’s rights to Chicago for an unspecified return. The report turned out to be false.
Last week, the Islanders acquired Andy Greene from New Jersey for a second round pick and David Quenneville. It remains to be seen if General Manager Lou Lamoriello ultimately decides to make another trade before Monday’s trade deadline.
In the mean time, the players are hoping to move on and learn from the tumultuous road trip.
“You can let adversity take over you, get in your head and let it bring you down, or you can let it fuel you,” captain Anders Lee said. “You can be more determined by it, be inspired by it and that’s how you grow as a person and as a team.”
The Islanders take on the Detroit Red Wings Friday night as they raise John Tonelli’s number 27 to the rafters. It’s the start of a three game home stand against non-playoff opponents, and their first games at Nassau Coliseum in over a month.
The team is tied in points with Carolina, who holds the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The push for the playoffs is in full swing, and the Islanders will have to find their stride once again to get back to the dance.