Doug Weight shuffled things up a little bit on Monday during the Islanders’ first practice since their loss to Columbus on Saturday.
Andrew Ladd skated alongside John Tavares on the team’s top line, while Anders Lee was moved to second line left wing. The Islanders’ interim head coach also reunited Nikolay Kulemin with Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas.
The line changes could remain in place for Wednesday’s rivalry game with the New York Rangers, but Weight will evaluate things again during the team’s next practice on Tuesday.
“I think we kind of analyze all of our players as much as we can and who’s playing well with each other,” Weight said. “I’m going to watch practice tomorrow and figure out what I’m going to do in the game.”
The showdown on Broadway will be another big for the Islanders who remain in the thick of things, even after dropping back-to-back games at home last week. At the time this story was published, the Islanders were just one point back of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and the Tampa Bay Lighting are a single point behind New York.
With the standings so tight, it comes as no surprise to the Islanders how important Wednesday meeting with the Rangers is.
“It seems like the last couple of years we’ve always played them really well,” Travis Hamonic said. “This season it’s been a tight go, so big game for sure… We can’t underestimate what’s at stake and we have to be ready.”
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 20, 2017
The changes to the lines weren’t the only thing different during Monday’s skate at Northwell Health Ice Center. Shane Prince returned to the ice for practice and Johnny Boychuk skated on his own before hand.
Monday was the first time Boychuk had skated since he suffered a lower-body injury in Chicago on March 3. Weight said Boychuk “felt pretty good,” that there is still some time to go before he is ready to go back in the lineup.
“I was happy to hear he didn’t have too much pain and he can start pushing it a little bit every day,” Weight said.
Photo credit: New York Islanders official Twitter