After playing nine games with the Islanders in October and November, Cole Bardreau feels better equipped for what to expect the second time around.
The first time was a whirlwind, with everything from arriving to his NHL debut 90 minutes before puck drop, to scoring his first goal via penalty shot. He was just happy to be in the NHL, especially after taking the scenic route.
When his nine-game stint was all said and done, Bardreau went back to Bridgeport armed with the confidence that he could play in the NHL, but just needed another opportunity to showcase himself.
That time has arrived, as Bardreau was recalled on Wednesday to fill in for Casey Cizikas , who is expected to miss three-to-four weeks with a leg laceration. This time, the 26-year-old Bardreau isn't just here for a few more memories, he wants a job.
"The first time, not knowing if I was ever going to get a chance being an older guy, was just pure excitement and taking everything as it is," Bardreau said. "This time, I want to show that I belong and show that I can stick. That's the biggest thing. The first time around I was getting my feet wet, just being excited to be here and get that opportunity. Now it's try to show that I do have the ability to stick and that I'm not just a fill-in guy."
Bardreau was recalled because his game is similar to that of Cizikas. Bardreau is a gritty, bottom-six type who can kill penalties, get to the dirty areas and bring energy. He showed no hesitation in playing physical in his NHL debut in Columbus, or getting in the face of established stars. That's exactly what Head Coach Barry Trotz wants to see out of him again.
"Just be really good in that role that you're put in. Be exceptional. Be the best in that role that you're in," Trotz said. "A guy like Cole, I expect him to kill penalties, I expect him to be great on draws and have energy every night and hard to play against. That's it. If he does that for a long time, then I'm going to give him more."
Trotz said his best advice to young players is to not stray from what they do well, or add too much to their game too soon. The veteran coach, back in the place his career began in 1998, has seen it all before.
"That's what players do. They think 'I want more, I want more, I want more' and they get a little impatient and forget what they're really good at," Trotz said. "That's my best advice to any young player that comes up, is to know what you are, do it well, do your role well and do it consistently at a peak performance and you'll have success and you'll get longevity in this league and that's what you want in this league is longevity."
Video: OTT@NYI: Bardreau nets first NHL goal on penalty shot
The message seems to have gotten through to Bardreau, even when he was with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
"Consistency is the name of the game," Bardreau said. "For someone like myself in that bottom-six role, just eliminate the mess-ups and keep it simple, get pucks deep and bring it every game. That's how a guy like me makes it to the next level."
Bardreau is slated to play between Matt Martin and Leo Komarov on Thursday night. Komarov has done an apt job filling in for Cal Clutterbuck of late and it'll be up to the new trio to continue the same energetic, crash-and-bang, ethos of the Islanders identity line, even with two of the regulars on the shelf.
"It's tough to see Casey go down. You can't replace a guy like him on or off the ice," Bardreau said. "But I do think there are assets that I have that can help this team keep winning."