After scoring in two consecutive games and setting up the winning goal in the third period against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday since being called up by the New York Islanders on Sunday, a humble Colin McDonald attributed the recent offensive success to lucky bounces and a strong desire to stay with the NHL club.
“It’s a one-day tryout for me every day, that’s kind of how my mindset is right now,” he said. “I’ve been there before, so it’s really nothing new for me.”
McDonald started the season on the Islanders roster, playing in two games before passing through waivers and being reassigned to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
“Obviously for [McDonald], it was a real tough blow to be put on waivers and go back down to the minors,” Islanders captain John Tavares said. “But he’s had a great attitude. He has tremendous work ethic, and it’s great to see him get rewarded. He’s a great hockey player, and he’s proven he can play in this league.”
McDonald figured to be a mainstay on the Islanders roaster after scoring 15 goals and finishing with 35 points in 115 games over the past two seasons, but fell victim to a numbers game at the start of the 2014–15 season with a slew of new signings and prospects ready to make the jump. Despite the setback, McDonald kept working to improve in the AHL.
I feel like I’ve always been able to produce at every level. - Colin McDonald
“Going even back to training camp, I felt really good. I felt really confident,” he said. “I feel confident now. I’ve felt confident all year. That was never an issue with me. I was just waiting for the opportunity. I was trying to take care of my part, and that’s play well in Bridgeport, and when [the Islanders] needed a call up, I wanted to be that guy.”
At the time of the call up, McDonald ranked second on the Sound Tigers with 14 goals and fourth with 35 points, only three points behind Kael Mouillierat and Alan Quine for the team lead.
“It’s good to see [McDonald] have success, because he’s worked extremely hard,” Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said. “He went to Bridgeport and he accepted it, but he continued to work on his game, and he was the best player down there every day and he got the call.”
Before earning First Star honors in the game against Edmonton on Tuesday, McDonald scored the opening goal for the Islanders on Sunday in a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres. In addition to helping the Islanders find ways to win by generating offense, McDonald brought a physical presence to lineup and dished out 15 hits in the games.
“I feel like I’ve always been able to produce at every level,” McDonald said. “Even when I was here as a fourth-line guy, I felt that I did a pretty good job of helping contribute offensively. Any offense we can provide is just an added bonus for us. That’s not why we’re out there–just try and create some energy.”
With injuries forcing players out of the lineup for the Islanders in the past few games, depth players like McDonald become extremely valuable. While the strong play makes decisions a little tougher for the coaching staff, having players throughout the organization with the ability to enter the lineup and contribute makes things a lot easier for the Islanders.
Cal Clutterbuck (Day-to-Day), Calvin de Haan (Day-to-Day), Michael Grabner (IR) and Matt Carkner (IR) all practiced fully with the team. Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said there will be some tough lineup decisions to make for the next game.
Kyle Okposo (IR) and Eric Boulton (IR) did not practice with the team.