The New York Islanders recalled Colin McDonald Friday, one day before the team’s 2 p.m. matinee against the Red Wings.
McDonald joins the team in Detroit in case Casey Cizikas is unable to play after blocking a Milan Lucic shot in the second period of Thursday’s game. Cizikas took a “maintenance” day Friday, but made the trip to Detroit.
“We only have 12 forwards,” Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “We’re going on the road and a few guys have bumps and bruises, so we wanted to make sure we have an extra player.”
McDonald played two seasons with the Islanders, appearing in 115 of 130 games over the course of the full and lockout-shortened seasons. This season he has 34 points (14 goals, 20 assists) in 38 games for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers after being loaned to the Islanders AHL affiliate in October.
“If he plays, you know what you’re getting,” Capuano said. “He understands the system and the way that we need to play. He’s a hard-nosed guy. He went down to Bridgeport and did everything that we asked him to do. If he gets the opportunity I know he’ll go in and work hard for us.”
“That’s all you can do,” McDonald said. “It’s easy to go down with a bad attitude and feel sorry for yourself, but that’s not going to get you anywhere at the end of the day.”
McDonald practiced with Brock Nelson and Nikolay Kulemin Friday, while Ryan Strome skated between Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck. Capuano said he’s liked Strome with those physical wingers in the past. Strome is also a natural center and possesses the versatility to move around the lineup.
“I’ve played a handful of games on the fourth line this year,” Strome said. “It’s just a matter of doing the same things; working hard, keeping the game simple and taking the opportunities when you have them.”
The Islanders are 8-1-1 in their last 10 against the Red Wings and have won five straight in the Motor City. The Islanders beat the Red Wings 2-1 in Detroit on Dec. 20.
The Red Wings are led by top-scorer Henrik Zetterberg (15 goals, 30 assists) and mainstay Pavel Datsyuk (15 goals, 21 assists), but the emergence of young guns Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar have propelled the Wings back up the Eastern Conference standings.
Tatar leads the Red Wings with 21 goals, while Nyquist is second on the team in both goals (19) and points (37).
“They have a real good mix of young players that possess a lot of speed,” Capuano said. “It’s a great feeder system in Grand Rapids. They’ve been doing a good job, and they draft well. It’s a credit to them because when they put those young guys in the lineup, they don’t rush them. They’ve paid their dues down there and they’ve played extremely well.”
The Wings are still without goaltender Jimmy Howard, who suffered a groin tear on Jan. 10. Howard’s absence hasn’t slowed down the Red Wings, who won six straight games before losing 5-1 to Tampa Bay on Thursday night.
Puck drop from Detroit is at 2 p.m.