Johnny Boychuk and Casey Cizikas took positive steps in their recoveries on Friday, participating in the Islanders practice before joining the team on their three-game Western road trip.
Head Coach Doug Weight said it's unlikely that either will suit up for the first game or two of the Chicago-Arizona-Vegas swing, but felt there were benefits to having them take part in practices and team skates.
"You measure whether it's beneficial to get some good skates in and I think they're both really coming around," Weight said. "I don't think they'll be threatening to play in the first game or two, they have to get back into shape, but it'll be a good test for them to get out there every day and work."
Boychuk (lower body) has been on injured reserve since Dec. 28, while Cizikas (upper body) was placed on IR Friday morning, retroactive to Jan. 13.
While Boychuk and Cizikas were both back at practice, Shane Prince (lower body) was absent Friday and will not accompany the team on the road. Neither will Andrew Ladd (upper body), who has been out since Jan. 5 and is also on IR.
Prince's lower-body injury is a new development. The Isles winger left Tuesday's Islanders-Devils game with an upper-body injury, but played Thursday against Boston.
With Cizikas on IR and Prince staying on Long Island, Ross Johnston was recalled on Friday, giving the Islanders 13 active forwards to start their road trip. Johnston, the AHL's penalty minutes leader, was not at Friday's practice.
"Ross is a big aggressive forward," Weight said. "It's something we're lacking right now I think. We'll see if he's going to be in or not. We have decisions to make."
LINES IN PRACTICE:
|LEFT WING ||CENTER ||RIGHT WING |
|ANDERS LEE ||JOHN TAVARES ||JOSH BAILEY |
|ANTHONY BEAUVILLIER ||MATHEW BARZAL ||JORDAN EBERLE |
|MICHAEL DAL COLLE ||BROCK NELSON ||ALAN QUINE |
|JASON CHIMERA ||TANNER FRITZ/CASEY CIZIKAS ||CAL CLUTTERBUCK |
THE ROAD AHEAD:
The Islanders were asked about the importance of their upcoming road trip that will take them all the way to the all-star break.
"We've played some good hockey on the road as of late, we've got a couple wins and are starting to get a healthier lineup," Jordan Eberle said after Thursday's loss to Boston. "We have three big games here before the all-star break and we need six points. The way the standings are, these are huge points."
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY COACH:
Friday marked the one-year anniversary of Weight's first win as an NHL head coach. The Islanders beat the Stars 3-0 for Weight's first win. Weight is now 47-32-8 as an NHL coach.
Video: Tavares, Greiss power Isles past Stars, 3-0