Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:SYOSSET, N.Y. — In the words of head coach Jack Capuano, the Islanders are “decimated right now” by injury.
And it only got worse on Wednesday when the team announced that Michael Grabner will be out with a concussion. After practice at Islanders Iceworks in Syosset, Capuano was not sure of the time table for the injury or who would be called up, but he did know that there would be even more minutes for players trying to prove themselves.
“All the guys are going to get minutes,” Capuano said. “We got back-to-back games. We got a lot of hockey coming up… All the guys will play. We shorten the bench when we have to, but at the end of the day there’s a lot guys getting eight to 11 minutes on our team.”
The Islanders have upcoming games against the San Jose Sharks on Friday and the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. Both games will provide ample opportunity for players like Ryan Strome and Anders Lee to get more playing time under their belt. Lee was even moved up to the Isles first line in the team’s third period comeback.
“It’s a big opportunity and you’re asked a lot when you play in a position like that,” Lee, who has seven points (5 goals, 2 assists) in seven games since his call-up, said Wednesday. “You gotta be ready for it and go in, and work hard. And just try to do your best.”
The added playing time has also benefitted Strome, who has had four points (2 goals, 2 assists) in the last five games, and he knows that this is the time for him and his young teammates to make a mark.
“You gotta step up and be ready to go,” he said. “Every game is a new challenge and it’s hard to fill the void for any of these guys, but anyone’s loss is a good opportunity. I’m sure who ever gets that chance is going to make the most of it.”
Isles Excited to Have Kevin Czuczman
The newest member of the Islanders organization, Kevin Czuczman, hadn’t arrived yet Wednesday, but he was one of the topics being talked about after the team wrapped up their practice.
“Obviously he’s a guy that we targeted early on,” Islander Coach Jack Capuano said. “He’s a guy that we’ve stayed in touch with and just talking to him yesterday he’s really excited. He’s a good sized defenseman, fine skater, skates real well, and moves the puck. He’s one of the elite defenseman in that league. I know there were a lot of teams that were looking at him, so we were fortunate that he’s gonna be an Islander.”
During his sophomore season at Lake Superior State University, Czuczman set a career high in goals, with 10, and in points, with 21. In 114 career games there he recorded 45 points (14 goals, 31 assists).
Several teams were interested in Czuczman, but he signed with the Islanders partly because his familiarity with John Tavares, Ryan Strome and Casey Cizikas.
“I sent him a little text just congratulating him,” Strome said. “You know it’s always a little bit of an awkward situation, but I’m sure the guys will welcome him nicely and he’s a good hard working kid. Hopefully he comes in here and has fun.”
Czucman is expected to join the team on Thursday.