NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Islanders have been a vastly improved team in their own end, even with two of their best defensemen out with injuries.
In a sign that perhaps they are getting closer to returning, Johnny Boychuk and Travis Hamonic skated prior to practice Monday morning, Newsday reported. They are on course to return after the All-Star break.
But when exactly remains to be seen.
Boychuk, who suffered a shoulder injury on New Year’s Eve in Buffalo, was initially expected to miss four to six weeks, while Hamonic, who reportedly fractured his foot during a loss to Washington last week, was said to be out two to three weeks.
An earlier return by either would be welcome considering the Islanders announced on Monday that promising rookie Adam Pelech is out “indefinitely” due to an upper-body injury. Pelech suffered the injury during the Isles’ 3-1 win over the Rangers on Thursday and did not play in the 2-1 shootout loss to Vancouver on Sunday.
Until they get their big guns back, the Islanders will likely continue to rely on veterans Brian Strait, Marek Zidlicky and rookie Scott Mayfield to fill out the top six behind Nick Leddy, Calvin de Haan and Thomas Hickey. The Isles could also recall 2013 first-round draft pick Ryan Pulock from AHL Bridgeport should anyone else go down.
The Islanders, who have recorded nine of a possible 16 points over their last eight games (4-3-1) and sit alone in second place in the Metropolitan Division, have three games remaining before the break. They play in Ottawa on Friday before taking on Philadelphia and Detroit at home on Saturday and next Monday, respectively.