EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — The Islanders had a healthy group of players on the ice on Tuesday for practice at Northwell Health Ice Center. The team had a bug going around during the last week, which put into question Josh Ho-Sang’s status on Thursday and forced Cal Clutterbuck to miss Saturday and Sunday’s road games.
The bug allowed Alain Quine to jump back into the lineup over the weekend, but with a healthy roster the Islanders’ coaching staff will have some decisions to make heading into this week’s slate of games.
“We had a couple of bugs ailing us, but everybody is back at it and ready to go,” Weight said after Tuesday’s practice. “They’ll be other decisions for the game. We have three in four here. We got Philly twice and Ottawa, so we’ll put our heads together upstairs and get a lineup. I feel good about everybody on our team right now.”
New York will host the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday ad then travel to Philly on Friday and then head to Ottawa on Saturday. Weight wasn’t sure what decisions would be made for Wednesday, but it was later reported on Tuesday that the Islanders’ coach would make some adjustments on the backend and a switch at forward.
The Islanders have managed to avoid some tougher roster decisions with injuries and illnesses coming at the right time to allow other players to slot right in. Now with a healthy group, the pressure will be on when it comes to the daily lineup decisions.
Those decisions will only be made harder in a few weeks when Shane Prince is ready to suit up again. The Islanders’ forward skated on Tuesday in a full contact jersey and is on schedule to return to playing hockey soon.
“He’s on the timeline of where he should,” Weight said. “Next week, two weeks he should be ready to play hockey, but he needs to battle a bit.”
At the quarter mark of the season the Islanders find themselves in a much better spot than they did last year. The Islanders sit at 11-7-2 at the 20 game mark, which puts them in possession of the first wild card spot in the east, and is stark improvement from their 6-10-4 record at the same point last season.
“I just think we’ve done a pretty good job of rebounding after losses,” Lee said of this season’s start. “We’ve been able to recover and string a few wins together. This league, there’s a lot of parity in it and you have to be able to rebound from games, and come back stronger. Learn from your mistakes and I think right now we’re doing a really good job of staying on the same page, and continue to build on what we’ve done previously.”
Not only have the Islanders been able to rebound from losses, they have the secondary scoring that has long eluded the team. The Islanders are one of the highest scoring teams in the league with 72 goals through the first 20 games of the season.
The 72 goals is the third highest in the NHL, with only the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning scoring more goals.
“I think everybody contributes to it,” Weight said of his team’s scoring. “I think the way we want to play and the aforementioned us getting a little bit better and consistent is going to lead to it as well. You’re not going to average four goals a game… The game is what it is and there’s tight spots in the league.”
Long Island native and UFC fighter Chris Weidman was at practice on Tuesday with a film crew. The mixed martial artist was filming a segment for MSG Network and then skated on the ice with a few players after the team’s practice ended.
Afterwards several players went and trained with Weidman in the Octagon.