The New York Islanders lost a crucial piece of their fourth line.
Casey Cizikas’ time in the postseason came to an end on Sunday after the Islanders announced that the forward sustained an injury and had left the Edmonton Bubble. Cizikas will not return for the remainder of the playoffs and the team will provide an update on his status after the postseason.
Tom Kuhnhackl also was injured and left the bubble.
“They both mean a lot to our team. It’s not just one or the other,” Nick Leddy said after the Islanders dropped Game 4 on Sunday. “It’s very tough. You never want to see a guy get hurt, but the biggest thing and since I’ve been here it’s always been that next man mentality. We just need guys to step up in our locker room. I have faith that we’ll do that.”
The news came down just before the Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning took the ice for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said that the team found out Saturday night one player would be leaving and then they found out the other would also be leaving on Sunday morning.
Trotz did not specify which player’s status was revealed to him at which time.
It’s unclear what exactly happened with Casey Cizikas and Kuhnhackl that sidelined the two. Cizikas missed Game 3 on Friday night with an undisclosed injury.
The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta reported during Game 4 that Cizikas suffered an upper-body injury and that after he underwent a second evaluation it was determined he needed surgery.
“Those guys are a big part of our team, so it is what it is,” Josh Bailey said. “I think every team goes through different injuries. It’s not something you can dwell on and that we even really need to talk too much about. We want those guys in the lineup, but that’s just the cards we’re dealt right now.”
Cizikas appeared in 18 of the Islanders playoff games this season and had two points — both assists — in that span. Cizikas’ impact stems predominantly from his usefulness in the faceoff circle and the physicality he brings along with Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck.
Kuhnhackl appeared in the first three games of the Islanders’ Qualifying Round Series with Florida. He recorded an assist in Game 2 of that series and averaged 9:20 0f ice time.