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Islanders Lineup Stability is Coming, but Who Makes the Cut?



New York Islanders Barry Trotz

New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz has gotten a look at everyone who was going to compete for a spot in the lineup during their five-game road trip last week. Now it appears that the Isles head coach is ready to create some lineup stability going forward.

The Islanders will get a few extra days of unexpected practice, following the cancelation of both of their games with the Buffalo Sabres this week, which means they will get some time to perfect how those lines look for Saturday. It had been a long time coming for Trotz to start to solidify the lines that the Islanders had been using, in particular, the makeup of the third line.

“I think as we go along here I’m going to have to settle into what I would perceive for the most part three and two-thirds of a line,” Trotz said on Tuesday afternoon. “And then sort of just put a guy in and a guy out based on need. After that, if we get injuries or some of these protocols then I’ll just flip people in. I’m probably not going to be as disruptive as I probably was during this last week. Probably going to settle in and be firm on that, and work through it.”

That will come as a major relief for Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who has had to manage playing on a line with a constant rotation of linemates. Austin Czarnik, Kieffer Bellows, Oliver Wahlstrom, Michael Dal Colle, Leo Komarov, and Ross Johnston have all spent time with Pageau over the last week.

Part of the lineup juggling also had to do with the injury to Anthony Beauvillier, who remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Beauvillier did skate on Tuesday, but not with the main group.

Now that Trotz plans to be more consistent with his lineup, the question becomes who will be in on a nightly basis.

Rosner Report: Austin Czarnik Provided Much Needed Spark for Islanders

The hope for many Islanders fans had been that one of the team’s young prospects would get a shot at a consistent spot in the lineup. And for the most part, Trotz has done that with Bellows.

Bellows doesn’t have any points this season, but he has appeared in seven of the Islanders’ first nine games. At one point, Trotz even bumped Bellows up to the second line during their five-game stretch on the road last week.

Wahlstrom had been given an opportunity as well, but he’s only played in two games.

“Obviously I’ve played Bellows more than I’ve played Wahlly at this point,” Trotz said. “I need him just to break out. I have trust in Bellows game. He’s getting chances. I think he’s been around the net. He’s that type of guy. Hopefully, he just breaks out. That will just give him some confidence.

The Islanders head coach has trust in Wahlstrom’s game as well and has liked what he’s seen from both youngsters during their time together on the ice. Trotz paired them with Pageau in the Islanders’ second game against Washington and their first game with Philly.

A lot was made out of the fact that Trotz moved both players to the taxi squad the next night and put Dmytro Timashov and Czarnik into the lineup. The reason had more to do with the back to back games the Islanders were playing than a reflection of their game, according to Trotz.

“I thought they played a pretty decent game the other day,” Trotz said. “I changed the lineup looking for back-to-back energy. See if we can get some energy. I thought a guy like Czarnik provided that and (Michael Dal Colle) provided that.”

The aforementioned Dal Colle had a somewhat regular role with the Islanders last season and Czarnik had an impressive outing on Sunday in Philadelphia, which was his first in an Islanders uniform this season.