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Will He Play or Won’t He? Clutterbuck Now a Game-Time Decision

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New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz discussing Cal Clutterbuck

The question over whether Cal Clutterbuck will be in the New York Islanders lineup continues.

Islanders head coach Barry Trotz told reporters this afternoon that Clutterbuck is a game-time decision for Game 5 tonight with the Washington Capitals. This comes 24 hours after Trotz indicated that Clutterbuck was ready to go for Game 5.

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“The only one that is an issue is Clutter and that’s a game-time decision,” Trotz said.

Cal Clutterbuck appeared to be injured during the second period of Game 4. He was upended by Radko Gudas late in the middle frame and was not on the bench in the third period for the Islanders. The absence of Clutterbuck would be a blow to the Islanders fourth line, which is at its best when Clutterbuck, Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin are all on the ice.

Martin told members of the media on Wednesday that he obviously wanted Clutterbuck out there with Cizikas and himself.

“You just try to keep a level head about it,” Martin said Wednesday. “Hopefully he’s alright and we’ll get back out there. At the end of the day, it’s just about winning hockey games. We have to find a way to do that.”

The Islanders were already looking at making some changes to the lineup, Trotz indicated on Wednesday. That still appears to be the case, but they could look different with the current uncertainty surrounding Clutterbuck.

If Cal Clutterbuck is unable to play, Ross Johnston will likely get the nod to take his place. Any lineup change will be thoroughly examined before it’s made.

“We look at everything from play, number one,” Trotz said. “Health, number two, and then what we expect in terms of the game. Trends that you’re seeing in the series. Also maybe you want to put some new life into your line up. New legs. We look at all those types of things.

“You do everything with a purpose. It’s well thought out. It’s just not off the cuff and we’ve looked at all those options. We’ll have some decisions that will be made right before warmups or right before the game.”

The Islanders are looking to close out their best-of-seven series with the Capitals tonight and punch their ticket to the Second Round. The Islanders failed to close out the series on Tuesday in 3-2 loss in Game 4.

New York had been prepared for a fight from Washington and they got one as the Capitals got back to their own game to extend the series. They’re well aware they’ll face another one tonight.

“We know the type of game we have to play to have success,” Jordan Eberle said this afternoon. “When we’re not doing that we don’t. We’ve done it for a couple of years now under Barry. We understand the way we need to play to win hockey games. When we do that and bring all four lines, and six D, and protect our goalie we usually have success.”

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