Isles Injuries Starting To Mount

When you think of the New York Islanders and associate the word "injury" to their name, you automatically think of all the man-games lost by this team over the past few years and immediately think of the infamous Rick DiPietro. But right now, the injury bug is starting to bite in places other than the 15-year man's knees. 

Brian Rolston (Robert Kowal/Flickr)Brian Rolston was placed on the Injured Reserve retroactive to Dec 15th due to a concussion he sustained during the team's 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars this passed Thursday. He left the game and did not return and has not played since.This has allowed Nino Niederreiter to return to the line-up without there having to be any major changes to the roster.

Other players, like Tim Wallace, have been getting extra playing time as well. Although Wallace has previous NHL experience with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he really hasn't been all that impressive. So far in only seven games played, Wallace has only one assist and is a +1 despite having been one of the Sound Tigers leading scorers before getting the call back up to the big leagues. Although Rolston hadn't been exactly the most threatening second line forward on this team prior to getting hurt, the Islanders could benefit from having some added scoring punch, especially after playing so well over the past few games. 

To make matters worse, Al Montoya and David Ullstrom left last night's game against the Winnipeg Jets with injuries as well. Although there has not been a time frame announced for either player, it has been stated by the New York Islanders twitter account that both are diagnosed with concussions. Therefore, do not expect either one of them to dress for tomorrow night's tilt with the New York Rangers. HBO will just have to do without them.

Although injuries have paved way for players like de Haan, Ullstrom and Wallace to get some NHL playing time, the Islanders will now have to dig deeper if they want to keep any hope of climbing the standings and making a run at the playoffs. The Islanders currently sit 14th in the Eastern Conference with 28 points, only eight points out of the final playoff spot. With 51 games remaining on the year, the Islanders are anything but out of the running, although they certainly do have their work cut out for them.

Al Montoya (cincyhockey11/Flickr)Calling up more players from the Sound Tigers may be necessary, but more is needed if the organization is serious about them making a mid-season push. Evgeni Nabokov, who played for the first time since pulling his groin against the Rangers about a month ago, got his first taste of action after Montoya left last night's game. He was solid enough to keep his team in it for the win and should be reliable enough to help his team move up in the Conference going forward. But Nabokov was supposed to be this team's most valuable trading chip. With DiPietro still on the IR for who knows how long and Montoya now diagnosed with a concussion, it appears that Nabokov isn't going anywhere any time soon. 

Almost seems fitting that the guy who never wanted to play here in the first place has made it this long, doesn't it? Get comfy, Nabs. You might be here longer than you ever thought.

The bottom line is that if Nabokov is going to be the man between the pipes for the unforeseen future, the Islanders will have to find another way to produce offense amongst a relatively young squad for what seems like the umpteenth season in a row. However, the Isles have almost seemed to play better when less of a veteran presence was dressed, whether it was due to injuries or trades. I don't expect Isles GM Garth Snow to make any major moves after the holiday roster freeze - especially since the time off could really benefit the bandaged ones - so it will be yet another test for Capuano's young Islanders team. 

UPDATE: The Islanders have called up Micheal Haley and Anders Nilsson from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. 

-Rob McGowan

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