The New York Islanders have taken a big step forward in 2014-15 after finishing last season in the Metropolitan Division basement and one of the reasons for that has been their defensive depth following the acquisitions of defensemen Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk just before their season opener. They haven’t enjoyed that level of blueline strength lately though as Travis Hamonic and Boychuk have been sidelined with upper-body injuries.
The Islanders have gone 3-3-0 in six games without either of them, but they’re expected to return for tonight’s game against the Detroit Red Wings, per Newsday.
Boychuk and Hamonic have led the Islanders this season in playing time per contest. Both have been key parts of New York’s penalty kill and Boychuk has also logged big minutes with the man advantage. While they were unavailable, defensemen Thomas Hickey and Leddy were asked to take on larger roles.
The Islanders were outscored 10-1 in the third period over three straight losses from Dec. 6-11, but they’ve responded by earning back-to-back one-goal victories. With a 21-10-0 record, they are just four points shy of the division-leading Pittsburgh Penguins.