When the Canucks visit Barclays Center later tonight, the Islanders will be without Travis Hamonic. The shutdown defenseman was injured in Saturday’s shootout loss to the Oilers when he blocked a shot that resulted in a power play goal. He left the contest in the first period and didn’t return.
The 26-year old Hamonic suffered an “upper body” injury. He’s expected to miss between four to six weeks. In his place will be Adam Pelech. The 22-year old former 2012 third round pick got into nine games for the Islanders last season tallying two assists. In 10 games with Bridgeport this season, he has a goal and three assists with six penalty minutes and a plus-three rating.
Losing Hamonic for any stretch is tough. The Isles’ top right-handed defenseman is a player coach Jack Capuano relies on to go up against top scoring lines. Even though he was off to a shaky start with partner Nick Leddy, it’s a big hit.
Pelech will get the chance to play with Leddy against Vancouver. A big assignment which means seeing the Canucks’ top rated Sedins Line with Loui Eriksson. They are off to bad starts with Henrik leading the team in scoring with only six points (2-4-6) while twin brother Daniel is 3-2-5. Eriksson has yet to score a goal and has four assists. Brandon Sutter (1-5-6) and Bo Horvat (4 goals) have been their most consistent forwards.
The Isles’ other pairings remain the same. Thomas Hickey with Johnny Boychuk and Calvin de Haan with Dennis Seidenberg. They are facing the league’s lowest scoring team. Amazingly, the Canucks rank dead last in offense with a pedestrian 1.58 goals-per-game- scoring only 20 in 12 games. That helps explain their 4-7-1 record.
How bad has it been? After finding a way to win their first four games including one in a shootout and two in overtime on late comebacks, they’re winless in their last eight and have lost seven in a row in regulation for a putrid 0-7-1 mark. During that stretch, they’ve reached three goals twice including a 4-3 shootout loss to the Kings on Oct. 22 and an ugly 6-3 loss at the Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
The latest defeat featured 32 penalties and 171 combined penalty minutes. It became gruesome in the third period following a Nazem Kadri hit from the blindside on Daniel Sedin. He left his feet to make the hit and was assessed a charging major followed by a fight with Jannik Hansen and game misconduct. I’ve looked at the hit several times. While he did leave his feet which is why the correct call was made for a charging major, the main point of contact isn’t the head. He caught Daniel in a prone position with shoulder to shoulder contact which knocked him down landing on his head. It was unnecessary. Kadri wasn’t suspended. Something that the Canucks didn’t agree on.
It only got worse from there with more ugliness that included Alex Burrows going after Morgan Rielly. What would you expect from one of the NHL’s notorious punks? Former Ranger Derek Dorsett picked on Leo Komarov beating him up after a face-off and then yelled at Matt Martin.The worst part was when Martin picked on Troy Stecher which resulted in an immediate response from Ryan Miller. The toughest goalie in the league stood up for his teammate who only was playing his fourth game. It wound up in a line brawl with opposing goalie Frederik Andersen skating across the ice to greet Miller. Miller said all the right things following the game about why he stood in for Stecher:
It’ll certainly be interesting to see how the Canucks respond. Their coach Willie Desjardins is on the hot seat. Something Capuano can relate to given the Isles’ struggles. They bring a 4-6-2 record into play and sit seventh in the Metropolitan Division. With the Rangers, Penguins and Capitals rolling along with the Flyers and Devils playing solid hockey, they have to dig out of it soon.
The Islanders have dropped three in a row on home ice. Even the last two defeats- both shootouts- weren’t good because they blew leads in each case. If they can’t get up and beat the lowly Canucks, that could spell doom for Capuano and even Garth Snow, whose off-season was a disaster.
Alan Quine is in the lineup for rookie Anthony Beauvillier, which is perplexing. Here are the Isles’ lines:
It speaks volumes when your big free agent replacement for Kyle Okposo is now on the checking line. Granted. Casey Cizikas is one of their most consistent players. If that doesn’t get Andrew Ladd going, yikes.
Jaroslav Halak gets his third straight start. Summer Olympic champion Aly Raisman will drop the puck. If only they could clone her.