The injury bug continues to bite the New York Islanders locker room. With forwards Josh Bailey and Jean-Gabriel Pageau already dealing with upper-body injuries, the Islanders announced on Monday that center Mathew Barzal will be out indefinitely due to a lower-body injury.
Barzal suffered the injury just 6:01 into Saturday's game against the Boston Bruins after taking a hit from Bruins forward Craig Smith. The Islanders star skated around the ice during a stoppage in play right after taking the hit, but ended up making his way to the locker room and didn't return for the remainder of the Islanders' 6-2 loss.
"He's a very important player for us in all different aspects, of course," Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said following Saturday's game. "So as much as you try not to let it affect you, we had a power play that didn't go very well and he's a big part of that. There's a residual effect all the way down the line."
Prior to leaving Saturday's game, Barzal had missed just one game this seaason, which came on Jan. 6 against the Calgary Flames.
The loss of Barzal is huge for an Islanders team that is clinging to the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference entering Monday. Barzal currently is second on the team in points (51) behind only Brock Nelson (55) and has a team-high 37 assists on the year.
Without Barzal in the lineup, the Islanders' already-limited depth takes another hit.
Pageau was placed on injured reserve last week retroactive to Feb. 11 and was eligible to return against the Bruins on Saturday. However, Pageau didn't end up making the trip.
Meanwhile, Bailey suffered an upper-body injury in Friday's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He logged just 7:38 of ice time and didn't play in the third period of the 5-4 win.
Without Bailey and Pageau in the lineup on Saturday, Lambert decided to skate Simon Holmstrom and Ross Johnston on a line with recent AHL call-up Andy Andreoff centering them. Andreoff and Johnston have appeared in a combined 14 games during the 2022-23 season.
Considering that Barzal may miss a good chunk of the remainder of the season, the recent acquisition of Bo Horvat becomes even more paramount as he'll lead the team's top line. Horvat has recorded three goals and an assist in seven games since coming over in a trade from the Vancouver Canucks prior to the All-Star break.
With the Islanders in the playoff race and a depleted forward group, it's very possible that the Islanders will explore the trade market leading up to the NHL trade deadline on March 3.