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Islanders defense bracing for last stretch without injured Alex Romanov

Islanders Semyon Varlamov Alex Romanov
New York Islanders defenseman Alexander Romanov, center, checks Calgary Flames forward Elias Lindholm, right, as goalie Semyon Varlamov follows the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, in Calgary, Alberta. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)

EAST MEADOW — With just four games left to cement their spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Islanders are facing at least one more hurdle off the ice as defenseman Alexander Romanov remains “day-to-day,” with an upper-body injury, head coach Lane Lambert divulged on Wednesday. 

It’s unclear whether or not he’ll be able to play on Thursday night for a pivotal matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning at UBS Arena, but the current trend certainly suggests that he won’t be available. Romanov did not partake in either of the Islanders’ practices on Tuesday or Wednesday. 

The 23-year-old suffered the injury after an awkward fall while tangled up with Lightning forward Corey Perry during Saturday’s 5-0 loss down in Tampa. He did not play during Sunday’s 2-1 loss against the Hurricanes.

In his absence, Sebastian Aho will continue to cycle in where he’ll play alongside Scott Mayfield. 

“Teams are all banged up this time of year but the guys that are playing have to do a better job and bring a little more,” Noah Dobson, who started the year as Romanov’s blue-line partner, said. “We miss Alex, he’s a big part of our back end. But whoever’s in there just has to do their job and try our best to play as a group of six and help each other out.”

Islanders Sharks
New York Islanders center Jean-Gabriel Pageau (44) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the San Jose Sharks during the first period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, March 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

Romanov has worked his way toward finding his footing with the Islanders after they acquired him at the 2022 NHL Draft from the Montreal Canadiens for a first-round pick. In 76 games, he’s recorded a career-high 22 points and a plus-13 rating to go with 129 blocked shots and 198 hits. 

Needless to say, the timing of the injury is less than ideal for the Islanders, especially because they sit just one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the drop out of the playoff picture

They’ve been outscored 7-1 in their last two games and face a Lightning team they’ve lost six straight regular-season contests against dating back to the 2019-20 season.

“It’s important that you have depth, which we’re fortunate here to have depth,” Ryan Pulock said. “It’s just a matter of stepping up. Whoever’s playing every night, we have six, seven, eight, nine d-men who can play. We just have to focus on our job and worry about what each individual has to do, and show up and play.”

For more on the Islanders and Alex Romanov, visit AMNY.com