After stepping away from the team due to personal reasons just hours before their 3-2 overtime victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz is still not with the team.
Associate head coach Lane Lambert oversaw practice on Monday after filling in for Trotz on New Year’s Day behind the bench.
Lambert was unable to identify a timeline for Trotz’s return to the team, adding that “he will be back when he’s back and we’ll see him then.”
The same goes for top defenseman Ryan Pulock, who has begun skating away from the team while recovering from a lower-body injury but does not have a specific date targeted for a return. He has not appeared in a game since Nov. 15.
Kyle Palmieri (lower-body injury) and Brock Nelson did skate with the Islanders on Monday morning — a promising development that they’ll be back on the ice by the team’s next game as the team finally inches toward full health.
The only problem is that the Islanders are in the midst of another extended break due to COVID-19 ramifications that prompted the NHL to postpone their road trip to Western Canada and Seattle, the Islanders.
Since Dec. 19, they have had just three games and are not scheduled to play again until Dec. 13 against the New Jersey Devils at UBS Arena.
That gives the healing and rested side plenty of chances to work out some of the kinks that have plagued them through the first 28 games of the season.
“You never get an opportunity to string this many practices together in January,” veteran winger Cal Clutterbuck said. “It’s kind of a blessing.”
It’s also something that the Islanders will relish even if it has stymied the momentum of a current stretch of play that has seen them collect points in nine of their last 11 games.
“The games are going to come and the practice time is going to be limited,” Lambert said as the NHL has to reschedule postponed games amidst an already busy late-winter schedule. “We’re pretty excited to work on stuff that we haven’t been able to work on because of the games and because we haven’t had a full group.”