The New York Islanders announced on Monday that star forward Mathew Barzal will be out indefinitely due to a lower-body injury.
Barzal suffered the injury during the first period of Saturday’s 6-2 loss to the Boston Bruins after getting hit into the boards by Craig Smith. He immediately left the game and did not return.
With 23 games remaining in the Islanders’ regular season entering Monday night’s tilt against the Pittsburgh Penguins, an indefinite timeframe on Barzal’s injury certainly does not bode well for the 25-year-old to see the ice much more this season.
However, the Islanders did add that there was hope that he could return to the ice this season.
Considering where the Islanders are on the outside looking in at the Eastern Conference playoff picture, being without one of their best players only hurts their chances of extending the season to offer more time for Barzal to recover.
New York is currently tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final Wild Card spot in the conference, but they’ve played four more games than their Metropolitan Division rivals. They also have played one more game than the Washington Capitals, who are one point behind, and five more games than the Buffalo Sabres, who are three points behind.
For Barzal, the injury is a cruel twist of fate for the six-year veteran who has struggled to find a consistent linemate for most of his professional career. The Islanders finally pulled off a blockbuster on Jan. 30, acquiring All-Star center Bo Horvat from the Vancouver Canucks to shift Barzal to the right wing on the first line.
In their seven games together, Barzal had recorded eight points (2 G, 6 A) while Horvat has three goals and an assist.
With Barzal absent, the Islanders emergency recalled Arnaud Durandeau, a 24-year-old winger with 13 goals and 20 assists in 48 games with the team’s AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. That will do little, though, to fill the void of losing their best offensive playmaker where an already imposing climb to the Stanley Cup playoffs now appears insurmountable.
In 58 games this season, Barzal posted 14 goals and 37 assists for 51 points.