A season that has already been filled with ups and downs for the New York Islanders reached another low point this week when the team learned that speedy winger Michael Grabner will be out at least a week with a shoulder injury. An Islanders team that has dropped two of its last three games while only scoring four total goals will miss the contributions it was getting from Grabner, who had 10 goals and 13 points this season.
The Islanders rely heavily on their top line of John Tavares, Matt Moulson and Brad Boyes, but secondary scoring has been a major weakness this season. While Tavares is near the top of the league with 16 goals and 29 points and Moulson has chipped in 11 goals and 16 points, the team has received little scoring help from its other three lines outside of what Grabner has been able to do. Now, the pressure for players like Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Colin McDonald to deliver will grow if the Islanders are to have any chance of reaching the postseason.
Grabner had not yet missed a game and was looking to build on back-to-back seasons of 20 or more goals for the Islanders. Losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins by a 6-1 score on Sunday was bad enough, but losing Grabner in the same game just rubs salt in the wound. David Ullstrom was recalled from the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers to take Grabner’s roster spot. Ullstrom has two goals and five points in 19 appearances with the Islanders this season. The team has been off since Sunday but will be back in action tomorrow night when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning.