The Islanders will be without Cal Clutterbuck for a while.
Clutterbuck, who sat out Thursday’s loss to the Sabers in the second period, received the dreaded “out indefinite” designation Saturday morning when the Islanders called up Aatu Raty to play on the fourth line before their 5-2 loss to Carolina.
That would make it likely the Islanders will burn through the first year of Raty’s entry-level contract, as Raty played his eighth game with the club on Saturday. If he makes it to 10, it will take a season out of his three-year deal. The Finnish centerman skated for a team-low 8:28 on Saturday with Ross Johnston and Matt Martin on his wings.
As for Clutterbuck, this is the third time this year that he has missed time with injury. The NHL’s all-time hits leader, Clutterbuck turned 35 in November and his physically grinding style appears to be taking a toll.
“It’s tough,” said linemate Matt Martin after Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Sabres. “I think a lot of guys here sacrifice their bodies, come playing bang up, whatever it is. Injuries are part of the game, unfortunately. … Hopefully we’ll have some reinforcements here soon with a few of the guys that have Been out for a while and get back on the road.
The reinforcements did not come Saturday, however, as Adam Pelech, Kyle Palmieri and Hudson Fasching all continued to sit as the Islanders describe them as day-to-day. Despite that designation, though — which has become almost universal for the team — Lambert didn’t take an optimistic tone when asked if Pelech or Palmieri could play before the All-Star break.
“We have hope. But again, they’re day-to-day,” Lambert said. “So we’ll just have to see how it goes.”
After the Islanders’ eighth loss in nine games, Lambert tried to come up with something positive when asked about his message to the frustrated fan base.
“We’re working, we’re trying, we’re fighting through some different adversity,” he said. “We’re going to continue to do that.”
That’s tracked with the messaging from Islanders players during this losing run, as they’ve tried to maintain a semblance of positivity and optimism despite the results.
“I don’t think any team in the league is immune to going through adversity and tough stretches,” Josh Bailey said. “It’s part of the grind of a season, so you deal with yourself. Nothing’s over. There’s still a lot of hockey to be played.”