DETROIT — NHL teams often enjoy going on the road.
The Islanders, who just completed a stretch in which they played eight of nine games at the Coliseum (going 5-4-0), finish the season playing eight of their final 12 on the road, starting with a back-to-back Saturday against the Red Wings and Sunday night at the Wild.
Maybe surprising is how much more rest teams get away from home.
“On the road, it’s easier,” said coach Barry Trotz. “We go to the hotel. We don’t have kids, we don’t have wives, we don’t have the day-in, day-out responsibilities that you have at home. Actually, the road you can get more rest. You have some travel, but pure rest? … You can actually get pure rest on the road. No distractions.”
After this trip, the Islanders have three more two-game trips, ending the regular season April 6 in Washington in a contest that could have major influence on postseason positioning. With all that time on the road, Trotz emphasized how important the support system of families can become while the club’s focus on hockey only increases.
“I know in my situation, my wife handles pretty well everything else, and I handle hockey for nine months,” he said. “I come back in the spring and mess everything up, get out of my lane a little bit.”
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk practiced as an extra Friday on Long Island, his first time with the team since he took a hit to the head from the Flyers’ Jakub Voracek last Saturday. Trotz said Boychuk would be with the team on the trip, and it was “possible” he would play if the trainers give him the OK.
Goalie Robin Lehner is set to get one of the two games of the back-to-back, likely Saturday. He has been out since he was bulldozed by the Senators’ Brady Tkachuk on March 5, but he practiced fully on Wednesday, backed up Thomas Greiss on Thursday, and practiced again on Friday.
“He’s had a couple good practice days,” said Trotz, who had started Greiss for three straight.
Fourth-line center Casey Cizikas got a maintenance day Friday after recently playing through a stomach bug. He is expected to stay in the lineup.
“We ran his tank low,” Trotz said of Cizikas, who has missed only seven games all season. “He was sick last week. He’s played a lot of games. Refill the tank a little bit, so we kept him off.”