With the news that Johnny Boychuk will be out three-to-four weeks with a lower-body injury after blocking a shot with his leg in Tuesday's Game 4 win over the Penguins, Thomas Hickey likely will get his chance.
The 30-year-old defenseman is set to return to the Islanders' lineup for their second-round series against either Washington or Carolina.
"The news on Johnny, one of my best friends here, that's tough news," Hickey said Friday. "But we've got big goals, big aspirations, and if someone's not getting bumped and bruised and a little banged up, we're probably not getting to that point. So we just move forward."
Hickey, who was a mainstay on the Islanders' blue line the previous five seasons, saw limited playing time after returning from a concussion. He missed more than two months before returning on Feb. 26. He played seven games after that and was out of the lineup during the Islanders' first-round sweep of the Penguins with Devon Toews and Scott Mayfield forming a good third pair.
But now Hickey gets the chance he's been waiting for.
"I've been wanting to get in since Game 1, so I'm ready," Hickey said. "I've got no excuses. I've been looking forward to this."
Hickey will have to go from zero to 60 having been a healthy scratch to stepping into a playoff atmosphere.
"With the injury I had earlier this year and coming back, I've had to do that three times," Hickey said. "Difficult, but I think each time I came back for my first game I did really well. This is a different beast, but I had the intensity coming into those games after a long break, and to amp it up for playoffs … for me, it's easier when we're playing such a simple game."