Loss of Boychuk a big blow for Islanders

Kyle Okposo had two goals and an assist, Cal Clutterbuck added two goals, and the Islanders edged the Stars 6-5.

The Travis Hamonic trade rumours should be pushed to the back burner for another month.

The New York Islanders will need every shift they can get from Hamonic now that fellow top-four defenceman Johnny Boychuk will be sidelined for another four to six weeks with his “upper-body” injury.

Boychuk was injured on Dec. 31 in Buffalo when his shoulder slammed into the boards during the third period. The blueliner was placed on injured reserve the following day.

Boychuk’s injury does not require surgery, but his absence comes as a significant blow to the Isles, who are in the thick of the Metropolitan Division’s playoff race.

Since Boychuk, 31, has been placed on IR, New York has one win and one loss.

The Edmonton native ranks third in average ice time (21:32), contributing three goals and 11 assists in 38 games this season.

More important, Boychuk is a key contributor to both of the Islanders' special-teams units, spending more time on the penalty kill than anyone on the club (2:38 per game). The Islanders' kill currently ranks third overall, with an 85.6 per cent success rate.