How Boychuk's return will spark Islanders

The return of Johnny Boychuk (center, No. 55) to the Islanders' lineup will have myriad benefits as the club tries to lock up a playoff spot. Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The thing about injuries in hockey is that sometimes the injured players just disappear. They’re not always on road trips. They’re not on the same schedule as their teammates. As much as they may try to be a part of the fabric of the team, when they’re not on the ice, it’s different. It just is.

So when Johnny Boychuk returned to the ice this weekend for the New York Islanders, it was about more than getting back one of their best defenseman. It was about the return of a leader in the dressing room, a calming presence all around.