With the New York Islanders in need of players, with a handful of players battling injuries, 24-year-old winger Arnaud Durandeau was rewarded with a call-up as he was on fire with Bridgeport.
In two games with New York, a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, and a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets, Durandeau has added a tremendous amount of energy to the lineup and has played exceptionally well alongside Casey Cizikas and Hudson Fasching.
Through two games, a total of 28:52 minutes, the NHL newcomer has seven shots on goal on eight attempts, with two hits and a block. He also has drawn two penalties, taking one of his own, and has earned some power-play minutes on the second unit–bumper position.
Besides his quick feet, the biggest standout to his game is his active stick. As head coach Lane Lambert said, it seems that the puck follows him around–not by accident–but due to strong positioning, particularly in the neutral zone.
“Ton of skill. Really good with the puck,” Zach Parise said. (He’s) pretty dynamic out there, especially for his first two games. I think he’s looked really good.”
Although Durandeau has impressed on his own, he’s shown strong chemistry with Hudson Fasching.
The two played 18 games on the same line down in Bridgeport before Fasching was recalled in early December.
Per NaturalStatrick.com, Fasching and Durandeau have been on the ice together at even strength for 18:31 minutes. While both have been on the ice, the Islanders have outshot the opposition 16-12, outscoring them 1-0, with double the scoring chances (12-6).
Both were on the ice for Bo Horvat’s tying goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday, with Fasching earning the primary assist. But Durandeau was strong in front of goal, which led to Penguins netminder Tristan Jarry slightly cheating, exposing the short-side ever so slightly.
“He’s a very smart player, and just playing 18 games with him down there, I think you get to learn where players are usually at and what their tendencies are. So I think we got a few chances today, both of us, and I think if we keep doing that, we’ll have some success.”
For Fasching, he’s been up with Islanders for much longer and has faired well on seemingly every line Lambert has placed him on. But he can’t deny what it’s been like to be reunited with Durandeau.
“We played a lot together. He’s got some good speed. We got some good reads,” Fasching said. “He’s always looking to use his speed to get behind defenders, so I’m always looking to try to get him the puck, and he’s finding me out there too. So it’s been good.”
As for Durandeau’s active stick: “I think part of it is the speed. He’s got the active stick together. I mean, he picks off a lot of passes, creates a lot of odd-man rushes, and he’s been finding me a lot, so I think we’re due for one here between the two of us for sure.
“We making some good plays, and we’re trying to keep that going.”
When you add Cizikas to the mix, 15:27 minutes, the Islanders have outshot their opponents 14-10, with double the scoring chances (10-5).
“He’s a great centerman. He’s always in the right spot. He talks a lot, and that’s great for a young guy like me and just having a veteran being able to tell me what I do right and what I do wrong, and just being there to support me.”
“He’s definitely the calming presence and kind of the guy who was like, alright, this needs to happen here, and it’s good to have that and to have that structure,” Fasching said. “He’s awesome out there and so hard-nosed and so hard-working and really covers us in the defensive zone for sure.”
Their line was the only line to outshoot the Winnipeg Jets, 4-2, with three scoring chances.
“I was pleased with their performance. I thought they had energy tonight. And I thought they were hard to get off pucks,” Lambert said. “Fasching was strong on pucks, and I thought Durandeau used his speed. When Casey (Cizikas) is in the middle, he’s got some speed too.
“So I was actually very happy with that line and how they played.”
If the New York Islanders are going to accomplish their goal of making the postseason, they will need their role players to be key contributors. Right now, Arnaud Durandeau is doing those little things that every coach wants to see, and alongside Hudson Fasching, the two are creating chances left and right, and we shall see if the goals will start to come.
“I’m a call-up, but I want to help the team as much as I can,” Durandeau said Wednesday afternoon.
He certainly has at the most critical time for New York.
“We’re in a playoff run, so every encounter, every point counts as well so I want to keep helping the team win,” Durandeau said. “Hopefully, we get a little streak going.”