Due to the injury to Mathew Barzal, the New York Islanders recalled 24-year-old Arnaud Durandeau this past Sunday, and through two games, he’s played him alongside veteran Casey Cizikas and first-year Islander Hudson Fasching
That line has been noticeable through the two wins, first over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday and then the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday.
NYI Hockey Now caught up with Casey Cizikas following Friday’s morning skate to discuss what he has seen from the newest call-up and why their line has succeeded.
In 15:27 minutes at five on five courtesy of NaturalStatrick.com, the threesome has outshot their opponents 14-10 and out-chanced them 10-5. In Wednesday’s Tuesday win, the Cizikas line was the only line to outshoot the Jets, doing so 4-2.
“It’s been fun. The way those two work, they’re always hounding pucks. They’re always getting in on the forecheck and making plays,” Cizikas told NYI Hockey Now. “I played with Fasching a lot this season, and I’ve got to know his game pretty well. Durandeau, I’m still learning, but he does a lot of things while out there, and he skates extremely well.
“He gets in on the forecheck, and he creates offense. So you know, it’s been fun so far, and we’re gonna continue to get better.”
Durandeau is still getting his feet wet in the NHL, but so far, he’s shown well in 28:52 minutes, with seven shots, two hits, one block, two drawn penalties, one penalty, and a handful of takeaways.
“He’s all over the puck, and it’s fun,” Cizikas said. “And that’s kind of what we want to do as a line is, is create those turnovers, and the only way we’re going to do that is if we get up the ice and we cause them, so he’s done well, so far. He’s had some really good opportunities to score and some really good chances, and he set up a lot of good plays too.
“So if he keeps playing the way he’s playing, he’s gonna be here for a long time.”
One of the more prominent standouts of Durandeau’s game has been his active stick, specifically in the neutral zone. Cizikas spoke about that area of Durandeau’s game and about that skill in general.
“It’s something that some people have right away, and it’s something that some people have to work really hard at,” Cizikas said. “So, like I said, he’s always looking to create turnovers. He’s always looking to get up in the play. That might be something that he just has.”
Another area of Durandeau’s game, which has been a common theme amongst the call-ups this season, is their positioning and play without the puck. Durandeau seems to be in the right spots at the right times, which his linemate has noticed.
“I’ve noticed that for sure,” Cizikas said. “The game happens quick out there. Sometimes you might think you’re in the right spot, and all of a sudden, a guy makes a pass, and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, where am I?’ But he hasn’t had any of those yet. So that’s good.
“He’s taking advantage of the opportunity that he’s been given. And I think he’s done well so far.”
NYI Hockey Now spoke with Durandeau and Fasching about their chemistry, as the two played 18 games together in Bridgeport earlier this season before Fasching was recalled.
“They know what they have to do. They know how to play with each other,” Cizikas said. “And I guess I’m the one learning, but no, it’s simple. Go north with the puck and forecheck and create plays when they’re there. And they’ve done that so far.”
Cizikas mentioned playing north, which means just going up the ice from goal to goal. It’s a more basic style, a style that most third and fourth lines.
“Right now, it’s more just…these are the certain little things that we’re going to be looking for. And then, as we play more together, I think we can start figuring out little other little things,” Cizikas said. “But as of right now, it’s only been two games, and we’re just trying to keep it as simple as possible where we know where each other is going to be.
“If I make this play, this guy is going to be right there for me, and that’s something that goes a long way.”
Once they establish more chemistry, Cizikas said they would add more to their game plan.
“Once you kind of start building that, then you can start trying to talk about different, other things, specifics against the team you’re playing against,” Cizikas said.
The trio skated together at Friday’s morning skate, so it will be their third game tonight when the puck drops against the Los Angeles Kings at 7:30 PM ET.