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New York Islanders

Islanders Palmieri Making Up For Lost Time, The Final Piece to Nelson Line

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New York Islanders forward Kyle Palmieri
New York Islanders forward Kyle Palmieri (Photo courtesy of New York Islanders Twitter)

While the wins haven’t come at a rapid rate since Kyle Palmieri returned to the lineup three games ago, it’s clear that this lineup has missed him dearly.

In his first two games back, the Islanders fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 and then the Ottawa Senators 2-1, but Kyle Palmieri had been one of their strongest players.

In the loss to Toronto, Palmieri recorded the primary assist on the game’s opening tally, an Anders Lee one-timer, which set the tone for a dominant first period, possession-wise. He finished that game with three shots on target on nine attempts (three blocked), a career-high seven hits, as he seemed relatively comfortable after missing 17 straight games.

In the loss to Ottawa, the 31-year-old forward registered another point, the primary assist on Brock Nelson’s tally late in the second period, which had the Islanders within one, down 2-1.

And then came the game against the Detroit Red Wings, where Palmieri added two more points to his stat line, two primary assists, as he set up both Lee and Nelson for their goals, with their win snapping a six-game slide and keeping them relevant in the playoff race.

Here’s the setup to Lee:

“Sort of thought the pass was for me, but I didn’t see Leesy back there. But he made a great effort,” Kyle Palmieri said as he did, in fact, get a piece of the pass for the assist.

Here’s the setup to Nelson:

“Well, certainly, he’s a big piece of the puzzle,” Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said. “And you can see that in the way he plays, so there’s no question we missed him when he was out.”

Besides the four points in three games, Palmieri is second on the Islanders since returning with 1.32 Individual Expected Goals. He has the most individual scoring chances with 14, third in individual high-danger chances with six, second in hits with 11, and is tied for the team lead with four points.

“I mean, it was a long time waiting there for things to be ready to go. So happy to be back,” Palmieri said. “Obviously, the last two games haven’t been the results we wanted, but we went out there tonight and took care of business, and we’ll reset and try and do it again tomorrow.”

The Islanders host the Vegas Golden Knights for the final game before the All-Star break, with puck drop at 7:30 PM.

“Work ethic, strength…he’s hard on pucks,” Brock Nelson said regarding Palmieri. “He’s a thick body. He can create some turnovers, in on the forecheck, he has a great stick, great shot, so give him a couple of opportunities, and he’s going to get a few of them.”

While Palmieri hasn’t scored yet, despite chances, he’s used his vision and hockey IQ to at least generate opportunities for his teammates.

As for the Nelson line, they have been a force over the last three games.

Per NaturalStatrick.com, when these three have been on the ice, 30:03 minutes, the Islanders have outshot their opponents 21-12, outscoring them 3-1. The scoring chances aren’t close, up 34-16, with 20 considered high-danger chances.

Nelson has four points (two goals and two assists) over his last four games, with points in five straight.

Lee has three goals over his last three games, while, as mentioned, Palmieri has points in all three games since returning, with four primary assists.

The Islanders have scored five goals over their last three games, three coming from this line.

“They complement each other. Lee’s at the net a lot, Brock is moving his feet, and Palmieri, he’s also moving his feet,” Lambert said. “They’re using their bodies, and they protect pucks, and they’re hard to get off the puck.

“They create opportunities, and they create offensive zone time.”

Lee weighed in.

“Palmieri feels really strong, really strong on the puck, and I think he’s making and seeing a lot of plays,” Anders Lee said. “And he’s been huge with Nelson and I, and I think we’ve generated quite a bit that I think we’ve liked and been able to walk away with a few here lately, but him on the line, great in the corners, gets the puck to the net.

“I think right now we’re jelling pretty good.”

As for what Palmieri has seen from the line:  “We’ve turned a lot of pucks over that have created offense off of, so there hasn’t been a ton off the rush, and Nelson had a good look in the first there. But really, we’re getting the pucks back and just attacking. Obviously, Lee’s, he’s a staple at the net front, and that makes it easier on us. Me and Nelson are coming downhill at whatever’s left there.”

“So I think as a line, we complement each other well, and we’ll just try to continue to make an impact to help our team win.”

The New York Islanders need offense, and when times are tough like they have been, Lambert needs a line to take over and become a reliable line day in and day out.

Right now, it’s the Nelson line, and it seems that the missing piece was Kyle Palmieri all along.