Connect with us

New York Islanders

Trotz Spreads Out ‘Weight’ in Win, Will Islanders Line Combos Last?



New York Islanders

On Wednesday night, New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz shook up three of his four forward lines in the 6-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks.

These were the lines:


And not just the line combination, but the decision by Trotz to put people in new spots had his group on fire out of the gate.

Although the Islanders bent but never broke completely after taking a 5-0 lead after one period trimmed but entering the third period only up 5-3, they were able told hold on and tack on another to bring their goal total to six and collect two points.

The New York Islanders registered 27 shots on goal, 14 coming in the first period alone. Against the Seattle Kraken in their previous contest back on Feb. 2, the Islanders registered a total of 19 shots on goal and were shut out.

After the Islanders took a 1-0 lead, Ross Johnston was challenged to a fight by Luke Schenn, and with the win in the fight, the Islanders built on their momentum with two quick tallies.

Eight different skaters collected points in the win, as Cal Clutterbuck, Anders Lee, and Casey Cizikas had two points each. Each line had been on the ice for a goal after the first period.

The New York Islanders generated 22 scoring chances, 10 being high-danger chances. The offense went away after the first period because Vancouver had the puck the whole time. The Islanders allowed 12 shots on goal, three ending up in the back of their net.

“We haven’t had consistent production through our lineup. So it was to put some people in a position where, you know, they can add a little more, I’ll say weight on all the lines especially our top, what we call our top two lines,” Trotz said following the win. “Just balance them out, do it with a little more four-line mentality. you know like, Casey’s line has an identity.”

“Why can’t we have that through our whole team?”

Just because of the offensive success on Wednesday, that does not mean the New York Islanders forward group remains the same for Friday night’s contest against the Edmonton Oilers.

Kyle Palmieri will be available after not playing Wednesday (paternity). 

But does that mean he’s in the lineup?

The likelihood is yes. If the New York Islanders are going to get going in the second half, Kyle Palmieri needs to be a big piece. He looked more involved in the offense in each of the last four games he played, as he’s in the process of getting back into the ebbs and flows after missing 10 games with a lower-body injury. 

Changes would have to be made.

Despite Cal Clutterbuck’s success with Mat Barzal on Wednesday, we could very well see Clutterbuck returned to the fourth line given their brand of hockey and the kind of play needed against the dynamic Edmonton Oilers offense. 

Clutterbuck is a strong defender and will need to focus on that aspect of his game against the likes of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl

That would open up the spot for Kyle Palmieri to either play on the top line with Barzal or swap with Josh Bailey and man the second line wing with Johnston and Nelson. But that would leave Anthony Beauvillier in the scratch house.

Beauvillier had the primary assist on Casey Cizikas’ goal to make it 4-0 in the first, but besides that assist, Beauvillier did not do a lot. 

Neither did the rest of the group after the first period. 

If Trotz elects to keep Beauvillier in the lineup, wants Palmieri and Ross Johnston in, the only other move would be to have Matt Martin take a seat, a player dealing with nagging issues season long, in the first of a back-to-back. 

Johnston could slot in on the wing alongside Cizikas and Clutterbuck.

Ross Johnston had a key fight with four hits and two blocks in 13:31 minutes on Wednesday, and last time out against Edmonton on Jan. 1., he played a considerable role in the 4-3 overtime win. 

Johnston was in the lineup for his pesty presence, which paid dividends against a premier forward in Leon Draisaitl. Johnston finished every check he could, and Draisaitl failed to record a shot in regulation, despite being credited with a goal.

The Islanders third line was not touched, meaning that Trotz likes what he has seen from the Parise, Pageau, Wahlstrom threesome. That line produced the first goal and had a plethora of chances in 6-3 win.

“When you see a lot of lineup changes, but they keep your line together, you feel like you’re doing the right things together,” Zach Parise said. “And you know, we’d like to keep improving and keep progressing because I think we’re going in the right direction.

It appears that the chemistry is brewing and for that reason, no touchy by Trotz.

Could we also see changes to the backend? 

Zdeno Chara and Andy Greene both got caught on the ice for long periods of time in Wednesday’s win. Chara seemed a step behind all game long and looked fatigued early. 

But the only replacement that would make sense is if Robin Salo was recalled from Bridgeport before game time. Although serving as the seventh defenseman right now, Sebastian Aho clearly is not trusted to the level that the 23-year old Salo is. 

And against the Oilers, the last thing you want on the backend is someone shaky. 

With no practice Thursday, it will be interesting to see what formula Barry Trotz comes up with for Friday. Nothing is off the table.


Enter your email address to get all of our articles delivered directly to your inbox.

NYI Team & Cap Info