New York Islanders
Cizikas Not Good Enough in ’22, Islanders Need Better
Islanders In Review assesses every player from the 2021-22 New York Islanders season. We’ll be looking at the highs and lows they experienced during the just-completed campaign and what the future holds for them on the island. Today, we feature centerman Casey Cizikas.
You can catch up on the series here: Anthony Beauvillier, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Cal Clutterbuck
2021-22 totals (GP-G-A-P): 74-10-6-16
Contract Status: Five years remaining with a $2.5 million AAV
New York Islanders forward Casey Cizikas entered the 2021-22 season fresh off signing a six-year deal worth $15 million. The then 30-year-old had played a focal role in the franchise’s success and was rewarded.
However, his 2021-22 season showcased a different Casey Cizikas, an undisciplined one.
In 74 games played this season, Casey Cizikas found his way to the penalty box with 58 PIM. That ranked sixth highest on the Islanders in terms of the minutes, but his 24 penalties ranked third. Although fighting majors or major penalties is not something to boast about, all of Casey Cizikas’ penalties being minors tells a lot about his struggles.
His 1.42 PIM per game ranked third highest on the New York Islanders in terms of regulars in the lineup.
During the 56-game season of 2020-21, Cizikas was ultra disciplined, with just 27 PIM. It was an impressive turnaround, given his 41 PIM in 48 games during the 2019-20 season. But then, this past season, he reverted back.
What made matters worse this past season is that the offense from the team as a whole was non-existent often and the Islanders could not afford to hand opponents prime scoring chances, like power-play minutes. Another issue is that Casey Cizikas is the top penalty killer on New York.
Despite the negatives on the season, Cizikas did perform strong in the face-off dot.
He won 55.6 percent of his draws this past season, which ranked first on the Islanders.
In the defensive zone, he won 66.2% of his draws.
*Casey Cizikas did not speak with reporters on breakdown day as he had a personal matter to take care of*
Although Casey Cizikas rejoined the 10-goal club after only seven goals in 2020, it was a sluggish start.
The Toronto native went 25 games without a goal, and through those 25 games, he only notched a lone assist.
To bring the conversation back to Cizikas’s undisciplined play, one game stood out.
In a 6-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at UBS Arena on Mar. 10, Casey Cizikas made four trips to the penalty box. Fortunately for him and the New York Islanders, players stepped in and got the job done on the penalty kill.
After the game, head coach Barry Trotz was able to joke about what transpired and sent a message to his veteran.
“That’s spendable by me in my world,” Trotz said postgame. “But, you know, you have nights like that. One for sure was unfortunate. But Casey is a really important part of our penalty kill, and obviously, guys have to step up and do a really good job. The guys did a fantastic job.”
Cizikas was suspended for the first time in his 11-year career after boarding Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brendan Smith in a game back on Apr. 8.
After going 25 games without a goal, Casey Cizikas started to score at a more consistent rate. After lighting the lamp for his first of the season on Jan. 17, he netted three goals over his next eight contests.
That was his best offensive stretch of the season.
His coolest goal of the season came against the Washington Capitals, in the third-to-last game of the 2021-22 regular season. While the Islanders were shorthanded, Cizikas forechecked hard following a full-rink clear. Washington Capitals netminder Ilya Samsonov and Dmitry Orlov failed to communicate, and Cizikas stripped the puck and brought it to the front of the net.
Cizikas fell to the ice but stuck with the play, as his backhand beat a turned-around Samsonov for his first and only shorthanded goal of the season.
Classic Casey Cizikas™️ pic.twitter.com/TKLu9nIHbO
— Isles on MSG+ (@IslesMSGN) April 27, 2022
“It was hard to pressure down the ice on the kill tonight,” Casey Cizikas said postgame. “So I kinda saw an opportunity there where I could go and maybe create some havoc, possibly create a turnover, and all those things worked out, and it ended up in the back of the net (chuckle).”
WHAT DOES HIS ISLANDER FUTURE HOLD?
The New York Islanders saw the importance of keeping Casey Cizikas around in the summer of 2021 with that six-year deal, and they need him to get back to being the energizer bunny for this team. That’s not to say that the effort level was not there this season, but he needs to be more disciplined.
His line is supposed to serve as a momentum-creator, not a momentum destroyer, and I think too many times, whether it be his penalties or just sloppy play, we saw momentum handed to the opponents.
I don’t believe Cizikas will reach the 20-goal mark again, as we saw in the 2018-19 season, but that does not mean he cannot be effective on the offensive side of the puck. I would be more concerned about Cizikas getting back to being that grinding, hard to play against, who is on the ice in pivotal moments to help lock down leads–not watching his team play from the penalty box.