On Friday night, New York Islanders forward Kyle Palmieri played in his 61st game of the season. After a tough start to the year, with just three goals and six assists in his first 30 games, Palmieri now sits with 14 goals and 16 assists.
After starting to look more like himself in February, it was vintage Kyle Palmieri in March.
In 17 March games, Palmieri lit the lamp seven times with five assists. More importantly, all seven goals came at even strength.
His biggest goal of March came against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden back on Mar. 17, in which he scored with 2:44 to play in the third period to give the New York Islanders a 2-1 win.
21 GIVES US THE 2-1 LEAD. pic.twitter.com/QxsmVLtdnZ
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 18, 2022
So far, in seven April games, Palmieri has two goals and three assists. He played hero against the Carolina Hurricanes back on Apr. 8 as he scored with just 14.1 seconds to play in the third period to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead.
Incredible single effort from Kyle Palmieri 💪💪💪 pic.twitter.com/xHunOkepgb
— Isles on MSG+ (@IslesMSGN) April 9, 2022
Kyle Palmieri’s second-half take-off has come alongside Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Josh Bailey.
In 203:06 minutes as a line, the threesome has outscored their opponents 14-3 per Money Puck.
For comparison, the line of Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and Anthony Beauvillier (which was red-hot a few weeks ago) has scored 18 goals while allowing 17 in 272 minutes together.
That’s one more goal for in just under 70 more minutes played.
The 31-year-old Kyle Palmieri and the New York Islanders agreed on a four-year extension this past offseason after Palmieri scored seven goals with two assists in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With former Islander Jordan Eberle now a member of the Seattle Kraken, the Islanders would need Kyle Palmieri to be an offensive weapon.
But through the first 30 games of the season, Kyle Palmieri had just three goals and five assists. Two of his three goals came in game no. 30 against the Buffalo Sabres, one of the weakest teams in the National Hockey League.
With just one goal and five assists over his first 29 games of the season, there was concern that Kyle Palmieri was not the player that everyone expected he would be, even after his strong postseason performance.
But it was no time to panic, as Kyle Palmieri was following the same script that former Islander Jordan Eberle did.
Following Palmieri’s 30th game of the season, we here at NYI Hockey Now looked at former Islander Jordan Eberle and how his season transpired after a strong 2019 postseason performance followed by his contract extension.
The results were eerily similar.
Like Palmieri, Eberle only had three goals in his first 30 games after his contract year. But in the final 28 games, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Jordan Eberle lit the lamp 13 times.
Although not identical to Eberle, like in the first 30 games, Kyle Palmieri has scored 11 goals over his last 31 games.
Early in the season, New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz had a chat with Kyle Palmieri.
“I think he’s playing with a little bit of a burden. You know, he wants to do well. He signed up with us after this last year, after being a free agent, and he wants to prove that he is worthy of that, and he’s had a real struggle,” Trotz said. “And I said, you know, let’s get rid of that burden. You’re a good hockey player. You’re a productive hockey player.”
For Kyle Palmieri and many Islanders, the first half of the season was underwhelming. New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello elected to stand pat at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline because he believed in his team and wanted to use the rest of the season to make evaluations, especially with his forward group.
And although it took a little bit for Kyle Palmieri to play the way everyone envisioned he would, after an injury, being a healthy scratch, the birth of his child, his play has created more confidence in himself, his team, upper management, and the fan base, with a new sense of belief that he can be an effective piece for the team.
When the 2022-23 season begins, especially after what transpired this season, the New York Islanders will need everyone ready to go from puck drop, with guys like Kyle Palmieri leading the way early and often.