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Islanders Mailbag: What Will Lines Look Like When…?

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New York Islanders Center Casey Cizikas (53) and New York Islanders Right Wing Cal Clutterbuck (15) congratulate New York Islanders Left Wing Matt Martin (17) for scoring a goal during the third period of the National Hockey League game between the Buffalo Sabres and the New York Islanders on March 4, 2021, at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale.

PITTSBURGH — The New York Islanders found a way yet again on Thursday night to come back against the Pittsburgh Penguins. While the win was astonishing, the fact that Cal Clutterbuck traveled and skated in morning skate was a surprise. With Jean-Gabriel Pageau getting closer with a few team skates under his belt, it seems the Islanders are getting injury relief at the most important time.

And with that, let’s get to your questions:

What pair or group of three do you feel has developed the best chemistry this year? Is there a group or pair that just can’t get things going? In my opinion, Barzal and Pageau being hurt killed this team’s ability to develop chemistry before we possibly make playoffs. (@Goldenret28)

I think Casey Cizikas and Hudson Fasching are clicking more than anyone could have imagined right now. They linked up for that goal in the third period Thursday night and have been really strong together. I think the trio of Zach Parise-Brock Nelson-Kyle Palmieri have been strong, and I believe that Bo Horvat and Mathew Barzal clicked as well before his injury.

I think the duo that never clicked that would have helped the group would have been Mathew Barzal and Josh Bailey.

I don’t think Barzal and Pageau being hurt killed anything. These guys have played together for quite some time. When Barzal gets back, if he gets back, the top line becomes a much more lethal force. When Pageau returns, honestly, no matter who he is with, he will be just fine, given his game.

What do you think will occur when Clutterbuck and JG return (line-wise)? (@MuzicHealsMe)

Here’s how I think the Islanders will line up when both Cal Clutterbuck and Jean-Gabriel Pageau return:

This is a rather difficult question to answer, but I guess that’s why they pay me the big bucks (kidding).

Anders Lee-Bo Horvat-Simon Holmstrom
Zach Parise-Brock Nelson-Kyle Palmieri
Pierre Engvall-Jean-Gabriel Pageau-Cal Clutterbuck
Matt Martin-Casey Cizikas-Hudson Fasching

I don’t think Lambert can afford to break up the Cizikas/Fasching duo. Holmstrom has looked better alongside Lee and Horvat. That second line is not being touched. You could very well slot  Bailey in for Engvall or dare I say it, not put Clutterbuck back in, but I think Bailey would be the odd man out.

Then again, if Engvall continues to get benched, he may be the first one sitting.

Thoughts on Engvall? (@MichaelCuneo17)

In Pierre Engvall‘s first game as a member of the New York Islanders, I thought he showed well. But in these last two games, he’s failed to really bring anything to the table. Lambert said on Tuesday that the reason he didn’t play the final 15:01 was that he wanted players familiar with the system to play more with it being such a critical game, and it paid off as the Islanders beat the Sabres 3-2.

Then on Thursday, he played just 8:23, sitting for a tad under 14 minutes in the third period as the Islanders tried to come back, which they did.

Engvall doesn’t hit, and it seems he’s struggling to grasp the defensive style, something he did not play in Toronto. I think he will be just fine, but if a player like Cal Clutterbuck can return soon, Engvall’s job certainly isn’t safe.

I think Fasching has earned a spot when injured players return. (@Rams18and2)

Are any of our jobs if Hudson Fasching’s job isn’t safe? He’s been the season’s biggest surprise and has scored two critical goals for New York over the last two games. Once Jean-Gabriel Pageau comes back, Otto Koivula comes out. But as I mentioned, the decisions get tough for Lambert.

You can make a case for a few line combinations. If Barzal can return, he clearly goes in either for Engvall, Holmstrom, or Bailey, truly depending on who Lambert decides to take out for Clutterbuck.

What are your thoughts on Lane’s coaching job this season? (@Jallen195)

Funny, you should ask, but it was my story from Wednesday. I think he’s hitting his coaching stride at the perfect time for the Islanders. Like any new job, there are growing pains, and Lane Lambert has certainly gone through his.

He’s made mistakes, but given the abundance of injuries he’s had to navigate, you got to give him credit. He’s also understood when adjustments are needed, especially as of late, taking players out of the rotation and switching up lines late in games, which has led to wins.

Lambert Finding Coaching Stride Amidst Islanders Playoff Push

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