So far, through 10 games, the New York Islanders have shown that they can be a more aggressive offensive team without allowing it to disrupt their ability to stay structured in their own zone.
Three of the current lines have not been on the ice for a goal against:
The line consisting of Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, and Anthony Beauvillier have been on the ice for three goals against, but lead the pack with six goals.
Islanders defensemen and goaltending have certainly played a part in each line’s success, but a team effort is how you win at the NHL level.
Two of these three lines came together ahead of the New York Islanders contest against the New York Rangers, the first game of what has turned into a four-game win streak.
In Tuesday’s 3-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, Matt Martin missed the contest as he and his wife Sydney welcomed their second child.
Despite the success of these three lines, let’s focus on what the Pageau line has done so far since being reunited.
The threesome of Zach Parise, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Kyle Palmieri played 23 games together in 2021-22, and while they did not contribute offensively the way they had hoped, with just three goals, they only allowed two goals against.
All three players struggled mightily out of the gate but looked better in the second half.
Entering the 2022-23 season, the Islanders would need the offense from these players, specifically Zach Parise and Kyle Palmieri.
Those two started the season alongside Barzal, but with Barzal not playing to the level he needed to, along with Parise and Palmieri not finishing, Lambert took the two wingers away from the star forward and placed them back alongside Pageau.
And the “3-P” line has been absolutely cooking on both ends of the ice.
Analytics will tell you that this line’s success is skewed due to the play of the netminders behind them (2.98 xGF, 2.35 xGA), but when you watch this line skate, you can see how energized, how structured, and how determined they are.
“Obviously, Pageau is a great defensive center. Zach’s great. But yeah, we just kind of play our system, and it limits the amout of chances, and obviously, we have great goalies, so that kind of equates to that kind of success,” Kyle Palmieri said.
As for how playing together last season has helped this year so far: “I think there’s definitely some chemistry there and some familiarity, but yeah, I mean, I think all three of us play a similar style game that complements each other well, so I think that’s just something that can work in situations and right now we’ll just keep trying to contribute on both sides.”
Like Palmieri, Zach Parise complimented the defensive game of Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
“Pageau’s a really good defensive center. He’s really smart down low in our own zone,” Parise said. “I feel like we don’t spend a ton of time in there, and if we do, we feel like we’re in good position. We take a handful of defensive zone draws, and he wins the majority of them.”
“I think we’re just spending more time in the offensive zone than we are in our own, so it’s, that’s a good recipe for not giving up a goal.”
And Zach Parise is correct, as Jean-Gabriel Pageau has taken 90 total defensive-zone draws and has won 48 of them (53.33%).
As mentioned, Parise played with Pageau last season, and it’s been a smooth transition back to his wing.
“We played a handful of games last year, and he’s just an easy guy to play with. There’s no surprises [on] where he’s gonna be. He’s responsible. And same with Kyle. Him and I feel like we play a kind of similar style game where we know where the guy’s gonna be, and it’s working right now.”
What makes the New York Islanders third line’s success even more impressive is that Parise and Pageau have been instrumental on the penalty kill, which has killed off 31 of 33 on the season (94.1 percent, third in NHL).
Zach only scored one goal with four assists in the first 23 games he played in 2021-22. This season, he has four goals, two coming at five-on-five play (along with an assist). Per our friends over at Natural Stat Trick, his 3.99 Expected Goals For (5-on-5) currently lead the NHL.
Kyle Palmieri, who had three goals in his first 30 games in 2021-22, has two on the season and an assist, with all three points coming at even strength. Both goals came in the 6-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on October 28.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau has no goals this season, all coming at even strength. Two of his assists came on Palmieri’s two goals.
“They’re just responsible guys, all three of them,” New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said. “They know their positioning well, and so that bodes into their success defensively.”