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Islanders’ Line Shuffling Around Pageau Underscores Loss Of Parise



AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez

East Meadow, NY– Jean-Gabriel Pageau has long been the staple of the New York Islanders’ third line.

I say that because Pageau is truly the only one who has stuck there.

Since joining the Islanders in February of 2020, Pageau has played with 40 different linemates.

That lot is made up of players of all different skill sets and experience levels. However, Zach Parise was the only that was ever a constant next to Pageau.

“Zach is a unique player,” Pageau told NYI Hockey Now. “That’s why he’s been so successful for so many years. It’s just his work ethic overall. You know where he’s going to be and that he’s working on winning his battle one-on-one. There are a lot of guys that do that, but Zach is definitely unique to play with, and that’s why he’s had such a great career.”

With Parise not returning to the Islanders to start this season, the constant shuffling around Pageau has returned.

It’s part of the job,” Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said. “It’s part of them finding out who they can play with. Discovering that is extremely important, and from that standpoint, so is having players with each other that have chemistry.”

Through just five games, Pageau has already played with six different linemates, but none have formed the same connection with Pageau as Parise did.

“I thought we built up a really good chemistry together,” Pageau said of Parise. “Whether it was finding each other on the ice, on the PK or where we were going to be at a certain moment during the game when it happens so quickly.”

The pairing of Pageau and Parise became one the Islanders often deployed against the best players their opponents had to offer. But that wasn’t automatic. Pageau and Parise’s chemistry formed because they spent countless minutes on the ice together, as is the case with any other set of linemates.

“The hardest thing when lines change is understanding where people want pucks,” said Matt Martin, who first started playing with Clutterbuck and  Casey Cizikas on the fourth line 11 seasons ago. “There are adjustments you have to make off each other. I guess that’s something we haven’t had to do too often. We know when we’re together what’s expected of us and what we’re supposed to do.”

Adjusting to different linemates has become habitual for Pageau. So much so that he makes it look almost effortless.

He’s extremely vocal and communicative,” Lambert said. “He communicates a lot on the bench, so that helps [his linemates]. He’s a responsible guy who plays the game the right way. It’s easy to play the game with Pageau because he is seemingly always in the right spot.”

Adaptability is a skill Pageau has developed out of necessity. He is more than comfortable using it but is also looking forward to the day he has a steady presence at his side once again.

It’s always fun to keep the same line,” Pageau said. “I think it makes it easier for tendencies and chemistry. Right now, everyone is getting their chance, and it’s good for me because it keeps me at the top of my game, but it’s definitely not the easiest way.”




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