The New York Islanders have a handful of players who do the “little things” nightly to help the team succeed. So far, New York Islanders forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau has been relied upon heavily in all facets of Lane Lambert’s gameplan and has been their unsung hero.
In 13 games this season, Jean-Gabriel Pageau has just one goal, an empty-netter, with six assists. Although the Islanders want to see Pageau scoring more goals, since he is being paid $5 million a season, he’s been a catalyst on the Islanders’ “3-P” line, which to this point in time, has not been on the ice for a goal against in the 10 games together.
That line has outscored their opponents 5-0.
Zach Parise told NYI Hockey Now that their line’s success stems from what Pageau does.
“Pageau’s a really good defensive center. He’s really smart down low in our own zone,” linemate Zach 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.”
Pageau not only plays big minutes five-on-five, but he has been a leader on the top penalty kill unit and centers the second power-play unit. Being on the penalty kill, the highest defensive honor for a forward, Pageau has played 35:49 minutes, being on the ice for just two power-play goals against and Zach Parise’s shorthanded goal.
The Islanders penalty kill, which has been a saving grace so far this season, has allowed just four goals on 42 opportunities, suitable for a 90.47 penalty-kill percentage.
Pageau’s ability to win face-offs is a big reason for their success. He’s won 54.4 percent of his penalty-kill face-offs.
On the power play, Pageau’s won 60 percent of his draws, which includes his face-off win that eventually led to Noah Dobson’s overtime-winning tally Monday night.
Before the contest against the Calgary Flames, I asked Lambert how critical Pageau’s play had been so far this season.
“Well, I mean, he’s an integral part of everything that we do. Very responsible guy,” Lambert said. “And you know, he’s warranted all the minutes that he’s gotten. You know, we count on him.”
And then the game happened as Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s play was elite in the 4-3 come-from-behind win.
In 19:50 TOI, Jean-Gabriel Pageau notched an assist and won 20 of 25 face-offs.
Here’s Pageau’s face-off breakdown from the game:
Pageau took all five face-offs during the overtime frame, winning four.
After the game, I again asked Lambert again about Pageau’s importance:
“He plays in all situations, as we said…face-offs are so important. I think he was 20 wins, five losses tonight. So you know, really, really key guy.”
Because of Pageau’s ability to win face-offs in all three zones on the ice in all situations, he can be used as a swiss-army knife–and has been. There’s no situation that Lambert feels uncomfortable putting him in.
If the Islanders have a defensive-zone draw late in a period, Lambert sends him on the ice. The same can be said if that face-off has been in the offensive zone. If the Islanders need to shut the door late in games, it’s likely no. 44 is on the ice.
In my guest appearance on Hockey Night in New York Sunday Night, I spoke on the critical role Pageau has played this season.
During our Hero of the Week segment brought to you by @Bluelinedeli719, guest co-host @stefen_rosner had an unsung hero, and his name is Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Catch the clip to find out why he's such a critical part of the #Isles & watch full episode here: https://t.co/PS4TV3lOoa pic.twitter.com/tL1sAM0UTv
— Hockey Night NY (@hockeynightny) November 8, 2022
Following Monday’s game, Jean Gabriel Pageau now sits with a 59.2 face-off percentage. He’s won 59.2 percent of his draws (60.5 percent at even strength), 69.6 percent in the offensive zone, 58.6 percent in the neutral zone, and 54.5 percent in the defensive zone.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s ability in the dot, along with his ability to play a smart, responsible brand of hockey has been critical to the New York Islanders 8-5-0 start.