Rolling 4 solid lines has become the Islanders way under Barry Trotz, echoing the grit and grind of the 80s dynasty. Although this group hasn’t shown the flashes of brilliance the 80s teams did, the depth of the team is creating an edge in Round 1 against the Penguins.
It’s showing in the heightened production of the 3rd line. The trio of Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Kyle Palmieri, and Oliver Wahlstrom have found a step in their first playoff games together.
A lot of fans assumed Palmieri would fill the wing on the top line with Barzal and Eberle. But since he was acquired from Jersey at the trade deadline, he’s found more minutes on the 2nd and 3rd units. And only 1 goal until burying 2 goals, including the OT winner, in Game 1.
Isles Facebook groups were BLAZING with hate for Palmieri, Lou’s beard policy, and, as usual, Leo Komarov. Uncle Leo has been rocking the line one spot with Barzal and Eberle and scored his first of the year late in the season, much to the chagrin of the haterz.
By the way, I’d wax my fucking cornhole for a chance to wear an Islanders jersey. Anything for Lou.
To me, this is Barry Trotz working his magic and finding the advantages where they lie. He knows Barzal’s line isn’t gonna go goal-for-goal with Anders Lee done for the year. Lee’s absence on the powerplay is just a big. But with Komarov covering Barzal’s rushes, the first line isn’t a liability and Palmieri and Pageau are weapons lower in the lineup.
I love the balance of the lineup (non-Isles fans — see: “boring”).
Despite their style of game, the Islanders have shelfed all 5 (I think) of their first round goals, including 3 by the 3rd line. The 3rd line picked up another 6 shots in Game 2, but couldn’t score.
In Game 2, the Islanders had the better of the play. They were resilient in their comeback effort, but Tristan Jarry was good enough to make the 2 early goals stand up. Ultimately the Islanders lost 2-1 despite applying great second-half pressure.
The defensemen were more aggressive than usual in pinching and creating chances.
Mayfield almost looked like he has hands circling the net on one play.
The Isles pressure came at a cost, though. The Pens were able to counter-attack 5 or 6 times and only Varlamov’s wizardry kept the game tied. Guentzal and Rust looked particularly good on the counter.
Still, it’s nice to see the Islanders have a lights-out goalie and see the good push from the D. Let’s hope Tristan Jarry’s glove has a hole in it again like in game 1.