All Four Lines Contributing to Isles’ Success
Although it’s only three games into the season, the Islanders look good, very good. The team is coming off three straight wins, one being admist the last home opener at Nassau Coliseum, a game driven by emotions, and a six-goal game at MSG vs the Rangers. The Islanders have found their new success over the start of this season with depth, not only on defense but up front as well. All four lines have been playing well and to their roles, combining to a great team effort.
Line 1: Cory Conacher – John Tavares – Kyle Okposo
The skill line. Although Conacher is most likely to shift down to 2nd line time, this line has still been performing up to standards. Tavares has 5 points in 2 games, and Okposo has 3. Conacher had a big goal on Saturday night, just 30 seconds after the Hurricanes tied it up, and that has been his only point thus far.
Line 2: Mikhail Grabovski – Brock Nelson – Ryan Strome
This is a very weird line, but it’s works. Grabovski is playing off his natural center position, but seems to be working well with Ryan Strome. His puck possession play is good for the wing, and both he and Strome are a +2 so far. Nelson has been a beast this year, mostly due to his willingness to stand in front of the net, and has 6 points in 2 games, mostly from the powerplay. My guess is that once the first loss of the year comes, the lines will shuffle to Nelson-Tavares-Okposo, Conacher-Grabovski-Strome, but we will see.
Line 3: Josh Bailey – Frans Nielsen – Nikolay Kulemin
The defensive, puck possessive line. This line has quietly been one of the best for the Islanders through two games. Kulemin and Bailey are adjusting well to their roles defensively, and Frans Nielsen is a great two way player. Kulemin is not afraid to get into the dirty areas and hit, and Bailey is doing well. This line also contributed the game winning goal Saturday night, after a great defensive shift.
Line 4: Matt Martin – Casey Cizikas – Cal Clutterbuck
One of the best hitting lines in hockey. Martin has lead the league in hits the past 3 seasons, a crown he took over from none other than Cal Clutterbuck. This line is a force to be reckoned with, and will attack (in a good way) anything that moves. Capuano also seems to like playing these guys in the 3rd periods with a lead.
If the Islanders can keep this up, they’ll be in good shape. The penalty kill will only get better with Calvin de Haan and Michael Grabner returning from injury. Grabner’s addition back into the lineup in 4-5 weeks also will provide the team with an interesting situation, in which they will have to sit at least one guy, providing no injuries happen. There’s a lot to be excited about with this forward group for Islander fans.
There’s a lot to be excited for this year on Long Island.