Hockey

New York Islanders Season Preview

New York Islanders
PC: Frank Gunn/CP

On Long Island we go to the New York Islanders. The Isles won the makeshift East division by beating the Bruins. However, for the second year in a row they fell to Tampa Bay falling one game short at a chance at the cup. The New York Islanders play a style that doesn’t always require a blowout to win games. But, that came back to bite them down the stretch. Will shifting the lines around hurt them in the long run, or is it a catalyst for a big run this year? Let’s break it all down.

The Lines

According to Daily Faceoff, here are the current Islander lines. They look a lot different:

First line – Anders Lee, Mathew Barzal, Josh Bailey

Second line – Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Nelson, Oliver Wahlstrom

Third line – Kieffer Bellows, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Richard Panik

Fourth line – Matt Martin, Leo Komarov, Cal Clutterbuck

Well, this is different. Breaking up the Killer B’s? Not a good idea. Moving Bailey up may help the first line, but Beauvillier and Nelson may have the same production with Wahlstrom. Putting Panik on line one, keeping Bailey on line two, and putting Wahlstrom on line three would make much more sense. Panik was added from the Red Wings in exchange for Nick Leddy.

By the way, where is Casey Cizikas? Are the Islanders seriously about to break up the best fourth line in hockey? This one has got me scratching my head. Komarov is not a bad player, but that fourth line made magic together. I’m also not sure who the heck Kieffer Bellows is, and others may be in the same boat. Bellows was the 2016 19th overall pick, and he is going to get his shot, no pun intended. Good news is he is only 23. More good news, captain Anders Lee is back from a torn ACL and will play on the first line again.

The Defense Core

With Leddy gone, some shifts had to happen. Daily Faceoff also has the pairings and the goaltenders:

Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock

Andy Greene and Noah Dobson

Sebastian Aho (no not that one) and Scott Mayfield

Goalies: Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin

Andy Greene is back for another run folks. The former Devils captain knows they are close and moves up from the third to second pairing. Keeping Pelech and Pulock together is a no brainer. Before everybody freaks out, the Canes did not trade Sebastian Aho and he did not switch to defensemen. This is a different Sebastian Aho and he gets paired with veteran Scott Mayfield who is solid. Varlamov is the clear alpha in the goalie room since Sorkin fell out of favor with the coaching staff in the playoffs. Sorokin is good but still has a lot to learn. Overall, the Isles are banking on some changes to help them get over the hump as they move back to the metropolitan division where the Capitals, Penguins, and Hurricanes will be looking to keep them down. If these moves backfire, it could be bad news.

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