The Islanders are off and running at training camp, and so is their captain Anders Lee.
Lee was back on the ice Thursday with his teammates for the first time since he suffered a season-ending ACL injury last March. And as he told the media, there are no restrictions and he’s 100% heading towards the regular season.
“It felt really good to be on the ice with the boys,” the Isles’ captain said after the first session. “Good day 1 of camp here. It’s one of those days where it’s an absolute workday. Good to be out here and get that under our belt… For me personally, it’s just continuing on my rehab and my progress here. It’s great to have camp to be able to do that. Just taking it day by day.”
So with Lee’s return, the consensus is the Isles should now be an even stronger threat to win a Stanley Cup. The organization did bring in key veterans in Zach Parise and Zdeno Chara this offseason, and kept most of the core intact that has appeared in back-to-back conference/Stanley Cup semifinals, but Lee is seen as biggest acquisition — funny to use that term — for them going into 2021-22.
“Well everyone talks about the Islanders and how they’ve gone so deep to the semifinals to game seven, right there to go to the Stanley Cup Finals,” said NHL Network’s Mike Johnson yesterday. “What do the need to get over the hump? Well everyone’s like you have to get more goals.
“Well they didn’t have to go find somebody elsewhere. They’ve got Anders Lee coming back. There’s your couple more goals. There’s 35 more plus playoffs so long as he stays healthy. You almost forget how team-centric the Isles are given how well they played and how deep they went without him. How good he is.”
The Islanders’ offense is expected to take a big step forward this year with Lee’s return. Before he got sidelined, he was on pace for a possible 30-goal season. The 31-year-old was also vital to a power play which really started to build some confidence. Both those elements are crucial to the club’s success. And it’s safe to argue this year more than any other.
There are still another few weeks before the regular season begins, but having Lee back in the fold has everyone associated with the Isles excited. From a leadership standpoint , he’s leading the charge once again. Lee’s production should also be right back where it was.
Additions were a major part of this Islanders squad and how they were constructed for this season. Lee is one of them. He’s the most important one for his club to finally break through.
The Islanders and their fans should be hoping one facet of their game takes a big step forward this season. What is it? Scoring.
It’s no secret the Isles’ offense has been questioned for the lack thereof despite how much team success they’ve had over the past three years. They ranked 21st twice and 20th in Goals Per Game in the regular season, that according to foxsports.com. In that time, they’ve also not had a 30-goal scorer; the last was captain Anders Lee during the 2017-18 season when he tallied 40 goals.
Having a forward of that caliber probably could have increased those numbers slightly or maybe a wide margin. And it hasn’t been for the lack of trying. General manager Lou Lamoriello took a swing for Artemi Panarin in free agency two years ago, and this summer the team put their hat in the Vladimir Tarasenko sweepstakes. Both were unsuccessful, even with Tarasenko still possibly lingering out there.
But the Islanders might have finally solved that glaring issue. Lee and the newly re-signed Kyle Palmieri have the ability to give the offense a true shot in the arm, and both do have 30-plus goal potential.
Lee has already surpassed the 30-goal plateau twice in his career. As stated earlier, he notched 40 red lights four years ago and had 34 the season before that. Before the 31-year-old went down for the season in March, he had 12 goals and was on pace to come near or eclipsing that mark again. Could Lee have gotten there? It’s fair to say yes with the bounce back season he was having and how the line of he, Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle were progressing.
Lee is now fully recovered from his injury and he will be back with Barzal and most likely Palmieri. That trio should have more of an attack mentality, meaning more offense and more goals.
Palmieri is a former 30-goal scorer in his own right from his years with the Anaheim Ducks, having done it in 2015-16. He’s expected to replace the production of the departed Eberle. He and Barzal showed some chemistry in the few times they were together during the postseason.
Barzal truly has never really had someone like Palmieri, and vice versa. The former just might be the most skilled forward the 30-year-old Palmieri has lined up with in his career. That should account for something. Palmieri’s shoot-first mentality should add a new dynamic for the first line as a whole.
The offense should also see more balanced scoring with Oliver Wahlstrom, Brock Nelson, Anthony Beauvillier, and the addition of Zach Parise. Nelson has yet to score 30 in his career, but this might be the year he finally breaks through. Wahlstrom on the other hand is the team’s most complete sniper, but he is still raw and reaching 30 goals as a third liner seems a bit farfetched. But, if he does get a shot on the first line — which some may think he might — all bets are off.
As much as the Isles are a defense-first squad, offense shouldn’t be as hard to come by as its been in years past. They have some firepower that could do some damage this season.
The New York Jets have been staples of the Islanders’ postseason tour on Long Island. Perhaps they can learn a thing or two along the way.
In following the New York Islanders’ run to the Stanley Cup Final, the New York Jets have traded in green and white for blue and orange. They’ve engaged in (Bud) light debauchery and have gone viral in the process as the Islanders are halfway through their quest for a fifth Stanley Cup hoist.
The next step of the journey begins on Sunday afternoon when the Islanders battle the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena (3 p.m. ET, NBC). Nassau Coliseum will host the third, fourth, and (if necessary) sixth games of the series, and it’s very likely that members of the Jets will attempt to take their usual seats for those contests.
Is it possible that, in their fun, they might actually learn a thing or two along the way?
Class is in session, courtesy of ESM…
Have Depth Stars
On Long Island: Save for Mathew Barzal (appearances in the last two exhibitions), the Islanders are not a team of perennial All-Stars. John Tavares’ absconding for Toronto was supposed to be their downfall, but they’ve responded with playoff series victories in three consecutive seasons while the Maple Leafs have been relegated to opening round exits.
The Islanders are a team that has gotten by with a group of gritty, skilled players whose union has worked wonders. Nothing showcases their depth and consistency better than the grouping of Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, and Matt Martin, a trio of bottom-six forward staples since 2014. Nicknamed the “Identity Line”, NYI head coach Barry Trotz says that the group sets the tone for what they’re trying to accomplish on the ice.
“They give you impact. When they are playing the right way, they give you a little of that bite that you want,” Trotz said after a dominant January 2019 over Tampa, per Cory Wright of NewYorkIslanders.com. “They give you sort of that determination and speed on the puck and sort of an Islander identity. If there’s a line that’s sort of an identity line, well that’s the best way to describe them better than a fourth line because they give us an identity.”
In Florham Park: The Jets tried to go the big-spending route over the last few seasons, but marquee signings have not panned out. Right now, they’re actively paying Le’Veon Bell and Trumaine Johnson to keep their distance, for example.
Blessed with one of the highest offseason budgets in the NFL, it would’ve been easy for the Jets to fall to temptation and spend big money on a blockbuster talent (i.e. J.J. Watt). But once it became clear that the big names wanted to move on to contenders, the Jets bolstered their depth so more parts of the depth chart provide production and security.
This offseason has still seen some big contracts bestowed…Carl Lawson and Corey Davis are a combined $26 million cap hit…but many others signings have been about providing depth. They’re not the flashiest arrivals by any stretch, not the type of names that one can put on a parking lot light pole’s banner, but they’re the type of depth options the Jets needed at this point in time.
Jarrad Davis is a redemption-seeking first-round pick whose success in the 4-3 sets of the Florida Gators could come up big. At receiver, Davis is one of several names with the potential to become a No. 1 target. Denzel Mims and Jamison Crowder return from last year’s team, while Elijah Moore was drafted in the second round. Uncertainty lingers at tight end and in the secondary, but the Jets’ thriftiness could pay big dividends, as undrafted free agents Kenny Yeboah and Isaiah Dunn could come up big.
Make Sure Special Teams are Special
On Long Island: Since Trotz took over in 2018, the Islanders have improved by leaps and bounds in almost every major statistical category with the exception of their power play. New York ranked 20th in the final regulars season rankings with a man advantage, though they were the only team in the NHL that did not allow any shorthanded goals.
The Islanders, however, rose to the occasion on the penalty kill, coming home sixth in the category over the regular season. Doing it in the postseason has been a work in progress…they’ve killed off only 61.5 percent of their infractions…but the power play came to life in spectacular fashion in Monday’s Game 5 showdown in Boston. Facing a Bruins squad that led the league with an 86 percent kill rate during the regular season, the Islanders scored three power play goals that forever changed the course of the series. Barzal scored on a chance in the first period, while Kyle Palmieri and Jordan Eberle earned extra-man tallies in the second.
The power play success not only provided the difference in the goal category but more or less shifted the entire course of the game. Taking advantage of the opportunities allowed the Islanders to not only withstand a late Boston rush, but they were able to earn a momentum-shifting victory on a night where they were outshot 44-19.
In Florham Park: There’s major hope for the Jets entering the 2021 season, even if reaching the playoff is still a tall task for the time being. But there’s no doubt that they’re still developing, still a work in progress, particularly on an offensive end that’s debuting a new quarterback and receiving corps. Thus, special teams must be addressed.
Confidence for a developing offense can be built by getting points on as many drives that end in opposing territory as possible. That comes through reliable field goal kicking, an area where the Jets have fallen woefully short since Jason Myers left for Seattle. Chris Naggar has been brought in to compete with incumbent Sam Ficken for that role. General manager Joe Douglas has shown that he’s not afraid to use valuable assets to address special teams. He used the last pick of his first draft to pick up punter Braden Mann and has tried to fill in the Jets’ Andre Roberts-sized void at returned through additions in the 2021 draft (i.e. Michael Carter).
Perhaps the most telling sign of Jets management’s willingness to bolster the special unit came through the retaining of coordinator Brant Boyer, who has now survived the purges of both Todd Bowles and Adam Gase’s doomed staffs.
It All Starts at the Head
On Long Island: Again, no one expected the Islanders to be in his position three years ago. This, after all, was a team that just lost the face of its franchise, perhaps the one thing it had going for it since the immortal early 1980s.
The hire of Trotz in 2018, however, may go down as one of the most fateful moves in franchise history.
Trotz had already developed a reputation as a strong nurterer of young talent and helping woebegone franchises find their path. He put the Nashville Predators on the NHL map as the franchise’s original head coach (serving 16 seasons at the helm after their 1998 inception). He then moved on to Washington, where he helped the Capitals removed the playoff monkey from their backs. Only under Trotz has Alex Ovechkin been able to reach hockey Nirvana in the Stanley Cup Final.
Once Trotz was voted out of Capitol Hill due to a contract dispute, the Islanders pounced and have been reaping in the benefits ever since. Under Trotz, the Islanders have won playoff rounds in three consecutive seasons for the first time since their quartet of Cup hoists (1980-83). Trotz’s status as a players’ coach that is nonetheless willing to hold his guys accountable has been a delightful contrast to the recent slew of also-rans. Doug Weight’s animated style, for example, was refreshing when he first took the reins but it quickly ran its course.
Trotz credits his success to looking at his status as a head coach as not a position of superiority, but one that leads to a partnership with his players.
“I look at coaching, my time, as I’m in a partnership with the players,” Trotz told Mollie Walker of the New York Post in March. “We’re in a partnership to win hockey games. The other partnership is to make you the best version of yourself, whatever that version is.”
In Florham Park: There’s no doubt that, despite the nine-win ledger, that the Jets had some talent on their roster over the last two seasons, better known as the Adam Gase era. Look no further than the names the Jets gave up on before him: Robby Anderson, Avery Williamson, Le’Veon Bell, and Steve McLendon accounted for only part of the list. But help has arrived in the form of Robert Saleh, whose hiring has been universally praised.
The difference between the arrivals of Saleh and Gase are best contrasted by player reaction to the news. While Gase’s landing was met with mostly indifference…and whatever honeymoon there was quickly ended when he won a power struggle against Mike Maccagnan…Saleh’s arrival has been praised by players both domestically and abroad. It’s created an energy field in Florham Park not seen since, arguably, the Rex Ryan days.
“You have to give him an unusual amount of credit, and I don’t think he’s getting enough credit not only here but in the league, in general,” former Saleh pupil Richard Sherman said of his potential as a head coach in December, per the Associated Press. “He’s able to rally men. He’s a leader of men and that goes a long way.”
As the Gase era showcased all too well, talent means nothing when the right man isn’t in charge. Though vital downs have yet to be played, it’s safe to say the Jets feel that they have found the perfect curator and developer in Saleh.
Over the years, Anders Lee has shown he’s more than just a good hockey player for the Islanders. He’s also proven to be a quality human being and a class act.
It’s one of the reasons he’s the current captain of the organization and the ambassador of the franchise.That’s why what he did yesterday resonates so much with the tight-knit community that is Islander fans.
Last night a video of surfaced on social media with Lee FaceTiming a kid named Alexander Gross.
Alex Gross, 17, was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer earlier this year. Doctors told him and his family he might not make it past three weeks after he had surgery back in February. But he’s continued to fight through all the trials and tribulations.
Alex is also a huge Islanders fan, as is his entire family. Thomas Greiss, who is no longer with the team, is actually his favorite Islander.
So when he got the call from Anders, it was a very cool moment for both he and his family.
“The Islanders are very special to us and having them there for us at a time that is so difficult mean a lot to us,” said Gross’s father, Garrison.
The call came as a total surprise to Alex. He was just finishing lunch and didn’t know it was coming.
“It was amazing to watch my sons face light up when he got the call,” Garrison added.
Anders Lee Face Timed my Friend Garrisons son in NC yesterday for 5 minutes! He has brain cancer. Anders invited him to practice and games. Anders said if they were in NY, he would have gone to the house. I have no words! None! What a class act!
Anders Lee is hoping for one thing when next season does finally begin for the Islanders.
Lee, who played an instrumental role in the Isles getting to within two games of the Stanley Cup Finals, wants to give the Nassau Coliseum one last great run.
The Islanders and their fans weren’t granted the opportunity to bask in the team’s postseason success inside The Barn because of the coronavirus pandemic. There were no day-long pregame tailgates; no postgame celebrations or loud honking of “Let’s Go Islanders” in the parking lot; no “Yes! Yes! Yes!” chants or ringing out of the Josh Bailey song as they left the building. Instead, they had to settle for social media posts and video boards in the corners of the arena in the two bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton. It was a tough pill to swallow for the simple fact that the Islanders had got farther in any season of date in the past 27 years.
“It was a bummer not to be able to come back to the Coli and all those things and have them at our backs,” Lee said during his end of the season media availability yesterday. “Anyone who’s been to a playoff game at the Coliseum, you leave that night feeling energized,”
It’s hard not to see why Lee is so adamant about wanting to give the Coliseum one great last sendoff.
Before the pandemic hit, the Isles had played nearly all of their home games during the regular season on Long Island. The organization had also announced they were slated to play all of their home games for this coming season at the Coliseum before they move into their brand new digs at UBS Arena for the 2021-22 season after they’d been bouncing around the last five years between Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and the refurbished Coliseum, which they came back to during the 2018-19 season. But more so, it was these playoffs reinforced why the Coliseum should get one last shining moment.
This current core has yet to experience that thrill. And they need to have it
We can reminisce about the 2013 first-round series with Pittsburgh, the pulsating seven-game series with Washington back in 2015, and the sweep of the Penguins in the opening round in 2019. But those bear in comparison to what this team did over a two-month span, let alone what they did back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Putting their proverbial stamp on the nearly 50 years the franchise has called the place home would be the perfect final chapter in the rich history of the Coliseum.
Now whether that’s with or without fans is another question. The NHL hasn’t given a confirmation on when next season will begin — reports have them starting up in January — and whether fans will be allowed into games. Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said last week he anticipates fans being back in February. If that’s the case, then the Isles and their fans will get the opportunity for a solid two months, and possibly more if the team reaches the postseason again to make a few final lasting memories inside the Coliseum.
However things proceed though, the Islanders’ captain is looking forward to one final ride in their old home before they begin a new era at their new one.
“We are all going to enjoy the heck out of the Coliseum and try to give it another phenomenal ride and see where it goes.”
The New York Islanders are not going home just yet. The Islanders pull off a double-overtime win against the Tampa Bay Lightning to force a game 6. I know I say this often, but this was possibly the most exciting game in 27 years for the Islanders. Being on the brink of elimination and facing a powerhouse team, the odds were all against the Isles. Somehow, someway the Islanders were able to win and stay in the bubble. There were three stars in yesterday’s win against the Lightning. This team needed to deliver, and that’s precisely what they did.
Semyon Varlamov stood on his head last night and propelled the Isles to a victory. Varlamov stopped 36 shots of the 37 that came his way. Varly’s best save came in the first overtime when Nikita Kucherov shot a wrister from above the left faceoff circle. Scott Mayfield was screening Varlamov unintentionally, and somehow Varly was able to go from left to right quick enough to stop the puck. Varlamov’s night was highlighted with his celebration slide into the pile-up around Jordan Eberle. If Varlamov continues to play like he did last night, the Isles will be hard to put away.
I mean, finally, Jordan Eberle decided to actually play. Last year, Eberle was a top playoff performer as the Isles swept the Penguins in the first round. Eberle makes this list merely because of his game-winning goal. “The goal heard around the Island” is what I like to call it. The Islanders haven’t perfect at all during overtime in the bubble. But, that luck was bound to change. Eberle buried one on Vasy glove side and forces game 6.
The Islanders’ captain did not want to leave Edmonton, and his play showed that. Anders Lee gave 110% last night, and the team followed. Anders Lee did the little things correctly, like marking his man, being physical down low, and winning the 1v1 battles. He also blocked a shot from the point after giving his stick to defenseman Scott Mayfield. 99 mph shot right to his knee. Eventually, all his hard work would pay off for him and his team as the Islanders got a 2v1. Lee outskated Sergachev and got a beautiful cross-crease pass to Eberle; the rest is history.
The Islanders are one win away from pushing a game 7. If the Isles force a game 7, well, it’s anyone’s series. The Islanders have all the momentum in the world, and the Lightning have a lot of doubt.
Impressive is almost an insult to how the New York Islanders played in game 3. The Flyers maybe won all of 10 minutes out of a possible 60. This game was a swing game, meaning whoever won gets all the momentum in the series. The Islanders got all the momentum and then some. There were three key players to their win, and their play was sensational, to say the least.
Mat Barzal missed two golden scoring opportunities in 20 seconds. Barzal made up for this by collecting an assist on the Islanders’ first goal of the game. It’s not easy being double-teamed, especially in Hockey, but Barzal makes it look like it’s an average morning skate. Barzal has woken up since the Florida series. He used to be the turn over machine, but now he’s opening up the offense. Barzal is making smart plays, especially on the power-play, and when Barzal is on his “A” game, the whole team is.
Islander fans everywhere were frightened to see a repeat performance from game 2 out of their goalie. Varlamov was on his head the entire game. Nothing phased him, not one shot. Varlamov made it look very easy tonight, and that’s a relief to Islander fans. You can’t go far in the playoffs with bad goalie play, just ask the St. Louis Blues. Varlamov got the job done in game three and possibly may play again in game 4.
Who’s the most underrated player in all of Hockey right now? If you guessed anything other than Adam Pelech, you’ve guessed wrong. When the Islanders lost Pelech, the team suffered heavily and got away from Islanders Hockey. Now that he’s back, the Islanders are the most dangerous team remaining. Pelech has amazing stick skills, and he’s strong on the puck. Not only is Pelech solid defensively, but Pelech also creates a ton of offense from his neutral zone play. He did it last game on JG Pageau’s game-tying goal, and he did it this game as well. Adam Pelech continues to be one of the best-kept secrets in the NHL.
The captain Anders Lee has arrived, and when your captain scores every game, you better believe the team follows. Lee has six goals now in the playoffs; for someone who disappears typically in the playoffs, Lee has been “captain clutch.” Derick Brassard played a great game as well. Set Leo Komarov up for his goal, when he kept the puck in the offensive zone with 10 seconds left. Glad to see the 3rd line wingers creating offense.
The Islanders have two more wins left to close out this series and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1993. The Islanders are real contenders, and the NHL better start respecting them.
The New York Islanders beat the Washington Capitals 5-2 to take a 2-0 lead in the series. This was one of the best Islander playoff games in recent memory. The Islanders were firing on all cylinders, and for a team who “can’t score,” they scored a lot. The Isles definitely had some rough spots during this game, but that’s expected when playing a great Hockey team like the Capitals. The Islanders won 40 minutes of Hockey last night, but how, and why didn’t they win all 60?
The Capitals basically pressured the Islanders into giving up a terrible goal in the first period. Alex Ovechkin forechecked, and he was rewarded when he scored off of a slow backhander. Not even a minute in, and the Isles are one down. The rest of this period was really just good pressure by the Isles and some breaks for the Caps.
The Islanders came to play in this period. Nic Dowd commits a penalty, and this leads to something the Islanders never do. They scored on the powerplay. Nick Leddy scores with an accurate slapshot from the point. Not even 2 minutes later, Cal Clutterbuck forechecks which leads to a Scott Mayfield pass to the crease, Matt Martin scores a tap in. A minute later, Derick Brassard leads a rush with Leo Komarov. Brassard passes it to Komarov, and he hits it off the post. Komarov missed a wide-open net. Ovechkin would take advantage of this and tie up the game once again. Finally, Brock Nelson steals the puck from Jakub Vrana and has a 1v1 with Braden Holtby. Fifteen seconds after Ovechkin ties the game up, the Islanders lead by one again.
The last 7 minutes of this period was the best 7 minutes in recent Isles Hockey. Before that, the refs call a silly tripping penalty on Andy Greene, which leads to a blown empty-net chance by Ovechkin. Ovie had the hattrick and the game on his stick and whiffed on it. Greene comes out of the box, and then the Isles dominate 5v5 play. The Islanders at one point got two forward shifts of forechecking off before the Caps could even leave the zone. All this pressure led to JG Pageau wide open, and it was blocked, but it hit Clutterbuck’s hand and the Isles score, 4-2. Finally, after some tremendous 6v5 defense, the Islanders get the puck out, and Anders Lee scores the empty netter.
This was just a really solid effort from the Islanders. The Capitals are the better team on paper, but that will never stop a well-coached, determined team from winning. Game 3 is on at 12 pm EST tomorrow.
The New York Islanders will face the Washington Capitals in round 1 of the 2020 NHL playoffs. Most, if not all, Islanders fans wanted this matchup. No matter how cold the Boston Bruins are, they are still the toughest team to play. The Islanders have a real shot of beating the Capitals and advancing to round 2 for the second straight year. There are two keys to this series that the Islanders must complete for them to win.
Alex Ovechkin could be 60 years old and barely be able to skate anymore, but still, he’d be one of the most dangerous players on the ice. Ovechkin has been playing in the NHL for 19 years, and he’s still one of the most explosive players on the ice. He has had one shot that no goalie/defense could ever stop. Ovechkin goes right into the left circle and receives the pass from the defenseman at the point, boom he’s scoring that every time. There is literally a player on the ice whose specific job is to stop Ovi from getting the puck there. The Islanders must not let Ovechkin tee up his wrister if they want to win the series.
Not Getting too Fancy
The Islanders have a tendency not to take a billion shots, but instead, just take one “perfect” shot. The Florida Panthers powerplay works because they shoot for rebounds and better chances. The Islanders just pass it around for 2 minutes and take one shot from the point. The Islanders need to take 35-40 shots a game, hope for a rebound and hope that the guy you pay $7 million dollars will tap it in. The Capitals are a good team, but no good team can stop a rebound shot when the goalie is out of position.
The Islanders have a tough challenge ahead of them. The Capitals have Ovi, Backstrom, Vrana, Oshie, Carlson, and Holtby. It will be interesting to see Barry Trotz match up his guys.
New York Islanders‘ center, Mat Barzal has been playing terrible hockey against the Florida Panthers. It seems like every time Barzal gets the puck, he either turns it over or takes eight laps around the offensive zone and turns it over. A hockey team’s first line cannot be the worst line, especially a playoff hockey team. Mat Barzal needs to wake up right now, or the Islanders will not make a deep run for the cup.
What Barzal needs to Improve on
Mat Barzal leads the NHL in giveaways, and that is never a good thing. Barzal also never shoots the puck, can’t score if you don’t shoot. Barzal must learn from fellow youngster Anthony Beauvillier about shooting more often. Beauvillier has looked unstoppable during the playoffs, and he creates a bunch of chances for himself and others. Barzal must learn that if you get the puck on the net, a teammate will get a rebound and score. Anders Lee is paid $7 million dollars for tap ins, and Barzal never even sets him up for one. Barzal must also stop blindly passing behind himself. He always does that, and it leads to 3v2 opportunities.
How to Wake Him Up
Head Coach Barry Trotz needs to take Barzal off the first line for the next couple of games. Barzal needs to earn his ice time back, he cannot just be gifted with it. Jean-Gabriel Pageau should take over as the first-line center. Barzal should either man the second line or the third line. The same thing goes for captain Anders Lee, but that’s a different story. Trotz wants his best players to get the most time, not the players with the biggest name.
Mat Barzal must wake up right now if the Islanders want to make a deep run. Trotz knows what he has to do, and he will do as such. Hopefully, Barzal turns it around.