The Islanders have a top line, Mat Barzal problem vs. Bruins

The Islanders are constructed four-line powerful, that’s understood. They can stand up to a lack of manufacturing from an upper-echelon ahead. They may even win a best-of-seven beneath that circumstance. This we all know after the six-game, Round 1 victory over the Penguins through which Mat Barzal was held off the scoresheet.

But the Islanders gained’t thrive endlessly, or maybe even for very for much longer, if Barzal doesn’t get untracked following a disappointing outing in Saturday’s opening 5-2 defeat to the Bruins, on for under 4 makes an attempt for and 16 towards at five-on-five.

“It will be difficult,” head coach Barry Trotz mentioned when requested if his staff might maintain success with out Barzal producing offense. “We have up to now, at occasions, however to be fairly trustworthy I don’t know if we are able to do it towards a superb Boston staff.

“We rely on the four lines and need at least three lines going and I didn’t feel that I had three lines that were really on top of their game [on Saturday]. I think we have a really good analogy with the [Patrice] Bergeron line. If it’s not going for Boston, they would probably be in a little bit of trouble.”

That analogy, although, would in all probability be extra apt if Anders Lee hadn’t gone down on March 11. Because whereas the Lee-Barzal-Jordan Eberle unit clearly was on the top of the Islanders’ ecosystem, it isn’t clear in any respect that Barzal centering Eberle and Leo Komarov stays the membership’s first line.

Indeed, the Anthony Beauvillier-Brock Nelson-Josh Bailey unit in all probability has earned that designation. And off its play by means of the primary seven playoff matches, the road centered by Jean-Gabriel Pageau with Kyle Palmieri on one facet and both Oliver Wahlstrom or Travis Zajac on the opposite may even be thought-about the staff’s second line.

Trotz mentioned that he would go along with the identical personnel for Monday’s Game 2 however was contemplating switching up a mixture or two. One would think about that the coach is considering a swap on at the very least one among Barzal’s flanks.

Mat Barzal
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Adding a extra dynamic aspect to No. 13’s line would forestall the B’s from keying so strongly on the middle, who’s the main target of all of Boston’s consideration when on the ice. There is little question that flipping Palmieri and Komarov would enhance Barzal’s line even when dinging Pageau’s, however it could appear that lending assist to No. 13 can be a precedence.

Nevertheless, Barzal should adapt and modify. Fact is, he drew the Charlie McAvoy-Matt Grzelcyk top pair final match for simply 3:36 at five-on-five, about the identical period of time as Pageau’s unit and far lower than the 7:46 drawn by Nelson’s line. His unit acquired the Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-David Pastrnak line as a match for 4:04, against the 6:22 for Nelson’s unit.

So that, A) would let you know whom the Bruins think about the Islanders’ top line, and, B) ought to have been of at the very least some profit to the membership’s main scorer in the course of the common season (17-28-45), who has gone 0-3-3 all through the event.

“I think that if you get on your ice it doesn’t matter who you play with,” Trotz mentioned. “You’ve got to raise your game, and we’ve got some guys who need to raise their games if we’re going to beat the Boston Bruins.”

If it’s on Barzal to interrupt out of containment, it’s on the Islanders to comprise the Bergeron line to at the very least some extent following its dominating efficiency in Game 1 through which Pastrnak recorded a hat trick — one on the facility play — and the unit owned a staggering 89.16 xGF.

“One of the questions was, ‘You did a good job against [Sidney] Crosby’s line, what’s the difference between Crosby’s line and Bergeron’s?’ and I can answer that probably a little bit better [now],” Trotz mentioned. “With Crosby’s line there’s a nice participant and two superb gamers [in Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust] and on this line there are in all probability three nice gamers at totally different factors of their profession.

“That’s what makes that line so good. We can’t, and we won’t be able to win unless we have all four lines helping to keep them contained.”

And the Islanders in all probability gained’t have the ability to win until they get a lot better and rather more from Barzal, who has a profession seven targets in 37 playoff video games.

P.S.: Bryan Trottier had 5 targets in his first 42 playoff video games … earlier than scoring 37 in his subsequent 75.

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