New York Islanders Fourth Line Is Struggling
The New York Islanders fourth line has struggled so far in the playoffs
Arguably the most consistent line during the regular season was the Islanders fourth line. Between the physical play, clutch goals and good two-way players the line is recognized as one of, if not the best, fourth lines in the league. So far in the playoffs, the line has been a nonfactor.
The line consisting of Matt Martin, Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck has yet to score in the series against the Florida Panthers. It’s not only the lack of scoring that’s an issue with this line.
They’re on the ice for too many goals. Martin and Clutterbuck are -3 in the series. While Cizikas is -1 in the series.
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The Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck line is not the only Islanders line that is struggling. The Kulemin-Nelson-Bailey line is struggling as well. The difference is this line has struggled at certain points throughout the year. The fourth line showed no signs of struggles in the regular season, which is what caught me by surprise.
Just by watching you can tell that something is off with this line. They don’t have the same physical presence they usual do. Martin leads the league in hits constantly and Clutterbuck is usual not far off. In this series their physical play has just not been there.
Besides Cal Clutterbuck chirping at the end of the second period in Game 1, he has not been his normal agitator self. Sure the fourth line has been involved in some minor scrums but nothing too crazy. Cizikas had a big hit in Game 3 but the hits that are most memorable from this series have been the ones from Ryan Pulock, who looks to be done in this series, after leaving Game 4 with an injury.
In big spots Jack Capuano was not afraid to put the fourth line on the ice. Cal Clutterbuck especially had a knack for scoring clutch goals in the regular season, by finding the back of the net 15 times.
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Matt Martin lead the league in hits yet again, and also had a career high in goals this season with 10. Martin is more known for his physical play but can also score some sneaky goals if he’s not taken seriously.
Cizikas is just a steady forward for the Islanders. He does everything for this team, including the penalty kill which happened to be a strength for this team. He’s also good on faceoffs, which is one of the reasons Capuano likes to put the line out in big spots.
Jack Capuano can really use a line to rely on. The Islanders top line of Nielsen-Tavares-Okposo has been great so far in the playoffs. Capuano relied so heavily on this fourth line while the rest of the forwards were struggling it would jump start the Islanders as they continue to battle late in this series.
Next: Islanders vs Panthers Players To Watch
Realistically you can say that everyone has to step up as the series winds on. The only reason to be so critical of this Islanders fourth line is because of how they really kept the Islanders afloat during some rough patches. If they can rely on the fourth line again the way they did throughout the season, the Islanders can be in pretty nice shape as they continue their fight in the playoffs.