With Matt Martin back with the New York Islanders, the Islanders can reassemble the best fourth line in hockey alongside Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas.
In 2015-16 the New York Islanders fourth line had 71 points between Matt Martin, Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas. Now two years later, with Matt Martin back in the fold, the question is: can they repeat their success?
Two years ago, the duo of Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin acted like a real-life version of the Bash Brothers from the Mighty Ducks 2 movie. If you haven’t seen it I suggest you do so now and try to relive your childhood while you still can.
Two years have passed since the three were the most effective fourth line in the world of hockey. Last season Matt Martin had to sit out a good portion of the year as a healthy scratch. Cal Clutterbuck was out of his element on a fourth line that wasn’t as reliant on the physical aspects of the game. And Casey Cizikas missed a number of games due to injury.
Can they get back to that level from two years ago? Yes.
Yes They Can
So after two years, is it possible for Cizikas, Clutterbuck, and Martin to become the best fourth line in hockey all over again? I absolutely think they can.
The key for the Trio Quatro (my term, not theirs) was as Casey Cizikas indicated to Larry Brooks of the New York Post during the Islanders last playoff appearance:
"For us, we just want to play our style every night, and that’s being a high-energy line that’s tough to play against. We want to keep the game simple, get in on their D, take the body and make it tough for their skilled guys,"
What made them successful was their ability to do just as Cizikas pointed out, and to put the puck in the net.
In 2015-16 the Trio Quatro, again, had 71 points combined. In terms of production per 60, Casey ranked fourth on the team, Clutterbuck was sixth, and Martin was 13th.
They were effective not only because they could hem a team into their defensive zone, but because they were a dangerous fourth wave of attack.
That and More
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We know that Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck can still hit anything on skates. We know all three can be as tenacious as ever. But we don’t know if they can be that and productive at the same time.
With the Toronto Maple Leafs, even though he missed 32 games during the season, Matt Martin put up 12 points in 50 games. It sounds low, but over the course of a full season, that’s 20 points, that would have been a career-high for Martin.
Cal Clutterbuck put up 23 points in the trio’s most productive season. In the two years since Martin’s departure, Cal’s been good for 20 and 18 points. A return to a more comfortable style is going to be a huge benefit for Clutterbuck.
Casey Cizikas with 29 points in 2015-16 was the driving force in terms of productivity for the line. A year after that career-high Cizikas was again riding high with 25 points in 59 games. Putting him on pace for 35 if injuries hadn’t taken 28 percent of his season.
Last season was again plagued with injuries for Cizikas. He missed 18 games throughout the season and failed to continue the momentum he had built up over the last two years. With his linemate back and an offseason to heal, Casey should be back on form in 2018-19.
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The Islanders probably won’t be winning any trophies in 2018-19, but they’re going to be an accountable and responsible team that will be tough to play against.
“Tough to play against” perfectly fits the ethos that Lou Lamoriello has laid out for the Isles in 2018-19. The Trio Quatro will be the pinnacle of that ethos.