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New York Islanders: It’s Ross Johnston Time to Shine

bwagner1
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: Ross Johnston
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: Ross Johnston
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The New York Islanders announced lineup changes for Monday’s game against the San Jose Sharks, and surprisingly Ross Johnston wasn’t in the lineup. He absolutely should be.

The best fourth line in hockey is now not even the best fourth line on the New York Islanders roster. The Komarov-Filppula-Fritz line has severely outplayed them with more speed, scoring and, shockingly, toughness.

The time has come to make Johnston a permanent winger on the Cizikas line.

We all saw and felt the difference that the lineup had when Ross Johnston was added to the regular lineup last year. Yes, he brought immediate toughness which is his hallmark, but he brought a surprising speed and energy and an even more surprising skill.

Don’t believe me?

Watch this clip

and you’ll see more than just fists. Guys like Johnston and Mayfield get far too little credit for their skill because they are known as tough guys (

more on Mayfield’s case here

).

Where He Fits

Matt Martin has played well enough, but it feels as though he and Cal Clutterbuck should be alternating instead of each starting every game. Clutterbuck’s blind passes into empty space have no place in a regular NHL lineup.

Martin-Cizikas-Johnston has more potential. If the Islanders are serious about being tough to play against, it can’t get any tougher than Martin and Johnston together.

A Ladd-Cizikas-Johnston line when Ladd is healthy won’t scare teams, but it is a very solid two-way line with potential for positive offense.

Or if the Islanders are intent on playing Kuhnhackl on the fourth line, put Fritz, who has looked very strong this year, on the wing opposite Johnston.

Next. It's Time for Lou to Let Trotz Have the Spotlight

More size. More speed. More skill. More energy. Less cost. Signed long-term. I can think of no reason why this guy is not in the lineup every night.

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