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Editorials

New York Islanders Five Reasons They Won The First Round

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 16: Brock Nelson #29 of the New York Islanders celebrates with teammates on the bench after scoring a goal during the first period in Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on April 16, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 16: Brock Nelson #29 of the New York Islanders celebrates with teammates on the bench after scoring a goal during the first period in Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG PAINTS Arena on April 16, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 04: Matt Martin #17 of the New York Islanders (l) celebrates his goal at 11:00 of the second period against the Tampa Bay Lightning and is joined by Casey Cizikas #53 (r) at the Barclays Center on April 4, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The “Fourth Line”

When you look at the New York Islanders forward depth chart, the line of Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin, and Cal Clutterbuck are always the last to be named. They’re the Islanders fourth line. But they don’t act like it.

For the entire series, the Islanders fourth line was a shut-down line. It wasn’t sent out to shut down the other team’s fourth line. Rather their assignment was to keep the Penguins top line quiet. An assignment that they absolutely aced.

Casey Cizikas was routinely matched up against Sidney Crosby. A matchup that the Islanders center won handily.

Cizikas was the perfect foil for Crosby. The Penguins future Hall of Fame center couldn’t win a faceoff to save his life, couldn’t generate any offense, and generally had no space to breathe let alone create offense.

Through four games Sidney Crosby was held to a single assist. An assist that comes in game four on a Jake Guentzel goal.

To be fair, the entire Islanders team played well defensively. They held a good Pittsburgh Penguins offense to just six goals across the entire series. But the Islanders fourth line was a cut above.

They had an assignment that was well above their pay grade, and they nailed it. They completely suffocated the second best player in the entire sport. A player who also happens to love scoring against the Islanders. Crosby has 113 points in 66 career games against the Islanders. (The most of any team he’s played against, by far.)

The way the Islanders “fourth line” played in this series should give the team confidence that they can effectively eliminate any team’s top line without having to sacrifice their own top line to do so.

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