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.