On Thursday night, The New York Islanders nailed down a 4-2 win against the Arizona Coyotes using face offs, hits, and gutsy play. Not coincidentally, Casey Cizikas was back, making the fourth line intact.
Yes, it’s fair to say that the New York Islanders form like Voltron and Casey is the head. The level of gutsy play seemed amplified in a way that it had not been as of yet, and it was flat out good to see. Though the fourth line did not score, they set the tone, just like last year.
The Islanders newly complete fourth line kept creating opportunities, playing defensive-minded hockey whether in the offensive or defensive zones. Martin was allowed to finish his hits and Clutterbuck kept driving to the scoring lanes.
Cizikas was there to pick up the puck and dish. This is what Islanders fans are used to. The chemistry is palpable.
But where Cizikas seemed to have the most effect was on the defensive side of the puck. The tone which he brought to the game was infectious and the defensive pairings put together stronger efforts than in any of the Islanders previous contests.
The Islanders D was on Point
In addition to the Isles fourth line being productive, the defense was also on its gam. Scott Mayfield was playing gutsy, on pucks and man, finishing hits, and getting down the ice.
Devon Toews continues to shine both with his speed and his stickhandling. Devon gave the Coyotes offense fits poke checking and stealing the puck out of the defensive zone.
Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech managed to hold the blue line. Both have improved their ability to handle the puck in the offensive zone. Though the best play that Pelech made may have been on a Coyotes first period breakaway. He took a penalty for tripping immediately after his block, but it seemed illegitimate.
But the best defensive effort may have come from Johnny Boychuck. After a quick Garland goal with 1:20 left, the energy seemed to have shifted, but Boychuck took over on the boards, pinning the puck to the wall, eating up nearly twenty seconds of playing time, effectively sealing the win.
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It was a solid and gutsy defensive performance and it all started with the reunited fourth line. Neither an offensive unit or a defensive unit, but a hybrid, Casey Cizikas, the head.