How could the New York Islanders lineup for their play-in round against the Florida Panthers?
Tik Tok wasn’t the place I’d expect to find out when Mathew Barzal was heading back to the Island to join up with his New York Islanders teammates for Phase 3 of the NHL’s Return to Play plan. But here we are with Andrew Ladd – the original Gary – Tik Tokking both he and Barzal getting on a plane.
We already know that Leo Komarov and Otto Koivula traveled back to Long Island from Finland in late June. Add them to the players who are already on the Island and the band is getting back together to gear up for training camp.
As we get ready for the qualifying round or play-in round – whatever you want to call it – how will the Isles lineup out of camp? Will everyone now being healthy and have a full training camp under their belts change how Trotz sets up his lines?
I thought it would be interesting to start by looking at how the Islanders lined up on the final regular-season game of 2019-20 from March 10 against the Vancouver Canucks.
Anders Lee – Mathew Barzal – Jordan Eberle
Andrew Ladd – Brock Nelson – Josh Bailey
Anthony Beauvillier – Jean-Gabriel Pageau – Leo Komarov
Matt Martin – Casey Cizikas – Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy – Ryan Pulock
Devon Toews – Scott Mayfield
Andy Greene – Noah Dobson
Semyon Varlamov (Thomas Greiss)
I’m not going to list the goalies going forward. Unless Thomas Greiss has an incredible camp the crease is Varlamov’s.
I’m also not going to list the defense because let’s be honest there won’t be any changes on the blue line unless one of Adam Pelech or Johnny Boychuk isn’t actually 100 percent healthy. The Isles blue line should be:
Adam Pelech – Ryan Pulock
Devon Toews – Scott Mayfield
Nick Leddy – Johnny Boychuk
If the Islanders were healthy on March 10 this is likely how Barry Trotz would have set up his team. Trotz just didn’t waver from that top line of Lee-Barzal-Eberle the entire season unless he was forced to due to injury.
Going into the play-in round he likely goes with a second line that’s worked in the past. Between October 24 and November 21, the second line of Beau-Nelson-Brassard torched the NHL by putting up a combined 37 points (Brassard led the way with 15 of those points).
The fourth line won’t change going forward. I can’t think of another team that changes their approach to winning hockey games when their fourth line isn’t around like the Islanders do. Having them healthy for the play-in round is massive for the Islanders.
- Dal Colle instead of Ladd
- Brassard and Bailey flip: Bailey is Trotz’s Swiss-army knife, he could go anywhere. Reuniting Brassard with former Ottawa teammate Jean-Gabriel Pageau might work too. And it gives the Lee-Bailey link that I like so much.
We know Barry will play a conservative roster, one that will make few mistakes and execute his plan flawlessly. If you think there’s no way Trotz puts this lineup out remember, It’s the exact lines he put out against the Vancouver Canucks.
While this lineup pushed the Canucks to a shootout, it doesn’t take advantage of a number of efficiencies in the squad outside of the fourth line.
- Brassard instead of Ladd: Not a 1-for-1 swap, but push Beau up to the second line, move Komarov to 3LW and slot Brassard at 3RW.
I penned in Oliver Wahlstrom then took him off at least three times. I want to see what Wahlstrom can do, but I know a qualifying round isn’t the place to get experimental.
I like the chemistry that Barzal and Beauvillier have on the ice. But putting these two together has an ulterior purpose for me and that’s getting Anders Lee and Josh Bailey on the same line together. The two are fantastic together. No one links up with Lee better than Bailey does.
Michael Dal Colle and Andrew Ladd basically fill the same role for the New York Islanders. But with Dal Colle, there’s the potential for more.
And of course, the fourth line stays put for obvious reasons.