Taking a look at Ross Johnston and if it’s worthwhile for the New York Islanders to put him into the lineup for Game 5.
The Islanders vs Capitals series has been chippy from jump street. In Game 1, Anders Lee knocked Nicklas Bacstrom out with a hit to the chest early in the game. From there, the physical nature of the series continued.
This manifested in Game 4 when the Capitals were seemingly toying with the Islanders. Right now the Capitals have no reason not to take penalties. With the Isles power play just one-for-19, there’s no downside to going the extra mile to lay the hit.
So many fans have been calling for Ross Johnston to help police the ice. Maybe if Ross’s presence is there, Tom Wilson won’t run wild without consequence.
So how have the Islanders done with Johnston in the lineup this year? Actually, fairly well. They are 19-10-3 in the 32 games that Johnston played in.
In those 32 games, Johnston put up four points (3 goals, 1 assist) in an average of 7:59 of ice time per game. Johnston isn’t a scorer, obviously, his purpose is as a fighter, someone who polices the ice.
Over the last two years, in the Barry Trotz era, the Islanders are 6-3 whenever Ross The Boss dropped the gloves.
I would argue that this is the spark the Islanders could use. Even if Cal Clutterbuck is good to go tonight, I’d swap Johnston in for Leo Komarov. Would you rather eight minutes of Johnston or 11 minutes of Leo Komarov.
I would argue that Johnston’s seven to eight minutes are more valuable than Leo’s 11, but with the Penalty Kill struggling the way that it is, I doubt Barry Trotz takes Komarov out as he’s someone he relies on for the PK.
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Anyway, the Islanders can’t let themselves get taken advantage of tonight. With Johnston in the lineup or not, the Isles have to make Washington pay for their over-aggressive play at times.