Editorials

Islanders: Three takeaways from 3-0 win over Buffalo

By Ryan Grosso
Jan 31, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin (30) against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 31, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin (30) against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jean-Gabriel Pageau #44 and Anthony Beauvillier #18 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images) /

3. Pageau stays hot, buries goal in fourth-straight

There were a lot of doubts at the 2019-20 NHL trade deadline when the New York Islanders announced they had traded for then-Ottawa Senators center J.G. Pageau. People called GM Lou Lamoriello’s trade package an overpayment for Pageau, a then-27-year-old forward who had only that season broken the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career.

A month ago, J.G. Pageau was struggling to find chemistry with linemates like Ross Johnston and Leo Komarov. That isn’t calling Johnston and Komarov bad necessarily, it’s just to say that they definitely didn’t fit playing with Pageau.

Pageau scored his fifth goal of the season on Tuesday night, extending his goal-streak to four games by beating Sabres goalie Carter Hutton high over the glove side. The perfectly placed tally made it 2-0 Islanders less than 12 minutes into the first period.

Here we are, nearly one year since the trade that brought Pageau to the Island, and with context, I still can’t find justification for the claims of overpayment.

Pageau has been everything the Islanders bargained for and more since his arrival. The organization knew they’d get one of the best face-off-taking centers in the NHL. They knew they’d get a player who lived for playoff hockey. They knew they’d get the perfect 3C for their team, filling their forward corps out down the middle for a potential run at the Stanley Cup.

I don’t think they knew what a perfect fit they’d really gone in for at the time, though. Pageau’s play on the ice literally embodies the pesky Isles mentality. “[I’m] trying to be a pain-in-the-ass to play against.” Pageau told the media following Tuesday’s shutout victory in which he scored that goal and assisted on Anders Lee’s empty-netter late in regulation.

Pageau has checked all the boxes we’ve come to expect from him in 2020-21. He’s winning nearly 58% of his face-offs, about 60% of which he’s taking in the defensive zone. The Islanders’ 5v5 team save percentage with him on the ice is .967, or 96.7%.

Now, the oiSV% (on-ice save percentage) is a mix of some luck and some skill. Pageau also has a 20% shooting percentage. That oiSV% and S% results in a 102.4 PDO, which is a stat that is always likely to regress towards 100. In other words, Pageau is playing out of his mind well right now.

But, he also has the fourth-lowest xGA of Islanders skaters who have played in all 15 of the team’s games in 2020-21, meaning he has done well to keep opponents shooting from the less-dangerous parts of the ice.

If anything, the goal-scoring, offensive side of Pageau’s game is likely to regress. Both of his goals against Buffalo the last couple nights, while well-placed shots, have been from pretty low-percentage areas. But, playing alongside better wingers in Beauvillier and Oliver Wahlstrom will more than likely stop it from regressing to the levels we saw with wingers like Johnston and Komarov.

What seems clear is that Pageau is going very well right now. He’s riding a hot shooting streak, and that’s awesome because it’s resulting in some timely goals. But, when he cools down Pageau’s still everything the Islanders expected of him, and more.

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