Islanders: Three Takeaways from Blowout Win over Bruins
By Ryan Grosso
The New York Islanders beat the Boston Bruins for the third time in as many tries on Thursday night, scoring five third-period goals to cruise to a 7-2 win.
The New York Islanders hadn’t scored five goals in a single game this season before Thursday night. Then they exploded for five in the third period alone to beat the Boston Bruins by a final score of 7-2.
Here are three takeaways from a game defined by its lopsided final frame.
1. Pageau Continuing to Prove Islanders Made the Right Trade
366 days after the trade that made him a New York Islander, J.G. Pageau continued to show everyone why Lou Lamoriello felt so strongly about acquiring him.
Pageau buried his eighth goal of the season, and his second short-handed, on a breakaway in the third period to put the Islanders ahead 5-2. He played the second-most minutes among Islanders forwards in all situations, splitting duties between his usual 5v5 line centering Oliver Wahlstrom and Leo Komarov, and playing on the right-wing of Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas’s line after Cal Clutterbuck’s injury.
The Islanders penalty kill fired more shot attempts than the Bruins did with Pageau and his PK partner Leo Komarov on the ice, and the shorthanded duo were two of four Islanders to finish with xGF%’s over 50% at 4v5.
At 5v5, JGP and young Oliver Wahlstrom continued their strong run of play alongside each other. Both Pageau and Wahlstrom’s CF% spiked more than 20% when the two were deployed together as opposed to separately. Wahlstrom’s xGF% went from 13.85% without Pageau to a nice 69.84% with him.
Pairing Pageau and Wahlstrom continues to be a no-brainer for Barry Trotz.
Pageau, who spent much of the early season flanked by wingers whose skillset simply didn’t mesh well with his, gets a skilled young winger with a killer shot and some relatively good defensive awareness for his age. Wahlstrom gets a center who possesses the top-end skill to complement his style of play but also has a great 200-foot game and limits scoring chances in the defensive zone.
I’ve been beating this drum since before the 2020-21 season began, but giving Pageau the right-wingers to complement his own skillset should be a top priority for Barry Trotz. Lou Lamoriello went out and got an ideal 3C for this team in JGP and it would be wasteful not to optimize his skillset with wingers who work well alongside him.
Trotz has found some wingers who he likes deploying with Pageau at 5v5, and who complement the 28-year-old Québécois’ skillset, and the third line has looked better because of it. That’s how you optimize a trade, and the Pageau deal continues to look better with each new game because of it.