In last night’s 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins, the New York Islanders bench was left short with two players missing due to injuries. Josh Bailey left mid-way through the second period for as of yet unknown reasons and Cal Clutterbuck retreated to the dressing room after going face-first into the boards in the third period.
We don’t yet know if either is well enough to play tonight, but assuming they can’t go, here’s what I think the Islanders should do for their lineup tonight against the Bruins.
New York Islanders lineup assuming Bailey and Clutterbuck can’t go
Line 1: Barzal-Zajac-Eberle
This was the only line to get anything done yesterday. Not only did they score the Islanders only goal, but they were generally the only line that generated much on the night.
The improvised trio with Mathew Barzal on the wing held an 83.33% CF, 56.56 xGF%, 50 SCF%, and was the only line to not allow a high-danger chance against. (All data from NaturalStatTrick.) Keep them together another night to see if they can keep that up.
Line 2: Beauvillier-Pageau-Wahlsrom
Remember this line? Boy were they fun together. In 60+ minutes of ice-time (at 5on5) this season, the three have combined for a 58.82 xGF% and a 68.75 HDCF%.
The last time these three were used against the Bruins they combined for a 55.56 CF%, a 74.75 xGF%, and for six points on the night. If Barry is forced to change the lines it makes WAY too much sense to reunite these three as a secondary scoring line on the night.
Line 3: Komarov-Nelson-Palmieri
If you thought Leo Komarov wasn’t coming back to the lineup you need to think again. Komarov is the team’s 13th forward at the moment. And that’s a fine place for the veteran. Bringing in Komarov when you need him is the perfect spot for him. And what better opposition for Loe Komarov than the Boston Bruins?
Nelson gets a righty on this right that can shoot and play on both sides of the puck, and Palmieri gets a bit of attention off of him with Nelson also being a shot threat.
Think of this as a “light” shutdown line.
Line 4: Martin-Cizikas-Dal Colle
If Clutterbuck is out the fourth line is going to have a big gap on the right side. I put Dal Colle in over right-shot Austin Czarnik simply because Barry Trotz clearly trusts Dal Colle over Czarnik.
Can Dal Colle be a good replacement for Clutterbuck? Maybe. He’s not a 1:1 replacement. Cal already has 147 hits on the year (3.6 per game) while Dal Colle has 23 (1.15 per game). hitting may not be the most important part of an NHL game, but it’s a big part of what makes Cal Clutterbuck and the fourth line so successful.
So while this isn’t the perfect swap I think it’s one that Barry could certainly make. But watch him put Ross Johnston in just to mess with me.