Going down 5-2 against the Boston Bruins in Game 1 was less than ideal for the New York Islanders. The series is certainly far from over, but with some of the performances from the blue and orange on Saturday, head coach Barry Trotz might switch some of his lines around.
We already know that it’s going to be the same roster for today’s game as Saturday’s game. That means Oliver Wahlstrom won’t be added to the roster for Game 2. So, how should Barry Trotz move his lines for this important away game, and what is the head coach likely going to do?
New York Islanders possible lines tonight for Game 2
What Barry Trotz should do
To be clear I don’t think that Komarov has played poorly. I think he’s done a good job on the top line, but he’s hit his ceiling and it’s not nearly as high as it should be for a top-line winger. That’s not really a surprise. But with Mathew Barzal being effectively invisible through the playoffs, he could use someone with a higher skill set than Komarov ou there.
That’s where Kyle Palmieri comes in. He’s not exactly the “bull-in-a-china-shop” type of player like Komarov. Palmieri’s 14 hits through the playoffs are well behind Komarov’s 41, but the former New Jersey Devils forward is a much more productive forward than Komarov and he still ranks ninth on the team for hits. He’s not afraid to get physical.
With Komarov out there, the Bruins can effectively double-team Barzal and allow Komarov to go unchecked. That wouldn’t be the case with Palmieri out there. Having another goal-scoring threat out there will force the Bruins to respect the third options and lessen Barzal’s defensive coverage.
Moving Komarov down with Zajac and Pageau gives the Islanders a smart shutdown line that can hit just as much as the fourth line.
What Barry Trotz will do
With all that being said I’m sure Barry Trotz will simply swap out Komarov for Travis Zajac. He’s done it in the regular season and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see him do the same in Game 2 against the Bruins.
The trio hasn’t been terrible, albeit with a small sample size. In 53:34 of 5on5 time this season, Zaajc-Barzal-Eberle hold a 53.85 CF%, 56.60 SF%, 52.94 HDCF%, and 56.56 xGF%. Again, that’s not bad at all. (All stats from NaturalStatTrick.)
These lines feature very little movement. It seemed that Barry was alright with his team’s effort outside of that third-period collapse. By that alone, I don’t think he makes sweeping changes to his lines for Game 2.