Palmieri to Top Line
Why does he need to make this decision?
Barry Trotz has resisted the urge to put Kyle Palmieri on the top line, on a full-time basis, since the Islanders acquired him at the trade deadline. It was a strange move for the veteran coach to make. We know he liked having Leo Komarov up next to Barzal, but the veteran bottom-six winger was clearly out of his depth playing up top.
Leo played well, don’t get me wrong, but he reached his ceiling and Barzal and Eberle we stuck needing more from a winger that couldn’t provide it for them.
In Game 4, Trotz finally gave in. The trio of Palmieri-Barzal-Eberle played 7:31 of 5on5 ice time. The Komarov-Barzal-Eberle line had 2:22 of 5on5 time. Most of that time for the former top line came in the third when the Islanders were trying to shut down the Lightning after going up 3-0.
While the advanced analytics don’t show the new top line was particularly good, but they certainly passed the eye test.
Palmieri seems like the perfect blend of “crash-and-bang” and goal threat to play on Barzal’s wing. He isn’t the same player as Leo Komarov, he’s better. Again, Leo does a good job of getting in the dirty areas to retrieve pucks or to physically open lanes for Barzal and Eberle, but his puck skills are sub-par for this type of deployment.
That isn’t the case for Kyle Palmieri.
The 20-25 goal scorer is the exact type of player needed on Barzal’s wing after Anders Lee was forced to sit out the season with an injury. Sure, the line of Palmieri-Barzal-Eberle is 100% right-handed, but the trio’s skills complement each other well and has proven to be productive in the short amount of time they’ve had together.
What does Barry do?
I would imagine that Barry will start the game with Palmieri on the top line. But as the game progresses he might revert back to Leo on the top line. Specifically, if his team has a lead.