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Islanders Early Return On Top Line Is Promising

SUNRISE, FL - OCTOBER 16: Kyle Palmieri #21 of the New York Islanders prepares for a face-off against the Florida Panthers at the FLA Live Arena on October 16, 2021 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
SUNRISE, FL - OCTOBER 16: Kyle Palmieri #21 of the New York Islanders prepares for a face-off against the Florida Panthers at the FLA Live Arena on October 16, 2021 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
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When you’re 0-2 with 11 goals against there isn’t a ton of things to get excited about. While there have been some clear defensive lapses, one positive for the New York Islanders has been their top line of Lee – Barzal – Palmieri.

Looking at Game Score, the three highest graded Islanders are Kyle Palmieri, Mathew Barzal, and Anders Lee in that order according to Hockey Stat Cards. It’s not particularly close either as the top five is as followed (Game Score average):

  1. Kyle Palmieri 1.07
  2. Mathew Barzal 0.71
  3. Anders Lee 0.66
  4. Ryan Pulock 0.14
  5. Noah Dobson 0.07

It’s the top line and a massive drop-off after that. The line has combined for four points in two games (all of which came in the first game) but even in the Panthers game they very much so looked the part whereas the second line was pretty rough.

The line has an expected goals% of 54.2 so far through two games on the season. Their actual goals for percentage is much better coming in at 66.7 through 24 minutes of ice time together according to Money Puck.

Right now, based on expected goals you could make the case that the Parise – Pageau – Wahlstrom line is the Islanders best line as they’re coming in at 64.3%. People were rightfully excited for that line as well and to be honest with you the top-nine hasn’t been an “issue” in my eyes this year.

The defensive structure, the fourth line without Matt Martin, and the play in net is by far the reason this team is 0-2. Again, I know it’s early returns but the eye test for the top line and the underlying numbers very much so look the part.

Related Story. Ilya Sorokin's early season struggles

We’ll see if that’s able to carry over in Chicago but if you want to look at a team that’s in really bad shape, there’s your perfect example. The Blackhawks and their defensive woes *should* be a time for the Islanders to bounce back.

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