Kyle MacLean leads the league in stat that proves his impact on the NY Islanders

New York Islanders v Tampa Bay Lightning
New York Islanders v Tampa Bay Lightning / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

Kyle MacLean's first game in the NHL was the last for Lane Lambert as head coach of the New York Islanders. The son of assistant coach John MacLean, the center was called up from AHL Bridgeport on Jan. 17 and dressed for the game against the Chicago Blackhawks two days later.

The Islanders fell 4-3 in overtime to one of the worst teams in the league, their fourth straight loss to drop their record to 19-15-11. The defeat sealed the fate for Lambert who was fired the next day. The 24-year-old achieved his dream of making the NHL and was able to do it with his father behind the bench. A day later, he had to wait to find out if the elder Maclean would remain with the team.

The answer was yes for both MacLeans. Kyle scored his first goal of his carreer in the first game after the All-Star Break on a breakaway in Toronto coming out of the penalty box. He was noticeable each and every shift, providing a fresh face and an unexpected new look for the lineup.

His energy and speed brought another dimension and new options for the Isles, and he eventually asserted himself in Casey Cizikas' spot on the fourth line, which had a positive impact on both Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck and eventually landed Cizikas on the top line with Bo Horvat and Mathew Barzal, a line combination that head coach Patrick Roy said he wished he had done earlier.

What has been so surprising about the Identity Line v. 2.0 is how good the line has been defensively since MacLean occupied the middle. In his 31 games, MacLean has the highest on-ice goal percentage on the team at 71.4% when playing at even strength.

If you're not impressed by that stat, maybe you will be the next one. According to MoneyPuck, that number is the highest in the entire NHL amongst skaters who have played 300 minutes. Evan Rodrigues of the Florida Panthers and the Vancouver Canuck's Brock Boeser trail MacLean.

MacLean provided the exclamation point with the Isles' fourth goal of the game in Monday night's playoff clincher, and now he's primed to make his debut in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. “It’s been a battle," said MacLean. "To clinch, to secure our spot in the playoffs, it’s big. It means a lot. Obviously, it’s nice getting it done before Game 82. We’re looking to make some noise in the playoffs now."

It's been quite a ride for the coach's son and undrafted free agent. He's earned the coach of his new head coach and made a strong case as to why this ride is only the beginning for him on Long Island.