Throughout the early days of the season, New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert discussed the benefit of having healthy internal competition amongst the forward group. That bottom-six competition was initially between four players: Oliver Wahlstrom, Simon Holmstrom, Julian Gauthier, and Hudson Fasching.
Holmstrom earned a second opportunity on the top line with Mathew Barzal and Bo Horvat and appears to have solidified his spot for the time being, having earned compliments from his more experienced and decorated linemates. Meanwhile, Wahlstrom has struggled to get things going at 5-on-5 but showed off his shot in the shootouts in Seattle and Calgary, scoring the game-winner on Saturday night to snap a seven-game winless streak. Gauthier has only appeared in two games.
As for Fasching, Matt Martin missing time with an upper-body injury opened a spot on the fourth line next to Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck. Before Fasching settled into a role on a line with JG Pageau and Zach Parise last season, it was on the fourth line where he earned his first consistent opportunity when Clutterbuck was out of the lineup.
For all the criticism the fourth line gets, Lambert had rolled out the Identity Line for every single game until Martin's injury. Fasching was inserted by necessity, but made the most of it through two games.
Down 1-0 in the first Fasching was the benefactor of a loose puck that popped out to him in the slot. He pulled back his shot and uncorked a wrister past Jacob Markstrom to tie the game. It was his first of the season after scoring 10 a season ago.
“I was just trying to settle it and tried to take a quick peak, make sure there wasn’t any blatant thing I was missing and then I just went for it,” Fasching said in the NY Post. “Took a shot. Feels good to get the first one. That one’s always fun to get out of the way.”
Fasching says he doesn't change his approach based on what line he's on, but his style of play appears to compliment playing with Cizikas and could lead to a more consistent role with him in the near future with both Clutterbuck and Martin in the final years of their contracts.
“That’s the mentality of it and I always have to believe that and believe in myself,” Fasching added. “We got a good team. We rotate guys in and out. If I’m not in the lineup, it is what it is and I gotta find a way to get in and add value to stay in the lineup.”