The line combinations for the NY Islanders have been juggled over the last two seasons as Lane Lambert tries to find the best chemistry among the group. While there's been consistency to all four lines this season, the one carried over from last year that has stuck is the combo of Kyle Palmieri, Brock Nelson, and Pierre Engvall.
Soon after the Islanders acquired Engvall from the Toronto Maple Leafs, the trio have been nearly inseparable on the ice, creating more opportunities than any other line.
But over the last month, that magic has seemingly disappeared. The goals aren't coming as frequently, and the opportunities are fewer and further between.
Playing 140:14 together last season, the line had a Corsi-For percentage of 62.62%, according to Natural Stat Trick - meaning they were creating much more frequently than the lines they were matched against while scoring 15 times and allowing only four. This season, in 399:13 of ice time together, their CF% has dropped to 49.61%, scoring 19 and allowing 14.
Lane Lambert decided to bench Engvall on New Year's Eve against the Pittsburgh Penguins, as he was listed as a healthy scratch for the second time this season. Engvall went on to score the following game against the Colorado Avalanche but has missing in action outside that one game. The Swede has just a single point in his last 13 games, with his only point before that night in Denver was a home matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Dec. 7. Before then, Engvall had recorded 12 points in 23 games.
The always streaky Kyle Palmieri appears to be in one of his yearly slumps, failing to find the back of the net in his last 11 games. His last goal came against the Anaheim Ducks on Dec. 13 and has only three points since. His production has continued to slip, pointless in his previous seven.
The only consistent has been Brock Nelson. Despite his linemates struggling to create, Nelson has been his typical self for the most part. He's been on a point-per-game pace since the calendar turned to December, scoring seven goals and adding ten assists in 17 games.
The Isles need tehir top two lines to be clicking, as the top line of Anders Lee, Bo Horvat, and Mathew Barzal has been getting the job done as of late. Palmieri and Engvall need to find their game again, as the Isles can ill afford to drop points in a tight playoff race.