Isles Role Players, Difference Makers

Going into action on December 5th the New York Islanders find themselves with a record of 15-8-4. They are tied for fifth in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues with thirty-four points. A big reason for the Islanders record, believe it or not a large part is due to the play of the New York’s fourth line and their back-up goaltender. These role players are difference makers.

The Fourth Line

The Islanders fourth line is comprised of Casey Cizikas centering Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin. By many hockey experts-insiders they have been called “the best fourth line in hockey”. But this line is so much more than that. That compliment does not serve this trio the due they richly deserve. On many nights the Isles fourth line is either their best or they are sparking the team to a win on that given night. This line brings high energy, physicality, toughness, two-way play and secondary scoring. The biggest compliment I can give them is they bring these attributes every single night. Clutterbuck is tied for fourth on the team in goals with six. Cizikas has also contributed to the team regarding secondary scoring with four goals himself.

Finally important point to make about this line is head coach Jack Capuano does not play them like most other teams do with their fourth lines. This line plays around twelve minutes a night. Which allows the other three lines on the Islanders to be a tad fresher on a given night and for the marathon that is known as the NHL regular season. Capuano is not afraid to play this line in any situation. That speaks volumes.

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Greiss Playing Like a #1 Goalie

When the Islanders signed Thomas Greiss at the beginning of free agency last July, I don’t think anyone realized how good of a back stop New York added to round out their team. So far this year Greiss has a record of 8-3-2, with a goals against average of 2.18, with a save percentage of .928. As good as these numbers stack up Greiss has come up with big performances at key times this season. When the season opened the Islanders starting goalie Jaroslav Halak needed some time to get over an injury he suffered in training camp. Greiss came out of the gates strong, giving New York a strong chance to win every night. Greiss has also come through for the Isles after a tough losses, when the coaching staff switched goalie’s to shake things up. The play of Greiss could be the difference between the Islanders winning the Metropolitan division or qualifying for the playoffs as one of the wild card teams.

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