It seems safe to say that Kyle Palmieri was everything the New York Islanders could’ve hoped for in the first round. He looked like a more motivated player with something to prove. Palmeri was one of the Isles’ best forwards against the Penguins beyond scoring three goals in six games.
With the opening round now in the rearview, and looking ahead to round two against the Boston Bruins, it’s Palmieri who the spotlight will be on once again. Why? He torched Boston in six games with the New Jersey Devils earlier in the regular season.
In those six games he played against Boston, Palmieri tallied five goals and an assist. The three games against the B’s as an Islanders after he was acquired at the trade deadline, he failed to register a point. For the Isles to avoid a fate similar to the Washington Capitals, the UFA-to-be is going to have to produce against Boston the way he did in New Jersey.
“Everybody knows he’s able to score. He’s always looking to create something out of nothing,” teammate Brock Nelson said of Palmieri in the first round. “He can find the back of the net, and it doesn’t always come easy in this league. But he goes out there and works hard.”
One of the reasons for Palmieri’s success against Boston when he was with the Devils was his positioning and aggressiveness. I don’t expect him to be super aggressive, but he scored a lot of goals off of rebounds or in tight to the goal. This can be true for most of Palmieri’s goals this season, including his goals in round one.
Boston’s offense struggled in the regular season and the Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy even said “We aren’t built to outscore teams.” at one point in the season. That all seems like eons ago after they punished the Caps goaltending over five games. If the Bruins offense is scoring goals, the Islanders, whose offense isn’t their strongest feature, are in for a tough series. Palmeri can help be the difference from that happening.
Whether he and J.G. Pageau are on a line with rookie Oliver Wahlstrom or Travis Zajac, his producing consistently is crucial. If he can do that and the Islanders can continue to get scoring from their top six, specifically Nelson’s line, then the Islanders will have more than a chance to knock off Boston and reach the semifinal round.
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