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Mandell: Top to Bottom, Isles offense is as deep it’s been in quite awhile

Having multiple lines that can score is key for teams to make a run at the Stanley Cup. A lack of scoring depth has been the “Achilles heel” for many teams in the past. A perfect example would be the Edmonton Oilers, who struggle to produce behind Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

For the New York Islanders, it appears that they have a perfect storm brewing with their four line attack over this recent seven-game winning streak.

The Isles aren’t just getting production from the top line, centered by Mathew Barzal with Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle on the wings. But they are getting excellent production from the other three lines.

The fourth line/“Identity Line” — Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck — has been a strong combination. But it hasn’t just been them bringing the energy with physical play. The trio  are a serious threat to score, combining for 12 goals on the season so far.

On top of the fourth lines’ prowess, the third line has been surging behind J.G. Pageau, who has arguably been the Islanders best player over the past month. He has 17 points (nine goals and eight assists) in 27 games this season and his lineman Oliver Wahlstrom has lit a fire under the already simmering fanbase with his dangerous shot and the new dynamic he adds to the power play.

The second line for the most part was quiet through the first month of the campaign, but Anthony Beauvillier has finally started finding the back of the net. Since his return to the lineup with Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey, the threesome has been the lone question mark. That has begun to fade after a great game against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night which saw Nelson tally his fifth goal in four games and Bailey score.

This Isles attack might be the deepest the club has had in a very long time. Even the 2014-15 and 2015-16 squads that made the playoffs had struggles behind John Tavares.

In 2014-15, Tavares led the team with 86 points. Kyle Okposo was second on the team with 35 fewer points and he was the only Islander along with Ryan Strome to top 50 points.

The following year, Okposo was closer to Tavares’ point total, but they still only had three players top 50 points.

In this shortened season, the Islanders may not have guys top 50 points, but there isn’t much disparity at the top. Through the first 27 games, The Islanders have six players with at least 16 points, led by Barzal with 23 points.

Their style of play may not net them a lot of goals or style points, but this team has the ability to score with the best of the NHL when they are healthy.

Even with the tough news this morning of Lee being out indefinitely, top to bottom, the Islanders are dangerous and it is a huge part of their success. As long as they continue to consistently play well, the wins will keep coming on Long Island and the winning the MassMutual East Division will be well within reach.

 

Follow Ben on Twitter at @BenMandell55

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About Ben Mandell

My name is Ben Mandell and I currently reside in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. I work at a local newspaper called the Times Leader, where I cover the AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Wilkes University men's ice hockey, and other local high school and college sports. Here at Isles Blog, I will be providing Bridgeport Sound Tigers coverage, prospect coverage and other Islanders opinion pieces.

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