Although the New York Islanders couldn’t ignore the absence of captain Anders Lee, Kyle Palmieri stepped up and filled the hole on offense.
Since the Islanders acquired Palmieri just before the trade deadline, Barry Trotz placed him on the third line alongside Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Oliver Wahlstrom/Travis Zajac. It took him some time to gain momentum in the regular season, but he still managed to earn four points in 17 regular-season games.
“During the regular season it wasn’t quite happening,” Trotz said of Palmieri. “He just got familiar. We kept him in one spot and he’s played well. He’s one of those guys that will fight for those inches. He wins puck battles. He gets to the hard areas.”
Trotz had good faith in him early, which may have propelled his consistent success throughout the playoffs. Aside from scoring the first goal of Game 1 in the Isles first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Palmeri scored the game-winner and gave the Islanders a 1-0 series lead. After the Islanders defeated the Penguins in six games, the new acquisition continues to turn heads in the second round.
KYLE PALMIERI AND WE ARE UP BY 1!
— Islanders Videos (@SNY_Islanders) June 1, 2021
Following the Islanders’ first win against the Bruins that saw the series tied 1-1, Palmieri jumbled his words with excitement in the press conference.
Palmieri currently leads the team with six playoff goals in 11 games, including his power-play goal during the 5-4 victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 5.
“They’re a really good team over there, we’re a really good team and it’s going to be a hard-fart-fought series,” Palmieri stuttered as Cizikas couldn’t help but laugh.
While Trotz primarily puts Palmieri on the third line with Pageau and Wahlstrom or Zajac, his experimentation on the first line with Barzal and Eberle has also proven successful. Replacing Komarov with Palmieri does pose some risk, but there is a potential for an even higher reward –an offense that yields more success on scoring drives.
Going into Game 6 back in the Coliseum on Wednesday night, Palmieri will be expecting to extend his four-game point streak, including three goals and two assists. While the absence of the captain is definitely felt on the bench, Trotz instilled enough faith, and his new acquisitions are filling his place.
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