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Taub: Islanders’ trade additions proving to be vital again in postseason

For any trade that takes place in the NHL, there’s always a winner and loser. Sometimes that’s determined by how the major piece or pieces of that said deal performs when it matters the most.

In the Islanders’ case, they have been lucky enough two years in a row to receive those performances out of general manager Lou Lamoriello’s shrewd moves. The Isles are tied in their second-round series against the Boston Bruins, and a lot of it has to do with those moves.

J.G. Pageau, who Lamoriello acquired at the 2020 deadline, scored his second goal and recorded his ninth point of the playoffs in the Isles’ game two victory Monday night. Kyle Palmieri, traded for from New Jersey two months ago, also scored in the game making it four goals in eight postseason games thus far. Both players have been exceptional in the postseason to this point.

Head coach Barry Trotz pointed out early on these playoffs that having those kinds of guys around is extremely important when in the postseason.

“If you look at the two trade deadline acquisitions, last year Pageau, this year Palmieri, they’re veteran guys that are proven,” he said. “When it comes to playoff hockey, in big moments you rely on their experience, their character is exceptional. I’m really glad for [Palmieri], I know he probably put a little undue pressure [on himself] when he joined us, we knew when the games got tight and you have to go to the dirty areas a guy like him is able to produce and he was able to do that.”

It might not be as surprising to see Pageau continue his ascension on the postseason stage. When the Isles traded for him from Ottawa, Pageau already had a reputation for taking game to another level for playoffs. Getting his chance when the team returned to play in the bubble, it was more than anyone could have expected. Palmieri had a bit of a different path.

Not much was expected of Palmieri after he had tallied just two goals in 17 games and was really fighting to find his game. A lot of people were questioning if the Islanders had made the wrong move. They aren’t questioning it anymore because of how he’s played through the first two series.

Palmieri has been one of the team’s best forwards the entire playoffs. Funny enough his linemate: Pageau.

“He is an Islander,” said Pageau during these playoffs. “He’s so competitive, winning all of his battles, being hard on pucks. That’s how we play the game and he fits right in.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention another acquisition, Travis Zajac, who, wouldn’t you know it, has been on a line with Pageau and Palmieri since rookie Oliver Wahlstrom got hurt in game five of the Pittsburgh series. Zajac has proven to be solid in the minutes he’s been given. His faceoff win on Ryan Pulock’s game winner in game six against the Penguins and his game-saving play in the first period were critical moments. Not as critical but just great to see has been how he’s gotten under Bruins’ superstar d-man Charlie McAvoy’s skin on Monday night.
Pageau, Palmieri and Zajac were all brought to the Islanders for the sole reason of making an impact in the postseason. That’s how Stanley Cup winners have been built for decades. And that’s the goal for the Isles this summer.
Adding at the deadline can be hit or miss. The Islanders have continued to not miss. The proof is results of where they are now.
Follow Rob on Twitter at @RTaub_

 

 

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