Former New Jersey Devils player Kyle Palmieri is making an impact for his new team the New York Islanders in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Despite a difficult transition, Palmieri is elevating his game when the Islanders need him the most. His rejuvenated energy has given the Islanders the scoring touch they need this time of year. There was a reason the general manager Lou Lamoriello traded for Palmieri at the deadline. With Anders Lee lost for the season, the Islanders needed to replace his production. Has Palmieri lived up to those standards? No, but all his poor performances in the regular season are forgotten now that he is scoring the playoffs. As the series shifts to Long Island, he is a player to keep an eye on.
Kyle Palmieri Providing Meaningful Goals
Many wondered if Palmieri had lost his scoring touch this season. His production from the previous two seasons had dropped off and it appeared time was catching up with the player. Things did not start off well for him with the Devils this season. He was very snake-bitten and was forcing a lot of shots. There were times Palmieri was gripping the stick too much. In 34 games with the Devils this season, Palmieri recorded 17 points (eight goals and nine assists) before being traded to the Islanders at the trade deadline. His production was way off because he was on pace to hit 30 goals the prior two seasons. Was he missing certain linemates? Something was definitely missing from Palmieri’s game. But what was Palmieri known for? Goal scoring. And goal scorers can be very streaky in the NHL.
Things did not get better in Long Island, he only recorded four points (two goals and two assists) in 17 games with his new club. However, once the playoffs came around Palmieri took it to another level playing alongside Jean-Gabriel Pageau and former Devils’ teammate Travis Zajac. That line has been dynamic for the Islanders. Lou Lamoriello looks like a genius for his recent acquisitions at the deadline. Palmieri has five points (four goals and one assist) in eight playoff games including the game-winning overtime goal in Game 1 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Round 1. Palmieri has a career-high in playoff goals with the Islanders run this season. They were looking for goal scoring and found it.
Scoring At The Right Time
When you see a player get four goals in eight games you have to think how many of those goals came late in a game or how many of them were empty-net goals. In Palmieri’s case, all these goals came at meaningful moments in the hockey game. Palmieri opened and closed the scoring in Game 1 against the Penguins. Then in Game 6, with the Penguins leading 2-1, Palmieri tied the game at 2-2 with about eight minutes left in the first period to give the Islanders momentum heading into the intermission. Against the Bruins in Game 2, the Islanders had a three-goal second period. With the game tied at 1-1 thanks to a Josh Bailey goal, Palmieri gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead.
Palmieri is making Lamoriello look like a very smart man. He is putting himself in the right place at the right time to give the Islanders meaningful goals. These are not cheesy goals either. These are goal scorers goals. Something has clicked with Palmieri and Pageau. This is a deadly combination the Islanders have as they await for Mathew Barzal to erupt. Goal scoring was a need for the Islanders at the deadline. They have it in Kyle Palmieri.
Rest of the Former Devils
It is one thing to be reunited with a teammate. It is another be reunited with several teammates. As one person put it, it is the New York Devils out there with Palmieri, Zajac and Andy Greene all playing together and all playing pivotal roles for Barry Trotz’s team. Maybe some more than others. But all three are fitting in nicely with the club. Greene is not the shutdown defenceman he once was, but he is fitting in nicely there on the bottom pair with Noah Dobson. Greene is doing what he does best providing support for the young players in the league. Trotz has just got to keep this pair away from the Bruins’ top line.
As for Zajac, he is not the player he used to be. However, he is there for taking faceoffs and nothing else. These former Devils have put themselves and the team in a position to win.
When the puck drops on Game 3 on Thursday, look for the Islanders to put Palmieri and Pageau in situations where they can score meaningful goals and have continued success in the series.
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