Isles Trio Tops 40

Moulson, Parenteau and Tavares make Isles the first team in the Eastern Conference with three 40-point scorers

Saturday, 01.21.2012 / 4:33 PM ET / News
By Jesse D. Eisenberg
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Isles Trio Tops 40
It’s never easy for a coach to tinker with a productive line - never mind a line that’s generating over half its team’s offense.

Matt Moulson, PA Parenteau and John Tavares have been the Islanders’ most productive unit since the line first formed during the 2010-11 season. The trio continued to top the Islanders scoring chart through the first 34 games this season, but with the team sitting at 11-17-6 and scoring an NHL-worst 2.26 goals per game, Head Coach Jack Capuano decided to shuffle the deck.

Kyle Okposo was bumped to the top line, where he could create space for Tavares and Moulson to operate, while Parenteau was asked to bring his offensive production to Frans Nielsen’s wing on the second line.

Eleven games into the experiment, the Islanders are 7-4-0, and Tavares, Moulson and Parenteau are the first three teammates in the Eastern Conference to each reach 40 points. The only other team in the NHL with three 40-point scorers is the Chicago Blackhawks (Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane).

“I don’t look at stats a whole lot but those guys are an integral part of our offense,” Capuano said of his team’s top three scorers. “We talk a lot about secondary scoring and for us to be successful, we need to see more of that. That’s the way that we’re built and we have a formula for success when we play the right way.”

The Islanders took 20 fewer games this season to field three 40-point scorers than they did last season, when the same three players accomplished the feat.

When we went through the stretch that we went through, we had to tweak something and PA took it as a challenge - Jack Capuano
In 11 games since the offensive shakeup, the new-look first line has continued to dominate opposing teams’ top defenders. Tavares has scored a staggering 19 points (six goals, 13 assists), Moulson has 15 points (six goals, nine assists) and Okposo has chipped in 10 (five goals, five assists).

What’s changed the team’s identity and its position in the standings is that Parenteau has maintained his offensive production on the second line. The pass-first winger has 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) since Dec. 29.

“PA is very creative and he works extremely hard to get his opportunites,” Capuano said. “When we went through the stretch that we went through, we had to tweak something and PA took it as a challenge and went down there with Frans and (Michael) Grabner and he’s doing the same thing. I can’t be more happy for a guy that continues to work hard. When he goes and when that line goes, it usually leads our team to success.”

Parenteau’s steady production is the result of minor adjustments he made to bring his playmaking ability to his new linemates. Instead of slowing the game down and dishing to two of the league’s most dynamic finishers in Moulson and Tavares, Parenteau is finding new ways to create with stretch passes and counter attacks alongside two of the league’s fastest skaters in Grabner and Nielsen.

“John creates a lot of offense with his play and he’s so strong on the puck, and the good thing about Matt Moulson is he’s always in the right spot and he’s such a good goal scorer,” Parenteau said. “It’s a little different on my new line, because Grabner is a little faster. He’s on the go all the time so I have to move the puck a little quicker than when I play with Johnny and Matt. Frans is so reliable on both ends of the ice that we can take more chances in the offensive zone. It’s a little bit of an adjustment but it’s a good one and I’m just trying to play the same game.”

Grabner, who wasn’t paired with Parenteau and Nielsen until recently, has four goals in his last six games. Nielsen has posted two goals and five assists since being paired with Parenteau.

“It’s definitely nice to play with PA,” Nielsen said. “He’s a good playmaker and easy to play with. We connected well out there and it’s been great having him on the line. It doesn’t seem to bother him – wherever he plays he’s going to play well and he’s going to produce.

For Parenteau, his flashy stats away from Tavares and Moulson have taken a chip off his shoulder.

“I think it shows that I’m an important piece for my hockey team and I can produce at this level, no matter who I play with,” Parenteau said. “It’s important for the team to have two good scoring lines.”

While Tavares and Moulson continue to produce at career rates on the top line, Parenteau’s ability to generate secondary scoring will be an important factor in the Islanders second-half playoff run.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Bailey 5 2 3 2 5
J. Tavares 5 1 3 0 4
K. Okposo 5 2 1 1 3
N. Leddy 5 0 3 -2 3
R. Strome 5 2 0 0 2
B. Nelson 4 2 0 0 2
C. Clutterbuck 5 1 1 1 2
L. Visnovsky 4 0 2 5 2
C. Cizikas 5 1 0 1 1
C. de Haan 5 0 1 -2 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 2 3 1 .913 2.61
M. Neuvirth 0 0 0 1.000 0.00

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