It would be an oversimplification to frame the Bruins-Islanders series in reference to Boston’s elite “Perfection Line” and the Islanders blue-collar “Identity Line”.
The Bruins have their share of the grinder, and the Islanders have several highly skilled players.
But how can we resist, given the delicious contrast in the monikers for each team’s most famous trio—and seeing as how the islanders see themselves?
Casey Szykas in particular tied a bow on that narrative on Monday night, scoring on the breakaway at 14:48 of overtime to give the Islanders a 4-3 win and even a second-round playoff series. Gave it 1-1.
The story of Game 1 was a performance by Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pasternak of Boston. The Grand Finale of Game 2 came from the center of the fourth line, which last scored a playoff goal in 2015.
Asked after the game about the drought after his long season, Szykas had this to say:
“You want to contribute. You want to score. But at the end of the day, that’s not the goal of our line. We want to wreak havoc there. We want to build momentum for the line after us and keep them in good shape.” are location
“It was good for sure, but we’ll keep working. We’ll keep doing what makes us successful as a line, and that’s working hard and grinding it out.”
It is strange to hear a hockey center declare that its line is not intended to be scored. But Sisikas, Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck employ this kind of mindset.
Goals are good. The Cizikas had scored 20 of them only two seasons ago. But they are a byproduct.
“They’re very effective when they’re playing as a line and keep it simple and smart,” coach Barry Trotz said Tuesday. “When Casey scored 20 goals – they have good skills, but how they got there, they were basically just playing a meat-and-potatoes game, which is what they do, and they capitalized on their opportunities.”
“Casey would never have scored 20 goals if he had taken away from his identity,” Trotz said.
The coach also said that Martin has a skill set that is “sneaky good”, and noted the five goals he scored in the playoffs last year – more than Szykas now has in a 10-year career. Cizikas scored seven goals this past regular season.
He showed great skill on his game-winner, coming alone on goalkeeper Tukka Rusk after the Bruins turnover.
“I liked the chivalry he went with,” Trotz said. “Head up, and he was stepping down from the snow and he knew what he was going to do there.”
His teammates loved it. The first two huggers to greet him on the ice were Martin and Clutterbuck.
“We are very happy for him; he deserves it,” said Josh Bailey. “Pumped for ‘Z’.”
Trotz called it a “character” victory for a person with a character.
It needed the Islanders as a team that relies more on four lines than the Bruins, whose first group may be the best in the league and whose second almost won Game 2 when Semyon Varlamov scored a big hit on Taylor Hall. Made a halt in overtime.
“They are all dangerous because everybody freaks out,” Trotz said in his latest pean for “Perfection Line.”
Conversely, he said, “KC and Way – you wouldn’t say they’re three superstars, but they give our team a blue-collar identity.”
Trotz said the Bruins have a lot in their organizational DNA as well, but let’s not let facts get in the way of a good story.
The Bruins’ No. 1 line is “Perfect”. Islanders No. 4 line is incomplete. The first two matches each have their moments. At the Coliseum.