Advertisement
Sports

‘It’s about heart and guts’: Islanders’ Barry Trotz on Leo Komarov’s first-line minutes

Advertisement

The New York Islanders improved their depth at the NHL trade deadline, acquiring forwards Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac to offer the team more notable, potentially dangerous offensive options for a team that has been without first-line winger and captain Anders Lee since last month and will be for the remainder of the season.

While Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle continue to wait for a bona fide third member of the Islanders’ first line, head coach Barry Trotz has often been turning to Leo Komarov — as he did on Sunday night in Philadelphia during a 1-0 overtime win that saw the veteran put together one of his best games with the club.

Starting the game on the fourth line with Cal Clutterbuck unavailable, Komarov quickly made his way to the first line during a first period that saw the Islanders completely dominated by the Flyers; though the heroics of Ilya Sorokin kept the hosts at bay all night while recording a 30-save shutout. 

He made vital backchecks after harsh turnovers from Barzal, to which Trotz admitted that “I don’t know if that line survives that first period [without him].”

He marauded up and down the lineup to work alongside Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Anthony Beauvillier as well. He was a vital penalty killer, drew a hooking penalty from Kevin Hayes, and recorded five hits to be the familiar agitator that the league has come to know over the 34-year-old’s eight-year career. 

An effort like that is precisely why — with players like Oliver Wahlstrom, Kieffer Bellows, Michael Dal Colle, and Ross Johnston also vying for playing time — Trotz continues to turn a player like Komarov with zero goals and five assists this season in 26 games despite the bemoaning of a fan base that cringes every time they see his name on the first line; or in the lineup.

“I know Leo isn’t a fantasy hockey favorite, but we’re not playing fantasy hockey,” Trotz said. “We’re playing with real lives bullets in the NHL.

“It’s nothing about analytics. It’s about heart and guts and playing the right way, being committed, and playing in these heavy games.”

That is the modus operandi of the second-place Islanders, after all, going with chemistry and effort over panache and flash.

It’s why Komarov will remain in the mix for Trotz and the Islanders, who prepare for a big-time rivalry matchup with the New York Rangers, who are making a push for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Division, on Tuesday night at Nassau Coliseum (7 p.m. ET).

 

 

 

Advertisement
Joe Pantorno
Share
Published by
Joe Pantorno

Recent Posts

NYPD releases doggone good calendar for the New Year

Get ready to count down those dog days of 2022 with the latest NYPD canine…

December 7, 2021

Homeless man charged with attempted murder of another homeless man at Cooper Avenue shelter

A homeless man is in custody for allegedly stabbing another homeless man multiple times at…

December 7, 2021
Advertisement

Ho-ho-ho or no-no-no: Either way, SantaCon and its boozy bingefest returns to Manhattan this weekend

Ready or not, Santacon — New York City's annual "non-politcal, nonsensical" gathering of boozy Santas…

December 7, 2021

Oscar winners assemble for climate warning comedy ‘Don’t Look Up’

Director Adam McKay has assembled an all-star cast brimming with Oscar winners to give a…

December 7, 2021

Lander names executive leadership team at incoming comptroller’s office

New York City Comptroller-elect Brad Lander announced on Dec. 6 the appointment of his executive…

December 7, 2021

Road congestion returns, but work-from-home leaves downtowns empty

Empty roads and cleaner air at the start of the pandemic have given way to…

December 7, 2021
Advertisement