The fact that veteran defender Andy Greene was a healthy scraper in Game 1 of the islands’ best-of-five play-in series against the Panthers says a lot about the team’s depth in defense.
Greene, who was acquired in a deal from the Devil in February, made his league debut on Tuesday after Johnny Boychuk was deemed unfit to play after a late and high hit in the second period on Saturday.
“Andy is a really true pro,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said in a Zoom talk after the 4-2 victory over the Panthers on Tuesday. “When we got him, we acquired him to play big minutes and it was a very difficult decision not to start him in game 1. I felt strongly, when it was clear, that the traditional islanders got the first crack at it. Andy came in and is now an island, when Johnny went down it is a fantastic replacement. “
When he played on the right side of Nick Leddy on Tuesday, Greene looked like a defender with 50 playoffs under his belt. He got a secondary assistant after squeezing on the right side of the ice to send the puck back to Tom Kuhnhackl, who wanted it to Matt Martin for the Islanders̵
“It’s a read I had there, I felt we had good coverage behind me and got a good stick on it, obviously they did the rest,” he said. “It’s always nice when you can come in and contribute if it is, not necessarily in points but for me, it’s on PK and being a calming presence out there.”
Trotz chose to roll with four left-handed defenders (Greene, Leddy, Adam Pelech and Devon Toews) and two right-backs (Ryan Pulock, Scott Mayfield). It was Greene who was challenged to skate on the right side, something he said he had not done in a while.
“I’ve played it, but it’s been quite a few years,” said the 37-year-old Greene. “By playing on your offside there, it’s really important to make sure you’m in a good position, you know what you’re doing with the puck and that you’re always checking your shoulders because you’re obviously on the blind side where you’re right.
“Been in all these situations before, during my career I was a healthy scratch in the playoffs so I know what to expect when this happens.”
Trotz had emphasized the importance of the Islanders’ special team against the Panthers, and this proved to be the case early in Game 2.
The Islanders went 2-for-7 with the man advantage on Tuesday afternoon, which brought the team’s total power-play goal this series to three after Anthony Beauvillier’s game-deciding power-play goal in Saturday’s victory.
“What you find is that our game of power is to gain some confidence, they trust that they do not have to look so good,” said Trotz.
The Panthers were required for eight total penalties, including a ten-minute misconduct to Brian Boyle to get into it with Scott Mayfield, who only received a two-minute penalty for the hug. But being on penalty kills so much tired of the Panthers, who only had four chances with man advantages.
“I think when it comes to the playoffs, special teams are so important,” said Pulock. “They got a pretty deadly power play over there and we as a power play must try to get a goal when we can or just get some speed. Obviously tonight some big goals and I think that even when we did not score goals we could get some speed and take control. “
Panthers defender Mike Matheson was fined $ 2,500 for high-stakes Brock Nelson in 6:18 of the first period, the league announced after the game. It was called a double minor and put Matheson in the box for four minutes. Just over nine minutes later, Matheson was punished again for stabbing Josh Bailey.