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Barry Trotz juggles Islanders' top line looking for some scoring against Devils

Islanders head coach Barry Trotz looks on in

Islanders head coach Barry Trotz looks on in the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday, April 24, 2021. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Mathew Barzal’s usual right wing, Jordan Eberle, was given the night off to rest. That afforded Islanders coach Barry Trotz the chance to try two other intriguing top-line possibilities.

But neither rookie sharpshooter Oliver Wahlstrom nor Kyle Palmieri made the most of the opportunity in Thursday night’s 2-1 loss to the Devils at Nassau Coliseum.

Palmieri was in Eberle’s usual spot for the first two periods but while he was credited for three shots and five hits, Trotz switched his lines in the third period, moving Wahlstrom and Jean-Gabriel Pageau to Barzal’s wings.

"I did," Trotz said when asked whether he wanted to take another look at Palmieri with Barzal. "I didn’t think they were generating a whole lot, quite frankly. I didn’t think that line was going really well so I switched up."

What Trotz saw from Wahlstrom, who took two shots, was a young player deferring to his linemate too much.

"I was hoping we could free him up a little bit and Wahlly would be able to get some shots off," Trotz said. "I did notice that Barzy was demanding the puck and he was getting it to him when he didn’t necessarily have to. That’s a little bit of an intimidation factor from a young player to a more veteran player."

Ex-Devils defenseman Andy Greene was also rested in favor of Braydon Coburn, marking the first game he’s missed this season.

Pleading the Fifth

Trotz had no wish to comment on the Rangers’ management upheaval. The Islanders coach just knows what’s important to him.

"I’ve decided to take all my decisions based on the people you work with," Trotz said before Thursday night’s game. "I have no comment on what was done across the river."

It was announced Wednesday that Rangers associate general manager and former captain Chris Drury would replace both president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton, who were fired in what was seen around the NHL as a surprise move.

"I do know those two people across the river," Trotz said. "They’re good hockey people. I do know that. I know one of them very well. I think he’s a tremendous hockey man."

The big board

The Islanders announced it had selected Daktronics to manufacture and install 45 HDR-capable LED displays at the under-construction UBS Arena at Belmont Park, targeted to open in November. That includes a center-hung scoreboard measuring 42 feet by 42 feet. The new scoreboard will be four times larger than the Nassau Coliseum scoreboard. The main video displays will measure 26 feet by 341/2 feet.

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