Brock Nelson of the Islanders celebrates his first-period goal with...

Brock Nelson of the Islanders celebrates his first-period goal with Adam Pelech and Sebastian Aho against the Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on Thursday in Detroit. Credit: Getty Images/Gregory Shamus

It comes down to trust, and a little more than a month after Patrick Roy was named head coach of the Islanders, he seems to have earned it.

It’s not just about breaking down video together or getting a kick out of a legendary goalie calling the shots that engenders that relationship, Brock Nelson said. Trust also is built via mutual exchanges and casual conversations. Recently, it’s been buoyed by committing to the drastic changes Roy has made to the Islanders’ lines — and seeing it pay off.

“He’s got a great feel for the game,” Nelson said Saturday morning before the Islanders’ game against the Bruins. “That’s one of the main things I tell people when they ask about him and how he is. I think he’s got a great sense of personnel, positional, situation stuff for everybody, which is great. I think he delivers a clear message to get that across.”

So when they discussed having Nelson, a natural center, move to wing alongside two other natural centers in Bo Horvat and Mathew Barzal on the first line, he was game despite not having played wing regularly since college. The experiment has been a success, with the first line scoring the eventual winning goals in both games. Nelson thinks they can only grow from here.

“We did a few more good things recovering pucks in the O-zone and generating a few more chances,” Nelson said of the line’s play in a 5-3 win over the Red Wings on Thursday. “I think there were just a couple of things where maybe we executed and had better timing and support. I think that’s probably one of the reasons or one of the things we looked at after the Dallas game. We were a little spread out and didn’t recover any pucks to give ourselves a chance in the O-zone. In Detroit, we did a little bit better.”

As for Monday’s game against the Stars — the one in which Horvat scored the overtime winner: “It’s the same thing — just timing and reading the plays and how they kind of find the space and the support for one another coming out of different zones. In the O-zone, you’re interchangeable at that point. You don’t really think about it.”

They might not, but Roy made it clear that he thought about it plenty — something he no doubt communicated to his players to get them on board with all the tweaks. Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Anders Lee moved to the second line with Kyle Palmieri and Casey Cizikas moved up to the third line, centering what Roy has called the “Swedish Connection” — the duo of Pierre Engvall and Simon Holmstrom.

“Before making the decision, you look at options,” Roy said. “Putting lines together is not just shake the dice and OK, let’s throw them there and that’s our lines. You want to have chemistry out there. You want to feel like, OK, who’s a good fit for Horvat and Barzal? Someone reliable defensively. Someone that skates well. Someone that sees the ice well. Someone can shoot the puck well. Brock is the perfect fit.”

Of Pageau and Palmieri: “Lee is a good fit for these two guys. They’re all about the same speed. They’re all high-IQ guys. They can put pucks deep. They can use their compete level to generate. They’re going to dig for those pucks.”

And of the third line: “Holmstrom with Engvall. Who’s a good fit for them? Someone who’s going to go to the net, someone that’s going to be intense, someone that’s going to backcheck, someone that will dig an area that maybe they won’t, and that will free them up to be more creative.”

Growing pains are to be expected, but the second half of the Detroit game indicated that things are going in the right direction, Roy said. Nelson scored twice and Barzal once in the 5-3 win, and the revamped third line was responsible for the other two goals.

“They were quicker to support each other,” Roy said of the first line. “I think the moment where they had the puck and they were in full control, they gave space, and when we were in a battle, they started going into the battle faster. Even Brock started to feel more and more comfortable playing that way and they started to control the third period. I like what I saw from them in that first period. They scored a big goal for us.”

Going into a key potentially game against the Bruins, this has translated into a two-game winning streak ahead of the NHL trade deadline and the continued survival of their playoff hopes.  It’s also helped build cohesiveness and that all-important confidence in Roy’s vision.

“I think this is where trust starts,” he said. “If they start trusting what I’m trying to do — now they go, OK, let’s give it a shot and see how it goes, and I think everyone seems to like what’s going on right now.”

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