The New York Islanders have seen some strong play out of their call-ups this season. It’s been integral in the Islanders staying in the playoff race, currently holding down the second wild-card spot, just two points shy of the second-place New Jersey Devils.
Twenty-year-old Aatu Räty has been key in his fourth-line role over the last three games. Hudson Fasching, 27, has continued to be a significant bright spot, while 25-year-old Parker Wotherspoon has helped stabilize the backend, which has played much better since he was inserted.
Fasching’s Found a Home
Hudson Fasching has provided more to the New York Islanders lineup than anyone would have thought when he was recalled back on Dec. 1. In 10 games with New York, Fasching has two goals and two assists and has been used up and down the lineup by his head coach Lane Lambert.
He’s played 115 total minutes for the Islanders, with around 54 minutes coming alongside Matt Martin and Casey Cizikas on the fourth line. With the injuries to Oliver Wahlstrom and Simon Holmstrom, Fasching has been used on the third line alongside Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Zach Parise, as well as on Mathew Barzal’s wing alongside Josh Bailey.
While Fasching has brought his game to each line he’s been on, he seems to have found a home alongside Pageau and Parise.
In 22:04 minutes with Fasching alongside just Pageau, the Islanders have outshot their opponents 10-4, outscoring them 2-0. They have earned 12 scoring chances to their opponent’s four, with 10 of their 12 being high-danger chances, per Natural Stat Trick.
When adding Parise to that equation, the total shots have gone down just a bit, but the goal totals and the zero goals against sting ring true.
“They’re just really smart players,” Fasching told NYI Hockey Now. “They’re obviously veteran players, and they see the ice really well.”
Pageau and Fasching teamed up for the Islanders’ first goal of the contest Thursday night.
After Pageau made a tremendous stick play at the Islanders’ blue line, he possessed the puck up the ice and into the Blue Jackets zone.
Once a few Blue Jackets closed in on him, he quickly dropped the puck to Fasching, who made a power move to the slot and got a strong shot off. The puck squeaked by Blue Jackets netminder Joonas Korpisalo, and Pageau raced to the net and tapped the puck home/.
— Isles on MSGSN (@IslesMSGN) December 30, 2022
“On that goal, you can see Pageau… he’s got eyes in the back of his head,” Fasching said. “I think playing with those guys is a lot of fun.”
Following the game, NYI Hockey Now asked Lambert about his in-game decision against Columbus to move Fasching from Barzal’s wing back to Pageau’s:
“I just felt like that was the right maneuver, and Fasching fits in really well with Pageau and Parise,” Lambert said. “He’s a real responsible guy and continues to play well.”
With Wahlstrom now out indefinitely, we shall see how Lambert runs his lines, but it’s clear that Fasching has found a home alongside Pageau.
Wotherspoon the Stabilizer
But since Wotherspoon has been inserted into the lineup, the Islanders have not lost a game.
What Wotherspoon has brought to the backend has been a calm, simple game that has helped set the tone in games while providing a stable partner for Pulock.
NYI Hockey Now caught up with Pulock back on Wednesday to ask about what it’s been like to skate with Wotherspoon and what he’s been doing well.
“I think he’s just done a good job with the puck on breakouts and in the neutral zone,” Pulock said. “You know, simplifying things, making the right play, getting the puck up to the forwards, and I think he’s done a good job of communicating and making things easy in the defensive zone and on breakouts.”
“He’s made some maybe little higher-end plays as well. And he’s gotten up in the play when it’s available. I think he’s doing a really good job coming and stepping in, in his first couple of NHL games.”
In 35:32 minutes on the ice together, the Islanders have outshot their opponents 28-13, outscoring them 1-0. Seventy-five percent of their starts have been in the offensive zone, which helps their offensive numbers, but they have limited their opponents to just two high-danger chances, per NaturalStatrick.com.