With only four wins in their first 11 games and an inconsistent offense that’s been hit and miss on any given night, it’s been a rough start to the season for the New York Islanders.
Looking for some answers, coach Jack Capuano has decided to break out the line blender for Saturday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers and the first one it churned out was a new winger on the top-line for center John Tavares.
That new winger: Grinding hit-machine Cal Clutterbuck.
Yeah. That’s right.
Andrew Ladd, still looking for his first goal of the season after signing a big contract in free agency, will skate with with Ryan Strome and Anthony Beauvillier on the second line, while Anders Lee and Jason Chimera will skate next to Brock Nelson on the third line.
The decision to put Clutterbuck on the top line is a curious one to say the least.
With a career high of only 34 points (and that was six years ago!) he has never scored like a top-line player (or even a second line player) and doesn’t really have the skill set that would seem to complement Tavares’ game.
But at this point Capuano seems to be willing to try anything after losing four out of the past five games.
For what it’s worth, Clutterbuck has spent 110 minutes in his career skating on Tavares’ wing and the results (in an admittedly small sampling) have not been great for the Islanders, getting outscored by a 7-4 margin and posting some pretty bad possession numbers.
We will see how it goes on Saturday. And how long it lasts.