Michael Dal Colle was a standout for the New York Islanders on Saturday night.
You could say that the players of the game for the New York Islanders were Semyon Varlamov who stopped 28 of 31, or Jordan Eberle who lit the lamp twice. How about captain Anders Lee who scored a late power-play goal to give his team the win.
But the player that impacted this game the most was none other than Michael Dal Colle.
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The fifth overall pick back in 2014 has done very little on the offensive side of the puck over his three-plus years at the NHL level. The majority of his playing time has come on the third-line, where he is relied upon to go hard into corners and win some puck battles. It seemed like the offensive prowess that he showcased in juniors was not going to translate
Prior to the start of the season, I believed that it was a ‘make or break’ season for Dal Colle. And I still think that.
Coming into the game, Dal Colle had only dressed in two games due to injury as well as Head Coach Barry Trotz testing out his Taxi Squad. Over the first nine games of the season, it seemed that Kieffer Bellows and Oliver Wahlstrom may have been passing the fourth year NHLer on the depth chart.
Michael Dal Colle played the brand of hockey that his team needed in last night’s win.
But last night, Dal Colle got an opportunity to play on the second-line alongside Brock Nelson and Eberle, as this was a line that needed to get going. Dal Colle did his job and more to help his team win. The game’s first goal came off a sweet backhand shot by Eberle, who beat Tristan Jarry right under the bar. But the play by Dal Colle to feed him in stride created this goal.
It was a strong start for not just Dal Colle, but a second-line that has struggled through the Islanders’ first nine games. A few minutes after the Islanders allowed the tying goal off the stick of Pierre-Olivier Joseph (first of career), Dal Colle played a part in taking the lead back with 4:15 left on the clock in the opening frame.
Dal Colle, again, was able to win a puck battle and dish it to a teammate as he makes this play. Nelson found a way to get a hard shot off, with Eberle waiting for the rebound, which he buried. As the game came and went, Dal Colle not only picked up two assists, which were his first points of the season, he added a block and a takeaway in his 13:56 of TOI.
He also made intelligent hockey plays, whether it was getting puck deeps or sending pucks back to his defensemen. In the past, we may see Dal Colle wait too long and eventually turn the puck over. It was a complete effort by the 24-year old, one to build off of moving forward.
Trotz stated during the week that he was going to not mess with his lines too much. With Anthony Beauvillier still unavailable to go, Dal Colle needs to be on the second-line when the puck drops against the New York Rangers on Monday.
If we flashback to last year, Dal Colle did not have a great time against the Rangers, as Jacob Trouba up-ended him. But Michael Dal Colle has an opportunity, with consistent play, to stay in this New York Islanders lineup. If he can play Monday the way he played Saturday, he will be in this lineup more often than not moving forward.