Islanders’ Kyle Palmieri having strong season thanks to staying healthy


BUFFALO — Sometimes, the secret to a good season is a little bit anticlimactic.

Sometimes it is not about a better diet or a different routine but something as innocuous as never being on the wrong end of a bad hit.

Dumb luck, as much as everyone would like to pretend otherwise, has a pretty big role to play. Kyle Palmieri can tell you something about that.

Kyle Palmieri has played in all 64 of the Islanders game this season after suffering through two injury-prone seasons. Robert Sabo / New York Post

“I really think it’s just one of those things, you do the best to prepare yourself and some years, you’re just luckier than others,” Palmieri told The Post after the Islanders practiced Wednesday at KeyBank Arena, where they’ll face the Sabres on Thursday. “You look at some of the injuries to some of the other guys on the team — you can’t help if your bone breaks or anything like that. It’s part of the game and sometimes you’re fortunate enough to avoid some of those situations. Other times it’s really just part of the game.”

Palmieri, a year ago, was on the wrong end of that luck.

An otherwise solid season had a two-month interlude thanks to Palmieri taking a hit to the head, missing nearly a month, then taking a second hit to the head in his first game upon returning and missing another month.

That prevented Palmieri from playing a full season for the second straight year — he played 69 games in a 2021-22 season that took until the second half to get off the ground — and from reaching the 20-goal mark which he used to hit on an annual basis.

This year, knock on wood, he’s played all of the Islanders’ 64 games so far and hit the 20-goal milestone a few days ago in his old stomping grounds against the Ducks.

If he stays healthy, he’s got a decent shot at beating his career-high of 30, set in 2015-16 with the Devils.

Kyle Palmieri shoots a slap shot during the Islanders’ 3-0 loss to the Kings. AP

“Health is obviously a big part of it,” Palmieri said. “But some fortunate bounces. I think for the most part, a lot of those goals have come right around the net and plays like that. Just finding ways to be in the right spot and get the pucks that are bouncing to you. It’s something that I’ve worked on, obviously I’ve had a little bit of success with.”

Palmieri getting to the net is nothing new. But the lines he’s played with this season — first with Brock Nelson and Pierre Engvall and lately with Anders Lee and Jean-Gabriel Pageau — have been conducive to his style of play.

It doesn’t hurt either that he’s been stationed in the crease on the top power-play unit, but at five-on-five, the Islanders are averaging an extra 0.47 expected goals per 60 minutes with Palmieri on the ice, per HockeyViz, thanks mostly to his work around the net.

Kyle Palmieri celebrates after scoring a goal earlier in the season. Getty Images

“When you look at basically the two lines I’ve spent the most time with, I think for the most part it’s pretty simple and I’ve had to play a pretty simple game as far as getting north-south, attacking when we can,” Palmieri said. “Personally the way my game fits is possession’s awesome and moving around in the offensive zone, but at a point where you gotta attack the net, that’s at least my formula for how I try to be effective.

“I think both lines that I’ve spent the majority of the time with but both lines have been guys that complement each other in ways that are a pretty simple way to play the game.”

So maybe it’s not only a matter of luck and good health that’s resulted in Palmieri’s best season as an Islander.

“He’s around the net all the time,” coach Patrick Roy said. “He’s getting rewarded for it. It’s not every player in today’s hockey that goes around the net. He does it perfectly.”


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