In a limited fourth-line role, New York Islanders forward Casey Cizikas continues to put up limited numbers as a serious glue guy.
Casey Cizikas has dazzled in his seven years with the New York Islanders—not in raw skill, but in hard hits and energy.
Cizikas’ personal traits on the ice help fans remember him regardless of his point totals. Hard hitting and fast skating are just a couple things that the fourth-liner is known for. His heart and energy that he brings in every shift is a major factor to his game. In some cases, timely goals as well, like that clincher in Game 4 against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2013 conference quarterfinals.
In that position, it isn’t his job to be the top point scorer on the team. That being said, he had a very low year in terms of points, even for Cizikas.
In just 64 games, the 27-year old finished with 17 points to go along with a minus-12 rating. He was also injured for part of the season. Compound that with a horrible year for the bottom-six in general and that explains his lack of production.
Cizikas, as good as he is in fulfilling that defensive forward role, over time, has barely been given a shot to succeed offensively. The center had a career-high 74.4 percent of his zone starts in the defensive zone. In part, that’s due to penalty killing, and it also shows that he is one of the more reliable penalty killers getting that many starts.
However, with 29 points in 2015-16 and 25 points in 2016-17, it’s clear that Cizikas has some offensive potential. Not all fourth liners snag more than 25 points. That potential will never be realized if the Islanders don’t give him a chance in the offensive zone. Perhaps craft a speedy third line focused on scoring to match one of his traits, just to try it out.
One of Cizikas’ best strengths is his face-off percentage. For years now, he’s been one of the team’s most consistent centermen hovering around 50 percent in every full season he’s played. In the 2017-18 season, he won 53.8 percent of his faceoffs, a career high. This last season was also the highest differential of faceoffs won vs faceoffs lost with 55.
Cizikas’ specialty teams play was also not ideal. He was on a penalty kill unit that finished dead last at 73.2 percent on the year. He and his linemates failed to kill off the man advantage and in addition to having the worst penalty kill percentage, the Islanders had the third most power play goals against in the NHL with 63 goals.
Final Grade: C
Overall, Cizikas had a bad year in terms of points. In the event he played a full season, Cizikas would’ve had 21 points. However, his faceoff percentage and overall defensive play weren’t bad. His role as a leader on the ice with the energy and physical play he brings might not always count on the scoresheet but it does count during the games. Cizikas is still one of the most consistent Islanders in the playoffs.