Hudson Fasching had played eight games for the Islanders this season prior to Thursday. But not this version of Hudson Fasching.
The version of Fasching that entered the lineup for a banged-up Matt Martin in Seattle resembled the version of Fasching that entered the lineup for a banged-up Cal Clutterbuck last December.
That version of Fasching played straight-line hockey, forechecking and retrieving pucks with aplomb.
That version of Fasching was opportunistic, seizing chances to contribute offensively whenever they presented themselves and always seeming to play up ice.
That version of Fasching never left the lineup once he got in.
That version of Fasching contributed heavily to the Islanders’ 5-4 win over the Flames on Saturday, scoring his first goal of the season.
Nice to see him again.
“Obviously it’s great playing with those guys [Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas],” Fasching said after the game. “They’re hard-nosed players, they forecheck really well. Makes it predictable. Makes it easier to play with. You know where they’re gonna be. We’re a good forechecking line and we get the pucks back quite often. Make some plays off of it.”
Fasching’s comfort on the fourth line was evident last season, too.
But once Clutterbuck returned, he shuffled easily to the third line where his style of play meshed well with Zach Parise and Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
Those results have not been there this season when Fasching has gotten time on the third line with Anders Lee and Pageau. Martin, according to coach Lane Lambert, is currently dealing with an upper-body tweak, which conveniently allows for Fasching to play in his spot without making Martin a healthy scratch.
After the two games that Fasching played in Seattle and Calgary, though, coupled with the fact that the Islanders just broke a seven-game losing streak against the Flames, taking him off the fourth line on Wednesday against the Flyers would not seem to be in the offing, whether Martin is healthy or not.
“He’s got some speed there. He’s a headsy player,” Lambert said of Fasching after the win over Calgary. “A guy who sees the play well, protects the puck down low well. Scored a huge goal for us tonight.”
The goal came as a result of Fasching being at the right place at the right time, recovering a loose puck in the offensive zone and wiring it past Jacob Markstrom.
“I was just trying to settle it and tried to take a quick peak, make sure there wasn’t any blatant thing I was missing and then I just went for it,” Fasching said. “Took a shot. Feels good to get the first one. That one’s always fun to get out of the way.”
The Islanders’ crowded bottom-six always seemed as though it would threaten the Identity Line from being automatically inserted into the lineup every night. That reality is now coming to fruition.
“I try to play the same game regardless,” Fasching said, when asked if things are different for him on the fourth line than elsewhere. “I try to stay true to myself a little bit. I know their game, I know they’re gonna forecheck well. It’s a little more predictable, I guess.”
Fasching might be playing the same game, but it seems to fit better with Cizikas and Clutterbuck alongside him.
And this version of him, recall, does not take no for an answer when it comes to playing time.
“That’s the mentality of it and I always have to believe that and believe in myself,” Fasching said. “We got a good team. We rotate guys in and out. If I’m not in the lineup, it is what it is and I gotta find a way to get in and add value to stay in the lineup.”