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Cizikas slid under the radar during the postseason for a number of factors. First off, people are overwhelming unfamiliar with Islanders players since the organization has suffered so many lean years. He is also playing next to one of the NHL's great young superstars in John Tavares.
The 22-year-old center asserted himself throughout an opening-round series against top-seeded Pittsburgh. New York, a major underdog, took the Penguins to six games due in large part to his eye-opening play.
Cizikas provided a physical presence against established Pittsburgh veterans and starred in a Game 4 victory on home ice. He scored a goal and tacked on two assists in a 6-4 win that ultimately chased away Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for the remainder of the postseason.
Although it was hard not to be impressed by the Toronto native's wherewithal, the jury is still out on Cizikas. He simply didn't show enough consistency through 45 regular-season games (one shot on goal per contest) to warrant a ton of trust just yet.
If he can carry over a strong playoff debut into next season, the Islanders may have Tavares' second fiddle for years to come. At the very least, it appears Cizikas can fill the role of a highly capable rotational piece.
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