The Islanders found out yesterday they will not play till at the earliest Saturday against Pittsburgh. And as I wrote yesterday this mini-break should give them time to reassess things, including the power play.
Problem is, the Islanders have been reassessing that part of the game for far too long now.
Itâ€™s basically their kryptonite.
The complaint for years now has always been they donâ€™t have a sniper. And itâ€™s true, they donâ€™t. But what catches the eye more is the teamâ€™s inability to have clean zone entries. That dynamic in itself has only brought upon more frustration from everyone who watches this team play.
Chatting with someone on this yesterday â€” and because head coach Barry Trotz said there would be an emphasis on special teams with the extra practice days this week â€” we agreed Noah Dobson could be the answer to their ongoing struggle.
With all due respect to Nick Leddy, whoâ€™s been at the forefront of the teamâ€™s power play for years, he just isnâ€™t cutting it anymore as the the carrier or facilitator of the puck. Do his rushes work sometimes? Yes. A majority of the time though he too struggles to get the right zone entry, thus leading the team to have to restart and see precious time tick off their chances. Itâ€™s not just him thatâ€™s the root of the problem. Several others who make up both clubâ€™s power play units try too hard or too little at times. Even Mathew Barzal isnâ€™t adverse to not this type of criticism.
But Dobson has the ability and the wherewithal to finally alter that, making the man-advantage just that, an advantage.
The Isles saw first hand in the Conference finals having to deal with Victor Hedman how much a puck-moving d-man on the power play can make the a difference. Dobson might be too early in his career to be compared to Hedman, but the same traits are there. Heâ€™s already taken on more responsibility this year with the absences of Devon Toews and Johnny Boychuk, and it seems he is hungrier for more. Plus, weâ€™ve already witnessed how smooth he is with the puck on his tape early on this season â€” which can be attributed to his excellent skating â€” and that he can facilitate, is not afraid to shoot and can find ways to transport the puck into the offensive zone; Dobson leads the team with three power play assists.
All of those aspects combined are what has plagued the Islanders and let them down in the biggest spots for years now.
make that TWO for Eberle! ?? pic.twitter.com/FbbSpedYC4
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) January 22, 2021
You would think changing coaches, strategies, the players who make up the groups could change their fortunes. It hasnâ€™t. Just on this latest road trip, the power play went a dismal 2-for-18. Overall this year, the Isles power play is 19th and converting at just 15.7%, according to covers.com.
When are things finally going to turn the corner?
It can start by the team leaning on Dobson to be essentially their â€œpower play quarterbackâ€.
The Athletic released their projections for next yearâ€™s Winter Olympics for the USA and Canada, and there is a little Isles flavor too it.
Mathew Barzal, who will most likely be a shoe-in for Canada, made the cut as a part of a star-studded, Hall of Fame group. While for the Americans, Anders Lee got the nod.
Thereâ€™s an debate to be had as to whether Brock Nelson should be in over Lee for his performance over the past two years.
Weâ€™ll know more about what Team USA will look like towards the end of this year.
UBS Arena announced its first musical act earlier this morning. The Weeknd will be headlining the building in April 2022. The caveat to the announcement was that the news was not tended to be the arenaâ€™s first show.
That will most likely be intended for Long Islandâ€™s own Billy Joel and will come before the Islanders take the ice there in October.