New York Islanders: How the Islanders can Win Game 6

New York Islanders, Islanders

The New York Islanders are one win away from making the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 27 years. The problem is, the Philidelphia Flyers aren’t ready to roll over. The Islanders were atrocious in game 5. The Islanders cannot repeat that performance; there cannot be a game 7. There are some mistakes the Islanders need to fix if they want to take the next step to the dance of immortals.

Breakout Passes

The Islanders have a lot of trouble breaking out of their own zone, especially in overtime. This is an elementary problem that is an easy fix. But, this one simple problem could be the end of this Cinderella run. A breakout pass creates offense and takes the pressure off the defense. If a team can break out of their own zone, they most likely will live to see another shift. That’s two overtime’s in a row where a line got caught on a long shift, and the Isles paid the price. Barry Trotz isn’t stressing over the little things, but the teams who perfect the little things win championships. This problem is not about the system, it’s the players.

Faceoffs in Big Moments

The Islanders are loaded at the center position, and they win a lot of faceoffs in regular time. Once overtime came around, the Flyers won almost every faceoff. If you have JG Pageau, Brock Nelson, and Derick Brassard on the same roster, there is no excuse to lose multiple faceoffs in a row. That’s normally why the powerplay conversion percentage is so low. If you lose the faceoff, it takes another 20 seconds to get back into the offensive zone. The same thing goes for overtime; the Islanders must win more than half of the faceoffs.

Fighting Screens

The Flyers might have three actual goals all series. Every Flyers’ goal has been some sort of tip-in. There is way too much traffic in front of Semyon Varlamov. Varlamov is a great goalie who has been on fire, but it’s hard to stop a 101MPH slapshot when five guys are in your face. The Islanders need to start using their bodies more. Ryan Pulock, Anders Lee, and Matt Martin are all big guys who have to use their bodies more. If you can move people out of the crease, Varlamov will have a field day.

Conclusion

The Islanders need to shore up on the little things before they can think about the big things. It all starts with the fundamentals of the game. Barry Trotz will whip them into winning shape, so Isles fans, there is no need to worry.

New York Islanders: Reviewing heartbreaking Game 2 Loss

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders recently lost to the Philidelphia Flyers 4-3 in overtime to tie the series up at 1. That game was easily the most exciting game of the entire playoffs. Both sides, at one point, felt frustration and jubilation. The Islanders just weren’t awake early enough in the game, and it ultimately cost them their lead in this series. The Islanders won 40 minutes tonight, but that wasn’t enough. Why wasn’t it enough, and what did they do during the four periods?

1st Period

The Islanders dominated the first couple of minutes after the puck dropped. Semyon Varlamov even set a franchise record for the longest time without allowing a goal (previously held by Billy Smith). This wouldn’t matter though, as Kevin Hayes would bury one past Varlamov just minutes in. Before Isles fans could even process what happened, Kevin Hayes buries another goal short side. And just a couple minutes later, Travis Konecny scores to make it 3-0. Varlamov would get pulled and incomes Thomas Greiss. The rest of this period was just back and forth, and nothing happened.

2nd Period

The Islanders finally get on the board with a power-play goal from captain Anders Lee. This was very surprising considering the Islanders have a terrible power-play. Great pass from Mat Barzal and good use of the body from Lee. The rest of this period went back and forth yet again. There was a play where Ross Johnston got decked, but Brock Nelson made up for it.

3rd Period

This was possibly the most exciting 9 minutes in Islanders Hockey within the last ten years. Anthony Beauvillier had an insane goal, slipped right through the crack in Carter Hart’s stick side. Beauvillier continues to impress the entire NHL, and brings the Isles withing one from tying. The Flyers would continue to chip and chase while playing trap defense. The Flyers did not get any offense at all in the 3rd period. The Islanders continued to forecheck with that amazing “B” line, and it paid off for them. Josh Bailey and Adam Pelech hold the line, JG Pageau gets the puck… waits, fires, goal. Right over Carter Hart’s glove. Alan Vigneault challenges it for offsides, inconclusive evidence, can’t turn it over. Islanders get a power-play that, of course, does nothing, to overtime they go.

Overtime

The Islanders had no chances in overtime to score. The Flyers kept pounding and got lucky. Philippe Myers fires one from the blue line, tips off of Anders Lee, and the game ends. The Islanders clawed back, but it ultimately didn’t change the outcome of this game.

New York Islanders: Round 2 Matchup Breakdown

Ryan Pulock, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders will face off against the Philidelphia Flyers in round 2 of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This is an intriguing matchup for sure; both teams match up pretty evenly. The Flyers come into this series as the best team in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders come into this series as the underdog. Are the Flyers really the best team in the East? Are the Islanders really the underdogs in this series?

Forwards

During the regular season, the Flyers’ forward group was among one of the most dangerous in the league. Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Travis Konecny, and Kevin Hayes led this group of amazing forwards. Recently though, the Flyers’ top forwards have been slacking in production. Voracek leads the Flyers in points with 8. It’s not like they aren’t producing, they just aren’t living up to expectations.

The Islanders’ forward group is so very confusing. Josh Bailey leads the Isles in points with 10. 8 of those 10 points are assists; Bailey has quietly become one of the best passers left in the playoffs. Other forwards like Anthony Beauvillier, JG Pageau, and Brock Nelson continue to impress. Also, Mat Barzal has recently been picking his play up. I’d still give the advantage to the Flyers, though. The Isles forwards were a little too streaky during the season, but their playoff performances speak for themselves, though.

Defenseman

The Islanders would be the better defensive team even if it was Griffin Reinhart out there with Brian Strait. Barry Trotz makes the Isles the best defensive team. Especially with talented defenders like Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, and Devon Toews, the Isles might have the best defensive scheme in all of Hockey. Ryan Pulock has a booming slapper, while Adam Pelech has amazing stick play. Devon Toews is a fast two-way defender, and Scott Mayfield is an enforcer who can kill the power-play. Andy Greene and Nick Leddy are the two oldies who can still hold their own offensively and defensively. Yes, I know the Flyers have Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbhere, but they don’t have Barry Trotz. Isles are better defensively.

Goalies

This is a really even matchup for the goalies. Semyon Varlamov has been nothing short of spectacular as of late. Varlamov currently has a 1.59 GAA and a .935 save percentage with one shutout. Carter Hart has really anchored this Philly team and shown them the power of a good goalie. Hart boasts a 1.71 GAA and .943 save percentage with two shutouts. This means Varlamov is letting in fewer goals, but Hart is making more saves. This is a tie for me; both goalies are really good. I guarantee that whoever loses this series won’t be blaming it on their goaltender.

Conclusion

This is a good and close series—two teams, who have similar talents, facing off in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Neither team is hungrier than the other. May the best team win, and may the refs not be blind.

New York Islanders: Did Losing Game 4 Benefit the Islanders?

New York Islanders

Last year the New York Islanders got swept by the Carolina Hurricanes after sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Islanders were a game away from sweeping the Capitals this year. If the Isles won game 4, they would be the first team to officially make the second round. The first round is still going on, it either ends today or on Sunday. Rest is the enemy of a team that’s hot. The Islanders would’ve had at least five days of rest in between rounds if they swept. Isles fans saw how sloppy the team was after their elongated rest. I believe the Islanders will benefit from winning in 5 games.

The Benefits

This Islanders team is hot right now. Hotter than they’ve been in a while. For the first time in years, the Islanders are finally cup contenders. Players like Anthony Beauvillier, Josh Bailey, and Semyon Varlamov are on fire. Beauvillier has six goals and three assists during the playoffs.

Josh Bailey has recorded two goals and eight assists during the playoffs. These are some impressive performances for some unsung heroes. Speaking of unsung heroes, Semyon Varlamov is boasting a 1.59 GAA, and a .935 save percentage and most recently pitched a shutout. These players will continue to stay hot. Players like Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, and Mat Barzal will be able to find their rhythm. The Islanders need that first line to get hot. There’s a ton of benefits to lack of rest.

The Negatives

This team isn’t currently beaten up. Cal Clutterbuck is the only Islander with a confirmed injury, and he was a game-time decision yesterday. Just because there isn’t a confirmed injury doesn’t mean everyone is 100%. The playoffs are tough on everyone, especially the old bodies like Andy Greene. The Islanders will only have around three days to rest and recover. It’s not a long time, but it’s not a short time either. Three days should be enough for everyone to get healthy and ready to eliminate the Flyers/Bruins.

Conclusion

The Islanders will benefit from losing game 4. They still have enough time to rest and recover, but they haven’t been off the ice long enough to lose their hot streak.

New York Islanders: Onto the Real Round 1

New York Islanders, Barry Trotz

The New York Islanders beat the Florida Panthers today with a score of 5-1 and win the series 3-1. This is was not an unexpected outcome for NHL fans, but it was for “analysts.” The Panthers are not a playoff team right now and will have to rebuild a tad bit of their lineup to make that jump.

The Islanders dominated most of the periods during this series. The only thing the Islanders didn’t execute well on was the powerplay kill. This will be a focus of head coach Barry Trotz in the upcoming practices. Now that the Islanders won and will move on, what’s next for the team from the Island?

Scenarios

If the Montreal Canadiens win today’s game vs the Pittsburgh Penguins, they will win the series 3-1 and decide the Islander’s fate. The Islanders would play the winner of Boston Bruins vs Washington Capitals if the Canadiens win. If the Penguins win the series, the Islanders would play the loser of the Philadelphia Flyers vs the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Islanders can only play the 2nd or 3rd seed, but luckily for the Isles, they can play anyone.

Matchup Preference

I imagine that Barry Trotz is hoping to play the Capitals in round 1. It’s a familiar face, as Trotz was the former head coach of the Caps. Not only will it bring a second round birth for either team, but it will also bring bragging rights. If the Islanders win, the narrative is, “Trotz can beat any team with any team.”

If the Capitals win, the narrative is, “The Capitals didn’t need Trotz as much as we think they did.” The Islanders most likely don’t want to play the Bruins. The Bruins are the hardest team to beat in the league, even though they’ve lost their last two games. The Bruins have a superstar line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pasternak, with defenseman Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy backing them up. Along with Tukka Rask in net, the Bruins are not a team you want to run into in the playoffs.

Conclusion

The Islanders have clinched the playoffs for the second year in a row, and that’s something to be proud of. They lost their franchise center John Tavares and still found a way to win. Islanders’ fans can go to bed at night knowing that they finished farther than the Maple Leafs for the second year in a row.