Breaking down the real problem with the New York Islanders

New York Islanders, Barry Trotz

The New York Islanders have dropped 5 straight games and have only collected just 2 points in those games. In a regular season, there’s a chance you can come back from this. But, in an abbreviated season, there’s just no room for this much error. Who’s to blame for this skid? The production from the players? The lineups made by Barry Trotz? Or, is it the fact that the Islanders just lack talent overall? The answer is basically all three of these things combined.

Lack of Production

There are only a few players on this team who look like they actually want to win. Mat Barzal, Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, Noah Dobson, Ryan Pulock, and Adam Pelech. Every other lineup regular forgot that the season started 3 weeks ago. This does not include players like Kieffer Bellows, Austin Czarnik, and Oliver Wahlstrom, who all have played great in their limited chances. I don’t know what’s going to get through the heads of other players. If you cannot score, play good defense and check tightly. But no one else does that, so it’s basically a 19v6 every single night. Whenever Nick Leddy, Leo Komarov, and Ross Johnston take the ice, I cringe a lot. The Islanders need to find players who actually want to win.

Bad Coaching Decisions

I’m not taking away from how good of a coach Barry Trotz is, but his decisions have been questionable recently. For example, Leo Komarov takes a major penalty late in the third period, and the second he’s able to come back, he gets thrown out there with a minute left in a tied game. Komarov blows his assignment, as everyone knew he would, and costs the Isles 2 points. Then the next game, Komarov gets bumped up to top-six minutes. If I’m the coach, I know exactly how I’m rolling out these forwards. Lee-Barzal-Eberle, Bellows-Nelson-Cznarik/Dal Colle, Wahlstrom-Pageau-Bailey, fourth line. Obviously, when Beauvillier comes back, he’ll take out Cznarik or whoever is skidding.

Lack of Talent

Nick Leddy is an AHL talent at this point in his career. Leo Komarov is going to be in an old folk’s home soon. Ross Johnston is just a UFC fighter on skates. Scott Mayfield is as average as it possibly gets. I do like his penalty kill play, though. Everyone else is just playing bad, so I won’t get on their case, but still, this team lacks talent. And it’s not like they can get out of this rut anytime soon because they don’t have cap space. This year you have to resign the white whale, the best defender on the team, and a top 6 forward, plus more. The Islanders must make a blockbuster trade now.

New York Islanders: 3 takeaways from loss to Capitals

New York Islanders, Mat Barzal

The New York Islanders lost to the Washington Capitals in regulation after poor backchecking cost them a chance at victory. Leo Komarov made his season debut last night, and boy, did the Capitals feel his impact.

He gifted them a 5-minute major that turned the momentum late in the 3rd period. And then, with only 26 seconds left, Komarov decides to not backcheck, and the Capitals score. First of all, Barry Trotz should not have someone like Leo Komarov out there with a minute left. Second of all, Leo Komarov plays mainly because of his penalty-killing ability, but he never gets to kill one because he’s always in the box. Hockey is a team game, and the Isles didn’t lose just because of Komarov. So, what did NHL fans learn from last night’s game?

The First Line is the Only Line

You cannot expect to win a hockey game when you only have 8 real players on the ice at all times. Other good teams, like the Bruins, have 19 real players available. The Islanders have both their first lines, Noah Dobson and whichever goalie is in.

It’s physically impossible for them to win consistently if half the team doesn’t perform. There needs to be a switch-up in lines. I would like to see JG Pageau get some help for once. Put Josh Bailey on the third line with Pageau and Wahlstrom. Also, have Michael Dal Colle replace Anthony Beauvillier on the second line until he comes back. MDC, Brock Nelson, and Kieffer Bellows on the second line. Keep everything else the same.

Noah Dobson Will be a top defenseman in the League

It’s always amazing to see a young star in the making. When I saw players like Odell Beckham Jr, Patrick Mahomes, and Mat Barzal become superstars, I always was smiling ear to ear when they played. I get the same feeling when I see Noah Dobson play.

Dobson has only played 40 official NHL games in his young career, but he plays like he’s played 300. Dobson is calm with the puck, he’s strong in the corners, and he shoots at will. Trotz has always said when you’re outside the dots, shoot for your teammates, and that’s what Dobson does. Noah Dobson will be a top 20 defender in the league in 2 years’ time.

Nick Leddy Must be Moved

The Nick Leddy trade was a great trade, the keyword is was. Nick Leddy is a shell of his former self, and he’s dragging Scott Mayfield down with him. Leddy puts no pressure on forwards and misses his man almost every time. The only thing he has left is his speed and his shot. The Islanders need a real defenseman to pair with Scott Mayfield. Maybe the Keith Yandle rumors heat up? Or maybe the Islanders take a shot at Vince Dunn, who was placed on the trade block recently.

New York Islanders: Analyzing last night’s Loss to the Devils

New York Islanders, Noah Dobson

The New York Islanders did it again, they made a backup goalie look like a franchise one. There were so many problems in last night’s performance. Problems such as not marking forwards, puck control, shots on net, rebound control, easy passing, and so much more. The Islanders have yet to play well when Ilya Sorokin is in between the pipes. Not a single goal for in Sorokin’s two starts this season. I only blame Sorokin for the second goal last night.

The rebound was way too juicy, should’ve been controlled or frozen. But, I also can put the blame on Casey Cizkas for overpursuing Nikita Gusev and Nick Leddy not marking his man. Hockey is a team sport, and a team can only win together. What were the strong points and weak points from last night’s loss?

Strong Points

Noah Dobson played very well last night apart from one small little pass on the power play. If Dobson and Pulock can get their chemistry down pat, the first line power play could become dangerous.

One thing I really like about Dobson’s game is the fact that he shoots so very often. Good things happen when the puck gets on the net, and Dobson understands that. Next, Adam Pelech had another sensational performance. Pelech could be a top 3 player in every game this season if he continues this type of play. Pelech is impressive and the glue that holds the team together. Finally, Ilya Sorokin played well if you forget the rebound on the second goal. Sorokin is pretty quick from pipe to pipe. I think with proper Islander play, Sorkin could shine.

Weak Points

Scott Wedgewood is not as good as the Islanders made him look. It’s just a fact, no hate on Wedgewood at all. The Islanders only challenged Wedgewood maybe twice last night. The only type of shots the Islanders took last night was chest shots and leg shots with no rebound guy.

Jordan Eberle and Casey Cizikas both missed empty-net goals. A professional Hockey team cannot score consistent goals if they aren’t grinding for them. The defense looked a bit lost last night. The forwards couldn’t control the puck well enough. Finally, the Islanders got beat at their own game. They got trapped in the neutral zone—a terrible performance in a shortened season where every point counts.

New York Islanders: 3 takeaways from win over Devils

New York Islanders, Mat Barzal

The New York Islanders prevail victorious once again after beating the New Jersey Devils with a score of 4-1. Everyone criticizes the Islanders’ ability to score, or lack thereof, but they scored in bunches last night. Yes, it does help to play against a goalie who hasn’t played in the NHL in 3 years. But Scott Wedgewood held his own and gave the Devils every chance to level the game, his defenders let him down. Lindy Ruff plays aggressive Hockey with his defenders. They normally pinch up way farther than any other team, and this leads to 2v1’s. The Islanders literally only score on 2v1’s. Nevertheless, it was a complete performance last night and proved many things to the fans.

Mat Barzal Can Shoot

When people look at the Islanders’ roster on paper, they say, “there’s no one who can score 30+ goals”. Enter a confident Mat Barzal, who is now shooting the puck. When Barzal shoots, the world stops for a second, and the other team prays it doesn’t go in. Last night, he walked down a defender and just sniped one into the toy department to open the scoring. Barry Trotz kept talking about how Barzal could have a 30 goal season, well if he keeps this play up, he certainly will.

Jordan Eberle is Getting Hot

Jordan Eberle has this ability to either be a top goal scorer for the Islanders’ or just completely forget how to shoot. This year, Jordan Eberle decided it’s time for him to play like playoff Eberle against the Penguins. When Eberle gets hot, it’s very hard to stop that first line. Mat Barzal laps the zone, hands it to Eberle, Eberle shoots it, and Lee taps the rebound in. That’s how this line works. This line is almost dependent on good o-zone play from Eberle. Also, I can’t forget to mention how good he’s played in the neutral zone. Stripping pucks and making hits, Trotz has to love it.

Pulock and Pelech are a Top Defensive Pairing

I don’t care if your a Ranger fan, or an Islander fan, or just a Hockey fan in general, if you do not believe that Pulock and Pelech are a top pairing, you simply don’t watch Hockey. These two defenders play so differently, but they complement each other really well. Pulock is that tough big man with a slapshot from hell and has great board control. Pelech is a smaller guy, but still big, and pokes nearly everything in his way. Jack Hughes has been a roll these past couple of games, these two defenders held him to 0 shots on the net. The two are a top pairing in the league, and it’s time they get their respect.

New York Islanders: It’s time for Oliver Wahlstrom to play

The New York Islanders have only played 3 games this season but have the same problem as last season. They can’t seem to figure out how to put the puck in the back of the net consistently. I know the Isles scored 4 goals against the Rangers in the first game. But, in the last 120 minutes of gameplay, they’ve only scored 1 goal.

The Islanders aren’t going to go make a trade for a top goal scorer. So, this player must come from inside the system. The answer is obviously Oliver Wahlstrom. No other winger has goal-scoring abilities as Wahlstrom has. Where would he fit in the lineup, though? Also, how would this impact the current gameplan?

Replace Ross Johnston

Ross Johnston’s best ability is his physicality, and this is a known fact. But he only has 11 hits in 3 games this season. The fourth line has been doing their thing and together have 27 hits in 3 games.

Even Kieffer Bellows has 10 hits in 3 games. It’s not like the Islanders need more checking. They need more goal scoring. And I also believe the reason why the third line gets a lack of minutes compared to the other lines is the fact that Ross Johnston is on it. I’m not calling him completely useless. But, as a wise man once said, “Johnston can do nothing just as much as he can do something.”

The Positives of the Change

When good players get the puck in space, there’s a scoring chance to be had. And when the puck gets on the net, good things happen. The third line takes the fewest amount of shots on net, with just 5 all year.

The puck needs to get on the net, and with a crafty player like Wahlstrom, it most certainly will. Teams don’t know how to gameplan for Wahlstrom. But, they know how to stop Johnston and make him slip up. All the Isles need is a confidence boost. If the Islanders can get Bellows and Wahlstrom to feel comfortable, the third line can be one of the deadliest in the league.

New York Islanders: Analyzing the win against the Boston Bruins

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have put themselves back in the win column after squeezing past the Boston Bruins. This is the Islanders’ first home win against the Bruins in 8 years. The Islanders only managed to put the puck behind Tukka Rask once. But, they only needed one goal to win, as Semyon Varlamov played another excellent game. Varlamov has played so well this season that he now holds the Islanders franchise record for most minutes played without a goal allowed.

Statistically, Varlamov is the best goalie in the NHL right now, holding a 1.000 save percentage and a 0.00 GAA. There was some great play from a few players, and also some bad play from a few players. The Islanders will be analyzed as a team through each period, not by individual performances.

First Period

The Islanders just looked absolutely rusty in the first period. Only 2 shots on net all period, and not much offensive zone time at all. There were a bunch of turnovers committed, and the defensemen couldn’t hold the blue line to save their lives. The only player who shined in this first period was, of course, Semyon Varlamov. He stopped all 10 shots that came his way and just overall looked very calm in between the pipes. Also, the penalty kill looked very good again.

Second Period

This felt like the fastest period I’ve ever seen in Hockey. I’m not saying that the time went off the clock very quickly. But, the tempo was increased dramatically. There was no whistle for over 3 minutes at one point. Chances back n’ forth for each team, none of them converting, and the Islanders missed the net on almost all their chances. It was a setup period for what happened in the third.

Third Period

The Islanders finally pieced it all together in this period. It’s hard to beat a team where everyone is giving 100% on every single shift. Players like Anders Lee, Adam Pelech, and even Jordan Eberle gave it everything they had. Cal Clutterbuck hit everything in his vision. Matt Martin surpassed 3,000 career hits, putting him in the top 5 of hits among active players. Varlamov continued to be solid in between the pipes. The forwards jumped up in the neutral zone to force turnovers, and the defensemen pinched up behind them. This all led to the lone goal of the night, a J.G. Pageau tip-in. Sometimes all you need is a lucky bounce to win, I’m sure the Islanders are glad that it went their way.

New York Islanders: Predictions for the 2021 season

 Anthony Beauvillier , New York Islanders

The New York Islanders season finally begins tonight after a 3-month layoff since their last game. I just want to say what a great job the NHL has done handling Coronavirus. Not a single league, other than maybe the UFC, has handled COVID-19 better than the NHL.

Back to the Islanders. This 2021 Islanders team is basically the same team as the 2020 team, but it feels different. With additions of Ilya Sorokin and other 3rd liners. The development of Noah Dobson, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Kieffer Bellows. This team, on paper, looks better than the 2020 team, even without Devon Toews. Hockey is finally back, and with a new season comes new predictions.

Top New York Islanders predictions for the 2021 season:

Mat Barzal Bounces Back

It’s weird when a pro-athlete scores 60 points in 68 games, and it’s a down year. But this just shows how talented Mat Barzal really is. My biggest critique of Barzal at one point was the fact that he never shot the puck. Barzal would always pass it to someone who was covered instead of taking an open shot. Barzal only took 170 shots last year, he needs to take around 220 in a full season. But then the playoffs came, and he finally started shooting the puck. And when a dangerous player gets the puck on the net, good things happen. With a good backcheck and some more effort on defense, it looks like Barzal could become a top center in this league.

Anthony Beauvillier Leads the Team in Goals

This is somewhat of a bold prediction due to the goal scoring talent at the center position. Brock Nelson, JG Pageau, and Mat Barzal are normally the ones who lead the team in scoring. But, there’s something undeniable in the way that Beauvillier plays. He’s a baby flame who’s just getting ready to scorch the whole house. With linemates like Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson, there’s a big possibility that this can happen.

Adam Pelech gets in the Norris Trophy Race.

Adam Pelech has been the Islanders’ best-kept secret for the longest time. Pelech is probably the most underrated defenseman in the entire league. I would go as far as to say that Pelech is the most important player on the team. The Islanders slumped so terribly when Pelech got hurt the Isles went 10-13-7 and let up around 3 goals a game. But, when Pelech’s healthy, they went 25-10-3 and let up only around 2.5 goals a game. If the Norris trophy actually focused on defense, Pelech would’ve won it by now.

Ilya Sorokin Wins the Calder

The rookie of the year goes to the 25-year-old Ilya Sorokin. There’s actually zero doubt in my mind about this. The only thing that may be holding him back is the fact that Varlamov is the starter. Sorokin was the best goalie outside of the NHL. Now that he’s here, I don’t know if anyone can stop him.

New York Islanders: Transactions from January 13th

Andrew Ladd, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders are just a day away from their season opener against the New York Rangers. As training camp closes out, the NHL requires all 31 teams to hand in an official roster. Now, obviously, things are subject to change, not everything is set in stone just yet. There were definitely some shocking moves made within the past 24 hours in the Islanders organization. Which move was the most shocking, and which move didn’t mean anything?

Waiver Wire

As I’ve stated before, Josh Ho-Sang and Mason Jobst were both placed on waivers on Sunday. Both of them actually cleared and will report to Bridgeport. Andrew Ladd was also placed on waivers and went unclaimed. Leo Komarov and Dmytro Timashov were waived, but it’s a paper transaction. What I mean by this is that they are still on the team, but due to cap restraints, they had to be waived. Don’t be worried, Isles fans, Timashov has a contract. Finally, Bode Wilde and Samuel Bolduc were sent to Bridgeport.

Taxi Squad

The taxi squad is a new addition to the NHL due to COVID-19. The Islanders placed Kieffer Bellows, Austin Cznarik, Otto Koivula, and Jakub Skarek on the squad. Again, the Bellows move is a paper transaction, will most definitely be on the third line tomorrow night. Corey Schneider is not under contract yet, so he cannot be on the squad. Look for him to sign within the next 3 days. I also believe that Sebastian Aho will join this squad and maybe Oliver Wahlstrom.

Extra Notes

The Islanders placed Michael Dal Colle on injury reserve. At this time, Lou Lamoriello has not commented on Dal Colle’s situation. Lamoriello has stated that he is perfectly fine with Johnston and Martin on the ice every night. He sees no redundancy. Trotz stated that Wahlstrom and Bellows playing together is a possibility and may happen later this season. Finally, Thomas Hickey will be the 7th defender.

New York Islanders: Reaction to Mat Barzal’s new contract

New York Islanders, Mat Barzal

The day all New York Islander fans have been waiting for is here. Franchise center Mat Barzal has finally re-signed. It’s been months of questions, and none of these questions have been answered until today.

Barzal signs a 3-year deal worth $7 million dollars per. It’s a bridge deal, which everyone expected, and it ends in 2023 when the Isles are out of cap trouble. Barzal’s contract breakdown reads as such: $3 million dollars in 2021 plus an extra $1 million dollars for signing. $7 million dollars in 2022, and $10 million dollars in 2023. Barzal has missed 4 days of training camp so far. Will, the lack of preparation hurt Mat Barzal’s performance?

Barzal’s Preparation

Mat Barzal is a professional Hockey player. Do you really think he wouldn’t be prepared to play? Barzal has been skating with former Islanders, Dennis Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk. Along with current Islander, Tom Kuhnhackl. Barzal was also skating around with different NHL players before training camp began.

When people prepared for something the way Barzal has, they care about that something. Mat Barzal stated in an interview today that he loves Long Island and never thought about going anywhere else. He also stated that the negotiations were very fair for both sides, and he knows he has to work on his consistency.

Barzal’s Performance

My coach, Matt Johnson, also said, “big players make big plays in big-time games.” Well, today wasn’t a big-time game, but Barzal made some big plays. In just two shifts, Barzal managed to score two goals and make Noah Dobson look lost. There’s no denying the talent that Barzal possesses, but there definitely was some concern about performance after missing four training camp days. It’s time to put those rumors to rest; Barzal looks perfectly fine. All he has to do is back check better, and the long term deal with the Isles he wants will be on the table in 2023.

New York Islanders: Tom Kuhnhackl signs a PTO

New York Islanders, Tom Kuhnhackl

The New York Islanders have successfully retained another one of their free agents not named Mat Barzal. Yesterday, it was reported that Tom Kuhnhackl was on the training camp roster. But, just like his teammate Mat Barzal, Kuhnhackl did not take the ice. This was either due to the fact that he didn’t sign a contract yet or his shoulder wasn’t ready to go.

It seems as if it was the second reason as the Islanders announced that Kuhnhackl signed a PTO. What is a PTO? It’s basically a professional tryout, it’s what Mike Hoffman signed last week with the St. Louis Blues. In the case of the Isles, Kuhnhackl signed a PTO because they need to sign Barzal first. Then they will use the rest of their money to sign Kuhnhackl. What does Kuhnhackl bring to the Islanders?

Great Forechecking

Tom Kuhnhackl never played better Hockey than when the Isles played the Panthers in the play-in round. His forechecking was outstanding, the third line was the best line in that series for this reason. They gave the opposition absolutely no time to get settled and set up a play. Kuhnhackl created a couple of goals based on his board play in the offensive zone. Kuhnhackl always gives his all in every single game, and this team needs more of that effort. I believe that Kuhnhackl could definitely take that Left-Wing spot on the third line once again.

Leadership

The Islanders don’t need more veterans who can teach the young guns, but that’s what Kuhnhackl is. Kuhnhackl is a winner, he won 2 Stanley Cups in back to back years with the Pittsburgh Penguins. In fact, Kuhnhackl has never missed the playoffs in his NHL career. Kuhnhackl brings a winning mentality and knows how to get it done in the playoffs.