New York Islanders: Production is needed from new players

Kyle Palmieri, islanders

The New York Islanders clinched a playoff spot with their dominant win over the New York Rangers on Saturday. Off of the hangover, the Islanders blew a 2 goal lead to the worst team in the league. I will not blame individual players, but something has to be done about Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac. Both of these newly acquired players are not living up to their playing abilities at all. Travis Zajac has become a 13th forward, as he lost his starting spot to Leo Komarov. While Kyle Palmieri is on a total dry streak and looks totally out of place most of the game. What is the solution to finally get these players rolling before the playoffs come along.

First Line Time For Palmieri

I still don’t understand how Leo Komarov/Travis Zajac,/Josh Bailey all got first-line minutes before Kyle Palmieri. Head coach Barry Trotz loves running the first line with a true power forward and 2 elusive playmakers. Kyle Palmieri is literally the definition of a power forward, so it makes no sense why the Islanders won’t at least try the combination. Mat Barzal’s play-making abilities, mixed with Jordan Eberle’s good Hockey sense, could definitely catapult Palmieri’s production. Islander fans saw Anthony Beauvillier revive his season when Trotz brought back the second line from last year’s playoffs. I don’t see why Palmieri being on the first line won’t do the same.

What About Zajac?

Travis Zajac was brought to the Island just in case another forward went down. JG Pageau took last night’s game off due to injury, and Zajac was brought in to clean up the third line. Zajac played as bad as Ross Johnston does. If Zajac played at least decent last night, I bet he would’ve taken Komarov’s spot, who took 2 penalties. Zajac high-sticked a Sabres’ player when the net was empty, on purpose. Never won a single 1v1 battle. It totally stunted the momentum of the third line. To sum it up, Zajac can either pick it up when he gets another chance, or he can find his way into free agency quickly.

New York Islanders: Lineup changes must be made

Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders are doing their signature late regular-season skid right now. The problem is, within this division, with these great teams, there is no room for a skid. The Islanders have 7 games left, and 4 of them are easily winnable. If the Islanders can’t sneak out at least 6 points from 4 games against the Devils and Sabres, they shouldn’t be in the playoffs. The other three games are against their archenemy, the New York Rangers, and the big bad Boston Bruins.

The Islanders have a clear shot into making the playoffs, all they have to do is beat the Rangers in regulation twice. These lines that Barry Trotz has been putting together as of late haven’t been cutting it. I think tonight’s lineup should read as such.

First Line

Mat Barzal is never coming off of the first line, he’s the best player on the ice at all times. Barzal needs to get going, 13 straight games without a goal aren’t going to cut it. The Islanders traded for a power forward who can snipe and is used to playing first-line minutes. Kyle Palmieri needs to be on the first line for at least 3 games before Trotz switches it up again. On the right-wing, I think Jordan Eberle still earns his spot there. He’s really been playing solid Hockey, he just needs a little help from his linemates.

Second Line

Oliver Wahlstrom should be playing every single night regardless of his play from the prior night. Trotz is hurting the younger kids’ development by sitting them every time they make a mistake. You cannot play good Hockey if you’re afraid to mess up. Wahlstrom should be accompanied by Brock Nelson, the two are a perfect fit. Nelson loves slashing to the net and dangling around defenders, why not give him someone who can rip it into the toy department from the faceoff circle. The right-wing on this line is a little sketchy. Travis Zajac needs to step his play up. For a forward line to work, all 3 guys must be on their toes and moving. Zajac moves in slow motion.

Third Line

I have no idea why Trotz broke up the line of Anthony Beauvillier, JG Pageau, and Josh Bailey. That line just works to perfection for some reason. Pageau winning faceoffs and cutting to the net mixed with Josh Bailey’s good passing and Beauvillier’s speed is a nightmare for defenders. This line just works, and there is no reason to move any of these guys.

Fourth Line

The energy line will remain the energy line. These guys play really well together when things are clicking. But, they shouldn’t be relied upon to get a goal. I still think Clutterbuck, Martin, and Cizikas have another year left together.

New York Islanders: Potential trade targets at the deadline

The New York Islanders are back in the trade market once again. But, this time, it’s not because of players underperforming or attitude problems. Just recently, it’s been announced that captain Anders Lee is out for the season with a lower-body injury and has been placed on LTIR. The Isles have been given his $7m cap hit in relief of this. This is the first time in a long time that the Islanders have cap room to go out and get a guy. These are 3 of my under-the-radar options. This list won’t include guys like Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmeri, or Fillip Forsberg. 

Rickard Rakell, F, Ducks

Rickard Rakell is just an awesome player. Rakell has shown that he can score 30+ goals and match that goal number with assists. He’s just about reaching the best of his playing days, and it’s about time for a change of scenery. He’s the best option for the Islanders out of the 3 in my mind. Rakell has got a cheapish cap hit, and he’s a gifted offensive player. The problem is, it’s gonna take a good amount to get him. Probably a high-level prospect, a first-round pick, and maybe even more. Also, the Islanders would have to sign him to a long-term deal very shortly. Rakell currently has 19 points in 30 games this season while playing on a line with a rookie and a 35-year-old center.

Bobby Ryan, F, Red Wings

Bobby Ryan is literally the perfect option if Anders Lee comes back for the playoffs. Ryan has revived his career, and no one has noticed cause he’s in Detroit. He’s a cheap player on a minimum deal, it won’t take much to get him. Ryan battled a lot of demons in Ottawa, but he’s found his footing in Detroit. I believe with the right system, aka Barry Trotz’s system, and the right players around him, aka JG Pageau and Oliver Wahlstrom, Ryan can return to his early Ottawa playing days. The trade for Ryan would be as cheap as it gets, probably just a mid-level pick. Ryan currently has 13 points in 28 games this season.

Tanner Pearson, F, Canucks

Tanner Pearson has the stats and the cups to prove to you why he should be traded for. There is almost no explanation on why you shouldn’t get him other than the fact that he’s been having a down year, but the Vancouver Canucks just flat out suck right now. I don’t know how much it would take to get him, but I can see the Canucks taking a player like Komarov back the other way to get the deal done. Isles would most likely have to throw a prospect and a second-round pick as well into the mix. What do you think about these under the radar, guys?

New York Islanders: Revisiting the Jean-Gabriel Pageau trade

Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Islanders

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the New York Islanders trading for Jean-Gabriel Pageau. This trade may go down as one of the biggest highway robberies ever committed by any NHL team ever. Pageau has not only been a top performer on the Islanders, but he’s also one of the most annoying players to play against in the league. Pageau does it all, he’s on the penalty kill, he can dangle through 3 defenders, he can snipe in the toy department. It’s almost like having Mat Barzal, Casey Cizikas, and Brock Nelson combine into one complete center. No, I’m not saying that Pageau is the Islanders’ best or most complete center, but he has been undeniably great. What is Pageau’s impact? And what did the Islanders give away for him?

Pageau’s Impact

The New York Islanders had a huge problem last year and going into this year. They couldn’t score goals, and they had no money to get someone to do it. Enter Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who scores some of the best goals I’ve ever seen. It seems that he can score from almost anywhere. Currently, Pageau is tied for 2nd in points with 11 and tied 2nd in goals with 7. The fact that Pageau continues to play at the top of his game with new linemates every other game is something no other player an do. Not only can he score, but he’s insanely reliable on the faceoff. Pageau currently ranks 13th in the league in faceoff percentage with a 57.4% win rate. That’s why you see him double shift at the end of games and when the fourth line is out there late in the game.

What did the Islanders Trade Away?

The Islanders traded away their first and second-round pick in the 2020 NHL draft. They also had a conditional third going to the Senators if the Isles won the Stanley Cup. These picks ended up being late-round picks. I’m not going to say that good teams should trade away their first-rounders every year. But, if you are truly committed to the win now, you should definitely look into trading one or two of them. To put it simple, what did the first-rounder do in the NHL that the player you traded for hasn’t? The answer, nothing cause they haven’t played yet.

New York Islanders: The Josh Ho-Sang experiment is over

The New York Islanders drafted Josh Ho-Sang with the 28th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. It seemed like a sure-fire hit, as Ho-Sang ripped it up in the OHL and the GTHL U16. Sadly, Josh Ho-Sang never reached his first-round potential. It seemed like in 2016 that he was about to hit his stride and make a name for himself in the NHL. He was one of the most excitable players on the Islanders, behind Tavares, of course. But, his exciting play does not equal good performances, and it certainly doesn’t make up for office actions.

Ho-Sang’s attitude has prevented him from being a star, and it was one of the main reasons he got picked so late in the draft. Recently, Ho-Sang was dropped from his SHL team due to a lack of talent and preparation. What’s next for the young forward?

Waivers

Josh Ho-Sang cannot be on the Islanders for another minute, even a minute seems like I’m pushing it. The Islanders preach no turnovers, with hard checking and tight defense. Ho-Sang literally does none of these. He’s almost always turning the puck over in the offensive zone because he tries to do too much. If Ho-Sang just used his teammates and skated off the puck better, and actually played sound defense, he would be a good top 9 forward in the NHL.

Better Coaching

Barry Trotz and his current staff is the best coaching staff in the entire NHL. But, Ho-Sang needs a different type of coaching/system. He needs to go to a team like the Coyotes or the Jets where he can just let his natural talent flow. He’s a good player, everyone knows he is, but he needs to act like he wants to play. Come to training camp on time, never oversleep, be a good teammate, and do not criticize the organization he’s with. Every Hockey fan is rooting for Ho-Sang to become who he should be, but he needs to help himself.

New York Islanders: 3 stars from victory over the Penguins

New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have finally found themselves back in the win column after dropping 5 straight games. The Islanders needed to gain confidence and win in regulation, they accomplished both tasks. Overall I think it was a very mediocre performance from the Isles, but a win is a win. Nick Leddy and Scott Mayfield need to be taken off of the second d-pairing line. I don’t know if it’s because of endurance or maybe lack of chemistry, but they always look lost out there. It also makes no sense that Noah Dobson is getting bottom-pairing minutes. Then again, this team does make a lot of questionable decisions, such as giving Leo Komarov his 50th chance to prove his worth. Again, a win is a win, and there were some great performances from last night’s win. Who will be featured in the top 3?

Jordan Eberle

Jordan Eberle has found his stride very early into the season, something he literally never has done before. Eberle is playing 200 feet, and when you create turnovers in the neutral zone, good things happen. Eberle has an arsenal of toe-drags and dekes to beat out almost any defender. His backhand shot is easily one of the most dangerous shots on the team. But, what I’m most impressed by is his commitment to checking. Eberle has been very tight with his checking, and it looks like he’s everywhere at once. It’s always good to see an older guy with a lot of pep in his step.

Michael Dal Colle

The NHL might have to drug test Dal Colle because he has been playing the best hockey I’ve seen him play since his OHL days. I’ve been so harsh on Dal Colle for his entire career, but it looks like he finally found his stride. The one thing I love about Dal Colle is the energy he plays with. Dal Colle does not waste a single second in any shift. He is always forechecking or backchecking, and now his puck skills have developed, and he’s able to set up big offensive zone chances. Look for Dal Colle to cement his place on the third line when Anthony Beauvillier returns.

Cal Clutterbuck

I think the fourth line, aka the energy line, should be disbanded after this season. I don’t see the same speed or aggressiveness I saw in these players throughout their entire careers, especially with younger guys like Simon Holmstrom, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Kieffer Bellows ready to make the NHL jump. That’s exactly what I said to myself seconds before Clutterbuck scored the game-tying goal. It almost looked as if they blew the rush and walked away with no shot. And somehow, Clutterbuck found the back of the net and made it even. I still stand by what I said, but it wouldn’t hurt to keep Clutterbuck around.

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: 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.