New York Islanders : Power Play Woes
By Shane Blackburn
Sep 21, 2013; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders centerJohn Tavares
(91) carries the puck during the first period against the New Jersey Devils at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Islanders are off to a mediocre 2-2-2 start to the 2013-14 NHL season, including three losses in games that the team definitely could have, if not should have, won. There are many variables leading to the inconsistency of the Islanders’ play, but one aspect of their game that is a constant struggle is the power play.
Six games in with the Islanders continuing to struggle on their power play and with head coach Jack Capuano juggling the offensive lines, is it time to try something different with the man advantage?
How I See The Problem
There are a few issues that have caused the team’s power play to be inefficient, one of these issues is the most noticeable however, and has recently begun to bleed into even strength play as well. It seems that the Islanders are afraid to shoot the puck.
The Islanders’ power play is becoming increasingly frustrating to watch; someone will have a perfect opportunity to put the puck on net but instead they will look for the “cute, perfect” pass. This is a huge problem in any aspect of the game especially with the man advantage. This year’s team moves the puck extremely well and can easily create wide open opportunities, but when these opportunities arise an extra, unnecessary pass usually eliminates the scoring chance.
Currently the team lacks a quarterback to take control of the power play and set up shop the way the coaching staff wants them to. Lubomir Visnovsky is supposed to run the power play, but has been ineffective in this role. When you do not have a quarterback to lead your power play it makes it difficult for the unit to make the right decisions; someone needs to be in control.
Despite that he has been scratched for two straight games the time has come to end the four forward power play and bring Matt Donovan in and let him shine in a role he is comfortable with. Donovan lead Bridgeport defensemen in scoring last season and was third overall on the team.
Donovan has shown great offensive awareness as a defenseman and possesses the skill and decision-making to move the puck well enough to quarterback the Islanders’ power play.
Ideally a New York Islanders’ power play unit of John Tavares, Matt Moulson, Josh Bailey, Lubomir Visnovsky and Matt Donovan would be more effective than the power play is now.
John Tavares: (The Superstar) Self-explanatory, Tavares is the Islanders’ only superstar and possesses the ability to both place a pass perfectly on someone’s stick for a goal and snipe blow a shot past the goalie if the defense takes away his passing lanes. The key to finishing the power play.
Matt Moulson: (The Distraction) John Tavares’ favorite target, like Peyton Manning to Reggie Wayne, Moulson represents the big body he to take up space in front of the net during the power play and bury the puck when the moment arises.
Josh Bailey: (The Finisher) Last season Bailey proved his ability to many doubters that he has the ability to finish at an elite level. A power play combination of Tavares-Bailey could be deadly, if Tavares is able to draw defenders away from Josh and get him the puck Josh has been deadly enough to bury the puck more often than not.
Lubomir Visnovsky: (The Veteran) Visnovsky shows occasional signs of his old self with the ability to put the puck in the net and quarterback a power play, however it is time for him to relinquish that role and represent a great shot from the point with veteran experience, but diminished responsibility.
Oct 8, 2013; Uniondale, NY, USA; Players celebrate a goal by New York Islanders defenseman Matt Donovan (46) during the second period of a game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Donovan: (The Quarterback) Donovan represents the future of the New York Islanders’ blue line and what we can hope to expect for many years to come. Donovan possesses all of the tools required to be an elite power play quarterback, and the only way he will develop into one is to allow him to be one. Matt has a great shot that seems to find ways to the net as well as great hockey sense and vision with the puck. Donovan and Tavares splitting the duty of setting up the power play will make it much more difficult for penalty killers to defend.
Whether it be a personnel change or a philosophy change something has to give with the New York Islanders’ power play. It is only a matter of time before Capuano and the rest of the coaching staff look to retool and revamp it and hopefully get the team back on track in these crucial situations.
Sound off in the comments section below, we here at Eyes want to hear your opinions on the power play and the Islanders in general.
-Shane Blackburn (@ShaneBNHL)