New York Islanders Won’t have Success in the Playoffs if They Can’t Put in a Full Effort
With a handful of games remaining in the regular season, the New York Islanders are all but guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. Sports Club Stats now has the Islanders odds of making the postseason at 99.6%. The panic around making the playoffs can be put to rest. But there is something the Isles need to fix if they hope to make an impact this postseason.
On March 31st, the New York Islanders took on the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Barclays Centre. The game started off brilliantly for the Isles as they raced to a 3-1 lead before the first 20 was over.
Not only were they up by two goals, but they had outshot the Blue Jackets 15-2. The Islanders were dominating their opposition by the end of the first. A cumulative Corsi-for from Corsica.hockey shows just how dominant the New York Islanders were after the first 20. But notice how the tides turned.
A point of contention with the Islanders this season has been the effort. The Islanders have a hard time keeping up a consistent level for the full 60. This most recent game against the Blue Jackets highlights this criticism perfectly.
The drop off is clear. By the midpoint of the second period, the Blue Jackets were right back into the game. The comeback was capped off when Boone Jenner scored within the opening minute of the third to make the score 3-2. The momentum had firmly swung in Columbus’ favour.
The three goals the Islanders scored in the first were enough to see them to victory, barely. Luckily the opposition was Columbus, a team planted to the bottom of the standings in the NHL. The outcome could have been much worse if the Isles were facing a better team.
Enter the Penguins
Two days after the game against Columbus, the New York Islanders welcomed the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins to the Barclay’s Centre.
The game finished 5-0 for the Penguins. A total rout. The Islanders were simply outplayed everywhere on the ice, even on the special teams where the Islanders rank 2nd on the penalty kill in the league. After the game Islanders captain, John Tavares had some pointed remarks for his teammates.
The Islanders got away with a win against Columbus by just putting in a full shift for 20 minutes. Against Pittsburgh, their level of engagement, or lack thereof, was on full display.
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It’s not as though these games against Columbus and Pittsburgh were back-to-backs. Fatigue should not be the issue here. The Islanders had a full day between games to rest.
Account for Accountability
Back in February when teams came back from the All-Star break, New York Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano spoke to Newsday and told them that his players needed to be more accountable: “There’s got to be an accountability factor amongst the guys. It’s going to come from the coaches on who we put in the lineup, but if we’re going to have any success at all and we want to make a run at this, those guys have to hold each other accountable.”
It seems that old habits die hard for the Islanders. Calling out his teammates to the media Tavares is trying to keep hold them accountable. A full month after his coach first suggested that it be done. There’s no doubt that behind closed doors leadership, such as Tavares have been attempting to hold his teammates accountable. It just hasn’t yet sunk in.
Once in the playoffs, the message needs to stick. A single game with similar effort can cost the team a series. The Islanders haven’t passed the first round of the playoffs since the 92-93 season. A half-effort won’t work in the playoffs were only the elite clubs get to play. We’ll all wait to see what happens when the Islanders take on the Stamkos-less Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. Maybe the sense of a weakened opponent will get them to put in a full-shift.