The New York Islanders are just a few games into their season and already some patterns are starting to emerge.
Three minutes into the New York Islanders’ third game of the season Anders Lee won a battle along the offensive boards, on the bench side of the ice, against the Anaheim Ducks. It did not lead to a goal or even a scoring chance. So why was it so significant?
Up to that point in the season, Lee had not won a single wall battle. Not one. In a little over thirty attempts, he hadn’t come away from the boards with a puck a single time. It is one of the stats I would be keeping if I were keeping stats for an NHL team. (Which I actually did for three seasons)
Here’s another stat I would be keeping. What happens to the puck after a specific player touches it. It’s a pretty simple stat to figure out. For every time a player has possession, he gets a plus if the next player to touch it is a skater on his own team or if he has a shot on goal. He gets a minus if the next player is an opposing player or an icing.
Keep in mind, if you put a potted plant at center ice, it could probably score about 50 percent in this stat category. Pucks would careen randomly to players on each team.
In that same game, against the Ducks, Alan Quine was down around 14 percent. Albeit a small sample size, in that one game, by this one measure, Alan Quine was way worse than an inanimate object.
Opinion Based Facts
Some New York Islanders patterns are based solely on my own opinion. For instance, Anthony Beauvillier is not ready to be an effective NHL player.
Starting with the final exhibition game, which was the first time he faced an actual NHL squad, he has been pretty bad. He gets less than a shot per game and doesn’t stand out in his skating. Here’s the question The Islanders have to answer. Since he clearly is not ready to be an NHL regular yet, when WILL he be? December? March? By 2019?
Here’s the question The Islanders have to answer. Since he clearly is not ready to be an NHL regular yet, when WILL he be? December? March? By 2019?
Mat Barzal looks a little better in my opinion. At least during his last two appearances. He still isn’t ready to become a high impact player, but he is further along his timeline than Tito. That is either a result of simply having more confidence in his ability to carry the puck in and make a play OR maybe he is just better at it.
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Brock Nelson (and Josh Bailey) has started strong because Brock Nelson (and Josh Bailey) starts out strong. Maybe he (they) wears down during the grind of a season. Or maybe this is the year he maintains that consistency.
He (and not Josh Bailey) really has only played three NHL seasons so it’s not like this phenomenon is sealed in stone. His goal totals have gone from 14 to 20 to 26. If that pattern continues and he hits 30 then it is hard to imagine he could go dark for months at a time.
Another thing about Nelson. I watched NHL network before the Ranger game, the analyst said Nelson was the pivotal guy for the Islanders this season. Most of us put Strome in that spot. During the Ranger game Micheletti said the same thing about Nelson, and during the Caps game, so did their broadcast crew.
That’s enough NHL insider voices to make us wonder if Nelson is more of the axis upon which the New York Islanders turn than we had thought.
Also, a hearty congratulations to those of you who pronounced that the greatest fourth line in hockey would be better than before. They are so far.