The penalty kill is one of the New York Islanders biggest weaknesses at the moment. Ironically it was their strength just a few months ago. Fixing the system might help, but maybe taking less might be the better course.
Last season the New York Islanders held an 84.5% penalty kill efficiency. That was fourth best in the league by the way. Now, 14 games into the season the Isles sit at 27th with a 75.9%.
What was a help to their cause last season is now the cause for concern. (See what I did there. Cause with cause? Genious.)
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Along with that 84.5% penalty kill efficiency, the Isles ranked 27th in number of times short-handed with 232. They weren’t going to the box often, and when they did the team was likely going to kill off the numerical disadvantage.
Fast-forward to 2016-17 and the Islanders are tied for seventh for the number of times short-handed with 54. That’s a ratio of 3.8 trips to the sin bin per games, vs a ratio of 2.8 trips per game in 2015-16.
That one extra trip might not sound like much, but when then Isles are giving up a goal against 25% of the time when short-handed, it’s a big problem.
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What’s Being Called?
If the Isles are getting called for more penalties, maybe the solution is in not giving those opportunities up in the first place. So what are the Islanders being called for?
*All stats from ESPN
That last row is how the Islanders differ from the average NHL team. The Isles are 10.60 minor penalties above the NHL average. With roughing (3.20) and holding (3.00) penalties leading the way, and slashing (2.40) not too far behind.
While roughing leads the way in terms of differential it’s tough to decipher if there’s anything the Isles can do to actually change this.
Roughing is more of an interpretation call made by the officials. It can be made when a meeting in the crease gets a bit out of hand. When the officials are looking to cool some heads. Or when a hit looks a bit too heavy handed.
But holding, now there’s a penalty the Isles can control. In my books holding, just like tripping, is a lazy penalty to take. Usually, the offender just isn’t moving his feet, is caught flat-footed and in order to gain body position resorts to grabbing the other player.
Keep skating and maybe, just maybe the holding penalties go down. And with it the opportunities for the opposition to score.