The New York Islanders weekend reads like a tale of two teams, with a shutout loss to the Senators in Ottawa and a more convincing 5-1 win at home against the Avalanche.
There wasn’t a lot of vitriol going around when the Islanders fell to the Senators Saturday. The emotional return of Craig Anderson from supporting his wife during her cancer treatment demanded a script befitting her strength and a 33-save shut out fit the bill.
New York Islanders
The Islanders needed to come back and come back convincingly from that. Considering they fell to the Avalanche 2-1 in overtime back in January, it was even more imperative.
Here are points to ponder from the weekend.
Analytics Ain’t All They’re Cracked Up to Be and Sometimes this D Isn’t Either
The Islanders overall play against the Senators wasn’t actually terrible. The Islanders had what seems to have become their letdown first period, only to come out and pretty much control play in the second and third.
The score in Ottawa didn’t reflect this notion, but the numbers geeks pointed out that there were positives to take from it.
At the end of the night, the Islanders defense made a couple costly mistakes making analytics pretty meaningless.
Boychuk and Leddy 4evah!
Johnny Boychuk was on the ice for one of those costly mistakes in Ottawa. He was behind the play and turned around and in lieu of making excuses (dude needed a line change), he stunk. The Senators scored a sweet goal mostly at his expense.
The great thing about Boychuk is the page was turned pretty quickly. He was lights out Sunday against the Avalanche and even got a couple of helpers in the process. He was shooting the puck and creating chances.
Nick Leddy had a similarly poor game in Ottawa and bounced back in a big way at home. He helped pick apart the Avs defense on an Islanders power play, leading to the eventual game winner.
Leddy continues to shine and just get better in the absence of Travis Hamonic. The Islanders have had their top pair defenseman the whole season. It just took Hamonic – and in some ways Thomas Hickey – going down to get there.
Whether it was worrying about controlling minutes or something else, Boychuk has shown he belongs with Leddy as the top pair.
The Enigmatic Power Play
The Islanders power play continues to be a conundrum. While there has been more success since Doug Weight has taken over the team, it’s still a source of frustration because there is no in between.
It’s either an example of futility or it looks like a happening joint, as it did twice Sunday night due to some heady passing by John Tavares and some slick deflecting by Anders Lee. The first opportunity was horrendous and the Avs’ lone goal came on the heals of their killing it.
As the Islanders move forward and make a push to playoffs, the power play has to be more consistent and has to come through in big games, at big moments.