The New York Islanders power play was absolutely terrible last season. Assuming the issue with the power play was with the way they were assembled, how do the Isles fix that in 2017-18?
In 2016-17 the New York Islanders power play was one of the worst in the league. With a flat 15% efficiency, only the Vancouver Canucks and Colorado Avalanche were worse. Both finished at the bottom of the standings at the end of the season.
It’s fair to think that if the Islanders power play was even just marginally more efficient they might just have made the playoffs.
By marginally I’m talking about just 3% more efficient. That’s adding another seven power play goals to their 35 they scored last season.
We’ve already talked about adjusting their zone entry strategy from using the “speed-behind-the-puck” play to something a bit more direct. In addition, how should the Isles power play units be structured?
A Tale of Two Units
Unit One: Lee – Tavares (C) – Ho-Sang – Eberle – Leddy
On the Islanders first unit, I put both Nick Leddy and Joshua Ho-Sang. I know that both are incredible puck carriers and that maybe they should be split to spread the wealth. That’s fair. But Ho-Sang isn’t only apt at carrying the puck into the zone. He’s fantastic at the cycle game.
I’ve also gone with a single defenseman for this unit. I read a post by Hockey Graphs’ Matt Cane a few years ago where he showed why the 4F-1D can be successful. More possession and a higher conversion rate? Sold! Even if that could mean being exposed defensively.
I accept the risk if it comes with the reward of a more effective man advantage. And I think you would too.
Unit Two: Bailey – Barzal (C) – Nelson – Pulock – Boychuk
Bailey makes way for the clearly more creative Josh Ho-Sang as I’m sure you’ll agree. Mathew Barzal is given duties at center for the line to go along with his 5on5 duties.
With both Pulock and Boychuk on the same unit, there’s bound to be some puck flying out of the zone that needs to be rushed back up the ice. That’s going to be Bailey and Barzal’s job. We all know we can’t count on Brock. He’ll be the trigger man for this unit.
It remains to be seen if Scott Gomez will go down this route with his lines, but for me, this seems like the best bet for the New York Islanders in 2017-18.