With an offense that holds nothing back with a tendency to let in as many goals as they score, it is essential that the New York Islanders find the defensive pairs that work best.
The 2017-2018 New York Islanders have become a great offensive threat in the NHL. Second in scoring, the team averages 3.67 goals a game. Although the majority of production has been concentrated on the top two lines, nearly every forward has been able to contribute.
However, along with the offensive highs of the season come the team’s defensive woes. On the other side of the scale, the Islanders have tied for third worst in average of goals against per game at 3.37. This puts them in the company of Arizona, Buffalo and Edmonton, the bottom three teams in the league.
While their offense sets them apart from these struggling teams for now, the New York Islanders will have to drastically improve their game in their own zone. Barring a trade, the Islanders will have to build their ideal lineup with the defensemen on their roster now.
Head coach Doug Weight has tried his hand at the lineup blender throughout the season and has yet to find the perfect pairings. With only three out of the eight regular skaters on the blue line having played in every game this season and minimal success, it’s time to reevaluate which players should and should not be playing.
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Although only having played 10 games so far this season, Dennis Seidenberg has the worse CF% and FF% of any defensemen and third worst in Islanders players overall. At a time where possession is key to minimize the amount of goals against, Seidenberg is a liability.
While the 6’1” defensemen can be counted on to lay a big hit once a game, he doesn’t bring much to a young, fast Islanders team. Turning 37 and entering his last year under contract, Seidenberg may very well be playing his last year in the NHL at all.
Adam Pelech has become one of the New York Islanders more polarizing players this season. It can sometimes feel like he’s the worst defenseman on the ice and other times, it’s clear to see how he has been able to tally 11 assists on the season already.
Pelech’s CF% is more telling of why he should sit. At 49.57, the young defensemen has not put up any impressive numbers. Pelech, having been on the ice for 3 out of 6 of Ottawa’s goal’s on December 1st, isn’t exactly known for his dominance in the team’s own zone at a time where they desperately need it.
While the small defenseman isn’t known for his offensive prowess, Thomas Hickey is the possession player the Islanders could need right now. Although routinely scratched, 14 has been able to maintain his ranking as number one in CF% at 53.24 among team defensemen while against one of the highest CF% for his competition.
While Hickey only has 4 points on the season so far, the Islanders are in no desperate need of offensive from their bottom defensive pairing. Where they do struggle is in their own zone and it is hard to deny he would have a positive effect on the team.
Somehow, Ryan Pulock has found himself in the lineup shuffle despite having been toted for several years as the team’s defensive golden prospect. Although struggling early on in the Islanders’ zone, Pulock has turned his play around by the start of December.
With the third best CF% among defensemen and a knack for scoring power play goals with his tremendous shot, Pulock would be of great help for the Islanders defensively and on special teams.
With these notes in mind, the Islanders defensive pairs would always look like this:
With this lineup, the Islanders would have their best defensemen available out on the ice.