The New York Islanders negative relationship won the special team needs to change going forward. The power play and penalty kill need to be on even footing.
The New York Islanders find themselves third in the Metropolitan division a single point off the top spot in the division. Their power play is clipping at about 21% efficiency, but the penalty kill sits at 30th with a 73.3% efficiency. That negative relationship has to change.
By negative relationship, I mean that when one is performing well the other doesn’t. It’s a term I’m borrowing from statistics. If you remember your Stats 101 courses, a negative relationship describes how one variable goes up while the other goes down.
Just look at the difference between the efficiencies of the power play and the penalty kill over the last three seasons. When the PK is hot, the PP is not. When the PP is hot, the PK is not. Negative relationship.
Ok great. So now what? What do they do exactly?
Working on the penalty kill is the obvious answer here. Conceding on 26.7% of short-handed opportunities won’t help win hockey games. The Islanders are in the bottom half of the league in terms of times short-handed with 90, but are tied for second-most in the league in terms of power play goals against. (See those stats here from NHL.com)
More from Editorials
- Islanders key to success: Load management with goalies
- Islanders Zdeno Chara trending in the right direction
- Islanders: Semyon Varlamov Deserves Benefit of the Doubt
- Islanders Ilya Sorokin becoming number one goalie
- Islanders Zach Parise Was Quiet in Return to Minnesota
The team is playing disciplined enough. We haven’t been seeing too many of those lazy penalties we saw last season. But the team isn’t doing enough to reduce the opposition’s opportunities when they inevitably get a numerical advantage.
Some of that will fall to goaltending. The hockey cliché is that goaltenders have to be a team’s best penalty killers. This season the New York Islanders goaltending has been unfortunately sub-par. Which is an issue all on its own. Freddy Brathwaite has his work cut-out for him to get the goalies to stop the puck.
So the work has to fall on the PK system. What structure the penalty killers take, how they challenge the puck carrier and how they block passing lanes. The Islanders coaching staff has to figure out what system works best, or how to adapt to the opposition in front of them.
I’m more of the second school. Adapt. I don’t like the static strategy where a singular approach is used no matter of the opposition they face. “We’re a four-man box team and that’s that!” From what I’ve seen from the New York Islanders so far this season is a reliance on a box out approach, no matter the opposition they face. And clearly, that isn’t working.
We’ve all seen what Bill Belichick has been able to do out in New England with a tailored approach to the opposition he’s facing. Yes. Football is inherently easier to do seeing as they play 16 games a season and sometimes almost a full week to prepare. But the idea of a customized approach still stands in terms of the penalty kill.
I hope that’s what Scott Gomez and Kelly Buchberger are preaching to Isles players today. A dynamic approach to the opposition they face when it comes to the penalty kill. If they come at us set up in shape A we deploy structure X. If it’s shapes B we deploy structure Y. Rather than a singular box em out approach.