We’ve seen the New York Islanders go from a good November to a weak December. Yeah, the goaltending hasn’t been great, but nor has been the team’s effort in the first period.
After a great November where the New York Islanders went 8-3-1, they’ve gone 3-5-1 so far in the month of December. With that slide, they find themselves in the last wild-card spot in the Metropolitan Division rather than in one of the top spots.
It looked so good in November. The New York Islanders were right there near the top of the division with momentum on their side. And then with a disappointing December so far, they haven’t been able to keep that high seeding in the division.
They can still make the jump back into a top three spot. They’re only two points back of New Jersey and Columbus in spots two and three respectively. And even only four points back of Washington who’ve taken over at the top of the Metropolitan.
But if they hope to do so, they’ve got to sort out their first-period issues.
Not There From Opening Face-Off
Through nine games in December, the New York Islanders first period performances have been by far the worst. In the first period, they’ve allowed the most goals against, they’ve also scored the fewest, they’ve averaged the most shots against and the fewest shot for.
The shots for is perhaps the worst metric to look at. Through nine games the New York Islanders averaged just over seven shots (7.67) for per game. On three occasions they managed fewer than five shots for in the first period.
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Not once have they gone below five shots for through periods two and three in December. That’s how bad it’s been in the opening period.
The efforts through the second and third period have been fine. The Islanders generally outshoot their opposition and the goal differential isn’t entirely out of sight like the first period.
It’s outstanding to see that the Isles haven’t been able to get motivated to play from the opening faceoff. Maybe it’s just the flurry of games this month is the issue. They’ve already played nine and still have six to go. They’ve only played 12 per month in October and November.
In both back-to-back games they played this month, versus Tampa and Columbus, the Islanders were blown out of the water in the first period. They were outshot 27-6 and outscored 5-0.
I know it’s hard to believe that professional athletes get tired but sometimes the simplest answer is the best one. They are human after all.
With no back-to-back games for the remainder of December and with another four home games before a western swing, maybe the New York Islanders can work themselves back into the top three.