Editorials

New York Islanders Defensive Scoring Dried Up In December

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 16: Johnny Boychuk
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 16: Johnny Boychuk /
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The New York Islanders aren’t having a good December. The goaltending and defence can sure take a lions share of the blame for that, but what about the offence outside of the top line?

We all know the goaltending and general defensive issues that the New York Islanders are having at the moment. They just can’t seem to keep pucks out of their own net. As much as they score, they let in just as many.

Through 35 games, the New York Islanders have scored a total of 125 goals. Good for second in the league. But they’ve also allowed 125 goals against. Good for a tie with the Arizona Coyotes at the bottom of the league.

We know that the Isles need to address goaltending. That much is clear. And my colleague Matt O’Leary already tried to address that in a column earlier today. So I wanted to take a different approach.

Must Read: Should Isles Target Varlamov or Lehner?

Because, let’s be honest, getting a goalie is going to be difficult. At least it seems that way. What team is ready to bail on a starting caliber goaltender? None. So maybe there’s an in-house issue they can fix. Or at least look at.

In times of great struggle, look inwards for a solution. (That’s as hyperbolic as I get in this post. I swear.)

Balanced Goal Scoring

There’s quite the imbalance happening when you look at where the goals are coming from this month. Through the month of December the top line of Tavares-Lee-Bailey has accounted for 51% of the team’s goals scored.

I know that John Tavares and Anders Lee are tied for third in the league in goals with 21. And that Josh Bailey is the league leader in assists. But they’ll need some help throughout the lineup with the type of goaltending the Isles are getting.

Through the month of November you can see that the Islanders were getting more balanced scoring with the top two lines producing 62% of the goals combined (they each scored 14 goals). The bottom two lines put in six goals combined. And the defense added ten goals.

The Islanders put up 44 goals combined through November as they held an 8-3-1 record. The goaltending wasn’t any better in November then it is now in December. But the New York Islanders are 3-6-2 through eleven games in December.

And where the goals come from, or more pointedly, where they aren’t coming from matters.

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Where The Goals Come From

While the top line is scoring more then they did during the month of November, the second line, fourth line, and more importantly, the defence isn’t.

The Islanders top defensive pair of Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk don’t have a goal to speak of in December. They had eight in twelve games during November. Maybe what Leddy was doing was never going to keep up. His career high in goals is 11. After November he was on pace for 21 goals. His goal scoring was going to slow down eventually. But so did the rest of the defense.

The fourth line has two goals, thanks to Jason Chimera finally scoring and Casey Cizikas. But that’s it. Clutterbuck who’s been good for two a month so far this season hasn’t put anything in the net. And as such, a line that was fairly productive in October is a shade of it’s former self.

So what’s the point to all this?

Next: Two Options to Get A New Goalie

If the New York Islanders can’t address the goaltending issue by bringing another goalie in, either through trade, free agency, waiver, or from the AHL they need to figure out how to get more production from the backend and the fourth line. Because Tavares and co are doing enough to win games.

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