New York Islanders Aren’t Hitting Them First

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 18: Cal Clutterbuck
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 18: Cal Clutterbuck /

The New York Islanders moto this year has been: “Hit ’em first”. Looking at their stats the Isles haven’t been doing that this season. Maybe it’s time for a change in their identity.

For a few years, the New York Islanders identity was wrapped around their physical play. The fourth line of Matt Martin, Cal Clutterbuck and Casey Cizikas were absolutely dominant.

They were tough, played hard and hit just about everything on skates. Martin and Clutterbuck both lead the league in hits while they were together. Until Martin’s departure for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Going into this season Doug Weight stated that the team was going to

“hit ’em first”

. Who knows what he meant exactly. But hitting was certainly in there. And that’s something the Islanders just haven’t done this season.

Hit ’em, Kinda

This season the New York Islanders rank 13th in the league with hits per game at 21.5. That’s a sharp decline from previous seasons 25.9 hits per game that ranked them third in the league.

*Unfinished season

Physical play was part of the New York Islanders identity with Jack Capuano at the helm. With Doug Weight replacing him since the middle of last season, that shouldn’t have changed. Again, it’s in the moto.

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But the physicality just hasn’t been there this season. Losing a bit of it would be understandable, but the cliff the Islanders have fallen off of is remarkable.

So what’s the point? Do I want to see them be the most physical team in the league? Do they need a smash and crash third and fourth line?

The point I want to make is that the identity that the New York Islanders still seem to be holding on to just isn’t there. That’s not the type of team they are. Sure, hitting is always going to have a place in this sport. As it should.

For those few years with Martin, Clutterbuck and Cizikas the Islanders had that tough identity. It was unmistakable. But this season the identity clearly isn’t the same. This is a high flying team with a creative and dynamic attack. That’s what the Islanders identity needs to be.

Next: New York Islanders NHL Trade Deadline Preview 2.0

“Hit ’em First” should be replaced with something along the lines of “Fill Their Net With Pucks” or maybe: “We Dare You To Score More”.