New York Islanders Issue Isn’t Necessarily Scoring But Defense
The issue plaguing the New York Islanders right now isn’t necessarily scoring but team defense. Fixing that should return them to winning ways.
Since the NHL trade deadline, the New York Islanders have gone through a rough patch. As of February 25th, they’ve gone a 4-4-0 slide. They’ve fallen out of first place in the Metropolitan division for the first time in a while and have a few teams breathing down their necks.
A cold streak down the stretch is probably the worst reality for a team still fighting for a playoff spot. Slipping up now could cost them not only home ice advantage, but it could even cost them a place in the playoffs altogether.
And while the Islanders were able to pull a 2-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jacket they still aren’t out of the woods just yet.
Their issue isn’t that their goalscoring all of a sudden abandoned them. They haven’t been scoring all year long. The issue is that they’ve stopped doing the one thing that’s given them success this season; team defense.
Over the entire season, the New York Islanders have scored an average of 2.84 goals for per game. That’s about average in the NHL. At the time of writing, it ranks 20th in the league. The Islanders offense hasn’t been great all season long.
In the seven games since the deadline leading up to the win against Columbus, the Isles have scored an average of 2.71 goals for. Yes, that’s lower than 2.84, but by less than a goal. The Islanders scored 19 goals between Feb 26th and March 10th. Count that shutout “goal” from the first Ottawa game and they average 2.86.
What “failed” the Islanders since the trade deadline hasn’t been scoring. They never truly had it. What failed them was team defense. The ability to work as a cohesive unit to minimize dangerous situations and keep the opposition to the perimeter.
Over those same seven games, the New York Islanders allowed 3.14 goals against. A far cry from the league-low 2.36 goals against per game they’ve allowed all season.
That poor team defense was on full display in both games against the Flyers. On both occasions, the Flyers were able to get chances by finding open players in the slot or players who were wide open thanks to blown defensive assignments.
The Islanders success this season has been snuffing out those issues before they take place, to be in a good defensive shape and position and all times. That hasn’t been happening of late.
Even against the Blue Jackets, the Islanders weren’t peak Isles. Though they were closer then they’ve been since the deadline.
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It’s not to say that the New York Islanders don’t need scoring, or that goal-scoring isn’t an issue. It’s been an issue all season. What’s got the New York Islanders to where they are now is team defense. And the second that goes away it all come crashing.