Islanders need to get back to basics to escape slump
Over their last five games, the New York Islanders are 1-3-1. It’s clear, they’re in a slump. So how do they get out of it? Get back to basics.
With a 1-3-1 record over their last five games, and with all three losses coming in a row, the New York Islanders are in a slump. So, how do they get out of it? Get back to basics.
It sounds too simple, but sometimes just doing the simple things is the easy answer.
For the New York Islanders, it’s exactly the solution to their current predicament. They need to get back to doing the simple things right and success will come.
Barry Trotz has said it already, there are certain players that are trying to be “smarter than the rest” and it’s getting them (and the team) in trouble.
On Friday night, the Isles were back on the ice after the Christmas break to face-off against the Chicago Blackhawks. Yet another team that’s struggling and missing a number of players through injury. The Hawks sit at the bottom of the Central Division and six points out of a wildcard spot.
The Blackhawks are a team the Islanders should be able to beat. Instead, they left the windy city with their third loss in three games. And simple mistakes were key in the defeat.
Take for example the fourth goal of the night. It effectively killed the game and features at less three simple errors.
The first mistake. Ryan Pulock skates the puck out of the defensive zone and into the neutral zone where he decides to head man the puck into the offensive zone. The result, Jonathan Toews strips Pulock of the puck and scores.
Pulock could have passed the puck to Lee on the wall to his left. Or sent a puck into the middle of the ice for Mathew Barzal. Taking the puck into three Blackhawks solo was risky and the result is why.
The second mistake. Adam Pelech doesn’t challenge Jonathan Toews. I understand trying to play the pass, but Barzal had the second forward covered, he wasn’t a threat.
Pelech gave Toews all the space and time in the world to set up his shot. There has to be better gap control by Pelech here so at the very least the task of getting the puck on the net is harder for Toews.
The third mistake. Varlamov isn’t square to the shooter. Varlamov had time to square himself to Toews so there isn’t an excuse for this shot going in. There’s no deflection, there’s no screen, it’s a clean shot that beats him blocker side.
Getting square to the shooter is goaltending 101. I expect Mitch Korn and Piero Greco to sit their goalies down and work on the fundamentals with both netminders.
As Barry should do with the rest of the team at practice. Make the simple plays. Challenge the shooter. Control the gaps.
That fourth goal against the Hawks highlights what’s been ailing the Islanders of late. They’re making simple mistakes and it’s costing them games. They’ve strayed from their fundamentals and need to get back to basics.