1. Will the defense tighten up and play better?
Barry Trotz preaches team defense and this style is one reason the Islanders were able to make a dramatic turnaround last year, but as we have seen over the last month their defense has not been good enough.
I have zero doubt that Trotz and his coaching staff are working over the break to find ways to improve their defense. They are fourth in goals allowed and 17th on the penalty kill, not terrible, but clearly the team needs to address its defensive lapses.
Individual mistakes are adding up and costing this team wins. Last season, team defense powered them to a 103 point season. They need to find a way back to that.
The loss of Adam Pelech has hurt the team, but it seems that they are struggling with basic fundamentals like puck clearing and winning one-on-one battles. There has been some chatter on social media about the team being tired due to the recent schedule, but I don’t buy it. These are elite athletes in a structured defensive system with a clear role. I would say this is the easiest fix for the team.