With long-term injuries to key players on the New York Islanders roster, head coach Barry Trotz has some big challenges to get this team back on track.
Since taking over behind the bench for the New York Islanders in 2018, Barry Trotz has had a fairly stable roster. There’s been little turnover on the roster.
That’s mainly thanks to GM Lou Lamoriello making just a single trade over the last two seasons. But the roster has also seen such stability thanks to having a fairly healthy roster. In 2018-19 the Islanders ranked 19th in terms of man-games lost. Most of that was due to Andrew Ladd.
Now this season, the Islanders are already up to 15th in the league in terms of man-games lost. And that ranking has yet to account for Casey Cizikas‘s injury that will keep him out of the lineup for three-to-four weeks.
That loss coupled with the loss of
for the rest of the season will prove to be a huge challenge for Barry Trotz to overcome.
Gap on the PK
We’ve already seen how vital Adam Pelech is to the Islanders penalty kill. A few weeks ago Eyes on Isles contributor Nick Jehamy showed the wild swing in shoots from close ranger while Pelech is on the ice and when he’s off the ice. Spoiler, it didn’t look good for the Isles PK going forward.
Since Pelech’s injury, the Islanders have seen a consistent decrease in their penalty kills efficiency. They’ve allowed nine power-play goals against on 38 opportunities for a 76.3 percent efficiency.
And now Casey Cizikas is gone. Cizikas is easily one of the best penalty killers in the NHL. It just seems to come naturally to him. He’s been killing penalties at an elite level for years.
Add Cal Clutterbuck to the mix, who’s been out since the middle of December and Barry Trotz is now without three of his most important penalty killers. Pelech, Clutterbuck, and Cizikas were ranked one, two, and four in terms of PK time on ice before Clutterbuck picked up that wrist injury.
Barry Trotz is going to have to rely on some unconventional penalty killers with those three out. How he gets these replacement penalty killers to get the job done going forward is going to be a big ask.
Crease Issues Too
One of the Islanders strengths since Barry Trotz has come in has been between the pipes. Last year the Islanders received Vezina caliber efforts from goalies Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss. This year started off well with the Semyon Varlamov Thomas Greiss tandem, but of late the two haven’t been good enough.
Since the calendar turned to 2020, Thomas Greiss has averaged a 0.890SV% and a 2.33GAA. Varlamov for his part has averaged a 0.904SV% and a 2.82GAA. When the Islanders have needed a save, they haven’t been getting it from their two netminders.
It’s clear that the Trotz system helps whoever is in the crease for the Islanders, but now that the system has shifted due to injuries, the Isles two goalies haven’t been able to adjust.
Finding a way to get his current core of defenders to protect the slot as Adam Pelech does has to be his first priority.
Remember those PK shot heat-maps when Pelech is on and off the ice, I mentioned earlier? Here are those maps but for 5on5 play. Again you can tell how good Pelech is at keeping pucks out of the slot.
Notice the crazy red right in front of the goal? That’s bad.
This is the most challenging period in the Barry Trotz regime. Ideally, he gets some support from his GM in the trade market to close the gaps created by those long-term injuries. But if Lou Lamoriello stands pat at the deadline once again, Barry Trotz will have to get real creative in finding solutions to get the Islanders back on track.