The New York Islanders aren’t a good offensive team. Even when they focused on offense, they weren’t good. Barry Trotz found that out this year.
With a banged-up fourth line, Barry Trotz tried to get the New York Islanders to play a different style. With Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin, and Cal Clutterbuck out of the lineup at different points of the year, Barry wanted his team to play a more offensive style of play.
Maybe allowing this team to play a little less defense and letting the offense fly a bit it the team could win some games. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened.
The Islanders offense got off the ground, but it didn’t fly. If anything it metaphorically hovered an inch off the ground.
We already heard Barry Trotz discuss that at times this year he and his staff had over-coached the Isles. Speaking to Sportsnet last week, Barry said with the loss of his fourth line for much of the season he and his staff overcoached the team by getting them to play a different way.
On Sunday, Barry Trotz connected with Newsday’s Andrew Gross to discuss the subject a bit further. With Gross, Trotz indicated that he and his staff wanted the Isles to play a more offensive game:
"“There’s times when I said, ‘OK, we’re going to have to play this way a little differently because we didn’t have that line,’ ” Trotz said. “Maybe we should have just tightened it up and even did more of what we did well, versus trying to change it. As you’re trying to change it a little bit, you’re not as tight in some areas.“We tried to push the offense a little more when we should have just locked down defensively a little more and not worried about it,” Trotz added."
But that didn’t work as planned. When one of Cizikas, Martin, or Clutterbuck was injured, the Isles scored an average of 2.86 goals-for per game. Their record was 24-16-9 for a points-per-game pace of 0.58.
With the identity line healthy, and the Isles playing their typical defense-first style they scored an average of 2.58 goals-for per game going 11-7-1 for a 0.61 points-per-game pace.
An extra 0.30 goals-per-game on average is a nice jump, but that would still rank the Isles as the 21st offense in the NHL (if they scored at the clip all season long). And it actually brought them fewer points in the standings.
How to fix it?
The Islanders offense as currently constructed just isn’t good enough even when the strategy allows them to play more in the offensive end. Barry and GM Lou Lamoriello got to see that first hand this season.
What the Islanders do about their offense going forward will be interesting. There’s no debate that this team needs more talent up top.
Will Lou take to the trade market to land a top-tier player and unload some of his skilled prospects like Kieffer Bellows or Sebastian Aho and maybe even a veteran player like Nick Leddy?
Will he call up some of those kids so that Barry can put them in a position to succeed within the top-six?
Or will Lou dip into free agency to find that talent the Isles are missing?
Adding a player that can score 30 goals on a regular basis is exactly what the Islanders need going into 2020-21. We all wait to see what Lou’s plan is to address that in 2020-21.