Editorials

Islanders: Five key problems coaching needs to address for playoffs

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 29: Barry Trotz the head coach of the New York Islanders pulls his goaltender during the third period against the Boston Bruins at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on February 29, 2020 in Uniondale, New York. The Bruins shut-out the Islanders 4-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 29: Barry Trotz the head coach of the New York Islanders pulls his goaltender during the third period against the Boston Bruins at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on February 29, 2020 in Uniondale, New York. The Bruins shut-out the Islanders 4-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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What do the New York Islanders coaching staff have to address before the 2019-20 postseason?

Since the 2019 season was put on hold, coaches have had time to go over the 2019-20 season. New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said that he and his coaching staff regularly have meetings to discuss what they can do to “get an edge” when they get back on the ice.

A three to four-week training camp that’s likely to start in July is the perfect place to go improve some aspects of the Islanders game for the upcoming 24-team tournament.

So with that in mind, I put together a shortlist of five parts of the Islanders game Barry Trotz and his staff need to fix before the play-in round begins.

Power Play

You’d think that after last year’s debacle on the power play that 2019-20 would be better. And to a certain extent, that’s sort of true. Although barely.

Through 82 games in 2018-19, the Islanders power play was efficient 14.5 percent of the time. Somehow that wasn’t the worst in the league. Montreal and Nashville were worse with a 13.3 and 12.9 percent efficient power play, respectively.

Through 68 games this season, the Islanders power play holds a 17.3 percent efficiency and ranks 23rd in the NHL. So, yeah, it’s better. But again, barely.

Barry Trotz and special teams coach Jim Hiller have to figure out how to get more out of the power play for the postseason.

High Danger Chances Against

We know that the Islanders are comfortable with their opponents controlling the puck a majority of the time. The Islanders feel that even if their opponents control the puck they won’t generate anything with it. So what’s to worry about?

But the issue with that strategy is that the Islanders haven’t done a very good job at preventing those chances against. Through 68 games in 2019-20, the Islanders had the fifth-highest high-danger chances against at 5on5 in the league with 661.

Getting Adam Pelech back will certainly help bring those numbers down, but the coaching staff still needs to get everyone else on board to keep those chances against down.

Scoring

You knew I’d get here eventually. The Islanders have the tenth lowest goals-for per game in the NHL this season. Generating offense has been an issue for two years now under Barry Trotz.

While scoring is certainly a personnel issue, coaching can do more to try and generate more offense. Like putting more compatible skill-sets together.

We all know about Josh Bailey and Anders Lee’s ability to find one another on the ice. And what about Barzal and Beauvillier’s chemistry on the ice? Swapping Beau with Lee in the Isles top six could yield more offense.

Goaltending

While we didn’t expect Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss to be a carbon-copy of Lehner and Greiss from 2018-19, we did expect the duo to be a little better than they’ve been this year.

The Isles went from a league-best 0.925SV% in 2018-19 to a 0.911SV% (eighth-best) in 2019-20. So it’s not like the Isles goaltending has been horrible, but it’s not been able to paper over the cracks like it did last year.

At times neither Varlamov nor Greiss looked particularly comfortable in nets, while other times, the two looked incredible. Director of Goaltending Mitch Korn and Goalie Coach Piero Greco are going to have to find a way to get a bit more consistency from them in July.

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Shots

I know that the Islanders system isn’t a shoot heavy one. But the Islanders have to find a way to get a few more shots towards the net. At 5on5, the Islanders have the fourth-worst shots-for in the league. They are the lowest-ranked playoff-bound team in 2020.

On five different occasions this season, the Isles failed to get more than 20 shots on net. Four of those games came between January 21 and the end of the season on March 10.

Going into the postseason, the Islanders have to find a way of getting more pucks towards the net. I understand that the Islanders have a quality over quantity approach, but at a certain point getting pucks towards the net, even in lower-danger area’s creates opportunities.

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