We’ve had a full week of New York Islanders training camp. What have we learned so far?
It’s been a full week since the New York Islanders first hit the ice for training camp. I know right? After months with no hockey, it’s wild that a full week has already passed with the team taking to the ice.
Here are some takeaways from the first week of camp. From the power play, to Barzal scoring goals, and everyone’s favorite subject; the lineup.
The power play desperately needed work as the Islanders began training camp. With a 17.3 percent efficiency, the New York Islanders man-advantage ranked 24th in the NHL. That’s certainly better than last season 14.5 percent efficiency, but, like, barely.
When it comes to elimination hockey like a best-of-five qualifying round or best-of-seven playoff series teams need to exploit every advantage possible. Teams need to do well on the power play in the postseason to make any sort of impact.
The Islanders only began on-ice power-play work recently. In previous scrimmages, players were awarded a penalty shot instead of the man advantage.
In the most recent scrimmage on Sunday the team began live power-play work. And there they scored two power-play goals, one from Barzal and the other from Anthony Beauvillier. Speaking to Newsday, Beauvillier believes the power play will be a big asset for them in the playoffs:
"“I think the power play looks good,” Beauvillier said. “We just started working on it. It’s going to be huge for us in the playoffs. We’re moving the puck quickly and putting the puck in the back of the net.”"
I hope he’s right.
Barry Trotz knows what he likes and he tends to stick to it. Throughout training camp, his top line and fourth line have stayed intact. The trio of Mathew Barzal, Anders Lee, and Jordan Eberle up top and Casey Cizikas, Matt Martin, and Cal Clutterbuck on line four haven’t changed.
And why would they change? Both were two of the team’s best lines all year. When healthy.
The Cizikas line sets the tempo and carries the team’s identity from the opening faceoff while Barzal’s line is responsible for creating most of the offense.
Where Barry has some uncertainty it’s with the middle six.
The two centers are set with Brock Nelson anchoring line two and Jean-Gabriel Pageau on line three. But who plays on the wing is still up for debate.
In today’s lines, Ross Johnston got some time next to Brock Nelson. I doubt that’s a permanent solution. Rather, it’s likely Trotz trying to motivate his players to pick it up. Although Ross did get first-line minutes this year. So I guess it’s not out of the question.
We’ll see what Barry does with d-pairs. He’s kept them intact so far but he’s gone on record to say that Andy Greene and Noah Dobson have been as good as any d-pair.
The goal for Mathew Barzal this season was to be a more complete offensive threat. His ability to make a play or make the perfect pass was well documented. Perhaps too well documented. But his ability to score a goal was not.
With 40 goals in his first two seasons, Barzal was scoring, but just not enough to be seen as a goal-scoring threat. He started to change that his year by getting more puck to the net with 171 shots on net (a pace of 206)his previous high was 179 shots on goal.
That translated to 19 goals in 68 games (a pace of 23 goals). While that isn’t much more than his career-high 22 goals, he started the 19-20 season on fire with 12 goals in 28 games. That’s a pace of 35 goals.
Through the first week of scrimmages, Barzal has netted a goal in each.
Hopefully, that form continues through training camp and into the qualifying round and Mathew Barzal finds that scoring touch he had in the first half of the 2019-20 season.