Islanders top line has been dominant in series vs Washington Capitals

Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders and Mathew Barzal #13 (C) and Jordan Eberle #7 (R) (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Anders Lee #27 of the New York Islanders and Mathew Barzal #13 (C) and Jordan Eberle #7 (R) (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The New York Islanders have been dominating play in the series against the Washington Capitals.

Through the New York Islanders four games series against the Florida Panthers the Isles top line of Mathew Barzal, Anders Lee, and Jordan Eberle was virtually anonymous. The Islanders powered past the Panthers largely on the back of their middle six.

Players like Anthony Beauvillier and Jean-Gabriel Pageau lead the way for the Islanders in the qualifying-round. Getting production from your depth players is what every potential champion needs. But every champion needs their top players to perform.

If the Islanders were going to have a chance going forward after the qualifying round, they’d need that top line to wake up. Against Washington, the Isles top trio has taken over.

Stay in Your End

Through four games in the qualifying round against the Panthers, the trio of Lee, Barzal, and Eberle combined for six points. Anders Lee was the only one of the three who didn’t hit the score sheet.

Through three games against the Capitals, the Isles top line has eight points. Leading the way is the previously point-less Anders Lee who now has a goal in every game of the series.

Barzal has a game-winning goal with his Game 3 OT winner to go with his two helpers in the series.

Jordan Eberle also has two helpers in the series so far. Eberle now sits with 14 points in 15 career playoff games with the Islanders.

Getting all three on the scoresheet was vital for the Isles hopes in the postseason. But the top-lines dominance isn’t solely about how often they’ve found the back of the net, but how they dominate the game when they’re on the ice.

While on the ice at 5on5, the Isles top line has controlled the shot share. The Islanders who’ve never been a Corsi darling under Barry Trotz, have been Corsi Gods. The Islanders top line hasn’t seen a lower shot share than 68.75 percent when on the ice at 5on5.

Game 1: 70.59 CF%
Game 2: 68.75 CF%
Game 3: 72.41 CF%

There’s no better way to keep another team quiet than by keeping them in their own end. While Lee, Barzal, and Eberle are out on the ice together the Caps rarely find any success in the Islanders end on account of being hemmed into their own end for so long.

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Not the Same Islanders

This is no the same Islanders strategy we’re accustomed to. Typically the Isles are fine with the opposition controlling the play. They’re confident in their defensive-zone play that even if their opponent controls the puck they won’t find any success with it.

Through the first two seasons under Barry Trotz the Islanders have ranked near the bottom for shot-share in the league. In 2018-19, the Isles ranked 26th with a 47.85 CF%. In 2019-20, the  Isles 29th ranked with a 46.45 CF%.

In three games versus the Capitals, the Isles control the traffic with a 55.56 CF% (seventh-best of the 16 teams remaining).

The Islanders plan against the Caps is to keep them hemmed into their own zone and it’s working flawlessly.