With the Islanders back up against the walls, down 3-1 in the series, they are going to have to make some major changes to their game.
Another blue and orange team from New York coined the phrase “Ya gotta believe” so until it’s actually over, the Islanders still have a chance. Granted, in the first four games the Lightning have looked like the far better team, the Isles *could* turn it around in the final three.
Realistically, the Islanders only had a shot in Game 2 and Game 3, Game 1 and Game 4 Tampa looked miles better. It’s been massive amounts of mistakes that have taken Barry Trotz’s team out of these games.
Here’s how they can give their chance the best possible chance to win three in a row:
Top Line Has To Step Up
Yesterday, I wrote my displeasure with Jordan Eberle who has just one goal in his last 15 games. He’s not the only one from that line who has to get going. It was a costly mistake in the defensive end from Mat Barzal that cost them on the third goal.
Offensively, he hasn’t done enough either. He has just two assists in the four games. As someone who is widely considered the Isles best player he has to drive the offense and unfortunately, the offense has been mostly dead in this series.
After a strong series against Washington and Philadelphia, Anders Lee has gone cold again. He had two assists in Game 1 but hasn’t picked up a point since. He’s also gone five games without a goal as well.
Six points from the Islanders top line in four games is a recipe for disaster. The Isles need these guys producing points in each game in order for them to get back in this.
Semyon Varlamov Continues Strong Play
Semyon Varlamov has had back to back solid games for the Islanders. To be honest with you, he kept them in both of the last two games and they likely don’t win Game 3 without his strong performance in net.
He’s faced a combined 72 shots in the last two games. The team needs to do a better job of limiting chances against him as well.
Score On The Power Play
The Isles have just one power play goal in 14 chances, and one of them was a five-minute major that they couldn’t score on. The special teams have killed the Isles all year long but if they are to survive in this series the power play needs to find life.
No more of the “super dump” where the Isles continue to toss the puck backwards and stop on the blue line making it impossible to enter the zone.
More Pucks On Net
Stop looking for the perfect shot. The Islanders are going up against a team that kills you with chances. Granted, they have more talent, but the Islanders could help even that out by just getting as many pucks on net as possible.
Maybe Andrei Vailivskiy leaves a rebound for the taking if you don’t score. Right now the strategy of delaying and passing, resulting in a block or a defensive stick from the Lightning isn’t working.
Hope the Lightning’s Top Line Goes Cold
I want to write shut down the Lightning’s top line but I can’t. I don’t know if the Isles can do it. I think you just have to hope that Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, and company get snake bitten for a few games here.
Right now, they’re goal machines. During the regular season, the Islanders held the Lightning under two goals twice in their two wins. They are going to have to keep Tampa to two goals or less in the next three games to have a sot.
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It’s not over, but the Islanders are going to have to be perfect to come back in this series. Can they do it?