3. Mixed Results on the Power Play
According to Butch Goring on Thursday’s MSG broadcast, “the Islanders worked a lot on their special teams over the short training camp.” That shouldn’t surprise anyone, considering the 2019-20 Islanders special teams ranged from average (the penalty kill) to bad (the power play.)
Thursday was kind of a mixed bag for the power play, despite having scored twice with the man advantage.
The Islanders power plays that were successful were short, and didn’t require the Isles to create many zone entries. On the first man advantage, the Brock Nelson goal, the Islanders didn’t need to re-enter the offensive zone once, and they scored within 45 seconds of being up a man.
On the power play that would lead to Lee’s second goal, the Islanders required one zone entry. Mat Barzal created that entry by passing into the zone for Lee, who sent the puck around the boards for Barzy and Eberle to chase down. This 5v4 also lasted less than 45 seconds, as the Islanders got set up and scored quickly once they’d retrieved the Lee dump-in.
By comparison, the Islanders failed power plays were meandering affairs that saw them struggle to create zone entries, retain possession, or get any action going through the middle of the ice, with lots of very slow and deliberate perimeter play.
Following a too-many-men penalty taken by the Rangers in the first period, the Islanders lost the offensive zone face-off and then spent the next minute and a half trying to create a zone entry. Were it not for Ryan Pulock’s strong positional play, they would’ve likely given up a shorthanded goal around the 16:00 minute mark on this 5v4.
So, obviously, there are some rough edges to smooth out in their game still. The power play wasn’t deadly effective, but 2-for-8 is very respectable, and so long as the team avoids any 0-for-20 streaks like they saw toward the tail end of the last regular season, I’ll think they’ll be okay. The 56-game regular season sprint has begun for the Islanders, let’s hope for more efforts like this one.