Islanders: Three positive trends emerging through first three games
It’s too early in the 2021 season to make any sweeping judgments on the New York Islanders play so far. They’ve played three games and all three were widely different performances.
They went from a flawless execution in the opener to an epically bad follow up two days later, and then game three was somewhere in the middle. That 1-0 home win over the Bruins in game 3 was great mainly because that hasn’t happened since 2013, but it also featured a few worrying trends like going 0-for-5 on the power play.
Today, I wanted to focus on the positive trends of the Islanders season so far. Here are the three that I thought were worth mentioning.
The New York Islanders are winning faceoffs, getting PPs, and Lee is shooting
With a 54.9 FOW%, the Islanders hold the fourth-best efficiency for faceoffs in the league. Only Detroit, Toronto, and Boston are better on the draw than the Isles. Why is that worth noting? For the two first years under Barry Trotz, the Islanders have been in the bottom half for FOW in the NHL.
- 2019-20: 48.8% 18th
- 2018-19: 47.4% 29th
Leading the way for Isles centermen is Casey Cizikas with a 64.9 FOW%. Not far behind him is Jean-Gabriel Pageau – who’s received the bulk of the Isles draws – with a 60.4 FOW%. Pageau has taken 53 of the Isles 160 draws (33%).
In 2019, Barry wanted his team to get better on the draw, and it seems the coach got his wish.
Anders Lee PP Shots
Anders Lee had two power-play goals in 19-20. That’s absurdly low for Anders Lee who’s typically banging in double-digit goals on the man-advantage. His 7.14 shooting percentage was routinely and correctly cited as an issue, but so was his 28 shots on the PP.
Over three games this season, Lee has three shots on goal during the power play, and more importantly, he has a power-play goal to his name. That’s 50% of his power-play production from 68 games in 19-20 in three games this season.
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Speaking of the power play, in 19-20 the Islanders had a league-low 168 PP opportunities. The Anaheim Ducks ranked 30th for PP opportunities with 184. That’s a difference of 16. It’s also the widest gap between two teams that year. The next biggest gap was Nashville (226) and Chicago (217) at seventh and eight with a spread of nine.
This season, the Islanders are tied for second with 17 opportunities. Now, they still hold a terrible 11.8 PP%, but they’re getting their chances this year, which isn’t something that could have been said just a year ago.
If they can fix the power play (here’s a way they could do so) the Isles could take a huge step forward this season.