How effective could the New York Islanders second defensive pair be in 2021? It was one of the biggest questions facing the Islanders going into this latest season.
Nick Leddy has handled more responsibility before, but he’s never played away from Johnny Boychuk since both joined the Islanders on the same day in 2014. How will he do playing next to Scott Mayfield (and conversely how will Mayfield play next to Nick Leddy?)
If the Islanders second pair struggled in 2021 it could be awful for the Islanders.
Early results show the pair have been excellent.
New York Islanders second pair one of the best defensive units in NHL
Through four games the Islanders second pair has established itself as a top pair in the league. Here are some of their most telling underlying numbers so far this short season. These numbers are at 5on5 and for all defensive pairs who’ve at least played 40 minutes together. I also added Leddy and Mayfield’s rank in parenthesis.
- xGF%: 62.01% (7th)
- SCF%: 67.44% (4th)
- HDCF%: 73.33 (6th)
All stats are from the ever-excellent Natural Stat Trick.
The fact that this pair is at the top-end of the league – measured against other consistent pairs – is a very encouraging sign for the New York Islanders.
The Leddy-Mayfield pair’s ability to limit chances in their own end but create a wealth of opportunities at the other end of the ice is top-notch Barry Trotz hockey. It’s the type of performance that allowed the team to move Devon Toews without having to take a step back.
And look, this type of performance was never a given. Last season Nick Leddy wasn’t exactly creating a ton of offense, nor was he very good in his own end. The same can be said for Scott Mayfield. Both weren’t great in 19-20. But together it seems to be working so far.
Again, it’s early, but if we’re looking for positives to take into the rest of the season (as we should) the Leddy and Mayfield pair have been excellent for the Islanders. Heck, they’ve been excellent compared to most of the consistent defensive pairs in the entire NHL. Now that’s something.