The New York Islanders have been shutout for the second time in five games. This time it was by the New Jersey Devils and goalie Scott Wedgewood, who made 248 saves in the winning effort.
It was a fairly low-event game after the first 20 minutes, and the Islanders didn’t do a lot to threaten New Jersey’s lead for much of it. You can read Eyes On Isles’ recap here. But for now, here are my three takeaways.
1. The Islanders lineup changes didn’t work
Islanders coach Barry Trotz made it known during pregame media availabilities that he intended to tinker with his lineup this week. The Islanders have a two week period in which they will play games at least every other day, and so, we saw the first change to the lineup of the season on Sunday.
It wasn’t great.
Trotz decided to swap Kieffer Bellows out for Michael Dal Colle on the third line, and I’m not sure it made that group worse, but it definitely didn’t make it better either.
Dal Colle was pretty much a none-factor throughout the game. He, like Bellows, played a very limited amount of ice time, exclusively at 5v5, and failed to do much with what little opportunity he was given.
It’s a tough position for MDC, who just came off injured reserve. But once again the 2014 fifth overall draft pick looked like he brought very little to a lineup that needs every bit of help it can get to create offense.
I feel for Dal Colle. It’s clear he’s tried to carve out a niche as a hard-working, get in the corners and dig out loose pucks type of bottom-six winger, but he hasn’t really been especially good at that, and the skills that got him drafted so high have definitely not carried over to the NHL level.
It was a confusing decision by Trotz to dress him, to be honest. The Islanders bottom-six group have not been especially effective in the opening five games of this 2020-21 sprint of a regular season. Adding Dal Colle, a player who has done little to maintain a consistent lineup spot over two-plus NHL seasons, never seemed like the move to jumpstart that group.
J.G. Pageau, the best player in that bottom-six group, led the way again for them at 5v5 and was once again the most-engaged of anyone from the Islanders’ bottom two lines.
I said in my last three takeaways that it’s time to swap Ross Johnston out for a different style of winger on the third line. Even though I thought Ross played a better game than his last one, I still want to see that happen.
If there’s one thing you can take from this performance, it’s that the Islanders desperately need to find a lineup that can create consistent offense. Mathew Barzal has been hit-and-miss in these first five outings, and where he goes so too do Eberle and Lee.
The second line of Beauvillier, Nelson, and Josh Bailey have also struggled, not having potted a 5v5 goal yet between the three of them. That’s a problem that may have been further exacerbated by this game.