Through the game, Trotz had one line to work with. The trio of Mathew Barzal, Anders Lee, and Jordan Eberle were the only units giving the coach anything to work with through the game. And, rightfully, so that’s got the coach ‘pissed off’.
But when you look at the lineup it’s hard to see what else he was expecting.
New York Islanders head coach is pissed off
After a 2-0 loss to New Jersey a few days earlier and with Antony Beauvillier out Barry Trotz had some choices to make with the lineup. Keep the same team that let him down a few nights before? Or change it up?
Trotz opted for stability. Stability is the bred-and-butter for NHL coaches. They know what they like and they like what they know. Against the Capitals, Trotz iced the following forward lines (changes in bold):
Out: Michael Dal Colle
Bellows was moved up to take Beauvillier’s spot and Komarov came in for Dal Colle. On paper this makes sense. Bellows played well enough so far and has earned that top-six spot and Komarov is a trusted vet and penalty killer. These moves fit with how Trotz has set up his team for almost three years now.
But on paper that bottom six gives the Islanders nothing.
Komarov is certainly a great guy to have in the room, but he isn’t on the ice. There’s a reason the “Leo Komarov 3rd period stick foul” is a thing. Because he routinely takes bad penalties at inopportune times. As he did against the Capitals.
While Leo’s relative xGF looks good on the night (7.33, ranking him seventh for skaters), he can’t backcheck (see Schultz GWG), he didn’t get any PK time, and he’s not getting pucks on net. What is his role exactly?
The line of Martin-Cizikas-Clutterbuck was likely the worst of the bunch against the Caps. Only the Komarov-Pageau-Bailey line was worse with a flat 0.00 xGF% in 2:27 of 5on5 time. The identity line held an 18.59 xGF% in 7:04 of 5on5 time.
(All xGF stats from NaturalStatTrick.)
Add Ross Johnston to the mix and the Islanders bottom-six consists of five players who bring nothing to the team. I get that Barry is mad at the performance, but what was he expecting from a bottom-six loaded with replacement-level players?