Barry Trotz was pissed after his team’s effort on Tuesday. For back-to-back games, the New York Islanders were outworked and out-executed by their opponents. The two-time Jack Adams and Stanley Cup coach let the assembled media and his team know how he felt about his team’s effort.
To help them along in the next game, Barry made some changes to the lineup. Out went Ross Johnston and Ilya Sorokin and in came Oliver Wahlstrom. No offense to Ross Johnston, but his services aren’t needed if Matt Martin is playing. With 1.83 goals per game, the Isles have the 30th ranked offense in the NHL, they need goals.
Putting Wahlstrom in did that.
High highs and low lows for the New York Islanders
It took Oliver Wahlstrom nine-minute and 50 seconds in his 2021 debut to get his first career NHL goal. It wasn’t a pretty goal by any stretch of the imagination, but who cares right? It went in and counted, and Wahlstrom, three years after being drafted eleventh overall, is in the NHL record books.
The Islanders clearly heard Trotz say he was pissed and tried to do right by their coach in the opening frame. They were competing and they were hungry. Just 18 seconds later, Casey Cizikas put one around Vitek Vanecek to double the Isles lead.
That fourth line has been cavernous since the start of the year. Their 34.17 xGF% tells you all you need to know about how effective they’ve been through the start of the season. Scoring goals isn’t exactly what they’re paid to do, but with that Cizikas goal (Cal Clutterbuck got the only assist) that fourth line was doing something.
The good times in the fist would continue for the Islanders as Anders Lee popped in a power-play goal in the final minutes of the opening frame.
That’s Lee’s third goal and second on the power play of the season. That’s important for a few reasons but the main one is that Lee only had two PPG’s in 68 games last year. If the Isles are going to build off the success they had in 19-20 they’ll need Lee to be prolific on the man advantage.
Going up 3-0 in 20 minutes of play against what was essentially the Capitals B-squad, seemed more like it. Now the Islanders veteran squad could easily manage the game out. Right?
The exact opposite happened.
In nine minutes and 23 seconds of the second period, the Capitals scored five unanswered goals on the Islanders. It wasn’t some turnover-filled comedy like the Isles second game against the Rangers, this was just a hard-working team outworking the Isles.
It’s really that simple. Which makes it all the more embarrassing. The hallmark of the Isles philosophy is to outwork their opponents. But this veteran-heavy team sat back on their 3-0 lead with two-thirds of the game to go and paid the price.
If Barry Trotz was “pissed off” after a 2-0 loss two nights ago, I can’t wait to see what he has to say about this one.
Oh, and the Caps would add a sixth goal on an empty net.
Connor Sheary (2G): Two goals in a minute and 17 seconds. Well done.
Zdeno Chara (1G, 1A): Big Z played nearly 23 minutes and put up two points at the age of 43. Incredible stuff from the big man.
Oliver Wahlstrom (1G, 1SOG): Kid gets a game and then a goal. Great stuff.
Semyon Varlamov (17 SVS, 0.773SV%): Awful performance. Unfortunately because of the Isles roster, he had to play the rest of the game.
Lou Lamoriello/Barry Trotz: I don’t know who to blame exactly but I’ll blame both. There was no reason to play Komarov and have Sorokin on the taxi squad. None.
Mathew Barzal (1A, 10PIM): He was given a game misconduct for swearing at the ref. Sounds like a weak penalty (because it was) but he can’t be doing that.